Purchasing non HP or Dell branded Server RAM

Posted on 2014-08-16
Last Modified: 2016-07-15
I have 2x DL380 G7 servers and am upgrading the RAM. This question has come up many times for other HP and Dell servers in the past.

HP gives me a part number for an 8GB RDIMM stick - 500662-B21.

Now when searching for best pricing on this stick I get various options all over the place:

1) First one vendor has the above stick but the ASINs are different, one is B0050J8Q9S, B0029L0P9Y. What does this mean, does it just mean the brand of memory is different but both are genuine HP memory sticks?

2) Ingram Micro has various options for this stick, multiple different brands that label the part number, 500662-B21-PE (from Edge Tech Corporation), 500662-B21-ENC (from ENET Components) and there are more. Then there's just the "500662-B21" which is branded as "Hewlett Packard, of course twice as expensive as all of the other brands.
What's the difference between these and can I just go with the other brands without potential issues of HP Server monitoring software saying "uncertified memory" detected or just compatibility issues. etc.

I just want to get the correct memory that will work with the server as designed - and of course if possible, at the cheapest price. But all of the options out there throw me off.

I've had issues in the past where I've bought non Dell Server hard drives from Seagate directly, 300GB 15K SAS drives. Because they are not Dell branded with some special Dell firmware, they come up as "uncertified" in Dell Open Manage, even though Dell uses the same drive but puts a different sticker on it. The drives worked just fine, it just makes me concerned.
Question by:RFVDB
    LVL 55

    Assisted Solution

    I had to google to find out what ASIN meant, searched JEDEC, looked in SPD table definitions - nothing. It means Amazon Standard Identification Number - nothing to do with RAM except that people sell RAM on Amazon.

    Now on to the technical stuff at least from the HP side.

    Prior to Gen8 genuine HP sticks have been tested to HP's standards and then a sticky label put on them, if you log a warranty call and HP send an engineer out and they replace a DIMM the service will be free if it's an HP labelled DIMM that they pull out, otherwise they will charge you for a site visit. If you swap the DIMM yourself under instruction from their support they'll probably just charge you for the part they send you. There is no difference between HP branded and other DIMMs apart from that although HP probably hold a spreadsheet of all the JEDEC Standard Manufacturer's Identification Codes that they use.

    With Gen8 they introduced something called SmartMemory, the DIMMs are tested and labelled as before but as well as a sticky label on the outside they stick one on the inside by writing a unique signature onto the Serial Presence Detect table (a small ROM on the DIMM that tells the server its size, speed etc). When you boot a Gen8 server which has generic RAM in it it will tell you that fact during POST but it will not treat it as an error. Certain over-clocking that HP tests and certifies for will not be available but the machine will run fine and not fail POST or diagnostics. says "When used in conjunction with Systems Insight Manager (SIM), SmartMemory enables fault prediction capabilities. If potential problems develop in one of the DIMMs..." It's a load of FUD though since it omits to tell you that SIM will also monitor non-HP certified RAM for potential errors. (actually the DIMM monitors itself, SIM just pulls the info off the SPD chip).

    Disks are a different kettle of fish and have been for a long time, it is not just a label but several parameters are tweaked to make sure that the disks behave well with the vendors' RAID controllers, the amount of time that the disk retries a dodgy block before sending a read failure to the controller is an important one, generic disks may retry for too long and the controller will then throw them out of the array and mark them as faulty - see for more info on this parameter. Capacity is another important one; since they source disks from several OEMs they may be slightly different capacities for the same claimed size, HP and Dell fix their disk sizes a bit smaller than the generic ones so that all their 72GB disks for example are the same size irrespective of who supplied them. They're justified in refusing to enable generic disks on the high end stuff and warning about it on the cheaper kit.
    LVL 24

    Assisted Solution

    by:Mohammed Khawaja
    I have been told by HP and IBM technicians that there is nothing wrong with using non-IBM or non-HP memory.  At my last job, we used to buy Kingston memory which was supported by the server manufacturer as well as Kingston used to provide lifetime warranty.
    LVL 34

    Assisted Solution

    by:Seth Simmons
    Dell unfortunately doesn't do the same thing.  If you didn't buy it from them, it won't be covered under the server warranty.
    I had a bad module once which wasn't the original (something like 4gb module when server purchased and upgraded later to 8gb modules) and I had to find the order number for the newer modules so Dell could cover it.
    LVL 55

    Assisted Solution

    Kingston did have an agreement at one time with whoever bought RAM from them - use Kingston RAM and their warranty would pay for the HP engineer's time and any additional costs.

    It was never covered by HP's warranty though, Kingston just warranted that they would pay any HP charges. I could offer the same thing with the slightly dodgy red diesel that I've strained through a muslim bag.

    Accepted Solution

    Thanks andyalder.

    So what I get from that is any memory should do as long as its the correct specs. Brand and HP/Dell labeling is just "whatever" for their "supported" products.
    LVL 34

    Expert Comment

    by:Seth Simmons
    the comments provided answer the questions

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