Data Center and Critical Infrastructure

HP ProLiant BL685c Server Blade Teardown

01 April 2009
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

Overview / Main Features

The HP ProLiant BL685c was the premier 4-way AMD CPU server blade model within HP's c-Class ProLiant line of server blades [before being replaced by the current BL685c G5 model]. The BL685c server blade features Nvidia nForce Professional chipset, hot pluggable SAS capabilities, 4 embedded gigabit ethernet controllers, iLO management and 3 I/O expansion slots.

Note that this server blade under analysis was not configured with CPUs, expandable memory modules or storage drives and therefore were left out of the bill of materials (BOM).

HP ProLiant BL685c Server Blade Main ImageHP ProLiant BL685c Server Blade Main Image
Target Market

Enterprise users.


2006 (Based on user manual publication date)

HP ProLiant BL685c Server Blade - Motherboard TopHP ProLiant BL685c Server Blade - Motherboard Top
Pricing and Availability

Pricing - Will vary based on configuration. However, for the bare bones configuration we have on hand (without CPUs, Memory or storage drives included) there are no pricing available from HP. The closest proxy for this particular configuration would be the base model with one CPU and minimal memory configuration. Using this benchmark pricing and then subtracting away the CPU and memory, the server blade model under analysis cost approximately $5000 (at the time of writing - March 2009).

Availability - discontinued (replaced by BL685c G5).

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed a lifetime production volume of 150K units.

As a reminder, teardown volume production assumptions are primarily used for our cost analysis in terms of amortized NRE and tooling costs, especially for custom components specific to the model being analyzed (mechanical components especially). Unless assumed volumes are different by an order of magnitude, minor changes in volume (say 1 million vs. 2) rarely have a large net effect on our final analysis because of this.

Market / Sector Performance

iSuppli expects strong unit shipment growth overall in the server area for the foreseeable future according to a recent topical report, with combined worldwide sales approaching 8.6 million units in 2007 (growing 8.4% to roughly 9.3 million in 2008, or a CAGR of 7.4% from 2006 to 2011 for the whole server market). Specifically for blade servers, iSuppli projects that this category will grow at a significantly faster CAGR of 31.5% from 2006 to 2011 spurn on by the popularity of server virtualization technologies as well as the overall form factor efficiencies of the blade server format.

According to an iSuppli topical paper titled "Blade Servers and Virtualization Overview - Q3 2008, HP leads in blade server shipments in 2007 with 43.6% (up from 39.3% in 2006) overtaking IBM at 38.3% market share. Dell rounds out the 3rd spot with 9.5% market share.

HP ProLiant BL685c Server Blade Cost AnalysisHP ProLiant BL685c Server Blade Cost Analysis
Cost Notes

Major Cost Drivers (Representing ~56% of Total Direct Materials Costs)

Gold Circuit Electronics Ltd. - 16-Layer - FR4

Broadcom - BCM5708SKFBG - Ethernet Controller - 10/100/1000/2500Base-X, Integrated TCP Processing Engine, RDMA, iSCSI (Qty:2)

Nvidia - NFP-2200-B1 - Chipset - nForce Professional 2200

Nvidia - NFP-2050-B1 - Chipset - nForce Professional 2050 I/O Companion Chip

Broadcom - BCM8603KPB - I/O Controller - 8-Port SAS/SATA II, PCI Express/PCI-X Interface, Integrated Raid-On-Chip Technology

Point-of-Load Module - DC-DC Converter, Input: 12V (Qty:4)

Altera - EPM1270F256C5N - CPLD - MAX II, 1270 Logic Elements, 212 User I/O's (Qty:2)

AMD - ES1000 - GPU - 2D, 200MHz Core, 32-Bit 33/66MHz PCI 2.2, 16-Bit 256MB DDR-II SDRAM Support, Dual CRT Support

FCI - 10054783-001 - Mezzanine Board to Board Header - Vertical, High Profile (Qty:2)

HP - 353821-004 - Lights-Out Management Processor

Broadcom - BCM5715SKPB - Ethernet Controller - 10/100/1000 Mbit/s

Materials and Manufacturing $476.68

What Is Not Included in our Cost Analysis

The total materials and manufacturing costs reported in this analysis reflect ONLY the direct materials cost (from component vendors and assorted EMS providers), AND manufacturing with basic test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself - cost of intellectual property, royalties and licensing fees (those not already included into the per component price), software, software loading and test, shipping, logistics marketing and other channel costs including not only EMS provider and the OEM's margin, but that of other resellers. Our cost analysis is meant to focus on those costs incurred in the manufacture of the core device and exceptionally in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.

Manufacturing Notes

OEM/ODM/EMS Relationships / Manufacturing

Per iSuppli's own Global OEM Manufacturing and Design Analysis (GOMDA) report (Q2, 2008) HP outsources nearly 80% of servers to EMS providers and ODMs (the latter representing nearly 60% of the HP server business overall). Most of HP servers outsourced to ODMs are to Inventec [with over 40% of overall share of servers shipped] and Flextronics. This unit claims, per it's labeling to be made in the US of foreign components - so this may still encompass the motherboard itself, which we are assuming is made in China for this analysis.

Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions

Based on OEM/ODM/EMS relationships, it is assumed that the HP server blade was manufactured in China. Furthermore, we have assumed that custom mechanicals (plastics, metals, etc. were also sourced in China.

Country of origin assumptions relate directly to the associated cost of manufacturing, where calculated by iSuppli. In the cases of 'finished' sub-assemblies (such as heat sinks), we do not calculate internal manufacturing costs, but rather assess the market price of the finished product in which case country of origin assumptions may or may not have a direct effect on pricing.

Remember also that labor rates are applied directly only to hand inserted components and systems in our bill of materials, and although regional assumptions do, these new rates do not have a direct effect on our modeled calculations of placement costs for automated SMD assembly lines. ""Auto" inserted components (such as SMT components) placement costs are calculated by an iSuppli algorithm which allocates a cost per component based on the size and pin count of the device. This calculation is affected by country or region of origin as well.

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

The HP ProLiant BL685c server blade has a component count of 5570 excluding box contents (282 of which are mechanical in nature). In comparison to other 4-way server analyzed by iSuppli, the BL685c (like the similarly complex Intel based BL680c G5) sets new records for sheer number of components.

Component counts have a direct bearing on the overall manufacturing cycle times and costs, and also can increase or decrease overall yields and re-work. Our calculations of manufacturing costs factor counts and more qualitative complexities in the design.

Note that manual labor has a much smaller effect on auto-insertion assembly lines (for the Main PCB, for example), where manufacturing costs are much more capital equipment intensive and driven by these investment costs.

Design Notes

Here is a summary of the major subsystems and components in the HP ProLiant BL685c server blade:

Main PCB


  • Nvidia - NFP-2200-B1 - nForce Professional 2200
  • Nvidia - NFP-2050-B1 - nForce Professional 2050 I/O Companion Chip


  • I/O Controller - Broadcom - BCM8603KPB
  • Ethernet Controller - Broadcom - BCM5715SKPB
  • Ethernet Controller - Broadcom - BCM5708SKFBG
  • GPU - AMD - ES1000
  • Lights-Out Management Processor - HP - 353821-004

Glue Logic

  • CPLD - Altera - EPM1270F256C5N


HP ProLiant BL685c Server Blade - EnclosureHP ProLiant BL685c Server Blade - Enclosure

Powered by CR4, the Engineering Community

Discussion – 0 comments

By posting a comment you confirm that you have read and accept our Posting Rules and Terms of Use.
Engineering Newsletter Signup
Get the GlobalSpec
Stay up to date on:
Features the top stories, latest news, charts, insights and more on the end-to-end electronics value chain.
Weekly Newsletter
Get news, research, and analysis
on the Electronics industry in your
inbox every week - for FREE
Sign up for our FREE eNewsletter
Find Free Electronics Datasheets