Author Topic: Hardware spec  (Read 8747 times)

Offline Ramshackles

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Hardware spec
« on: September 27, 2011, 02:12:16 pm »
Hiya all,

Hoping this would be the correct forum for this :)

I've been meaning to build a new server running flexraid, I've got the case sorted Antec 1200 (13 external drive bays) I'll be fitting those with 5in3 cages allowing "hot-swapping" of 20 harddrives in total.

I'm "used" to building HTPCs so am not comfortable speccing hardware for a server, any help would greatly be appreciated. What is an excellent Motherboard + CPU for a server running W2k8 / WHS.

It will handle flexraid, downloading and feeding of data.. occasional encode / recode.

Server will be on 24h a day so I'd be trying to keep the wattage down.

Thanks in advance.

Offline jasonwc

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Re: Hardware spec
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2011, 03:13:06 pm »
Is there any particular reason you've chosen to use a full tower case rather than a rackmount server for this task? I've researched both options, and for 20 drives, you're better off with a rackmount server. The Antec 1200 will run you about $150 and the 5in3 hotswap bays will require another $80-100 each, which comes to nearly $500. 

In contrast, a Norco RPC-4220 offers 20 hotswap drive bays in a 4U rackmount as well as two mounts for 2.5" OS drives, and can be purchased for $300 (about $340 shipped). The RPC-4224 offers 24 hotswap bays in the same form factor for about $390 shipped.

The Norco cases will offer superior cooling and much better cable management since you will only need 5 SFF-8087 SAS cables to connect 20 SATA drives and 5 molex power connectors vs. 20 SATA cables + ~10 molex.

See http://www.norcotek.com/item_detail.php?categoryid=1&modelno=rpc-4220 for info on the RPC-4220 case.

A 4U case will fit any microATX or ATX case you choose. The only downside is that the fans are loud as they are meant to push a lot of air for use with high RPM SAS drives. You can replace the fans for about $60 though with quieter/lower RPM fans and even use 120 mm fans.

As for the motherboard and CPU, what are you looking for? How are you planning to connect the drives? Will you be using the system for anything else? If not, any dual core processor would be sufficient.

Here's a good option for an affordable server mobo:

SUPERMICRO MBD-X9SCM-O
Dual Intel Server NICs + Four PCI-E 8x slots for SAS/SATA controller cards

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813182254

Note for $40 more you can get IPMI (allows remote administration at the BIOS level, so you can use it to install an OS - no need for a monitor/keyboard

SUPERMICRO MBD-X9SCM-O-F
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813182253

If you're going with 1155, a Core i3-2100 should be sufficient or even a dual-core Pentium chip.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2011, 09:12:49 pm by jasonwc »
Norco RPC-4224 4U Rackmount Case (24 Hotswap Bays) | Asus P8B Workstation Motherboard (four PCI-E 16x slots @ 8x/8x/4x/4x and dual 82574L Intel server NICs) | Core i3-2100 | Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 SAS Controller | Corsair TX650v2 PSU | Currently 16 TB array, 2 TB parity | WHS 2011

Offline someone

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Re: Hardware spec
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2011, 05:30:56 am »
Not saying your build w/ the Norco system is invalid.  But I suppose I should give my opinion as a counter argument.  Well, seeing it from the other side.  While the case can be seen even cheaper when looking it that way.  In fact, I have even seen used 16bay 3U chassis on ebay under $200 also.  But, there is something to be said about those rigg, they are extremely loud.  They are built for space and designed for the environment where noise isn't a problem.  And often for home built project, the goal usually are the opposite of what's designed for what's gonna be on a rack placed somewhere deep in the colo where nobody listening to it grinding all day.  Other than noise, there are other thing to consider, such as how important do you need it to be hot-swap?  It's a great idea to have such feature, but at the same time the cost for such design is usually quite expensive.  You just have to ask yourself also, do you very need that.  I mean majority of the time you will have all those drive sitting in there doing nothing anyway.  Unless you plan to actually power them off when not using, then I can very see a hug benefit in using those more expensive hot-swapable unit also.
In the past I have seen those 5in3 bracket mount also, but for some reason nobody make them anymore except the 4in3.  google BR2U19 will yield a history of it.  So, maybe I'm missing something.  I sure I have come across something like that earlier, but it's not selling in the US.  If somebody come across those again, I would be interested in a few.

Offline xliv

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Re: Hardware spec
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2011, 06:35:21 am »
Yes, I don't know whether there are some rackmount cases built for silence. Maybe by customizing them (fans, damening material), you can reach an acceptable level of silence.

About 5in3:
Supermicro CSE-M35T-1B:
http://www.supermicro.com/products/accessories/mobilerack/CSE-M35T-1.cfm
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817121405

MB455SPF-B 5 in 3 SATA Internal Raid Backplane:
http://www.icydock.com/goods.php?id=48
(I did not look where they sell).

BUT (because there is a big but) (with only 1 t  ;D sorry)
I'm assuming that those are not built for silence either. In a server, the loudest parts will be the hard drives (CPU cooler and fan, as well as case fans can be changed or tuned to be inaudible).
Harddrive dampening is quite important.

I have the Lian Li V2120 (http://lian-li.com/v2/tw/product/upload/image/v2120/flyer.html), which is probably way too expensive but well... It's extremely silent & cooling is very good. And that's important in my case because the server is in a closet behind our sofa.

Otherwise, Caselabs are doing interesting, large cases:
http://www.openegg.org/forums/posts/list/951.page
One of them (not yet available) shows up to 104 HDD...

One of the available ones, the Magnum TH10 can store up to 32 drives.

The problem is that they're huge. TH10 is 381mm x 637mm x 662mm.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2011, 06:39:06 am by xliv »
Server HW: ASUS P8B-E/4L + PIKE 2008 SAS | Xeon E3-1230 | 8GB DDR3 ECC 1333 [Kingston - KVR1333D3E9SK2/8G] | Intel 320 - 80 Go (OS)
Server OS: Win7 64b EN
FlexRAID 2.0 latest build, Cruise Control, 7 DRUs (6x3TB,1x2TB), 1 PPU (2x2TB)

Offline jasonwc

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Re: Hardware spec
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2011, 07:27:57 am »
Not saying your build w/ the Norco system is invalid.  But I suppose I should give my opinion as a counter argument.  Well, seeing it from the other side.  While the case can be seen even cheaper when looking it that way.  In fact, I have even seen used 16bay 3U chassis on ebay under $200 also.  But, there is something to be said about those rigg, they are extremely loud.  They are built for space and designed for the environment where noise isn't a problem.  And often for home built project, the goal usually are the opposite of what's designed for what's gonna be on a rack placed somewhere deep in the colo where nobody listening to it grinding all day.  Other than noise, there are other thing to consider, such as how important do you need it to be hot-swap?  It's a great idea to have such feature, but at the same time the cost for such design is usually quite expensive.  You just have to ask yourself also, do you very need that.  I mean majority of the time you will have all those drive sitting in there doing nothing anyway.  Unless you plan to actually power them off when not using, then I can very see a hug benefit in using those more expensive hot-swapable unit also.
In the past I have seen those 5in3 bracket mount also, but for some reason nobody make them anymore except the 4in3.  google BR2U19 will yield a history of it.  So, maybe I'm missing something.  I sure I have come across something like that earlier, but it's not selling in the US.  If somebody come across those again, I would be interested in a few.

The default Delta fans on Norco cases are very loud as they're meant to push a lot of air as you suggest. However, they can be replaced with much quieter fans at relatively low cost. In fact, Norco provides a 120 mm fan plate which should allow even quieter operation. In that case you'll need two 80 mm fans and 3 120 mm. Probably only $50-60 to replace all of the Norco's fans.

However, if you're like me, and you have an extra room or closet in the basement to put the case in, the noise is not relevant. After the door is closed, it's silent. :P
Norco RPC-4224 4U Rackmount Case (24 Hotswap Bays) | Asus P8B Workstation Motherboard (four PCI-E 16x slots @ 8x/8x/4x/4x and dual 82574L Intel server NICs) | Core i3-2100 | Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 SAS Controller | Corsair TX650v2 PSU | Currently 16 TB array, 2 TB parity | WHS 2011

Offline Ramshackles

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Re: Hardware spec
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2011, 09:21:01 am »
Great info.

The server will be run headless and only doing file-serving, downloading occasional encode / recode / ripping otherwise nothing fancy, most demanding tasks will probably be the encode, transcode, recode and the server services such as mysql / sql server and the download clients running on them.

I plan on adding additional controller cards since i dont know of any motherboards capable of handling that many drives. That linked motherboard seems really nice actually.

I actually considered the norco cases but they aren't that easy to come by in europe, noise is not an issue since it's stored in the basement.

The hotswap is actually just for flexibility and ease of use, i have 2 already and the only time i swap drives is to add or replace a drive but it saves me openening the chassis hehe :)

Offline jasonwc

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Re: Hardware spec
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2011, 09:29:11 am »
BTW, the motherboard should be able to support any 1155 socket processor including Xeon chips w/ ECC RAM or consumer i3/i5/i7 processors. I think the spec sheet only lists support for the i3, but I'm pretty sure the i5/i7 also work. At least they do with my Asus P8B WS which uses a similar chipset.
Norco RPC-4224 4U Rackmount Case (24 Hotswap Bays) | Asus P8B Workstation Motherboard (four PCI-E 16x slots @ 8x/8x/4x/4x and dual 82574L Intel server NICs) | Core i3-2100 | Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 SAS Controller | Corsair TX650v2 PSU | Currently 16 TB array, 2 TB parity | WHS 2011

Offline someone

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Re: Hardware spec
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2011, 01:02:10 pm »
Well, it's true you can replace the internal fan.  And you can do so relatively easy and inexpensive (relatively).  That said, another major source of noise is the fan in the PSU.  This is quite important especially for smaller server case as regular PSU won't fit.  Changing the fan in the PSU can be done, but I very NOT recommending doing this as PSU is an essential part of the entire system and by just changing fan in the PSU you could put the entire system at risk.  I don't know any server size PSU that's not loud.  4U may not be a problem in this case, but just a though.  Also, another thing to think about is the CPU fan.  Well any fan in the chassis can produce noise.  But I'm looking at major role of the fan.  Rack base chassis basically 1 directional air flow, from front to back and this goes for all component inside, including harddrive, CPU and PSU.  If you are going to use CPU that generate a lot of heat you may end up having to use difference heat sink and fan.  The design start to become more complex and cost start adding up more.  A regular tower case do have additional sideway air flow which you can add very large (slow and quiet) fan for additional air flow.
Just a thought.

Offline jasonwc

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Re: Hardware spec
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2011, 01:29:39 pm »
The Norco 4U cases support standard power supplies. I'm using a Corsair TX650v2 which is the same (newer revision) as the PSU in my desktop. The fan is effecitvely silent, and I've only heard it when I've used over 350W on my desktop (dual GPU).

In fact, from what I can tell, Norco's 2U and 3U cases also support standard power supplies. A 1U obviously can't because of its size, but you would not use a 1U as a storage server.

I'm using a Core i3-2100. The CPU fan is small and produces little noise. The Xeons actually use less power than their desktop counterparts, and with a 4U case, you can use any aftermarket cooler of your choosing.

So, while the Norco cases are loud out of the box, they can be made nearly silent, and many people have done so. But it's the only solution that's going to support 20 or 24 hotswap drives out of the box. And if you're trying to fit that many drives in a full tower case, you're going to have to add a bunch of 5in3 or 4in3 bays. Thus, I don't see the big deal about changing out a few 80 mm fans. The Norco case actually makes it really easy to replace the fans.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2011, 01:33:07 pm by jasonwc »
Norco RPC-4224 4U Rackmount Case (24 Hotswap Bays) | Asus P8B Workstation Motherboard (four PCI-E 16x slots @ 8x/8x/4x/4x and dual 82574L Intel server NICs) | Core i3-2100 | Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 SAS Controller | Corsair TX650v2 PSU | Currently 16 TB array, 2 TB parity | WHS 2011

Offline Ramshackles

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Re: Hardware spec
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2011, 01:55:58 pm »
I'd be quite comfortable meddling with the cases if that where the only problem, but it's not just widely available in europe (Norco) and shipping from Asia / USA is costly.

That's the reason I've looked at full tower cases, I wasn't going to add more than then 2 5in3's i have already to start with :)

Norco are bloody huge still, I reckon they need to be horizontal aswell? Would prefer a tower for the basement, it has a bracket for that already ;)

EDIT:
Just found this; http://www.xcase.co.uk/X-Case-RM-420-Hotswap-4u-p/case-rm420.htm
Seems to be a rebranded Norco, or very similar anyhow
« Last Edit: September 28, 2011, 02:08:26 pm by Ramshackles »

Offline jasonwc

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Re: Hardware spec
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2011, 02:26:00 pm »
Yeah, that looks like a Norco RPC-4020 with red, rather than blue latches.

Since it's a rackmount case, it's designed to be mounted horizontally but I've seen people lay the case upright. I don't see why it would be an issue.

I have mine on top of a $20 metal rack I purchased at Target in the "bonus room" in my basement. Uses the standard high RPM Delta fans and sounds like a server room. Close the door and it's silent.
Norco RPC-4224 4U Rackmount Case (24 Hotswap Bays) | Asus P8B Workstation Motherboard (four PCI-E 16x slots @ 8x/8x/4x/4x and dual 82574L Intel server NICs) | Core i3-2100 | Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 SAS Controller | Corsair TX650v2 PSU | Currently 16 TB array, 2 TB parity | WHS 2011

Offline xliv

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Re: Hardware spec
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2011, 05:21:21 pm »
@Ramshackles: again, remember that a big nb of hard drives make noise. The more you silence the case, CPU and PSU fans, the more you'll notice that most noise come from the drives spinning. Those 5in3 are not built for silence (no anti-vibration, and no sound insulation - they're almost outside of the case), and you'll hear much noise from the drives.

So, you also need to pick carefully your drives: no 7200rpm, and you will need to put them all to sleep.
Server HW: ASUS P8B-E/4L + PIKE 2008 SAS | Xeon E3-1230 | 8GB DDR3 ECC 1333 [Kingston - KVR1333D3E9SK2/8G] | Intel 320 - 80 Go (OS)
Server OS: Win7 64b EN
FlexRAID 2.0 latest build, Cruise Control, 7 DRUs (6x3TB,1x2TB), 1 PPU (2x2TB)

Offline someone

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Re: Hardware spec
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2011, 05:49:18 pm »
One thing to add though, looking at the case shown in xcase site, it doesn't say it support sata3.  Not saying that i have to say to support it as the pin does't change but the back plane may be the bottleneck from supporting sata3.  I would inquire that info before buying it just to future proof the server.

Offline jasonwc

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Re: Hardware spec
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2011, 06:44:06 pm »
One thing to add though, looking at the case shown in xcase site, it doesn't say it support sata3.  Not saying that i have to say to support it as the pin does't change but the back plane may be the bottleneck from supporting sata3.  I would inquire that info before buying it just to future proof the server.

The Norco RPC-4220 upon which it appears to be based has "20 x hot-swappable SATA/SAS 6G drive bays" according to the spec sheet. Same for the RPC-4224 with 24 hotswap bays. Thus, it should support SATA 3 (6 Gbit).
Norco RPC-4224 4U Rackmount Case (24 Hotswap Bays) | Asus P8B Workstation Motherboard (four PCI-E 16x slots @ 8x/8x/4x/4x and dual 82574L Intel server NICs) | Core i3-2100 | Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 SAS Controller | Corsair TX650v2 PSU | Currently 16 TB array, 2 TB parity | WHS 2011

Offline someone

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Re: Hardware spec
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2011, 07:53:18 pm »
Wouldn't hurt to call/email to verify, does it?