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Author Topic: Home server upgrade meanderings  (Read 3237 times)

f0dder

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Home server upgrade meanderings
« on: September 28, 2012, 12:34:27 PM »
So, my current server is getting a bit long in the tooth - it has served me since December 2007, with a few harddrive replacements in the time between.

The current specs:
Intel(R) Celeron(R) CPU 420  @ 1.60GHz (singlecore, runs merrily with a big Scythe with the fan disabled - nice noise-wise).
ASUS P5B-MX, 2x1 gigabyte of whatever ram.
No-name, inefficient 350W PSU
120mm casefan
1xWD3200BUDT 2.5" 320GB WD AV, system + miscdata disk
2xWD6401AALS - WD Caviar Black 640gig, raid-mirror important stuff.

Everything is AES-256 encrypted, which is the major slowness factor, but it's also not powerful enough for the minecraft sprees I do with my friends every now and then (rendering the out-of-game worldmaps is WAY slow). The AES is heavy enough that I'm pretty far from maxing out disk speed.

Server runs Debian, and copying is done by a Win7 box pulling across the gigabit LAN, served by Samba (3.5.6). Haven't done a lot of smb nor proc/net tweaking.

Some power usage statistics:
~7.3W shut down (shut down, not standby - most older systems are like this)
~68W idle
~82W copying, ~33MB/s, ~65% CPU (50 kcryptd, 15 smbd)

Pretty interesting that it claims only ~65% CPU usage, btw, since it's clearly the CPU that's maxed out - doing anything on the box is s-l-o-w while copying.

I transplanted the disks to my testbox, a Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU E6550 @ 2.33GHz, different motherboard obviously, with CPU-fan and no case-fan, but same PSU. The stats there:
4.3W shutdown
~65-67w idle
~82W copying, ~45MB/s, ~50% CPU (kcryptd, nothing else above 0.x% :-))

That's almost fast enough not to buy a new server but...
1) I'd still like to be able to saturate my disks (and this box is clearly CPU limited as well, kernel crypto-loop doesn't multithread, at least not for one device).
2) I do need a testbox every now and then, and the current server is a bit too slow for some of the things I do... plus, I'd like to donate it to my brother, instead of the insanely slow P4-celeron I've been postponing fixing up for him for a couple of years ;-)
3) I'm certain I can get even lower power consumption.
4) I like fiddling with hardware :$

So, I've been pondering a bit as to what I need to get my grubby little hands on. Considering that my current slightly beasty desktop (i7-3770, 16gigs of ram, and a GTX460 graphics card) runs at... what is it, ~65-70W idle... I expect I can go somewhat lower for a server build.

But which CPU? I kinda want an i5, since those have the AES-NI instruction set, and then I'm guaranteed AES won't be a bottleneck. I guess just about any i3 will be able to saturate disk without AES-NI, but probably at higher power consumption.

And I have no clue what i3 vs. i5 is like with regards to power consumption - the Watt amount listed on Intel's site is TDP, which I understand to be more related to max heat than directly to power consumption... and at any rate, the current CPUs are damn efficient at power reduction when idle (which the box will be *most* of the time). Anybody got some realistic estimates what power consumption is with Ivy Bridge line of i3 and i5, idle as well as load?

Are there large differences in power consumption on various motherboards? Any particular boards that are good? (I don't need a crapload of features - decent gigabit NIC that works with linux, at least four SATA ports. 6-8 would be nice, but not a *requirement*, and while I don't need 6gbps sata it's probably best to go for that, if the new server is going to last 5+ years).

And what about heat? It's pretty nice that the old celeron can handle passive cooling, even under load - the server is in my living room, and my apartment is pretty small, so... noise is an issue.

I've slightly considered getting a Xeon, but have no idea whatsoever wrt. their power consumption - and it does seem a bit expensive to get a xeon + server motherboard, with the main reasoning being ECC support for the RAM. I'll probably be going for 2x4GB ram - a bit overkill, but then at least my demands for the next 5+ years should be met.

Oh, and I do want on-board graphics. Anything goes (80x50 textmode ;P), as long as it doesn't suck too much power. I'm obviously thinking on-cpu intel HD graphics.

So, that was the CPU muscle + power consumption bit. Next up: case and harddrive stuff. I do need a new case, since the current minitower is a bit too cramped - and it's too flimsy to properly absorb harddrive vibration.

Not sure what to go for; I don't need a super big tower, but I want something heavy&solid to dampen drives, and enough room that working with the box isn't cramped. I've also been considering some kind of hot-swap bay, but have no idea what brands too look for. I'd rather have something without bays where I can just pull out a drive, like this?, but I want the thing to be solid... and not add too much noise. Oh, and not fsck up things totally heat-wise. Also, what's Linux SATA hotswap support like these days? Like, doable on a standard motherboard without fancy controllers?

And I guess most decent cases come without PSUs - also a bit unsure what to look for, there. I want something power efficient and silent, and preferably with modular cabling (but not a deal-breaker if it doesn't have it). I've got a Corsair tx550m in my workstation, which is pretty nice - but 550W is overkill even for that machine. I wonder if it makes sense going for something with a lower Watt rating, since the server box is going to be *way* below that? There don't seem to be a lot of modular PSUs available below that power level, though, and especially not here in .dk. Also, a definite plus for the tx550m is that it provides very stable voltage levels.

I think that's it for now - dunno if I forgot something :)
- carpe noctem

f0dder

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2012, 12:42:37 PM »
Ah yes, one thing I forgot: I also kinda considered getting a NAS, something like the DS413 would probably server a lot of my needs - but still not everything, and while one can probably install a generic linux and stuff, but I wonder if the CPU in the machine would be fast enough... ~35W while working is nice, but if that ends up ~35W (which is probably without harddrives?) for storage and whatever extra for a server, that's obviously not so cool.

Also, the DS413 itself is ~$657, for ~$482 I can grab an i5-3450s, 8gig corsair, some asus mobo, and a 350W BeQuiet PSU... that leaves *some* room for grabbing a decent case, perhaps other cpu/mobo, and hotswap bays :-)
- carpe noctem

40hz

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2012, 01:50:05 PM »
I'd take a look at products manufactured by Icy Dock for your drive docks. I've had good luck with them in the past. (There's review vids up on YouTube if you do a search.) I plan on using them for my next build too. I'll probably go with 2.5" form factor SATA drives to reduce power consumption and (ideally) heat. Or if not, with two of these docks - assuming I decide I want to keep it all in one box. (My current inclination, however, is to house the drives in their own enclosure and use some sort of smaller case for the actual server. Ideally with one very "large but slow" fan for cooling.

Another alternative may be to just buy something since some of these newer "homes servers" can't be beat when it comes to bang-for-the-buck hardware specs. If I do that, I think I'll probably order two of them and divvy the tasks between (i.e. fileserver on one and everything else on the other). If I see some again at the <$300-$400 price point, it's a possible option. Put the savings into building a scorching i7 workstation and use that as a super VM platform and daily go-to machine..

It's getting tricky for me lately because of all the choices. There are two schools of thought I'm flopping back and forth between. They come from the world of robotics. Once school says build one comprehensive thing and be done with it. The other says to think "small, cheap, and out of control." So with that I'd be looking at doing a small collection of purpose-built boxes with different architectures ranging from a Raspberry Pi to a "real" server. Definitely more flexible. And it would spread the expense out over time even if it might not save me anything - or ultimately end up costing more.

Then there's the question you brought up about total and idling power consumption. Something that's going to become more important as time goes on. (Hmmm...wonder if some clever sort of supplemental solar power hack might be possible?)

Ah! decisions...decisions...decisions... 8)
« Last Edit: September 28, 2012, 01:56:38 PM by 40hz »

Stoic Joker

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2012, 02:18:00 PM »
It's getting tricky for me lately because of all the choices. There are two schools of thought I'm flopping back and forth between. They come from the world of robotics. Once school says build one comprehensive thing and be done with it. The other says to think "small, cheap, and out of control."

Meh... To cut and dried for me. I say firmly straddle the fence! Get one big(ish) scalable rig and then virtualize everything. Anything not needed at the time can be shutdown letting the CPU idle down a bit farther.

40hz

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2012, 03:53:59 PM »
^The only problem with one big VM host is it's still putting all your eggs in one basket. Now if I could get two (or three) VM host boxes which could then be set up for resource optimization and failover...but then the price for the management console would be prohibitive...so I guess that's out... :mrgreen:

Stoic Joker

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2012, 04:06:35 PM »
As long as the one you get is easy to find parts for... Availability isn't a huge issue on a home network ... And most of the test stuff is ephemeral. Hell I've only got one (that runs three) now.

40hz

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2012, 05:33:26 PM »
^ Understood. But my "home" network is also part of my business so I can't afford to let it be down. Even temporarily.

But I am looking forward to the day when I'm not in this business and don't need my own personal datacenter any more. ;D

Stoic Joker

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2012, 08:23:50 AM »
^ Understood. But my "home" network is also part of my business so I can't afford to let it be down. Even temporarily.

Me too...but I cheat. :) My "home" network is a partial mirror of the company network. So if one or the other goes down (shIT happens), I can (manually) fail over to the other system and still have access to all of the IT management info necessary to support our clients.

For site work they're really both just options to get a good look at the external surface of a network from inside it.

f0dder

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2012, 12:18:24 PM »
I've been pondering a bit, and I don't think I'm going to go the NAS route - they've got some nice little cabinets and lower power consumption, but are too expensive for what they do... and tend to do too much that I feel comfortable running one in a default configuration, but probably not do enough that I could entirely avoid having a server. So, it's build-my-own after all.

I'm currently considering the following parts:
Intel Core i5-3450S
ASUS P8Z77-M motherboard
Corsair 8GB DDR3 1333Mhz (2x4GB) XMS3
RaidSonic Icy Box IB-554SSK
Corsair Obsidian Series 550D
Corsair TX550M PSU

(Any idea whether the 5.25" bays on the Obsidian case are compatible with the IB-554SSK? I've seen some cases that had 5.25" bays that were nice for optical drives, but made it impossible to install multi-slot thingies).

...but I have no idea what kind of power consumption I'd end up with. Pretty certain it's going to be less than my current build, but still - ho humm. And I'm not sure whether the *S CPU is actually means significantly lower power consumption, neither in idle nor under load. And I'm considering whether I should go for 3550 instead of 3450, since that would get me VT-d support (not sure if I'm going to virtualize, and not sure how much VT-d matters, but if the machine is going to last some 5+ years, well...)

I've also wondered if it's worth looking into AMDs offerings. They haven't been able to catch up with Intel since core2 was released, and I've lost a lot of respect for them with all the performance lies from their PR division, but if they have decently performing chips that consume considerably less power than Intel's offerings, I'd be willing to consider it.
- carpe noctem

f0dder

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2012, 01:05:23 PM »
As for power consumption, it's a bit hard finding anything conclusive - obviously it depends on what other stuff you put in the box, but motherboard and PSU also matters.

This review suggests ~40W idle with the motherboard I'm contemplating and a i5-2500k; the Ivy Bridge CPUs should be a tad more energy efficient (dunno if that's only under load or also at idle, though) - but ~40W is already pretty good! This other review has a i5-2500k at ~45W and the i5-3550 at ~50W, though. Ho humm.

As long as I don't go above my current ~65W at idle, things will be OK, but I would like it if I could go substantially lower :)
- carpe noctem

Shades

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2012, 09:46:30 AM »
Recently I had to rebuild my CVS server. It´s motherboard with AMD Athlon 3000+ processor burned up...actually the SATA controller burned up.

So I take a look at the prices from the biggest local PC shop and I was able to buy an Asus mobo with triple core AMD processor and 2GByte of RAM for less than buying an intel procesor (lower than i5 I´m not considering to be a replacement for anything) for a motherbard (1156 socket) that was given to me.

Almost 90 USD difference for these 3 parts alone. So I went for the AMD solution. Keeping the CVS server in the AMD family did make my life a lot easier too. Just swapped mainboards, reconnected all its 6 drives and it booted up just as if nothing happend at all.

So far I am pleasantly surprised about the performance of that server.

Personally I like to compare Intel and AMD with candles. Intel burns brighter, but not as long as the AMD´s do.

f0dder

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2012, 10:19:50 AM »
Personally I like to compare Intel and AMD with candles. Intel burns brighter, but not as long as the AMD´s do.
Hm, dunno about that - I've had some really long-lasting intel boxes (like the current ~5 years old passively-cooled celeron), and I've had some AMD machines that didn't last too long (that was back in the K6 days, though). I'd wager any reliability problems, these days, would have more to do with bad motherboards (cheap & unreliable capacitators, bad voltage regulation modules) or flaky PSUs, rather than the choice of CPU.

Also, price isn't the most important issue here... but I don't feel like paying the premium for a Xeon, either :). I did a little (superficial!) amount of research on current AMD CPUs, and it seemed that the current crop sucks up a lot more power than comparable intel counterparts, which I'm not really interested in. But perhaps I've missed some of their CPUs? I could live with lower performance than the i5-3550, especially the combined cpu+mobo ends up with  substantially lower consumption... but the platform does have to be fast enough to handle >100MB/s AES256 (on a single core) - and afaik AMD doesn't supper AES-NI until the crappy Bulldozer cpu?
- carpe noctem

40hz

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2012, 11:36:42 AM »
For vanilla file & print servers, web servers, and media streaming, I'd definitely lean towards the savings an AMD chip can provide.

For VMs or heavy-duty database and computation intensive applications (or encryption) I tend to prefer Intel chips. I also prefer using Intel products for Windows Servers since Microsoft and Intel work hand in glove when it comes to that. Not that AMD doesn't work well for Windows. I've deployed several Windows servers equipped with AMD CPUs. It's just with Intel there's one less opportunity for surprises when it comes to the BIOS and chipsets.

YMMV. 8)

Stoic Joker

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2012, 12:26:18 PM »
+1 for Intel ... But I'd spring for at least one of the 6 core Xeons.

I've got two 3.0 Xeons in my (6yr old) home server ... 'cause I'm nutz basically.  :D

40hz

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2012, 12:29:57 PM »
I've got two 3.0 Xeons in my (6yr old) home server ... 'cause I'm nutz basically.  :D

Two Xeons? Two?  :huh:

Muy macho! I like!!!  :D

(BTW: Xeons in a home server?  :tellme: You are crazy. But you're my kind of crazy,,,) ;D :Thmbsup:

f0dder

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Re: Home server upgrade meanderings
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2012, 05:05:03 PM »
Ended up buying (and assembling!) components after work today, initial impressions are nice. With the same disks, but three casefans and a cpufan, the system uses 40W idle vs. 65W on the old system - not bad. When copying to the new server, I got ~95MB/s (yay for plenty of ram for caching!), and ~56W power usage (compared to the ~82W on the old machine for much lower transfer rates!), copying from the server (closer to HDD speed) I get ~44MB/s at ~47W.

The 80mm fan from the icy dock was noisy as a jet, though, so I've disabled that - might have to shop for a quieter 80mm fan if harddrive temperatures turn out to be too high. The system seems to be about as silent/noisy as the old one - would probably be a bit quieter if I had opted for fully internal drives, rather than the hotswap dock. A bit hard to measure, tthough,  before turning off everything else and going to bed... which I'll be doing in a few minutes :)

More info and some pictures tomorrow or so.
- carpe noctem