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 Post subject: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:53 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
I would like to upgrade my centralized file/torrent server which currently runs quietly sipping 35 watts at idle using:
Ubuntu Server
Via c7 1ghz CPU
2GB RAM
512GB HD
1TB HD
10/100 ethernet
1024x768 graphics w/Ubuntu supported drivers (chrome)

My main reason for upgrading is to get 10/100/1000 ethernet. But I also figure that since my current system is about six years old, I ought to be able to generally match it's specifications with gigabit ethernet and a slightly faster CPU/graphics while still consuming the same, or less power. I've been looking at Atom and newer Via based CPU solutions, but cannot figure out the best way to go. It seems the Cedarview should be a good way to go, but from what I've read I am concerned driver Support in Ubuntu might stink. I'm also interested in the new Via VB7009 (http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/boards/productDetail.jsp?productLine=1&id=1770) motherboard which could use a wide array of Via CPUs including the current 1ghz (fanless) CPU I am already using. Though I can't really find this one for sale, or any user reports.

I figure I can ditch the 512MB HD for a SSD, and up the 1TB HD to 1.5 or 2TB, which will also help save power and noise.

Any ideas?


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:33 pm 
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If you want to come anywhere close to gigabit speeds you are going to need something much faster then a 1 GHz C7. Atoms may be slow, but they are much faster than C7s so you should go that route if you care about speed. A dual core Atom can get pretty close to maxing out gigabit.

If you are worried about graphics support in Linux then get one of the Atom D510/D525 based boards. They may idle a bit higher than the Cedarview boards but their graphics are well supported. Even with the higher idle, you should be under 35 W with an SSD + 3.5 HD.


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:25 pm 
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You can get a good bit less than 35W idle with the Intel Pineview of Cedarview boards.
But it takes a decent PSU. Don't underestimate its role in determining the idle power consumption.
The power consumption of your drives also matters. The power consumption of different 3.5'' can vary quite a bit.
See SPCR's reviews for power consumption figures.

cruiserandmax wrote:
I would like to upgrade my centralized file/torrent server ... 1024x768 graphics w/Ubuntu supported drivers (chrome)

Most people would not need graphics on their server I think.
If you really want proper graphics support, I agree with washu: go with a D510MO or a D525MW. They're cheap enough new but you might be able to snag really cheap board/RAM combos on the used market.
The Cedarview boards have advantages (depending on the specific board) but the graphics support isn't there (yet).

Note that the Pineviews do not have digital video output. If you want that and proper graphics support, see if you can find a good Zacate board (the ones with the AMD E350 or E450 CPUs) on sale somewhere.

cruiserandmax wrote:
I figure I can ditch the 512MB HD for a SSD, and up the 1TB HD to 1.5 or 2TB, which will also help save power and noise.

With enough RAM, your OS will not rely on the system drive much.
You don't need an SSD. You could use a cheaper Flash drive (as long as you avoid the worst). If you really want an SSD, pick a cheap one for this application.
Depending on your exact usage, you could use your main data drive for everything. If you're going to seed many torrents most of the time your server is on for instance, the drive will rarely have an opportunity to spin down anyway. In that case, I'd put the system there.
An alternative would be to use an old and cheap/free low-power 2.5'' drive alongside the main data drive. It wouldn't consume much power, might allow the larger drive to be spun down and/or give you more responsiveness (depending on the usage scenarios).
If you put your system on a hard drive, there are tweaks you can use to allow the system drive to spin down if nothing much is going on.

In any case don't forget to backup your system drive or partition! It's especially important if you put the system on a dodgy drive but all drives can fail without warning.


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:47 pm 
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Sandy Bridge is another alternative. A little bit more expensive than the Atom alternatives, but with considerable more power. And as HFat points out, the PSU matters. I use a picoPSU but wouldn't really recommend it for a file server. I would sleep better at night with a filtered +12V rail. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:24 pm 
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For that purpose I think a pico would be OK. But for a real file server, I'd be squeamish as well... but more out of ignorance than anything else.
Since you used a technical word, maybe you know what differences one can expect in practice between a good brick's 12V and a full PSU's. Maybe you also know if any of the pico alternatives "filter" that line.

Vicotnik wrote:
Sandy Bridge is another alternative. A little bit more expensive than the Atom alternatives, but with considerable more power.

... power you need a use for to justify paying (more or less) double the cost of the board/CPU and getting noise for your trouble. Someone who could live with an old VIA has probably no use for that power.


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:21 am 
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HFat wrote:
Since you used a technical word, maybe you know what differences one can expect in practice between a good brick's 12V and a full PSU's. Maybe you also know if any of the pico alternatives "filter" that line.

In my experience it's often easier to find a good ATX PSU than it is to find a good 12V brick. With a PSU you also have a lot of headroom most of the time. Now I sleep better with a nice Mean Well brick powering my file server (thank you, tramall :)). Before an old 5A Viewsonic brick from the dumpster did the job. Exciting moment every cold start when all the disks spins up at the same time, overloading the brick a little.

The wide input picos must do something but the regular 12v versions doesn't as far as I know. There is also not much room on a picoPSU so I would rather use something else than a WI picoPSU, like the Winmate that Electrodacus sells, if a higher voltage brick is to be used.

HFat wrote:
... power you need a use for to justify paying (more or less) double the cost of the board/CPU and getting noise for your trouble. Someone who could live with an old VIA has probably no use for that power.

Even if one doesn't need it now it doesn't hurt to have a little extra capacity. The Atoms at the time idled at pretty much the same numbers as Sandy Bridge, which is why I went with one. Often HDDs in a file server needs some kind of cooling, so there might already be enough airflow for a passive cooler to be enough. A Sandy Bridge is not that hard to cool. Checking newegg.com quickly I find a cheap CPU+mobo for 102$. Atom is cheaper of course but think of the possibilities, man! Throw Ubuntu Server on that sucker and you can use it for all kinds of shit. 8)

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Main: ASRock B85M-ITX | i3-4330 | 16GB DDR3 | Intel 730 240GB | HDPLEX H1-S | picoPSU | No moving parts | Idle 13.9W
HTPC: ASRock H81M-ITX | Pentium G3420 | 4GB DDR3 | Intel 520 120GB | HDPLEX H1-S | picoPSU | No moving parts | Idle 11.2W
Gaming: Intel DH77EB | i5-3570K | GTX 750 Ti | 16GB DDR3 | Intel 520 120GB | TJ08-E | G-360 360W
Server: Intel DH77DF | i3-2100T | 4TB+3x3TB | picoPSU | Idle 24W AC


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:11 am 
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Well, I've got a fully passive home server running Debian on Atom and I wouldn't know what else I would do with it if it had a more powerful CPU.
If you have a use for a powerful CPU, more power to you! But for my purpose, Sandy Bridge has nothing but downsides.

Very little idle power consumption is down to modern CPUs by the way.
There have been very efficient Atom boards for years but you had to pay a little extra for them. Last I checked, you also needed to pay a little extra to get a Sandy Bridge board in the same league as the cheapest 2010+ Atoms.


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:16 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Thanks for all of the detailed responses. Looks like I will probably be going with an Atom D5xx. I've seen some passively cooled D510 boards which seem just right.

I should probably check he PSU in the case that is running my current VIA box- maybe the motherboard in there now is mini-itx and/or power compatible. (this is what I have been using: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6856167012)

Otherwise, what characteristics should I be looking for, or avoiding, if my goal is to get an efficient non-brick PSU for the new motherboard?


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:38 pm 
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Prepare to be disappointed when you don't actually "get" Gigabit speeds.

I have been using Gigabit Ethernet for years, and I have never even hit 100MB/s let alone the theoretical 125MB/s and have used 4-different Gigabit routers, different computers with different Ethernet chips and cat 5e and cat 6 cables.

You will most likely you will end up in the 60MB/s realm with massive files (hundreds of MB's or larger), and less than half of that with small files, and as for documents and spreadsheets even less.

The rule of thumb is that the larger the file the faster it will get transferred, and the main reason is very simple, your hard drives (at either end) usually end up as the bottleneck, you can test this yourself, all you need is 2 HDD's in the same machine, grab a folder with a load of small files in it, make a note of how large the folder is, copy it to the other drive, then do the same with large files, that is basically the speeds that you will be able to run at over Gigabit if there are no additional bottlenecks e.g. cabling, Switch that cant actually do more than 45MB/s (I had one) the OS's, Antivirus software and so on.

If you are going to be transferring lots of small files (documents) you may want to question whether you will really get a benefit, if you are transferring lots of large photos (3-5 MB files) you should get a benefit, and if its large files (100 MB+) you will get a real benefit.

I don't want to put you off, Gigabit is excellent, I just don't want you to go ahead with this upgrade and expect to be moving spreadsheets and documents around at 100 MB/s because that wont happen. What you will notice though is the responsiveness regardless of the size of the file if you are opening files directly across the network. With Gigabit its more like opening a file on a local drive than on a 100Mb network, so if that's how you will be working, it will make the experience smoother.


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 6:41 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Thanks Andy for tips on real world gigabit performance! Admittedly I didn't really know how much speed I would gain. From your numbers it sounds like I will still be gaining a bunch. With my current server, for large files, I can consistently read (copy) a 700MB file from my server onto a client machine in 127 seconds (5.5 MB/sec), and write a 700MB file to my server in 77 seconds (9 MB/sec). So 40+ MB/sec would be a huge jump for me. And big file transfers is my usual use- reading/writing 200MB+ photoshop files back and forth for example.


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 8:45 pm 
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andyb wrote:
Prepare to be disappointed when you don't actually "get" Gigabit speeds.

I have been using Gigabit Ethernet for years, and I have never even hit 100MB/s let alone the theoretical 125MB/s and have used 4-different Gigabit routers, different computers with different Ethernet chips and cat 5e and cat 6 cables.

You will most likely you will end up in the 60MB/s realm with massive files (hundreds of MB's or larger), and less than half of that with small files, and as for documents and spreadsheets even less.


Hey Andy

I'm not trying to say you are wrong, because in many cases you are correct. However I've also been using gigabit for years and regularly get 100+ MB/s on large files with no special tweaking. This is with cheap switches and good, but not expensive NICs. I often get around 110-115 MB/sec on really big files. You of course are very correct that small files will slow things down. I'm seriously considering going 10 Gbit for some things if I can get some cards cheap.

Here are few things to check:

Obvious: Disks. If your hard drives cannot keep up with 100+ MB/sec then your network file transfers won't either. Common "green" drives have trouble with this kind of speed, especially towards the end of the disks. Use good 7200 RPM drives and/or RAID.

OS: Use Windows 7! Vista/Server 2008 and above have SMB2 which without any tweaking is way faster than SMB1 in XP/2003 and below. It is possible to tweak XP/2003 for 100+ MB/sec, but it's not easy. If you are using Linux/BSD/etc make sure the Samba install supports and is using SMB2. Many Linux based NASes only support SMB1.

Bus: If your NIC and/or disk controllers are on regular PCI then its game over. PCI theoretically has 133 MB/sec, but with overhead you will never get there. Check the specific chip for onboard controllers, just because you have PCIe slots doesn't mean your onboard NIC is connected that way. Also, a "good" PCI NIC is still worse than a "bad" PCIe one. I've seen lots of people put expensive server class Intel NICs into PCI slots which is just a waste and counter productive. The onboard PCIe Realtek can still transfer faster, it will just use more CPU time to do it.

NIC: Assuming everything is on PCIe, a good NIC will get that last bit of performance. A Realtek PCIe can usually do 90 MB/sec if the CPU can keep up. An Intel or Broadcom will get that last bit and push it to over 100.


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 8:51 pm 
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cruiserandmax wrote:
Thanks Andy for tips on real world gigabit performance! Admittedly I didn't really know how much speed I would gain. From your numbers it sounds like I will still be gaining a bunch. With my current server, for large files, I can consistently read (copy) a 700MB file from my server onto a client machine in 127 seconds (5.5 MB/sec), and write a 700MB file to my server in 77 seconds (9 MB/sec). So 40+ MB/sec would be a huge jump for me. And big file transfers is my usual use- reading/writing 200MB+ photoshop files back and forth for example.


Given your speeds, even staying on 100 mbit could be improved with a better machine. 11 MB/sec is pretty normal for 100 mbit, so your VIA is limiting you even now.


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:44 pm 
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washu wrote:
Given your speeds, even staying on 100 mbit could be improved with a better machine. 11 MB/sec is pretty normal for 100 mbit, so your VIA is limiting you even now.


Given my VIA MB/CPU is the limiting factor in my speeds- it seems almost any newer motherboard/CPU combo I'd go with would support gigabit speeds. And I already happen to be using a gigabit switch! Even better- I just figured out that my current VIA machine is mini-ITX based and the PSU is 200W. So hopefully I can just get a new MB/RAM, swap it in, maybe re-install the OS, and start enjoying way faster than 5.5MB/sec speeds... The only glitch to that ultra cost effective upgrade is that the current PSU has a 20-pin connector, and the Atom D525 board I am eyeing (http://www.supermicro.com/products/moth ... F-D525.cfm) has a 24-pin connector. Though from everything I've read this should not be a problem since mys system will be be configured for very low power (<35watts).


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:55 pm 
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A 20 pin PSU in a 24 pin connector is fine in this case. I've got a D510 running with a 20 pin PSU right now.

The extra 4 pins are mainly to supply extra power for PCIe graphics cards. Not something you need to worry about here.

That supermicro board is quite nice, but it will use a bit more power then say an Intel D525MW. The extra hardware and ICH9R vs NM10 will draw more. Not sure if it would put you over your 35 W target.


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:14 pm 
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washu wrote:
That supermicro board is quite nice, but it will use a bit more power then say an Intel D525MW. The extra hardware and ICH9R vs NM10 will draw more. Not sure if it would put you over your 35 W target.


A lot of people seem hail the Intel based LAN controller on the Supermicro motherboard vs the Realtek controller on the D525MW. Do you think there is any real world benefit in a case like mine for going with the Intel based NIC?

Thanks for your input- I really do appreciate it!


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:25 pm 
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Hi there,

for a low-powered file server, the Supermicro X7SPA-HF will be a great choice. I've owned both the D510 and D525 versions of that board. For stability and ease of use, especially in a Mini-ITX form factor, nothing comes close:

- Intel NICs onboard (2 of them)
- Onboard IPMI with IP-KVM functionality (remote control the server from a browser)
- SuperMicro quality
- Intel ICH9R controller
- Passive cooling

Make no mistake - for "server" purposes a server type board is what you want. I've run a lot of different servers over the years on desktop hardware, but over the past couple of years I've switched to using server boards instead, and there is simply no going back.

A Realtek NIC is not, and will never be, suitable for server use... (personal opinion). Given any form of choice, I'd go with Intel NICs every time.

I run WHS 2011 on the SuperMicro board at the moment, and although rock stable, it's a little on the slow side accessing the DashBoard - file transfer and generally working on / with the server is smooth sailing though.

Regards,
Lars


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:30 am 
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cruiserandmax wrote:
I've seen some passively cooled D510 boards which seem just right.

There's only one known-good board with fairly low power consumption, the Intel.

cruiserandmax wrote:
I should probably check he PSU in the case

It's probably not very efficient.

cruiserandmax wrote:
Otherwise, what characteristics should I be looking for, or avoiding, if my goal is to get an efficient non-brick PSU for the new motherboard?

Same as with hard drives: look at the power consumption in reviews with reliable meaurements such as SPCR's.

The one non-brick PSU which compares with a pico with a good brick is the Kingwin/Superflower Platinum 550W. It's probably way too expensive for your purpose. I think you'd be better served by a brick/pico type of solution.

cruiserandmax wrote:
And big file transfers is my usual use- reading/writing 200MB+ photoshop files back and forth for example.

You should be limited by your drive's speed if you use a single cheap and low-power drive for storage.

If you want to speed up transfers for a limited number of files, there are tweaks you could use depending on your exact usage.

cruiserandmax wrote:
A lot of people seem hail the Intel based LAN controller on the Supermicro motherboard vs the Realtek controller on the D525MW. Do you think there is any real world benefit in a case like mine for going with the Intel based NIC?

In order to take advantage of the better NIC, you'd need a fast drive. And affordable fast drives consume more power, even when idling. The Supermicro board itself is expensive and would consume extra power.
So if you want that speed, you're going to be spending extra money and consuming enough power that one has to wonder if it wouldn't be a better idea to build on a faster, more expensive and less power-efficient platform. Atoms have I/O limitations by design and lack server features like VM extensions and ECC support. They're great for small and relatively slow servers but you're only going to push them so far.
The only reason people should consider the Supermicro board in my opinion is if they want the brand or the IPMI feature.

And considering what you've lived with until now, I don't think you have a use for something better than a basic Atom anyway.
If you want low power consumption, invest your money in a pico and a good brick. That, an Intel D5xx board and a drive selected for its low power consumption would give you an efficient yet affordable little server. You could do better with the new Atoms though.


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:06 am 
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Quote:
Hey Andy

I'm not trying to say you are wrong, because in many cases you are correct. However I've also been using gigabit for years and regularly get 100+ MB/s on large files with no special tweaking. This is with cheap switches and good, but not expensive NICs. I often get around 110-115 MB/sec on really big files. You of course are very correct that small files will slow things down. I'm seriously considering going 10 Gbit for some things if I can get some cards cheap.

Here are few things to check:

Obvious: Disks. If your hard drives cannot keep up with 100+ MB/sec then your network file transfers won't either. Common "green" drives have trouble with this kind of speed, especially towards the end of the disks. Use good 7200 RPM drives and/or RAID.

OS: Use Windows 7! Vista/Server 2008 and above have SMB2 which without any tweaking is way faster than SMB1 in XP/2003 and below. It is possible to tweak XP/2003 for 100+ MB/sec, but it's not easy. If you are using Linux/BSD/etc make sure the Samba install supports and is using SMB2. Many Linux based NASes only support SMB1.

Bus: If your NIC and/or disk controllers are on regular PCI then its game over. PCI theoretically has 133 MB/sec, but with overhead you will never get there. Check the specific chip for onboard controllers, just because you have PCIe slots doesn't mean your onboard NIC is connected that way. Also, a "good" PCI NIC is still worse than a "bad" PCIe one. I've seen lots of people put expensive server class Intel NICs into PCI slots which is just a waste and counter productive. The onboard PCIe Realtek can still transfer faster, it will just use more CPU time to do it.

NIC: Assuming everything is on PCIe, a good NIC will get that last bit of performance. A Realtek PCIe can usually do 90 MB/sec if the CPU can keep up. An Intel or Broadcom will get that last bit and push it to over 100.


That is good information, thanks.

I have never put much effort into pinpointing why my home Gigabit network does not perform as expected, and you have basically pointed out my suspicions, its the pants PCI based NIC in my server, but before that it was my Switch, I used to use a 5-port Netgear switch and it never topped 45 MB/s which was pathetic as the 8-port version could do 60 MB/s, now I am using an 8-port D-Link. Its also not the RAID array in my server which at its slowest will outperform Gigabit's 125 MB/s, that's the point where I gave up and concluded that I didn't want to spend the money replacing my servers CPU, RAM and Mobo as I was rather happy with the speeds I was getting, and since then I have put a 500GB 7,200 rpm Laptop Drive into my main PC because it was stunningly cheap and allowed my to sell my brand new 500GB desktop drive, so the point is now moot as that drive is as much of a bottleneck as the PCI NIC in my server.

Also, as far as the other servers I have used they had different problems, such as RAID-5 in software under Windows sucks, and as it turns out RAID-5 in software under Linux sucks if your Chipset becomes a limiting factor, both of which I have seen and personally tested with single drives and got 80+ MB/s, but that was not for my use, just to identify the bottlenecks in those servers.


Andy

PS: My server was last re-booted 213 days ago and has received over 1-Billion packets and sent over 1/2-Billion packets with no issues or problems at all, that is why I am such a fan of Wired Ethernet, it just works :D

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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:41 am 
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cruiserandmax wrote:
A lot of people seem hail the Intel based LAN controller on the Supermicro motherboard vs the Realtek controller on the D525MW. Do you think there is any real world benefit in a case like mine for going with the Intel based NIC?

Thanks for your input- I really do appreciate it!


Assuming everything else is working properly (see my other post), it will mean the difference between a realistic 80-90 MB/sec on the Realtek vs 100-110 on the Intel. The Realtek will also use more CPU time when transferring, which might matter if you want your sever do do anything other than transfer files.


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:52 am 
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andyb wrote:

That is good information, thanks.

I have never put much effort into pinpointing why my home Gigabit network does not perform as expected, and you have basically pointed out my suspicions, its the pants PCI based NIC in my server, but before that it was my Switch, I used to use a 5-port Netgear switch and it never topped 45 MB/s which was pathetic as the 8-port version could do 60 MB/s, now I am using an 8-port D-Link. Its also not the RAID array in my server which at its slowest will outperform Gigabit's 125 MB/s, that's the point where I gave up and concluded that I didn't want to spend the money replacing my servers CPU, RAM and Mobo as I was rather happy with the speeds I was getting, and since then I have put a 500GB 7,200 rpm Laptop Drive into my main PC because it was stunningly cheap and allowed my to sell my brand new 500GB desktop drive, so the point is now moot as that drive is as much of a bottleneck as the PCI NIC in my server.

Also, as far as the other servers I have used they had different problems, such as RAID-5 in software under Windows sucks, and as it turns out RAID-5 in software under Linux sucks if your Chipset becomes a limiting factor, both of which I have seen and personally tested with single drives and got 80+ MB/s, but that was not for my use, just to identify the bottlenecks in those servers.


Hey Andy

This is getting quite off topic, but I'm curious as to exactly what you were using when you had your problems. I've used several cheap switches including a 5 port Netgear of some variant and never had speed problems like you describe. I'm currently using a semi-managed Netgear as my core switch but I also have a basic D-link on the network which transfers at full speed as well.

You're right about Windows having terrible RAID-5, but I'm curious about your Linux problems. I've generally avoided cheap chipsets and I cannot think of any Intel chipset which would have a bandwidth problem like this before the CPU it supports became to slow.


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:25 pm 
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I cant remember the particular model of Switch that was a problem, but it was Netgear, it was cheaper than most other branded switches of its time (2005-2006 I think), the odd thing was that my office had the 8-port version bought around the same time and it was much faster, I swapped cables, updated drivers, tried a couple of PCI Gigabit NIC's and ended up borrowing the 8-port switch from work over a weekend, that was what concluded that switch to be slower than it should be. Since then I started working from home and simply needed more ports, so I got an 8-port D-Link and its much faster.

The slowness of the Linux server at work was the "AMD SB700" southbridge chip, basically it was shit. You could max out any drive on a single channel, but if you ran 2 at a time it was a bit slower, 3 was even worse, and 4 was abysmal, even with low CPU overheads and loads of spare RAM and 4x fast drives in software RAID-5 in Linux it ran between 25-30 MB/s, some time later that mobo got sold, and we tried one with an SB750 southbridge chip, that was much better, and by the time the SB850 came out the problem wasn't really there, although TBH I don't know what kind of performance we got out of it after those upgrades. However there is nothing like "real" hardware RAID (not to be confused with RAID via the BIOS which is also crap). I have a low end 8-port Highpoint RAID card without any cache which currently runs 4x 2TB Samsung F3 Drives in RAID-5 and the average read speed is 155MB/s with an average seek time of 10.0 ms according to HD Tune with a CPU usage of 8.5% (single core 3800+ running at 800Mhz during testing). Ironically my RAID performance actually used to be better when I was running 4x 1TB F1 drives, although that point it totally irrelevant as I only ever see 65 MB/s anyway, which as I say is rather nice when moving around lots of Data.

When that motherboard dies I will also upgrade, and one of the things I will look to do is have a lower power usage as my server is on 24x7, I will also upgrade my OS at the same time, partly for the sake of it and partly because newer OS's are faster on modern hardware.

Back on topic. I look forward to reading about your experiences with your upgrade.


Andy

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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:38 pm 
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The NIC matters a lot. Some onboard NICs are a bit flaky and once I replaced it with an Intel PCI NIC, I went from maxing out at about 300mbps to maxing out at around 800mbps.

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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:20 pm 
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Quote:
The NIC matters a lot. Some onboard NICs are a bit flaky and once I replaced it with an Intel PCI NIC, I went from maxing out at about 300mbps to maxing out at around 800mbps.


That is impressive for a PCI NIC, 100 MB/s through a rubbish BUS that maxxes out at 133 MB/s for all PCI devices combined is damned impressive, when I tried a PCI Intel NIC it was no better than the on-board NIC.

Thinking about it, I am not even sure if my NIC is PCI or PCIe, it has been a long time since I actually did anything with it, and the driver inside windows doesn't help, it just mentions a "family" some are PCI some are PCIe (or perhaps PCI with an adapter chip to make them PCIe), either way its a piece of shit made by "Marvell" and I remember looking it up a couple of years ago and everyone else had the same problem with the chip as well.

Back on-topic......

Either way, I expect everyone who has been following this post now knows that "performance" is all about removing "bottlenecks", and different systems have different bottlenecks, for some its the Storage, others the cables, or Switches, or NIC's, or because they are using tiny files which will only be fast if using a serious RAID card that has on-board cache and even then only if the data is "cached" or by using an SSD.......... and then there is the next bottleneck. All I am really saying is that people should (ideally) know in advance of making purchases what they are going to end up with as an "end solution" and whether it is going to live up to their expectations.

So for our original poster, if you are going to end up with a 2TB 5,400 rpm drive (for example), it is still likely to be the bottleneck in its worst performing scenario (the back end of the drive, or for other people who use small files - the whole drive), at which point, what you want is something that isn't going to be total overkill to push that amount of data around, and ideally a bit more than that for future proofing, but you really can skip an i7 and 8GB of RAM, in-fact you really don't even need more than 2GB (but its dirt cheap so get whatever you want), I haven't used a recent Atom machine so I cant comment on the new breed, but I can tell you that the older ones will have a hard time pushing around lots of data, so you should only be looking at the newer ones - personally I would suggest having a look at entry level 1155 socket CPU's as opposed to Atom's as if your main PC dies suddenly one day you will at least have another machine to use that doesn't suck on the desktop like an Atom, but if power consumption and price are concerns then the Atom wins (or maybe the AMD Brazos, I have built 4 of them, they are OK as slow desktops or media centre PC's, but I never tested their HDD/Network performance, so I cant comment on that).

As far as cooling is concerned, with the Brazos APU's its a doddle, so the Atoms are not going to be a problem either if you go that way...... don't be concerned if a Mobo with a fan grabs your attention, they are easy to cool with the slowest rotating 8cm fans around, only pointing in their general direction so the ones with fans are options as well.


Andy

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Server, 6-TB RAID-5 array, + 2 x 2-TB backup drives, 380W Enermax Pro82+, 4x very quiet fans, positive pressure only, no exhaust fans
Living Room PC, 3500+, 2-GB RAM, HD501LJ


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:51 pm 
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Hey Andy

Thanks for the info. I've generally been running all Intel since the core 2 came out so I've never put a SB700 through it's paces. We are also about 90%+ Intel at work, at least for anything performance critical. The few AMD servers we have use Serverworks chipets and they seem fine.

Not to be discouraging, but low end Highpoint = software raid. It's really no better than a good onboard controller. I get about 250 MB/sec out of 4x WD20EARS (ie, green drives) in RAID-5 with just the Intel onboard fakeraid. The problem with software/fakeraid is usually the driver implementation, not the CPU load. Doing the XOR cacluations for RAID-5 is easy, even for an Atom. The problem is that the driver doesn't usually do full stripe reads and especially writes.


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:14 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Honing in on an Atom D525 motherboard now... Does anyone have any opinions on which integraded graphics would be better- Intel GMA 3150, or Matrox G200eW? I'm planning on a new version of Ubuntu if that factors in.

Thanks again for all the thoughts!


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:52 pm 
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Referring to your graphics question - the Intel GMA3150 would be faster than the Matrox G200eW for video playback or 3D gaming, but as others have said, that doesn't matter nearly as much for a server since it doesn't affect how fast your files are read or written, or the performance of your network connection for torrenting and serving files. If you just want to login to gnome every so often to alter the configuration, you're not going to notice the difference between the two graphics choices unless you like wobbly windows, or some of the other special desktop effects. If you prefer those effects, then the GMA3150 is a better option.

As a side story, others have mentioned Sandy Bridge, I figured I'd share my experiences with a similar though slightly older system (Westmere/Clarkdale generation, which is the immediate predecessor of Sandy Bridge).

I bought a Fujitsu Primergy TX100 S2 back in November on Newegg for $300 shipped. It has a Core i3-540 and 4GB of ram along with two Seagate 250GB 7200 RPM drives, an Intel 82578DM gigabit ethernet and idles in Openindiana oi_151a2 at 24-25W, which drops to 20W with one drive spun down. The system is NOT silent, but it is really quiet (I'm sitting 5 feet from it typing on my laptop, whose fan isn't spinning and I can hear it only if I listen for the faint whirr of the hard drive). I've been very impressed with the server so far, way more cpu horsepower than I need right now and am frequently seeing file copies across my network that crack 100 MB/s despite using single drive (non-RAID) configurations. About the only weak point of it is that fitting more than 2x 3.5" hard drives requires some work and more than 4x 3.5" drives isn't really feasible. The ATI ES1000 onboard graphics is bare-bones, but perfectly functional for the rare times I don't ssh into it.

Looking at Newegg, they've sold out and deactivated the TX100 S2 and the newer model as well, the TX100 S3 (with a Sandy Bridge chipset and processor), but they have some reviews at Newegg and the TX100 S3 is on sale at Amazon for $300 + shipping. This one actually supports 4 3.5" hard drives and I would actually expect its power consumption to be somewhat better than the TX100 S2 thanks to the newer Sandy Bridge architecture and a more efficient PSU, though I don't own it, so take that with a grain of salt.

Good luck with your decision, sounds like a fun project.

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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:54 pm 
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The Intel is not optional. It's integrated in the CPU. The Matrox is a second GPU wasting money and power.


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:12 am 
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HFat wrote:
The Intel is not optional. It's integrated in the CPU. The Matrox is a second GPU wasting money and power.


Power is what I was concerned about. I've read bad reviews about using the Realtek NIC these boards seem to come with under ubuntu. And i cant seem to find versions using the Intel NIC without the Matrox VGA.

For the Supermicro, according to the manual here is a jumper on the board to disable/enable "on-board VGA". It also mentions this is only available on the models that happen to come with the Matrox. I wonder if the on die Intel graphics then become available, and any power is saved?


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:37 am 
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You read bad reviews about anything.
Unless the D525 boards have a different NIC than the D510 boards, the NIC is OK. Sure, there are better ones but don't get carried away...

If you don't care about money but care about power consumption, the Supermicro board isn't the way to go.
Intel Pineview boards are not the only alternative, just the cheapest reasonably efficient solution considering you want a supported GPU.


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 Post subject: Re: A quiet multi-disk file server that will idle <35 watts
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:53 am 
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Completely forgot the GMA3150 was on the processor not a separate chip like it used to be with first gen Atoms, thanks Hfat.

Supermicro added the Matrox GPU to enable the use of IPMI 2.0, which allows for more heavy duty remote access server functionality (like accessing the BIOS setup remotely, among a host of other things). According to their user manual if you disable the on-board video through that jumper, you'll need an add-on VGA card to get video, so it won't disable the Matrox and then enable the GMA 3150.

I have a very similar Realtek ethernet chip, the RTL8111DL on my desktop motherboard (also on the Intel D510MO) vs. RTL8111E on the Intel D525MW. In my desktop build and I've had no trouble with it under 64 bit Win7 or CentOS 5 - network file copies have been very quick.

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