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 Post subject: Has any used a Supermicro Atom C2000 based motherboard?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:09 pm 
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I am thinking of using https://www.supermicro.co.uk/products/motherboard/Atom/X10/A1SAM-2550F.cfm in a build a home server and would like to know if anyone else has used one and if so how they found it. In particular, was passive cooling ok for the PC or did you need to add a CPU fan?

As a bit of background, my Synology NAS drive died last week (my carefully set up RAID array is ok but the enclosure is shot, which is a bit irritating to say the least) so I thought I'd build a small server to replace it. As i will be on all the time, the priority is low idle power consumption. However as I want it to have a life of 5 years without upgrading the CPU I want a half-decent amount of processing power, hence the choice of mobo. I'll be running a file sever, media server, mail server and download client on it at the start of things.

So if anyone has built a system around this series of boards, I'd be interested in your idle power draw and choice of components. Initially I plan to keep it simple with a mini-tower, pico psu, SSD for the OS and a WD green 3TB disk. That's more than enough to replace my NAS drive and leaves plenty of room for expansion in the future.

Thanks

Matt


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 Post subject: Re: Has any used a Supermicro Atom C2000 based motherboard?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 6:21 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:32 am
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Location: California
I have the 8-core mini-ITX version of that board (A1SAi-2750F) in a server. Love it. Its sitting in a SuperMicro 1U case with 4 hotswaps. Running Hyper-V server 2012 R2. Works great. Runs the fans in the case nice and slow. Not silent, but quiet.

Plenty of horsepower for my needs (which include running security cameras and a myth-TV backend - so those needs are not so light).

Power draw with all four 4TB WD Reds active is about 48w (and at least 5-10% of that is due to the somewhat inefficient PSU). Passive cooling is OK (tested it that way) but the case it is in happens to have 2 40mm fans turning slow.


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 Post subject: Re: Has any used a Supermicro Atom C2000 based motherboard?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 6:35 am 
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matthelliwell wrote:
As i will be on all the time, the priority is low idle power consumption. ... I'll be running a file sever, media server, mail server and download client on it at the start of things. ... Initially I plan to keep it simple with a mini-tower, pico psu, SSD for the OS and a WD green 3TB disk. That's more than enough to replace my NAS drive and leaves plenty of room for expansion in the future.

A Supermicro board seems to fit piglover's requirements but not yours.
You apparently have no need for anywhere as much processing power at this point and while the power consumption of the Supermicro board shouldn't be a very large contribution to the power consumption of a server with 4 3.5'' drives, I suspect it will cause an pointless high power consumption in your use case.
If you plan to add a bunch of drives soonish however, the Supermicro would be a better choice. But in that case, I'd question the pico. There are fairly efficient regular PSUs on the market now.
You don't need an SSD for the OS in this kind of server by the way. But they've become quite cheap so why not? Just don't overspend (you certainly do not need a fast or large drive!) and do remember to back it up.


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 Post subject: Re: Has any used a Supermicro Atom C2000 based motherboard?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:10 pm 
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HFat wrote:
A Supermicro board seems to fit piglover's requirements but not yours.
You apparently have no need for anywhere as much processing power at this point

True but I suspect I will in due course. eg there's some software development I've got in mind that it might get used for. I might be getting CCTV installed later this year so that's another possible use. So I'm tending towards something over powered if I can keep the over all idle power consumption down.

HFat wrote:
and while the power consumption of the Supermicro board shouldn't be a very large contribution to the power consumption of a server with 4 3.5'' drives, I suspect it will cause an pointless high power consumption in your use case.

You might be right but I'm open to other suggestions! Trying to find a mobo and CPU combo that idles < 20w and has enough power for expansion over the next 5 years is proving difficult.

HFat wrote:
If you plan to add a bunch of drives soonish however, the Supermicro would be a better choice. But in that case, I'd question the pico. There are fairly efficient regular PSUs on the market now.
You don't need an SSD for the OS in this kind of server by the way. But they've become quite cheap so why not? Just don't overspend (you certainly do not need a fast or large drive!) and do remember to back it up.

I was thinking of the Pico because I can't see it using more than 100w so I was hoping to be able to get an external brick that would be efficient at this low power. Most of the other PSUs look like they lose efficiency with lower loads. I'll keep digging for an efficient supply.

I wanted to separate out the OS onto a separate disk so that if it gets corrupted and the OS needs re-installing I don't have to worry about wiping out any data. So as you say, I might as well shove it on a SSD. Its a bit paranoid but as that's how my Synology NAS broke, I don't won't to have the same problem again :-(

I've got an external WD Green drive I can use for backups.

Thanks for your comments.

Matt


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 Post subject: Re: Has any used a Supermicro Atom C2000 based motherboard?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:16 pm 
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piglover wrote:
I have the 8-core mini-ITX version of that board (A1SAi-2750F) in a server. Love it. Its sitting in a SuperMicro 1U case with 4 hotswaps. Running Hyper-V server 2012 R2. Works great. Runs the fans in the case nice and slow. Not silent, but quiet.

Plenty of horsepower for my needs (which include running security cameras and a myth-TV backend - so those needs are not so light).

Power draw with all four 4TB WD Reds active is about 48w (and at least 5-10% of that is due to the somewhat inefficient PSU). Passive cooling is OK (tested it that way) but the case it is in happens to have 2 40mm fans turning slow.


Thanks, I don't mind a quite fan case or two, I just couldn't work if the CPU was passively cooled or not. The Supermicro rack server based on this mobo has a CPU fan but the spec says its passively cooled, hence my confusion.

Its interesting about the security cameras as we're thinking of getting some fitted later this year. What sort of load does it put on the system?

Matt


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 Post subject: Re: Has any used a Supermicro Atom C2000 based motherboard?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 1:12 pm 
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matthelliwell wrote:
Trying to find a mobo and CPU combo that idles < 20w and has enough power for expansion over the next 5 years is proving difficult.

Really? What does idle at >20W DC these days?
Why don't you simply get a regular server board with a more powerful CPU you could even upgrade down the road without changing the board if need be? Intel-branded boards tend to be efficient. Have you looked at their low-end server boards?
Modern Intel CPUs consume very little when they idle. It's the board that consumes most of the power. So you shouldn't be afraid of using a mainstream CPU (and conversely you shouldn't automatically trust boards bundled with low-power CPUs to be very efficient because the various features vendors stick on the boards such as many NICs, remote management and so forth can end up burning up quite a bit of power). The advantages of using a low-power CPU is that they're easy to cool and they consume little *under load*. Very low *idle* power consumption, you find by looking at feature-poor boards, boards using mobile parts, DC-powered boards and so forth... in other words consumer or industrial (appliance) boards rather than server, typically.

matthelliwell wrote:
I was thinking of the Pico because I can't see it using more than 100w

The thing is, if you add many drives you'll have to spin them up and that takes some juice (unless the board has staggered spin up... does it?). And if you don't add drives, what's the point of spending so much? If it's only for development, you can get cheap performance in a less reliable and efficient computer you won't have to keep on 24/7.

matthelliwell wrote:
Most of the other PSUs look like they lose efficiency with lower loads.

Picos do it too. But you're right: most PSUs have terrible efficiency at low loads.
You only need to use one of the best and the loss will be small enough. The problem is obviously the price. But since you're spending so much on a server board, I figure you might as well also spend on a quality PSU since the PSU affects reliability as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Has any used a Supermicro Atom C2000 based motherboard?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 3:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:32 am
Posts: 134
Location: California
On power consumption: I see you two debating systems that "idle" less than 20w. I'd point out that the SuperMicro C2750 boards idle well under 20w (~17) and hit ~32w running full load with synthetic benchmarks (no spinny disks, Supermicro MB, 32GB and small SSD for boot). Mine runs a bit higher solely because of the disks and the choice of PSU.

The C2550s hit almost exactly the same idle and come in at ~28w at full load.

See http://forums.laptopvideo2go.com/topic/29059-sas2008-lsi92409211-firmware-files/ for a good workup on C2000 power use.

They are not power hungry at all. The compare favorably to Haswell delivering much better power/CPU up to the point they run out of gas.

Biggest problem really is that they are pricey. They are soldered SoCs and only a few boards are available so limited opportunity to shop around. Plus Intel is keeping the price of the C2000 SoCs artificially high to avoid cannibalizing the low-end Haswells (and just because they can...).

To go much lower power - idle and load - you really need to look into the BayTrail boards. And frankly there are a lot of maturity issues with that product line. I do have first-hand experience with both (see BayTrail thread) and for now if you are building a low-power server and reliability is any part of your objective I'd tend towards C2000 systems even if you do have to pay a bit more and use a trivial amount more power from the wall.


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