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 Post subject: Suggestions on low power server mboards and CPUs?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 2:35 pm 
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I've been using a PC based around a Via C3 as a server (under 60W with 1.5T storage), but it really doesn't seem to have enough oomph for everything I'm expecting it to do
I'd just go with a C7 (uses a bit 5W more than the C3) and get 1.5X the processor speed, but I think the issue is the PCI bus (133MBps).
So I'm wondering what's actually available that can either provide a faster bus (PCI-X, at 1GBps would likely be fine, and faster likely means more power hungry, although that might not be the case for PCI Express as that's essentially the SATA of busses) or simply "sidesteps" the bus by providing on-board gbit lan and SATA.
Any thoughts? Via's mostly gone the EPIA route, which is fine, except they seem to be focusing on something other than the home server market - but there might be some other motherboards out there that do what I want.
Oh - and I'm more likely to run linux, but if someone mentions a board/CPU, I can likely figure out if that'll work.
Thanks!
Bob


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 3:07 pm 
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What do you need the system to be able to handle?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:17 pm 
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What kind of throughput are you expecting? Theoretically gigabit tops out at 125MBps, and I don't have any experience with GbE but I'd assume in the real world it's significantly less. So for file serving seems like it's pointless worry about the limitations of PCI, as network interface is what's going to hold you back.

But if you really think you need more bandwidth might check out the hot deals section, I posted a link to Core Duo mini-ITX boards for $100 shipped. It has PCI-E 1x (250MBps) and GbE. Seems like super overkill for a file server, though.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:40 pm 
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The major issue is actually disk I/O.
I'm using something called "slimserver" to serve up audio to audio players called "squeezeboxes". The issue seems to be reading mysql tables (I don't know their schema, but there's, erm... 33407 "songs", so at least one table will contain that many rows.
It's open source, so I guess I could wade in and figure out the actual bottleneck, but it's in perl, and I hate working in perl.

I'm using the server to serve files, web, and email, too. (serving files is why I added a gb nic).

It's running win 2k server, as, when I set it up, I also had a couple of audiotron music players that had problems with non-windows smb servers. I'm pretty much not using those now, so I guess I could ditch w2k. I guess I'd run ubuntu server, if only just for apt-get, which I like, but if you've got suggestions for a more efficient linux server, I'm open to that. I've got minix in a vm but I'm pretty sure slimserver won't work there...

On the other hand, maybe it's not an I/O issue and 900MHz just isn't fast enough for this. I can get a VIA motherboard with 1.5GHz C7-D for about USD60 (part of a google-os development kit) that has two SATA ports built in. Certainly the cheapest route, and I know it'll work with at least one flavor of linux (actually, AFAIK, GOS is a flavor of debian; just has some of those apps with proprietary stuff (like mp3) already installed.

Thanks!
Bob


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 6:18 pm 
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If you're dealing with big databases it may very well be a CPU issue. I really am not familiar with the software, though, so couldn't tell you for sure. However, I suspect that if the CPU is the bottleneck, upgrading to a 1.5GHz C7 won't help you much. It's only 600MHz faster, and I don't think C7 offers much better performance per clock than C3.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:22 pm 
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So something like a mobile processor? Hmmm, I can find 25W turions, but I don't think there are desktop/server motherboards.
On the other hand, I have a spare C3 and motherboard, so maybe I should take the time to set this one up with linux (rather than W2K), "just to see"... and $60, compared to turion prices, is also pretty close to "free", so I still dunno...

BTW, I don't regard that db as large at all - but a simple "build a web page that's a list of all albums beginning with the letter 'A'" takes 'way too long (10+ sec), and it's a really simple select. Again, I haven't looked at the app, but these "sets" of albums/artists/titles/whatever are retrieved by clicking an item (like the letter 'A') in a fixed set of choices, so I would hope that the db has been indexed to match those fixed choices.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 6:33 am 
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I've figured out that I have a memory problem (mysql is paging like mad - 150 to 300 in the page faults column while I'm waiting for the web page to come back).
This m'board uses PC133 memory, has only two mem slots, both already have 512M. 1G of PC133 is $130-$150 these days, but I can get that C7 m'board, that uses DDR2, for $60 - and 2G of the DDR2 I'd need is around $40 - and I get a 50% faster CPU for "free".
So I know what to do...
The downside is that I'll very likely be using 10W more :(
I'll have a report when I get things built/running (I've ordered the m'board and memory, haven't decided how much of the old server I'm going to re-use - maybe all but, well, m'board and memory...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:06 am 
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I am using a Tyan Tomcat S3095 (based on 945 GM chipset) paired with an Intel mobile Core2 Duo (T7400 2.16 GHz) for my home server. With SpeedStep the cpu can scale (as low as 1Ghz 0.95v) using both clock multplier and VID for excellent power savings. Being a server board, it has 3 LAN ports (2 GbE). Expansion is somewhat limited due to flex-ATX form factor, but it has one PCI-E 4x, one PCI and one mini-PCI slot. I am no server wiz-kid by any stretch, but it runs Server 2003 just fine. After six months, my only maintenance has been cleaning dust filters. And temps are low (mid 20's) with passive cpu cooler.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 9:27 am 
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fwki wrote:
I am using a Tyan Tomcat S3095 (based on 945 GM chipset) paired with an Intel mobile Core2 Duo (T7400 2.16 GHz) for my home server. With SpeedStep the cpu can scale (as low as 1Ghz 0.95v) using both clock multplier and VID for excellent power savings. Being a server board, it has 3 LAN ports (2 GbE). Expansion is somewhat limited due to flex-ATX form factor, but it has one PCI-E 4x, one PCI and one mini-PCI slot. I am no server wiz-kid by any stretch, but it runs Server 2003 just fine. After six months, my only maintenance has been cleaning dust filters. And temps are low (mid 20's) with passive cpu cooler.



What is your power consumption of your home server with the Tyan board? I am interested the Watt values at idle, and at peak performance.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 4:03 pm 
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ATM the best (=cost/effective) server setup is:
M2A-VM + BE-2300 + 2GB ECC

Intel CPU are bond to the chipset for ECC compatibility, so there aren't nice microATX server boards.

If you want the setup to be more energy efficient, you could go single-core with a LE-1100, it should be enough for just music streaming.

A VIA processor is about 75% a same-MHz PIII, so a 2GHz A64 would outperform a 1GHz C3/C7 by 300%. VIA CPUs suck.

You don't need PCI-X. But keep in mind SATA is the future.

Gb Ethernet could go as far as 90MB/s (remember to activate jumbo frame). For music streaming that's overkill. And a single HD setup is unable to keep that speed.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 8:12 pm 
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I have one of those VIA C7 boards you're considering. It's woefully underpowered for anything you might put the word "server" on, I suspect due more to the 128k cache than anything.

I'm running XP on the physical hardware, with two VMs running for everyday tasks: One is a hacked-up slackware called UnRAID, and I've given it "physical disk" access to a pair of WD10EACS "green power" 1TB hard drives, which it manages and then shares out over the virtual network bridge. The other VM is another XP that I actually do my day-to-day work and browsing in, which can "reboot" to its heart's content without interrupting the UnRAID. In the future I might switch to a Linux host OS, but I don't think it makes a difference in my application.

Most of the time, the CPU is 85-90% idle. Serving files off the UnRAID, either to another client on the network or to the internal XP VM, pegs the CPU at 100% and the throughput makes glaciers look speedy. A Parity-Sync operation (read 1TB from one disk, write 1TB to the other) takes ~11 hours to complete, with *no* other activity on the box (XP work VM shut down). The CPU is pegged the whole time, while the drives yawn and wonder what's taking so long.

The small cache is absolutely killer for virtualization and most other "server"-like tasks. If I were running UnRAID on the bare iron here, it'd probably be more than adequate to saturate a 100Mbit network connection. But that would mean I'd need another full machine to actually *use*, and that's not cool.

Oh, some numbers:

As measured by my Kill-A-Watt, the whole box as configured above (VIA Esther 1.5GHz chip and mobo, two WD10EACS, two 1GB DDR2-667 sticks, onboard everything) with a generic "UltraVseries" 500-watt PSU (it's the only thing I had sitting around with SATA power connectors) draws around 20 watts idle, 46 with both drives spun up and the CPU pegged.

I haven't taken any steps to quiet it down, but the PSU's thermostatic fan just wanders lazily along since there's not much heat to move, and the CPU fan is an unobtrusive whirr. The whole thing is wedged into a $10 junk case from Geeks dot com, which provides nothing in the way of damping or absorption, but it's small and accomodates full-length PCI cards.

I've been reading things like the desktop CPU power efficiency survey, trying to get an idea of where to go next. I would've order a D201GLY2 except for the 1GB RAM limit, which is also kinda tight for VM work. I've got 2GB stuffed in the VIA board right now and I'd really rather not go below that when I "upgrade".

I'm open to suggestions. I really liked paying less than $100 for the CPU and motherboard! I don't need a powerhouse here, just something that can run Firefox in a VM without taking all day to render a page. I wish my old Athlon hadn't met a sparky death (at my clumsy hands), as it would've rocked total ass with this workload. It was a watt guzzler, though. I'm thinking a Turion 64 might work well, but the choices are bewildering.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 9:21 am 
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nor500 wrote:
What is your power consumption of your home server with the Tyan board? I am interested the Watt values at idle, and at peak performance.



Measured at the wall with Kill-a-watt: 46 watts idle, mid 60's when multitasking. My main problem is an over powered PSU (550w) that is only 60% efficient at these low draws, but I am in the process of replacing psu with Fortron Zen with the goal of getting to 40 watts idle. I have the Fortron already, just havent taken the time to test its ATX12 cpu connecter on the EPS12V board.
In the server I have one Hitachi 7K1000 TB drive and one Samsung T166 500 GB drive.


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