New [NAS] build
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Author:  illdrift [ Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:47 pm ]
Post subject:  New [NAS] build

I'm running out of space and will need to rebuild my nas soon, so i was hoping to go a lot greener this time and aim for <40w at idle (with hdd's spun down). Current setup idles at 200w, peaking at 300w when the hard drives spin up. This nas is running 24/7, with no power saving settings currently employed.

Current setup :

Corsair TX750 (750watt)
2x2gb ddr2-800
msi 680i
pci geforce2mx
highpoint 2320 raid card
8x 1tb raid 5 (storage)
2x 640gb raid 1 (os/temp drive)
1x 250gb
icute case which currently has 18hdd bays and 2x 5.25 bays

I'm only really familiar with intel systems so i need some help here. I'm hoping after selling the old components, they should easily pay for the cheaper amd parts (excluding hdd's).

So what i need for the new setup:

AMD dual core???
1x2GB ddr2-800 - from original setup
AMD mobo with onboard video????
no raid card (software raid)
8x1.5tb (raid 5 or raid z - could be 2tb disks if they catch up in $/gb)
1x 640gb (os/temp drive) - from original setup
icute case - from original setup

Price references can be easily gained here - (see post below)

I've labelled the questions with letters to try keep my post simple, i tend get lost in my words easily.

I need a new psu for my desktop, so the TX750 will be put into that. Now i'm unsure on what psu to go in the nas. The pico psu's look tempting, but it seems a lot simpler to stick with a regular psu, especially if i am to add more hdd's later. The enermax 425w modu82+ psu seemed to have great efficiency, however only the next model up (525w) is available locally.

a) What PSU would you recommend? Enermax modu82+ 525w ?

What AMD cpu would you suggest that can be underclocked/undervolted and employs whatever power saving modes are available? I assume the cheapest dual core AMD is the Athlon 64 X2 4600+, seen in this list - (see post below)

b) Which AMD cpu would you recommend, and is the sempron at all comparable?

I don't think i really make use of 4gb of ram. The nas is only used via remote desktop. The only thing it runs currently is a torrent program. However the new setup will also have to compute the raid calculations, but i guess that won't use up much ram either?

c) Should i stick to 1x2gb stick of ram, purely to save power?

I assume onboard video will use less power than a pci geforce 2? I need a motherboard with as many sata ports as possible. The current 680i has 8 ports aswell as 4x full sized pci-e16 slots, good for expansion cards. At the very minimum i need 12 sata ports, doesn't matter if they come from an expansion card(s). There are a lot of motherboards to choose from, and i really don't know where to begin considering i don't know a lot about the various amd chipsets. First priority is as many sata and pci-e slots as possible (assuming pci-e expansion cards), second is gigabit ethernet, third is power efficiency. I'd probably also prefer to go with the gigabyte brand, especially if the price difference is only something like $20-30.

d) Which motherboard would you recommend?

Lastly, I'm considering going with OpenSolaris and setting up a zfs raid-z, for the extra protection. Though i really hate using anything apart from windows, i find troubleshooting in linux etc to be quite difficult. I'm currently just running vista on the nas, after spending 2 weeks screwing around with linux - long story. For now i'm playing around with Open Solaris in VMWare. I'll either end up going with OpenSolaris/Raidz or Windows/Software raid 5.

e) Will Open Solaris support all those power-saving features? I can't name them off the top of my head, the features relating to amd, as well as being able to spin down hdd's/arrays when not in use

I had some spare time recently so was browsing these forums and looking through various articles on power-efficient setups. Now i don't have enough time to fully research everything, so sorry for the 'noobish' questions. Thanks in advance for your input :)

Author:  illdrift [ Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:48 pm ]
Post subject: 

A couple of links i couldn't post on my first post -

Price list (for comparison sake) - http://www.pricespy.co.nz/

Price list of AMD cpu's - http://www.pricespy.co.nz/cat_2.html#g218

Author:  FartingBob [ Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:13 am ]
Post subject: 

A) The modu82+ is a good choice, although you'll still need lots of adaptors to power those HDD's since i dont know of any realistically priced PSU that comes with 10+ SATA power cables.
B) My file server uses an AMD LE-1640. Its a single core at something like 2.2ghz. Works fine, and i actually have vista installed on my file server (not ideal, but had an unused key from work and once i disabled most of the services it runs pretty snappy), although im only using RAID1, so if your doing software RAID 5 on a 8 disc array you would probably want a dual core like the 4600 you mentioned.
C) Unsure how much ram a RAID5 setup uses, but it should be fine with just 2GB installed, and yes, use the fewest number of sticks you can. It saves on power, heat and removes any compatibility issues, which alot of cheap mobo's still seem to have if you fill all the RAM slots.
D) TBH im not sure. I just went with the cheapest board with enough SATA slots and gigabit ethernet, but then my HDD array is far simpler than yours.

Oh and if your getting rid of your current 1TB drives, i would wait until the new WD drives are out in either 2TB (4 platter) or 1.5TB (3 platter). Havent seen any confirmation of the 1.5's yet but the 2TB shouldnt be far off, available on preorder on a few sites already. Avoid Seagate, their 1.5TB have had quite a few showstopping problems and in a large array i would want something more trustworthy.

Author:  joelmusicman [ Sat Jan 31, 2009 6:43 am ]
Post subject: 

2TB WD Hard Drive on NewEgg

Author:  andyb [ Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:08 am ]
Post subject: 

Avoid the Seagate 1.5TB HDD's, and wait until the 2GB drives are actually good before buying them.

Why are you going for software RAID when you have a perfectly good RAID card to use.?

You really dont need a 750W PSU, my server is running 9HDD's and an 89W CPU on a 385W PSU.

I wouldnt bother getting a single core CPU, just get the cheapest dual core chip, and dont even bother with a 45W chip either, as the power savings vs the 65W standard chips only occur when the CPU is being pushed, which it wont if your using your RAID card.

As far as the motherboard goes, get the GA-M68 of something of its like with an nVidia chipset, the AMD chipsets have pathetic performance when using more than 1HDD at a time.


Author:  drees [ Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:08 pm ]
Post subject: 

My 2c:

Dual-core is overkill for a NAS box, unless you're pushing multi-Gigabit speeds.

Single core Athlon will be fine, or if you want dual core, use one of the BE series processors. Make sure Cool'n'Quiet is configured and works - all AMD single/dual core processors are within 5w of each other when enabled during idle - so as Andy suggests - if peak power draw doesn't bother you, or power draw when active, any AMD CPU will be fine.

With 8 drives in the system, you really should consider doing RAID6 instead of RAID5 - with larger arrays, it's very common to experience multiple drive failures. Don't forget that small random writes will absolutely suck on this type of array using RAID5 or 6 - likely slower than a single disk.

I'm not fully up to speed on what ZFS can do, but I've heard it's pretty sweet - do your research and you may find some better options than RAID5 or 6.

I'd suggest the Western Digital GP drives - quiet and very low power/heat. They'll draw half the power of regular SATA drives. Streaming speeds is great, though random seek times may suffer a bit. Luckily, for at least read workloads, you have 8 spindles to speed that up.

As suggested, 750w is overkill. 400w should be plenty.

Memory - additional sticks only add a couple watts - I'd stick 4GBon it.

Author:  nutball [ Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:51 am ]
Post subject: 

We've had a bad experience with ZFS on one of our Thumper boxes - it has randomly decided to forget the existence of about half the files on the volume (roughly 10TB of data). Sun have been unable to figure out why. There have also been issues with it mismanaging drive failures.

Author:  illdrift [ Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:47 am ]
Post subject: 

Cheers guys.

The current drives are seagate, i've read about their firmware issues. I'd like to go western digital this time, but if the seagate firmware can be flashed with a correct fix, and if WD still don't have anything close to the 1.5tb seagate in terms of $/gb in the near future, then i may just go with the 1.5tb seagates. The 2TB WD costs over 2.5x the price of a 1TB drive currently. But i can probably wait a couple months still.

I like the raid card, but i can't do raid 6 without moving to a more expensive card, and ill be limited to 8 (or 16) drives in the array. I've had friends have good results with software raid 5, and i'm pretty sure it can be transferred easily between motherboards aslong as its not using the bioses raid. So i'd rather leave out the horribly expensive raid cards, and just use a mixture of onboard ports + cheap sata cards. Also if i have an 8 drive raid 5/6 array, i can add 1 more drive and expand the array without buying a second expensive raid card.

I'm more tempted to lean towards the dual core, after seeing how much the intel atom processor restricts somewhat simple tasks. I guess i'd rather be safer with a dual core if it only costs a few watts of idle power.

Currently the nas runs 24/7. Only the 640gb has write access and is used as a temporary drive. It may be used 8 hours of the day. The array is read only and would be lucky to be used 4 hours a day, so if this array can spin down for the rest of the time, i wouldn't be as worried about running power consumption, though less is still good. And so performance of the array isn't very important, it's read only and limited by the gigabit network. I log in remotely to the nas to transfer from the 640gb to the array when it's ready to be stored in an organised fashion.

Thanks for the heads up nutball, those sort of situations are really putting me off zfs. I had similar problems when i was experimenting with linux as the OS initially, and lost a lot of data (i know, should have backups). It's a big risk considering i'm still a novice with those OS's. Also the lack of array expansion will be expensive. I originally started with 3x1tb, and slowly worked up to 8x1tb, as i ran out of space. Saved a lot of $ as hdd prices slowly declined.

Currently thinking of going Athlon X2 4600+, ECS GF8200A Motherboard. The next closest 8200/780g motherboards are atleast $40 dearer (mobo's with atleast 3x pci-e slots), probably not worth the few watts of power they save. Still got to look for alternative PSU's

Author:  andyb [ Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:34 pm ]
Post subject: 

ECS GF8200A Motherboard.

There are 3 computer components I never try to save money on, the motherboard is one of them. the other 2 are PSU and HD(s).

Simply put, I repair PC's for a living, and the 3 most common faliures I see are Mobo, PSU, HD, (not in any particular order). If you think about the following carefully, I am sure you will understand.

The motherboard connects to every single piece of hardware - important, the PSU powers every peice of hardware - important, the HDD(s) store all of your data - important. The rest of the items are irrelevant.

Chose a good motherboard and PSU whatever you do, and make backups if its possible to do so, and your server experience will be much happier.


Author:  drees [ Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:14 am ]
Post subject: 

illdrift - sounds like you're going down the right track. I'd like to echo andyh's concern over using a cheap mobo - I personally try to stay away from ECS boards after having some bad experiences with them.

Please do make sure you go with RAID6 instead of RAID5. I've heard about too many cases of dual-disk failures taking out large RAID5 arrays. With 7+TB of storage, the risks of dual-disk failures are extremely high.

Also make sure you run regular SMART tests and disk scans as well. This will help you find failing disks before it's too late.

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