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 Post subject: Low power network storage
PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 2:25 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2004 1:24 am
Posts: 3
I'd like to build my own network server. Available NAS devices are too limited in functionality for my needs or too expensive for my budget. As the device has to run 24h/day I don't want to reuse an old AMD PC, consuming a lot of power and making a lot of noise.

I'm thinking of building a fanless Mini-ITX system with a VIA C3 like CPU.

Most important request: The system should be low power consuming, especially when in idle mode (i.e. not serving files) and it should be quite.
Performance of graphics- and soundcard can be quite low, as the systems will run as a headless server most of the time.
Medium CPU performance (500 MHz - 1 GHz) should be quite enough for file serving.
A 100 MBit network connector should be onboard to save additional network cards.
2x 3.5" harddrive bays and 1x 5.25" bay for CD-ROM (for OS installation) should be enough. Otherwise the case could be as compact as possible.
Powersupply should be fanless and could be external as well. In case 2 harddrives and 1 CD-ROM are too much for a fanless powersupply, I could live with a single harddrive and an external CD-ROM just for installation as well. If the BIOS supports network installation of the OS, the CD-ROM could be omitted completely. Probably a bootable flashcard slot could be helpful as well in that case.
The system should work seamless with the bigger Linux distributions (RedHat, SuSE etc.)

Well, and the system shouldn't cost more than $ 300 without harddrives, RAM and OS (already have these components), better less.

I'd like to hear some recommendation especially for CPU/MB, power supply and case from people, who have build a similar server already.

If there was a similar thread here, please point me to that. I couldn't find a thread that answers my questions in the postings from this year.

Cecco


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 5:53 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2004 6:49 am
Posts: 261
Location: Boston, MA
I'm running such a system from an old Dell Optiplex GX-1 (P2-400 Deschutes). It has only a single suspended Samsung hard drive (temporarily had a CD-ROM for initial debian install), with on-board ethernet. It will be silent when I find a case-fan replacement. The stock PSU is actually doing fine (no real heat from rest of system to begin with, and I've cut out the grills in back).

So yeah, if you can find any old P2-era machine (office PC graveyard, eBay, craigslist, etc.), it will run a quiet Linux NAS just fine, and you'll likely only be stuck with cost of new case fans, and possibly PSU.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 6:21 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2003 11:19 am
Posts: 291
I agree with going used. 1GHz is way more than you need unless you are running database apps or somesuch. Plus you've already got all the stuff that wears out; there's no risk. You could probably get started for less than $100.

I took some quick snaps of the NAS-esque machine hanging from my ceiling. It also runs (obviously) distiller and some other monitoring apps.

Image

It's an AAEON gene-4310 SBC, 333MHz NS-Geode, 128 MB ram, 100BT Ethernet. Note that it is roughly the same footprint as a 5.25" drive. The fan is 60x15, 24V running at 5V. For the most part it's not required; the board only gets hot when it's doing a lot of thrashing (e.g. installing a new OS). To do that, btw, I take it down and hook up a head and CD. The 2nd picture shows the 2.5" drive on the back. The best part is the whole thing runs off a 15 watt 5V power supply.

Oh, and this thread already exists on a similar topic. You may want to watch/review that for answers.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 8:09 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2004 1:24 am
Posts: 3
Well, have a spare AMD Duron 1GHz with an ECS K7S6A. Could try to exchange the cheap, noisy PSU with a more silent one and underclock the CPU, but hardly believe to get this thing down to 15 watt even with drives suspended.

That's why I'm heading for a fanless Mini-ITX system.

And thanks for the link. I've read that thread already. While the poster had a similar request, the answers are more about reusing old hardware than setting up a Mini-ITX system.

Your NAS-esque machine looks really cool. I think the reason for the low power consumption is (besides the 2.5" drive) the low power 4310 SBC and the external fanless power supply. The whole setup looks to me more like the predecessor of a caseless Mini-ITX system than a reused ATX tower. Well, if I had such a spare SBC system, I would give it a try, otherwise your NAS expirience tells me, it is right to look for a Mini-ITX system.

Cecco


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 11:41 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2004 6:07 am
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Location: Houten, The Netherlands, Europe
Go for the cheapest fanless EPIA mini-ITX board you can buy. But not one of the V-series, as they have only one IDE connector. Then buy one of the more powerfull mini-ITX PSUs from http://www.mini-box.com/.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2004 12:10 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2004 4:31 pm
Posts: 171
Location: Vancouver BC
It might be cheaper to modify your duron system...

Undervolt the CPU and get a fanless CPU cooler (or use a heatsink with a 80mm Panaflo L1A).

Buy a quiet PSU.

I don't think you even need a case fan.

Doesn't get much quieter than this, and won't cost you more than $100.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2004 12:12 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2004 1:24 am
Posts: 3
Well had a walk to the deep dungeons of my cellar this weekend and found 2 other mainboards :-) , I've used a few years ago.

1.) An AMD K6-2 450 MHz with a Gigabyte GA5AA MB
2.) An Intel Pentium II 333 MHz with a QDI-Brilliant I MB

Both need an additional network and graphics card as they don't have this onboard.

I'm a little bit unsure about the power consumption/performance of these systems in compare to an EPIA 5000 mini ITX system.

In http://www.mini-box.com/Power.pdf I found:
EPIA 5000 Power Consumption
Running Network Applications 11.32W
Idle 9.64W

EPIA M E6000 power consumption
Running Network Applications 18.17W
Idle 16.21W

On http://users.erols.com/chare/elec.htm I found for Intel and AMD CPUs:
Duron-1.0G
Typical Power Dissipation 42.4W
Maximum Power Dissipation 46.1W

K6-2-450AFX
Typical Power Dissipation 11.3W
Maximum Power Dissipation 18.8W

PII-333 (6-5-2)
Maximum Power Dissipation 20.6W


So at first sight, the K6 or the PII don't look so much worse than an EPIA M E6000 i.e. But that is probably not a fair comparison, because the AMD/Pentium systems also consume power for the MB, the graphics card, the network card. Any one knows, to which total power consumption that might sum up?
And concerning performance? I expect both the K6 and PII system to be slower than an EPIA 5000 system. Not only because of the lower CPU speed but as well because of the slower bus of the PII (66 MHz) and the slower IDE interface of the MBs. What is your opinion.

And as for the other route, Tibors suggested, to buy the cheapest fanless EPIA mini-ITX board (e.g. the EPIA 5000). The recommendation for the mini-ITX PSUs from http://www.mini-box.com is helpful, I didn't know about them so far. Thanx. What case do you suggest? Currently I want to put a single 80 GB Maxtor 3.5" drive into the box (a spare one from a PVR; very quite and ran without a case fan in the PVR!), but would like to have a second 3.5" bay for future expansion. I thought about a Morex Venus 668/669 but heard the fans would be really loud. Most cases come with an internal PSU, so you waste money if you buy such a case and replace the PSU with an DC-DC/external combo from mini-box.com i.e.. Any other suggestions?

Or going the cheap route and put a really quite ATX PSU (do they consume notably more power in idle mode than a DC-DC/external combo i.e.) into a spare midi tower. Definitely not as nifty as a mini-ITX case but probably a safer solution especially with 2 x 3.5" drives than trying to put all the stuff (fanless ITX-board + 2x 3.5" hd) into a small and best fanless mini-ITX case.

Any can recommend such a system (fanless ITX-board + 2x 3.5" hd + mini ITX case, preferable fanless), or advice against this, because he has blown his system.

Really like to here your opinion.

Cecco


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2004 10:16 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2004 4:31 pm
Posts: 171
Location: Vancouver BC
I would guess that your maxtor drive will be louder than a quiet ATX psu, so I don't think the fanless ITX solution would be worth the cost.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2004 12:02 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2004 11:10 pm
Posts: 657
Location: AB, Canada
good idea, unused PC = NAS at like 10% the cost.
like markjia said, i wouldn't worry too much about what's going into the computer/server/whatever you're calling it as long as it's stable and works well... mini-ITX or something would be neat if you were short on space, but sharing the drive from your own PC would save even more space. :P that aside, unless you go to the trouble of silencing the whole thing, the drive in it will probably still be the loudest part... the extra money (if you go with a regular ATX or mini-ATX PSU) may well be spent on using a laptop drive instead of 3.5".
and since noone else has mentioned it, don't worry about drive power usage either, unless you go down to a truly tiny PSU - most 3.5" drives use around 5-8W just sitting there, and around 25W to spin up. quality >> quantity for psus


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2004 12:17 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2004 6:49 am
Posts: 261
Location: Boston, MA
If you have a basement, why not just leave the NAS sitting down there and forget the silence thing?

(Grumpily feeling cramped in his overpriced urban high-rise apartment.)


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