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 Post subject: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:55 pm 
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http://www.silentpcreview.com/HP_Proliant_MicroServer

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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:06 pm 
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Thanks for the review, particularly the step-by-step guide to fan replacement.

One query. Your picture of the modded fan makes it clear that you are using camlin's pinout guide. However the HP pinout info at the beginning of the guide is a different pinout again, and that's a bit confusing.


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:24 pm 
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i love the looks of this. for what it is, its managed to stay very subtle and understated.

that psu looks like its a short 1u unit, in which case FSP makes a 120w psu that looks like it'd fit. combine that with a fan swap, and maybe a sheet of the 3 layer acoustipack and we'll be getting a bit closer to the mid/lower teens.

maybe an Akasa Viper AK-FN059, or a Coolink SWiF2-120P would be more suitable choices for a pwm fan... though i think scythe has released a higher speed slipstream pwm fan recently.

psu links.
official page
newegg

edit:the audio links, on page 7 at least, appear to be broken. they both have an extra 3(.mp33), but the second couldnt be found even after removing its extra digit.

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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:27 pm 
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For info: just carried out fan replacement successfully using the guide in the review (camlin's pinout). I used an Akasa Apache. This has a max speed of 1300RPM, but a minimum of 600RPM, which I guess is the important thing here (to prevent power down).


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:34 pm 
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Thanks for your great work on the fan replacement issue. The information you present is very valuable information.

But I'd like to take issue with some of your statements about the suitability of low-power servers and costs.

First, let's be clear: it's a puny CPU indeed. It's not significantly faster than the fastest Atoms. But it's got ECC support (no Atom has this) and the basic VM extension (only a few uncommon and slow Atoms have it). You're not likely to want to run VMs if all you want is a NAS but ECC support alone puts the Microserver ahead of an Atom NAS box. And the Microserver board also runs cooler than cheap Atom board which should make it more reliable (but I have no idea if that effect is significant in practice). Nevermind the lack of hardware RAID5 support you mention: what you want to use for a small NAS is software RAID!

What people need to understand is that such a puny CPU is not only overkill for a NAS but also for many servers. So there is definitely a potential market for this type of servers (and not only for SMBs). I write "potential" because wanting gear more powerful than you need is unfortunately a common personality flaw.
You wrote: "Users will likely experience slowdowns at the higher end of the recommended number [10 users that is]." But the amount of users that can use a server without slowdowns is greatly dependent on what they do with it. The Microserver could easily serve much more than 10 users depending on its task. Or it could be too slow for 3 users. There is no substitue for requirement analysis.
I attached a Microserver usage graph as an illustration. It's mainly a file and email server but also runs a database and a web app among other things. It serves about 5 users (sometimes more, sometimes less) but the average CPU utilization is little more than 3%. The small spikes you see are nightly off-site backups for which the CPU is a bottleneck because heavy compression is used to conserve bandwidth and remote storage. If you squint, you can see some spikes that can be attributed to the users like on the first day of "week 12". So it's safe to say that this installation could serve a many more users without a hardware upgrade.

You claim that many SMBs do not have the skills to run a Linux server but that's not the main reason organizations pay for Windows servers. Running a Linux server is very easy and organizations which do not have this basic skill should be outsourcing their IT!

One thing you didn't consider when looking at costs is spare parts. You figured people would only buy one server. In many cases, the largest cost an organization which depends on IT many incur is the cost of downtime. The Microserver is so cheap that people will have an easy time fitting spare servers in a budget. And that's a great reliability feature HP won't advertise. With a spare and very little planning, if the server breaks, any employee can be directed to move the drives to your spare over the phone if need be and the server will be back up in less than 5 minutes.


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:29 pm 
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HFat wrote:
You claim that many SMBs do not have the skills to run a Linux server but that's not the main reason organizations pay for Windows servers. Running a Linux server is very easy and organizations which do not have this basic skill should be outsourcing their IT!

Many small businesses (in the 5-20 employee range) don't have an IT department, or IT outsourcing, they have 'the guy in the corner who knows a bit about computers' (many of us have been that guy at one time or another). The HP Microserver will tempt some of these companies to set up their first 'proper server' for backups etc.

That guy will stick with what he knows. My guess is that in the real world many of these microservers will be running XP/Win7 or a 'plug-n-play' file server OS (I use NASLite - runs nicely off a USB stick sitting in the internal USB port). Yes, the Microserver is capable of more, but I don't imagine many people will be pushing it to its limits.


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:58 pm 
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johnk wrote:
Many small businesses (in the 5-20 employee range) don't have an IT department, or IT outsourcing, they have 'the guy in the corner who knows a bit about computers' (many of us have been that guy at one time or another).

Sure but the sane ones have a relationship with some kind of professional to overlook servers and the like.
Outsourcing is not uncommon around here. Small IT service companies provide the services many business needs without the risk involved in relying on a clueless guy.

johnk wrote:
The HP Microserver will tempt some of these companies to set up their first 'proper server' for backups etc.

That's what HP says but this is 2011. There are better solutions than a server set up by a clueless guy for backups. Broadband is close to ubiquitous and there are lots of serious offerings on the cloud storage market now, some of which must come with decent enough software. I'd sooner rely on that than on a clueless guy for important data!

johnk wrote:
Yes, the Microserver is capable of more, but I don't imagine many people will be pushing it to its limits.

Better get more powerful hardware than to push anything to its limits of course but "more" includes lots of stuff that doesn't come close to testing the limits of the Microserver (see the attachment I posted above).


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:37 pm 
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johnk wrote:
Thanks for the review, particularly the step-by-step guide to fan replacement.

One query. Your picture of the modded fan makes it clear that you are using camlin's pinout guide. However the HP pinout info at the beginning of the guide is a different pinout again, and that's a bit confusing.

You are right -- camlin's pinout guide is correct. Thanks for pointing this out. My text has been corrected, the wrong link & info eliminated.

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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:45 pm 
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What is the funny looking slot for? Looks like 1x PCIe plus a mystery slot.


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:27 am 
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ECC makes this a deal. Shame HP does not plan to support S3 suspend ( http://h30499.www3.hp.com/t5/ProLiant-S ... -p/2345569 ), otherwise I'd consider this machine the perfect home NAS / HTPC...

BTW in Spain it can be found for 210 € + shipping; tempting... http://www.acuista.com/x/687557-servido ... 12275_421/


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 1:00 am 
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HFat wrote:
Sure but the sane ones have a relationship with some kind of professional to overlook servers and the like.
Outsourcing is not uncommon around here. Small IT service companies provide the services many business needs without the risk involved in relying on a clueless guy.


Many of the outsourcing companies, OTOH, consist of a *jumped-up* guy in the corner who knows stuff about computers. You know, the one who decided to go into business for himself and do it fulltime, for his old place as well as some others.

Anyway, the reason for Windows on small business is really simple: Exchange.

HFat wrote:
That's what HP says but this is 2011. There are better solutions than a server set up by a clueless guy for backups. Broadband is close to ubiquitous and there are lots of serious offerings on the cloud storage market now, some of which must come with decent enough software. I'd sooner rely on that than on a clueless guy for important data!


That's because you've thought seriously about this. Most small businesses evolve from one-man operations and one man operations evolve from home users. Who don't. And consumer broadband may be ubiquitous, but business broadband isn't usually that broad. You can easily pay twice as much for business 2/2 SDSL (without an SLA or guaranteed throughput, even) as a consumer does for 100 Mbit FttH or DOCSIS3.

Incidentally, if you look at something like Crashplan, their Pro variant consists of on-site backups again. Do you really want to trust your data off-site to some random company? Your answer to that question will depend upon your needs. Speaking of Crashplan, using their free, consumer-grade software to backup between the various PCs without an online subscription is a) extremely easy to set up and b) pretty good at running without major failures and without direct supervision.

At 4 drives *including* the OS drives I would never go to RAID5, especially not as a small business server. Raid 10 will still give you 4 TB capacity (6, at a push..) and be a darn sight safer. If you business will fail if your server fails to operate for a week (those outsourced IT people sometimes have *two* crises to manage, after all), you might even want to consider three drive raid 1 -- 2 TB is generally just fine for a business, they rarely need more than a few hundred gigs (especially compressed & deduped).


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:25 am 
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Last time we went too far off-topic in discussing a server article, we ended up annoying Mike.
We seem to agree on hardware RAID5 and what legitimate reasons to run Windows on a server might be, issues which Mike actually broached in the article. So I'll leave the rest at that.

Luke M wrote:
What is the funny looking slot for? Looks like 1x PCIe plus a mystery slot.

It's probably the slot for HP's remote management card.


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:35 am 
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raid isnt for backups, its for fault tolerance. its intended to protect you from drive failure. nothing more.
*and with that, im done here*

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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:12 am 
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Luke M wrote:
What is the funny looking slot for? Looks like 1x PCIe plus a mystery slot.

The mystery slot is a half-height, half-length 16x PCIe slot. The 1x slot is also half-height and half-length.


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:39 am 
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HFat wrote:
Luke M wrote:
What is the funny looking slot for? Looks like 1x PCIe plus a mystery slot.

It's probably the slot for HP's remote management card.


Right you are. The data sheet refers to it as an "IPMI slot".


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:39 am 
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HFat --

You're perfectly welcome to express your views, (I have to admit I don't recall when I was annoyed w/ your server discissions. Maybe about ECC RAM?) and you seem to have more recent hands-on experience with the IT requirements & capabilities of <10 person businesses.
I know of lots of small companies in IT who have enormous computing skills who would have no issues with deploying the MicroServer. But that, to me, is abnormal, specific to the IT field.

I know a handful of small business with 3~8 people in Vancouver, and I'd say the vast majority would be lost w/ a server. They don't have a specific IT guy in house, usually just one guy who knows the most, and they often have a loose contractual relationship with an IT consultant -- who is often not that great. A couple of these businesses are pretty heavy technology users -- film-making (with lots of PC processing), audio consulting -- but I know it would take a while for them to get up to speed with a real server, Linux or MS or... This also holds true for me. With MS WS2008, I quickly found I lack the patience and paranoid perspective to deal with all the security functions, which drove me crazy. I suppose if I had a need for them, I'd have a different perspective.

In any case, my discussion of the merits of the HP for its intended market is just that -- a discussion. There are a lot of choices out there for collective storage/file sharing. Just trying to touch on this.

I like your point about how the Microserver's low cost allows businesses to buy a second machine to keep it as a backup -- this is something I've done with PCs and NASes -- but that 2nd server too would need its own OS & licenses, no?

Regarding web-storage, my 2 cents: it seems to have come a long way. Here's one example -- for years I used local storage w/ Outlook Express (It's low hanging fruit) for SPCR mail via our own server. Carefully maintained annual archives, dealt with OE inconsistencies. Moved to Thunderbird, more local file management. Then we migrated to gmaii's free email app... and the web/browser interface. I use Thunderbird to sync w/ the online email records once a week, but that's the only backup I do. It's been more reliable, consistent & hassle free than any other email setup I've had before.

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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:49 am 
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BTW, all of the SPL numbers and the recordings in the article were changed last night. It turns out the gain for the preamp mic had been accidentally changed at some point in the last couple of days (we did have some kids running around here one day -- I can blame them :wink: ), and the result was that the SPL measurements were off by 2~3 dB on everything, and the recordings were off by as much as 10 dB.

So.... I recalibrated the mic, re-ran all the acoustic tests. SPL #s came out 2-3 dBA higher, and the recording levels match all the others done in the last 3 years. 23.3 dBA/1m stock (w/ the 2 noisy Seagate drives), 19.5 dBA w/ 4 WD Greens & Scythe 700rpm fan. Of course, subjective impressions remain the same. There was virtually no change in the text.

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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:13 am 
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The current numbers seem to match my experience better than the old ones. Since our ears are of course very poor sound meters (and mine aren't the best), I assumed I got the wrong idea by listening. So it really is louder than HP's specs.

MikeC wrote:
(Maybe about ECC RAM?)

Indeed.
The thread split was not done well in my view: on-topic posts which had nothing to do with ECC were moved to the ECC thread.

MikeC wrote:
I know a handful of small business with 3~8 people in Vancouver, and I'd say the vast majority would be lost w/ a server. They don't have a specific IT guy in house, usually just one guy who knows the most, and they often have a loose contractual relationship with an IT consultant -- who is often not that great.

Which is why I talked about "outsourcing". And what I had in mind was not hiring a company which consists of a glorified consultant but outsourcing the server. Your orgnization could have an account on some servers in a datacenter managed by a proper IT service company (with enough staff that an emergency, an illness or an accident won't leave you without support). That's what most people do when it comes to web servers of course but you can also do it for Exchange servers and so on.

MikeC wrote:
With MS WS2008, I quickly found I lack the patience and paranoid perspective to deal with all the security functions, which drove me crazy.

I think you might be pleasantly surprised by the user-friendliness of some free server operating systems in that respect.

MikeC wrote:
I like your point about how the Microserver's low cost allows businesses to buy a second machine to keep it as a backup -- this is something I've done with PCs and NASes -- but that 2nd server too would need its own OS & licenses, no?

It depends on the licenses.
If we're talking about MS licenses, my understanding is that you would only need two licences if they were OEM licences which I wouldn't generally recommend for small organizations anyway. I don't know if there is such a thing as a OEM CAL.

EDIT:
MikeC wrote:
In any case, my discussion of the merits of the HP for its intended market is just that -- a discussion. There are a lot of choices out there for collective storage/file sharing. Just trying to touch on this.

Understood. I must admit I've used your comments as a stand-in for a point of view shared by many I wanted to argue against. Lots of people seem to believe they need more powerful server gear than they actually do and it's a shame because it leads to a lot of waste. Sorry for putting you on the spot like this on account of my little crusade.


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:06 am 
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Thanks for the excellent review, Mike. This is a tempting home server, but I'm still balancing out the lack of RAID5 with the configurable RAM and more powerful CPU of a NAS...

Typo patrol, on page 5: "The 120mm fan starts at an elevated speed for a few seconds (under 10) when [thes ystem] powers up..."

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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:12 am 
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NeilBlanchard wrote:
Thanks for the excellent review, Mike. This is a tempting home server, but I'm still balancing out the lack of RAID5 with the configurable RAM and more powerful CPU of a NAS...

Typo patrol, on page 5: "The 120mm fan starts at an elevated speed for a few seconds (under 10) when [thes ystem] powers up..."


I m not sure that any NAS under several thousand euros has RAID5 beyond the software type, which could be added to this box for free. Im not really a Linux guy but the software RAID support in that OS seems to be excellent, unlike Microsoft who appear to be trying to phase it out. Adding a hardware RAID card would still keep the cost under the crazily priced equivalent QNAPs.

Thanks for the review, really great little box with handy VT capabilities, a decent a NIC plus SAS support for 220 euros. Cripes. Did you get chance test the power consumption without drives?


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 7:57 am 
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StartledPancake wrote:
Thanks for the review, really great little box with handy VT capabilities, a decent a NIC plus SAS support for 220 euros. Cripes. Did you get chance test the power consumption without drives?

I did report that it was 25W at idle w the 2 WDGreen drives -- the same as leaving it in BIOS w/o any drives. Easy to see that it's under 20W by itself -- if you could get it to "idle" w/o any drives. I suppose an OS on a flash drive would have worked, but didn't see the point.

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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:19 am 
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Does the BIOS allow booting off USB?

NeilBlanchard wrote:
Thanks for the excellent review, Mike. This is a tempting home server, but I'm still balancing out the lack of RAID5 with the configurable RAM and more powerful CPU of a NAS...

If you don't use a crippled OS like Windows, you can have RAID-5. And 6 or 10 (or true 1+0).


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:36 am 
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Monkeh16 wrote:
Does the BIOS allow booting off USB?

NeilBlanchard wrote:
Thanks for the excellent review, Mike. This is a tempting home server, but I'm still balancing out the lack of RAID5 with the configurable RAM and more powerful CPU of a NAS...

If you don't use a crippled OS like Windows, you can have RAID-5. And 6 or 10 (or true 1+0).

You can have software RAID 5, 6, 10, etc. If you want hardware RAID, you're limited to 0 and 1. If you're only using this as a NAS then software RAID is probably fine, but otherwise you'd probably want to be a little careful about the load on that little CPU.


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:49 am 
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Of course it can boot off USB.

Surely Windows has software RAID5! It would be a reasonable choice for MS not to provide it in the cheapest versions because it's not really something you want if you're on a small budget anyway.
RAID5 is easy and gives you good capacity but doesn't have the features, safety or performance of even RAID1 or 10 and can't touch more complex solutions. The only way you're going to hit the capacity lmits of the Microserver (which would be the main argument for RAID5) is if you spend more on the drives than on the device. In that case you should consider using two servers instead of RAID for redundancy or simply a bigger server.

The CPU load of software RAID is minuscule (the server I posted a graph for uses software RAID).


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:05 am 
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HFat wrote:

Surely Windows has software RAID5! .


Windows does have software RAID5, the problem is it sucks. Bad software RAID5 implementations are not slow because of CPU usage, but because they don't do full stripe writes and/or copy on write. Since the software RAID5 in Windows and most cheap "RAID" cards is really stupid, writes are extremely slow.

If you have data that is mainly read only then Windows RAID5 will probably be fine. It will just take forever to write stuff to the drives.


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:24 am 
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guises wrote:
Monkeh16 wrote:
Does the BIOS allow booting off USB?

NeilBlanchard wrote:
Thanks for the excellent review, Mike. This is a tempting home server, but I'm still balancing out the lack of RAID5 with the configurable RAM and more powerful CPU of a NAS...

If you don't use a crippled OS like Windows, you can have RAID-5. And 6 or 10 (or true 1+0).

You can have software RAID 5, 6, 10, etc. If you want hardware RAID, you're limited to 0 and 1. If you're only using this as a NAS then software RAID is probably fine, but otherwise you'd probably want to be a little careful about the load on that little CPU.

As noted above, software RAID has minimal CPU impact. There is no hardware RAID support. Please do not confuse the 'onboard' RAID 0/1 support with hardware RAID. It is not.

HFat wrote:
Of course it can boot off USB.


I have seen far, far too many systems which cannot when they should be able to, so I felt it prudent to ask.

Also, the Microserver does not support SAS. It merely uses an SFF-8087 (commonly known as mini-SAS) port to connect four of six SATA lanes to the backplane. One is then present for the optical drive, and the other is the eSATA port on the back of the machine. It is a bog standard AHCI controller. I'm not sure if it's an SB700 or SB800. Hopefully the SB800.


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2011 11:45 pm 
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This + FreeNAS with ZFS sounds like a match made in heaven. Really like the ability to use ECC-ram too. Anyone who knows how the cooling of the hard drives are with a quiet fan?

Maybe this could replace my c2d e5200 based NAS (which I know is way to overkill) and push down the power drawn :).


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 4:10 am 
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macher wrote:
Anyone who knows how the cooling of the hard drives are with a quiet fan?

SPCR's review has hard drive temperatures before and after switching the fan. The stock fan blows too hard and, especially for low-power drives. The attached chart comes from a stock Microserver located in a place which is quite bad for ventilation.

I thought you weren't supposed to use ZFS without ECC. Or has ZFS become more reliable?


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:08 am 
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Hi Guys,

I have just purchased one of these units, and I am intending to use it for my HTPC usage and as a NAS (I have a second NAS I use for off-site backup).

I am just testing on the integrated graphics, 1GB ram and 250gb harddrive at the moment, and I have installed the latest version of Ubuntu 10.10 and XBMB.

I will be upping the ram to around 4GB and getting a dedicated low profile graphics card in the future. (I already have 6tb of samsung eco drives I want to use).

I was wondering if you all had any suggestions as to which method for serving both these needs would be best?

I am no stranger to virtual machines, and was wondering if I would be better off running a version of XBMCbuntu or XBMCLive ontop of Ubuntu with FreeNAS or unRAID doing the NAS duties? - I was thinking RAID 1 or 5.

This will be a low usage setup, with only 3 other devices needing access to the files - 2x Windows 7 machines (desktop and laptop) and a PS3.

Thanks

Hugh


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 Post subject: Re: HP MicroServer
PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 5:38 am 
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I was hoping someone else would answer but the simplest thing would probably be to reconfigure XBMC a bit so that it doubles as your NAS. It shouldn't be difficult and will give you the best performance.
Running a HTPC and a home NAS on the same box isn't a good reason to go with VMs unless you want exotic features which are not available on every operating system or something.

I don't see why you'd need 4G of RAM by the way.


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