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 Post subject: Converting old core2duo system to file server, saving power?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:12 am 
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Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 3:15 pm
Posts: 10
I need advice on cutting away the fat from this machine.
I keep building it like it's a game box so I need ideas, like underclocking
it or the ram.

Here's the hardware:
GA-965P-DS3 v3
E4300 (can oc to 3.2)
2GB DDR2-667
1GB DDR2-800 all clocked to 667
4x WD 1TB green
Sony DVD/RW Sata
8800GT OC(replacing with a $5 dell oem card, or something more efficient)
240mm side fan aerocool .5 amp fanbus, 5v
120mm bottom .6 amp aerocool fanbus 5v
120mm front .3 amp coolermaster
120mm rear .3 amp scythe
120mm front, kamabay scythe .3 amp
750watt thermaltake 80cert psu
oem intel cooler

System is set to intel speedstep. lowest I have seen is 1188 mhz.
On load it is 40c, on idle 40c. With the ninja it's around 29c

I want to turn this setup into a linux softraid box, and I need to cut power.

I will replace the 220 watt 8800 with a X300 dell oem pcie card or a 1mb ati rage,
not sure.

spare parts:
antec earthwatts 380psu
Scythe ninja rev b 775


Ideas?

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CPU i5 2500K / Motherboard GA-P67A-UD3 /Memory 4GB Adata PC3-16000 /Graphics Card 4870X2 reference sample
Hard Drive 2x Samsung HD103J 1TB Raid 0 Intel Lightspeed /Sound Card Asus Xonar DX /Case Thermaltake A6
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 Post subject: Re: Converting old core2duo system to file server, saving po
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:49 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 11, 2004 8:55 pm
Posts: 111
Location: New Zealand
It's difficult to slim down your system without making compromises in its performance.

You have already identified replacing the video card as the single biggest reduction in power draw.

How about removing the DVD drive and either putting it in an external enclosure or using a store bought external drive. Once you have installed the OS you probably wont need to access the drive very often. The max load for that component is probably CD/DVD 25watts when in use, though I am not sure about power draw at idle. The drive probably idles 99% of the time.

You could remove the 1gb stick of RAM for a 2-5 Watt saving. This would still leave you with 2gb of memory on a single stick.

You have four 1TB HDDs how about installing two 2TB Greens or one 3TB Green to reduce the number of spinning platters.

  • WD Caviar Green WD10EARS 1TB uses 5.40 Watts while idle, and you can multiply that by four = 21.6 Watts
  • WD Caviar Green WD20EARS 2TB 3.70 Watts while idle, multiply that by two and your get = 7.4 Watts
  • WD Caviar Green WD30EZRSDTL 3TB uses 5.50 Watts while idle.

The last thing I can think of is to reduce the number of case fans you have operating, I don't think you will need many once the video card is changed and the systems power draw reduced.


Last edited by Dirge on Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Converting old core2duo system to file server, saving po
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:08 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:27 am
Posts: 1728
Location: Switzerland
These drives could be spun down.
And the system could be shut down. It depends on the usage patterns. But certainly the biggest reduction in consumption would be achieved by shutting the whole thing down when it's not in use and waking it through WoL or timer.
To keep the drives spun down, google "linux laptop mode" for some pointers. You could also load the system partially or fully in RAM.

What's the efficiency of that big PSU at low loads?

Depending on your location, it doesn't make sense to put much effort into reducing the power consumption of a C2D server (I'm assuming you want to cut power consumption to be "greener" and electricity is much less green in some places than others...).
There's only so much you can do anyway if you want to keep the server running 24/7. If you want low power consumption, you'll only get it with a system designed for that (mobile parts, ARM or some such). I suspect that even a cheap desktop Atom board would beat your C2D system by a healthy margin (and you could reuse the RAM). But if the new Ontario boards end up being affordable, they should be much better for a 24/7 file server.


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 Post subject: Re: Converting old core2duo system to file server, saving po
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:59 am 
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Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 3:15 pm
Posts: 10
Well the psu sucks, it dies at 480w that's why I had to pull it from the i5 2500k.
It's 80% efficient at low draw. Once I have the video card I was going to put in the
earthwatts psu.

I was thinking of using an ati rage 8mb card.
Linux build so command line only.

I was thinking I could underclock the cpu to save power, say clock it down to 1ghz?

Clock the memory to 533 1.5v I don't know if mem uses that much power.
It is currently at 2.1v.

I can go with one stick of the ddr2-667 (1gb) or one stick of the 800 (512mb) @ probably 1.5v

Pull the dvd drive, turn off the onboard sound, keep only the stock pwm cpu fan and
the rear fan , + possibly 240mm side as it's built into the case.

System has to be on all the time, it's going to be running bittorrent off the softraid.

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CPU i5 2500K / Motherboard GA-P67A-UD3 /Memory 4GB Adata PC3-16000 /Graphics Card 4870X2 reference sample
Hard Drive 2x Samsung HD103J 1TB Raid 0 Intel Lightspeed /Sound Card Asus Xonar DX /Case Thermaltake A6
CPU cooling Scythe Mugen B /Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit /Monitor Apple Cinema 30


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 Post subject: Re: Converting old core2duo system to file server, saving po
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:25 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:27 am
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Location: Switzerland
It ain't a file server then. It's a seedbox. Not much you can do to reduce the power consumption of a seedbox that shares from a RAID array unless perhaps you have atypical sharing patterns. You'll always need to have a bunch of drives spinning plus the busy NIC and all that.
The thing that would save the most power once the CPU is undervolted as low as you can is to underclock the FSB I think. I don't think a stick of RAM will burn much. You can cut the frequency in half dynamically with Intel's mobile C2D chipsets. I don't know about yours. That would bring the CPU under 1Ghz with a low multiplier but that's plenty fast for seeding unless you have crappy software (or you're seeding through an awesome link - I never tried that).


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 Post subject: Re: Converting old core2duo system to file server, saving po
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:14 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 11, 2004 8:55 pm
Posts: 111
Location: New Zealand
ASSEMblerEX wrote:
turn off the onboard sound


Does disabling onboard sound in the BIOS really make a measurable difference?


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 Post subject: Re: Converting old core2duo system to file server, saving po
PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 1:51 am 
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Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 3:15 pm
Posts: 10
Probably not.

I'll go with the low power video card and remove
the extra fans.

Speedstep will only clock down to 1.1ghz, so
I will just manually set the speed and volts in the bios.

Speedstep is a pain to install for linux anyways.

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CPU i5 2500K / Motherboard GA-P67A-UD3 /Memory 4GB Adata PC3-16000 /Graphics Card 4870X2 reference sample
Hard Drive 2x Samsung HD103J 1TB Raid 0 Intel Lightspeed /Sound Card Asus Xonar DX /Case Thermaltake A6
CPU cooling Scythe Mugen B /Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit /Monitor Apple Cinema 30


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 Post subject: Re: Converting old core2duo system to file server, saving po
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2011 6:05 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:46 am
Posts: 135
Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Go with just the 1GB stick of RAM. That should save 5 watts.

ASSEMblerEX wrote:
I'll go with the low power video card and remove
the extra fans.


Yes, your extra 120mm fans are each taking 4-6 watts. Just use the 240mm fan and the CPU cooling fan. Turn them off or remove the 120mm fans completely.

ASSEMblerEX wrote:
Speedstep will only clock down to 1.1ghz, so
I will just manually set the speed and volts in the bios.


Yes, set the lowest CPU multiplier in your BIOS (usually 6x). Then run a stress test program or two (like Prime95) for 30 min. If it is stable, start dropping the voltage until it fails a test. Then bump the voltage back up by a setting or two.

ASSEMblerEX wrote:
Speedstep is a pain to install for linux anyways.


This is NOT TRUE. Ubuntu (desktop and server) have Speedstep installed by default, as does Fedora.

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 Post subject: Re: Converting old core2duo system to file server, saving po
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:47 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:10 pm
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Location: Northern New Jersey
If you really wanted to turn this into a power saving file server, try this:

Remove the front, bottom and side fans.
Swap out the graphics card for something lower power.
Put in the Scythe Ninja, and the Antec PSU.
Remove the KamaBay.

Your wattage will depend mostly on the activity of the hard drives, and the clocking of the CPU. Having the CPU fan, and rear fan is all you need if you seal the side hole, and bottom hole. Air pressure will do it's job at keeping the computer running cool.

There is a low power OS, WattOS, I haven't tried it myself, but maybe worth a look, SAMBA file shares work well between linux and windows, but I don't use a file server myself, so it's been a couple years since I've done that.

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 Post subject: Re: Converting old core2duo system to file server, saving po
PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:31 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 3:11 pm
Posts: 61
Location: WI, USA
Alternatively for an ultra low power seedbox you could grab a router that can run OpenWRT. OpenWRT has a number of torrent clients available. I use a Buffalo wzr-hp-g300nh as a router/switch/access point, seedbox, and NAS. It has one USB port and I have a 1TB drive attached to that. OpenWRT has a hd-idle utility that spins the drive down after a set idle time. I just moved past a year of usage of this little thing.

The primary issue with this setup is that the router can only handle about 12MB/s SAMBA transfers to the HDD due to CPU limitations. When I initially loaded the 700GB of files I wanted on it, I plugged it into a PC SATA port.

While the slow access is somewhat annoying when I need to move 10s of gigs, the power usage is glorious. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Converting old core2duo system to file server, saving po
PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:00 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 4:11 am
Posts: 40
Have you considered simply selling these parts and buying (possibly second hand) more efficient parts?

e.g. buying an MSI or Intel H55 motherboard, core i3-530 or -540, single 3TB disk and an 80 plus low-wattage power supply. That should work exceptionally well in cutting down on power, and will even yield you a bit of money. Right now, everything in your computer is inefficient, down to the motherboard and processor.


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