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The Build: Frankenserver 2


Frankenserver
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First post... Well, I already built a WHS v1 21 drive Norco case server and muddled through it a couple years ago. I am an amateur hobbyist who's focus skews to media storage, and audio. I am not a big gamer. I have 6 TV's and 4 PC's accessing storage on two servers. I use a Ceton Infinity TV card for Cable TV and use EBaY acquired WMC extenders on all but one TV. I play with an XBox a touch for WMC control as well. Not much though.

 

My little HP WHS box is close to dying. I get permanent heat warnings and weird fan warnings as well. It's strange the measured CPU and drive temps are not high but the heat warnings stay on. I bought the little bugger the first week out, added RAM and swapped the CPU out. With the family pics and my wife's primary storage device, divorce will occur if the little HP finally dies. I back up everything to my other WHS Server so it's OK but if it totally fails...... there still is a price to be paid.

 

What a great excuse to build another server. My goal is to have a new server. called Frankenserver2 (Since I built it from parts on sale, stuff sitting around, and with a mind truly not geared to tech - PC's are not my trade). This server is to serve multiple purposes. 1) Store all our family data. 2). Store more movies and such - as my other 37TB unit is filling up. 3). Transcode all the movies and media to other devices as my kids grow up. 4).. Act as our primary server to the internet and family simplistic web site. (Currently the little HP does this). My other server is relegated to movie storage.

 

What I wanted then was a device that would not fail for a long, long time. Very expandable. Fast CPU for transcoding. Fairly energy efficient. My first server Frankenserver 1 runs at about 270 watts and although energy is fairly cheap where I live, I want the new server to run on less power. I figure killing the little HP and firing up the new machine should not radically increase my energy usage. I am going to kill-a-watt the little guy and then do the same with the new machine.

 

So, I am building a big box WHS 2011 machine with a SSD drive for the OS and the following parts. This is truly an overkill unit in terms of processor, RAM, board, and OS Drive but I expect a long life cycle and understand that there is more transcoding tricks coming down the pipeline with the new Core processors and want to future proof this thing as much as possible. My other WHS v1 build machine has been bulletproof and I am pleased with the build so far.

 

Case: Norco RPC 4220 4U Hotswap Rackmount (Mini SAS Connector) For my older build I used the previous version of this case with the SATA backplane. The mini SAS will just make the build much cleaner. Cost: $310.00

 

Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68-V LGA 1155. This board has enough SATA plugs to handle the primary OS, Optical Drive and 4 more SATA drives. It also has monitor outs for when I might need to go straight into the server and for easier install. It might be overkill with the Z68 platform but I am a buy it and forget it guy and perhaps cutting a few bucks out would have worked but it was on sale and ASUS, although a couple people slammed it on this site, I believe makes a good board. All my other builds have been Gigabyte boards though so we'll see. I appreciate any tweak advice on this board axd it relates to WHS 2011. Cost $155.00

 

CPU: Core I5 2405S Sandybridge 2.5GHz 65W quad core. This CPU has the new HD 3000 graphics capability. I understand it is presently not being utilized for Server 2008 or WHS 2011 unless you have a monitor plugged in to your box and I need to learn about this more. From what I have read, I understand Intel has a fix/upgrade coming in the next two months that will fully use this feature without a monitor attached. From my very basic/limited knowledge base. HD 3000 greatly speeds up transcoding and really should be very beneficial in a server tasked with on the fly transcoding. Again, I appreciate expert opinion and advice on this. Cost $220.00

 

OS Drive: 64 GB Kingston SSD Now V100. I have used the larger 128GB model on my primary HTPC and it blazes. This drive supports Trim and should give me that added comfort of having a drive that should not fail. I have read I need to use a USB stick to tell the WHS install to override the check for drive size. This will get me around the minimum drive requirement of WHS and partition the OS drive in to a 60GB drive and a little left over for data. I will then add the first data drive and change the OS drive to a full 64GB. If this is wrong, please let me know. Cost $65.00 (What a deal!!!)

 

PSU: OCZ GameXStream 700W ATX12V. Yep, this PSU might be a tad underpowered but I think I should be all right. I intend to populate with nothing but low power green drives. The SSD runs on practically nothing, the motherboard has some draw, but the CPU is decently efficient as well. I would have preferred a 850 Watt model but I got this on a very attractive sale. Cost; $50.00

 

SATA/SAS Controller Cards: Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8. Two of them for 16 drives. As mentioned earlier, I went with the SAS backplane Norco box so these guys will make it clean and easy. I understand the cards do work with greater than 2TB drives so it's good to go for today and the future. Cost $210

 

4 Norco SFF-8087 to SFF 8087's for the Card to backplane. Cost $60.00

 

1 Norco Reverse breakout cable Need this to go from the motherboard to one SAS backplane connector.

Cost $15.00

 

Memory: Kingston Hyper X 2 X 4GB DDR3 1600. Fast enough, big enough. I like Kingston $50.00

 

Molex Extension Splitter cable. I may need this to reach and add enough molex power connections for the backplane. I might not though. Just bought for insurance $8.00

 

WHS 2011 Cost $50.00

 

I am going with the stock fans to start. I bought a great new 19U deep mount cabinet to house this and my other server in the garage. Our climate is mild so this box is going to look sweet tucked away in a corner. So, although I tricked out my Frankenserver 1 with quiet fans, I think for this build, I'll just use a couple Zalman fan controls and tick down the fans just a bit and see what it sounds like. With green drives and good air flow, I should be fine. I also have 4 drives sitting around so I'll most likely be buying drives over a year or two as needed.

 

Total cost of build without datra drives: $1,193. I think this is correct. The new 19U rack was $290 and it is fantastic.

 

I will post pictures hopefully, as I go and show the two servers all happy in the new cabinet. Let me know if something looks wrong. I know it is a bit overkill for some of the components but after the underpowered tiny little HP box, I have been much happier with my first overbuilt WHS box. Admittedly my first box has a little girly man CPU and can't hope to do any really heavy lifting. With WHS v1 there was no reason to do so. WHS 2011 can do more. I still want the 3rd party drive extender options though. I am hoping they are ready for prime time soon.

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You have spec'ed out a great system and obviously have put much thought into ti. Personally I would not use an SSD for the OS. Several reasons, first, little to no gain on a sever OS, once it is booted it does not do much in the way of accessing. You are better off using a dual drive box of sorts with integrated RAID mirror. SSD are great on HTPCs and general purpose computers but offer very little value on a home server as you are serving files not running a . As up time and reliability is key, using an OS mirror is a better way to go. The last soapbox I will get on is the third party DE. With these raid cards you will be much better off with raid 5/10 configuration than using all software. My two cents.

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You have spec'ed out a great system and obviously have put much thought into ti. Personally I would not use an SSD for the OS. Several reasons, first, little to no gain on a sever OS, once it is booted it does not do much in the way of accessing. You are better off using a dual drive box of sorts with integrated RAID mirror. SSD are great on HTPCs and general purpose computers but offer very little value on a home server as you are serving files not running a . As up time and reliability is key, using an OS mirror is a better way to go. The last soapbox I will get on is the third party DE. With these raid cards you will be much better off with raid 5/10 configuration than using all software. My two cents.

 

thanks for the comments. I already have the SSD drive and I didn't expect much of any speed improvement with it over a hard drive. I mostly am interested in assumed relaibility. Also, I am very unfamiliar witrh building RAID's of any type. I am a finance guy by trade. So, I think for now I'll stick with the SSD. Now as far as adding a true RAID card for the supermicro's any recommendations? There are enough slots on the board for whatever I might need. I tried an Areca card on the original WHS build and with my limited skill sets, problems with a Chenbro expander and a whole lot of swearing, I gave up and went another direction. I also tried an onboard RAID array with the Gigabyte build I did. I know many enthusuast's laugh at me (not with me) for even trying it. Boy did that stink. What little I know about building Raid arrays seems to require same drives. The old WHS v1 allowed me to throw just about anything in the thing except some really bad Seagate drives of the 1.5TB and die variety. I appreciate advice here as I would add a RAID card if a near Raid idiot could handle it (That being me)... The build I discuss is something I know I can do - easily - without much issue other than perhaps making sure the Supermicros have the appropriate firmware for more than 2TB drives.

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thanks for the comments. I already have the SSD drive and I didn't expect much of any speed improvement with it over a hard drive. I mostly am interested in assumed relaibility. Also, I am very unfamiliar witrh building RAID's of any type. I am a finance guy by trade. So, I think for now I'll stick with the SSD. Now as far as adding a true RAID card for the supermicro's any recommendations? There are enough slots on the board for whatever I might need. I tried an Areca card on the original WHS build and with my limited skill sets, problems with a Chenbro expander and a whole lot of swearing, I gave up and went another direction. I also tried an onboard RAID array with the Gigabyte build I did. I know many enthusuast's laugh at me (not with me) for even trying it. Boy did that stink. What little I know about building Raid arrays seems to require same drives. The old WHS v1 allowed me to throw just about anything in the thing except some really bad Seagate drives of the 1.5TB and die variety. I appreciate advice here as I would add a RAID card if a near Raid idiot could handle it (That being me)... The build I discuss is something I know I can do - easily - without much issue other than perhaps making sure the Supermicros have the appropriate firmware for more than 2TB drives.

 

 

Understand your point on SSD's and certainly if you have it, it is your call, but as a comparison I have had 3 times the failure rate on SSD's than on mechanical drives so make sure you have a backup. Don't get me wrong I love them but not on my server. As for RAID, you do not have to change out your cards. The cards you selected will work fine as they are raid cards. You do not need a high end card for what you are doing. Since all the hard work will be done in actually building the system, creating the array is actually the easy part as it will all be done though your cards utility, usually a web based or small application, and you are already buying the SFF cables so why stop short. In my opinion it will be a much better, faster, and certainly safer. depending on your storage needs, you will make better use of your storage. As a point of reference, I included a link to my 2011 setup for you to review. Not the only way but rather a way to use storage. I am not trying to bag on these DE extenders however with this many drives and a server this large, you need reliability and speed. My testing of these extenders has shown fairly bad performance so consider you will already own all the hardware you need, it would make more sense to run raid, and certainly would not have to spend $30+ dollars on a utility that will slow you down.

 

 

http://win7king.com/2.html

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As a side, note, on your HP mediasmart.. I had a similar behavior on my old 475 that was caused by a corrupted .ini file. I gave that box away some months ago, but if memory serves the .ini file is in the C:\program Files\Hewlett-Packard\HPmediasmartserver folder and it’s called Mediasmartserver.ini (or something close to that). There should also be a Mediasmartserver.ini.old, in my case the .old file was much larger than the .ini. I made a backup copy of both, and replaced the .ini with the copy of the .old file, then rebooted.

Matt

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I agree with pcdoc on the SSD. It will cause more problems in the long run. Even though you have it, I wouldn't use it. I would spend extra and by a 250 - 500 GB HDD at minimum. Best option would be to buy two and mirror.

 

On the DE verse Raid, I disagree with pcdoc. First, his testing was very early in the beta phases on the speed. A lot has changed since then and therefore they may be faster now. About three weeks ago, I was playing with DrivePool and didn't notice any slowdowns. I do agree that raid is a good option, but I disagree with pcdoc's reason to use it over DE due to the speed. Also, with that many drives, I think DE would offer much more flexibility as you can use any size drive you want. While in raid, you can use different manufacturers, lots, etc, you can NOT, or at least do not want to use different sizes. Depending on the drives you have now, this could reduce the available number. Another thought, given this server is for data and not media, you don't need speed. So even if the DE options are slower, who cares. Only thing of real importance is that you test them and verify they work before you trust all your data on them. If you don'twant to test, you could go ahead and use them and use a sync tool to copy the data to the other server.

 

Anyway, just a different oppinion for you. A lot to consider.

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Thanks for your thoughts ITTOG as there are always many views to this and no correct answers. One correction though, although you are correct and my initial tests where on earlier betas, I did go back on two occasions after some updates and still saw performance lower than I would like as well as limited drive configurations. Although it might make sense for someone who has only a few drives and may not want to buy RAID hardware, in this example he already owns everything he will need and if done correctly, and will end up with more usable space. As far as I know, none of the DE replacements yet do anything other than stripe or mirror. In the end you have to use a solution you are comfortable with but in the case of Frankenserver, it would be like buying a new sports car and towing it instead of driving it. A bit melodramatic I know, but with all that good hardware it would be confusing as well as not fully exploiting all that has be bought. If safety is a concern, then why would we trust an unproven technology in lieu of something that has been tried and true for years. Again, it is not that I am bagging on DE replacements, it is that considering the issues I saw with V1/DE, having a software layer in the midst of your critical data then adding in things like AV, transcoders, add ins, etc. can really hose things up. I would not consider an option like this for at least a year. As I stated, there are many views and in the end, you have feel comfortable about your choices. In either case, this will make an awesome server.

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Guest no-control

My thoughts......

 

Get rid of the SSD use it elsewhere. They really have no place on a consumer level server. Also the superMicro SAS cards are going to be useless as they aren't RAID cards just expansion cards. They are great for WHSv1 build but for WHS2011 its pretty much a RAID only platform. Go for the Highpoint 2680's Its a great RAID and roughly the same cost as the MV8's.

 

As for DE addins.....Why? Personally they haven't shown me anything I can't live without. With RAID I have increased support, proven reliability, consistent performance over long term. You case doesn't limit you on drives and neither does the mobo for controllers for future expansion. Having built a WHS using a NORCO 4020, I can tell yuo from personal experiance it would be much easier to handle the data in multiple RAID arrays over a large convoluted single volume (ala DE). RAID isn't hard to setup for the average guy, we break it down in several of our shows (BYOB) and blog posts. I would personally be willing to write a step by step using your exact system config and specs to set up each RAID array.

 

Like Doc says you need to be comfortable in your abilities and the equipment.

Edited by no-control
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Guys good points. For the most part, I was just giving the flip side given he had no need for speed given it is not for media streaming, my tests with DrivePool have been stable and have not messed up my data (even though I have ripped drives out during boot, after OS has been loaded, etc), and I have seen no speed issues (granted it is not raid speed but more than enough for data). I am not sold on either technology at this point and given I am not moving to 2011 any time soon due to the bugs in it, I have plenty of time before I have to make a decision. I would be comfortable with either and would only use Raid if I felt DrivePool wasn't ready.

 

Also, I haven't looked at it in a couple months but I am almost positive that DrivePool is not a mirror or striped (obviously not this because if it were the speed would meet your requirements). The only one I recall that was using true raid technologoy was DriveHarmony and guess where that got them; it appears out of the market as I haven't heard about them in a month or more. In one of the podcasts, Dave interviewed the DrivePool developer and he mentioned that he hasn't optimized for speed yet and he already had the code for speed but wanted to get to a later milestone.

 

I think you can tell I am interested in DE but really I was just providing the opposite view and I obviously see DE as a real option. With that said, nothing wrong with raid either. Just use what your requirements need.

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My thoughts......

 

Get rid of the SSD use it elsewhere. They really have no place on a consumer level server. Also the superMicro SAS cards are going to be useless as they aren't RAID cards just expansion cards. They are great for WHSv1 build but for WHS2011 its pretty much a RAID only platform. Go for the Highpoint 2680's Its a great RAID and roughly the same cost as the MV8's.

 

As for DE addins.....Why? Personally they haven't shown me anything I can't live without. With RAID I have increased support, proven reliability, consistent performance over long term. You case doesn't limit you on drives and neither does the mobo for controllers for future expansion. Having built a WHS using a NORCO 4020, I can tell yuo from personal experiance it would be much easier to handle the data in multiple RAID arrays over a large convoluted single volume (ala DE). RAID isn't hard to setup for the average guy, we break it down in several of our shows (BYOB) and blog posts. I would personally be willing to write a step by step using your exact system config and specs to set up each RAID array.

 

Like Doc says you need to be comfortable in your abilities and the equipment.

 

No-Control. Thanks for the thoughts, Maybe I missed something but the description and read these as RAID controllers from the description. Good catch, I agree I would go with 2680's.

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