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Lenovo ThinkServer


talldave
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You will need to learn about teaming NIC's.

Intel based cards are my first choice, eBay has quad Gb NIC's for $100-125.

What issues are you having with your existing network?

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My issue is total bandwidth limitation.   When transfering multi-gigabyte files simultaneously from workstations to the server through a central gigabit switch, the total throughput is only 1 gigabit.    I believe the bottleneck is the single gigabit ethernet line going to the server.   I want to increase the bandwidth to allow me to send a gigabit/sec from each of several workstations to/from the server simultaneously.

 

Once I gave up on the concept of doing things wireless due to the real world limitations, I went into wired network and now I am maxing out my gigabit network.  

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What OS are you running?

You would need to team multiple ports on the server and you would need a switch that supports port aggregation.

Is there a way you could add a server to share the load?

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I am running Windows 7 64-bit Pro SP1 with all the latest updates and drivers as the OS.   I do that because it has Windows Media Center in it and It has all the features I need.  I don't want to get in a flame war about the advantages of other OS's.  I run many sofware applications on my server which work great with Windows 7 such that I don't have much incentive to change.

 

I just bought a Thinkserver TS140 to go with my Proliant N54L.   I was hoping to do load sharing with that and connect the two servers together through a USB 3.0 connection which has more bandwidth.  

 

Still, I would like to learn about port aggregation to implement that too, if possible.  The TS140 is supposed to handle this and I can see where learning how to implement it will be good in the future.  I have several unmanaged switches from different manufactures.  I can check to see if they handle port aggregation.  Do you have any links that are tutorials about this?   Reference works that teach about this would be good.

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There may be unmanaged switches that can do NIC teaming, but I'm not aware of any. The newer Windows OS' (Win8, Server 2012 and 2012r2) support NIC teaming through software, but I don't believe Win7 does.

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The TS140 specs say that it is capable of using ECC memory.  The server comes with ECC pc3-12800 UDIMM (4GB or 8GB depending on which model you purchase).  ECC is what Lenova recommends - it is a server after all.  Some of the feedback reviewers (2 reviews) I have seen on various sites have used non-ECC memory but, the vast majority of people are putting in ECC memory.    

 

Since you cannot mix ECC and non-ECC memory, you will have to decide which to put in the TS140.  I went through 6 different manufacturers and module types to finally get a module set that worked in a HP Proliant N54L so I am sticking with the memory module type and speed that Lenova recommends in order to minimize the downtime and hassle factor.  You may have more time and patience to try non-ECC UDIMM modules but be prepared to send stuff back if it doesn't work.

 

I am building a media server for a friend of mine with a second TS140 so he will have one and I will have one also.   I plan on putting the 4GB memory module from mine into his so he will have two 4GB modules while I put in some Wintec 8GB ECC UDIMM modules in mine.  This will allow me to utilize spare parts I might not otherwise have a need for.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The TS140 specs say that it is capable of using ECC memory.  The server comes with ECC pc3-12800 UDIMM (4GB or 8GB depending on which model you purchase).  ECC is what Lenova recommends - it is a server after all.  Some of the feedback reviewers (2 reviews) I have seen on various sites have used non-ECC memory but, the vast majority of people are putting in ECC memory.    

 

Since you cannot mix ECC and non-ECC memory, you will have to decide which to put in the TS140.  I went through 6 different manufacturers and module types to finally get a module set that worked in a HP Proliant N54L so I am sticking with the memory module type and speed that Lenova recommends in order to minimize the downtime and hassle factor.  You may have more time and patience to try non-ECC UDIMM modules but be prepared to send stuff back if it doesn't work.

 

I am building a media server for a friend of mine with a second TS140 so he will have one and I will have one also.   I plan on putting the 4GB memory module from mine into his so he will have two 4GB modules while I put in some Wintec 8GB ECC UDIMM modules in mine.  This will allow me to utilize spare parts I might not otherwise have a need for.

It looks like you have bought some of these. How are they working out?

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I bought 2 of them. One for myself to make into a media server/HTPC.  The other for a client as a media server/HTPC.  My setup is as follows:

- Lenovo Thinkserver TS140 model 70A4  000HUX

- Intel i3-4130 processor @ 3.4GHz

- 32GB G-Skill pc3-12800 1600MHz 240-pin non-ECC UDIMM in 4X8GB modules.  Like the N54L, it will not take Registered/Buffered modules.  Lenova only has qualified Hynix and Samsung chip modules.  Lenova states that Kingston (Wintec is part of Kingston) modules will NOT work.

- ICY Dock 2.5"/3.5" drive bay in the 2nd 5.25" external drive bay.

- ASUS 16X Blu-Ray Disc burner.  - I took out the DVD burner that came with the TS140 and put in the BD burner to be able to play BD's and make physical backups of important files and media. This gives me one more backup strategy which I did not have with the N54L.

- Sabrent 64-in-1 card/media reader in the 3.5" external drive bay.  This gives me the ability to read almost any type of media card from cameras, DVR's, or other media devices including the high speed cards from pro DSLR's,

- Intel i350-2 PCIE dual port ethernet card in the PCIe-4 slot.  This gives me 3 gigabit ethernet ports with the one that is already on the MB.  The MB and Bios are set-up to integrate these ports so I now have a 3GB/sec bandwidth to,and from the TS140 if I can set up the rest of my network to utilize it.

- 2X Seagate 4TB 5900rpm HDD's SATA III, 64MB cache in the internal 3.5" drive bays.   All 5 SATA ports on the MB are SATA III - I found that out from the Lenova Tech Service.

- 1X HGST 4TB 5900rpm HDD in the ICY Dock 3.5" drive bay.  This gives me a total of 12TB HDD for media storage.  The TS140 support hardware raid but I have the Proliant N54L for data backups so mine are set-up as raid 0.

-1X Samsung 840 120GB SATAIII SSD in the 2.5" drive bay as the OS drive.   I first had a Samsung 840 250GB SSD in the server but that failed within 48 hours of start-up.  I am not impressed with Samsung SSD's and will not be buying any more of them.

- Windows 7 64-bit Pro OS. - These are media servers so I use Windows Media Center that comes with W7 64-bit Pro to run that.  Media Center can be modded to do all kinds of things that are useful (skip commercials, integrate capture cards, etc.).  The TS140 has all the drivers and setups on the startup CD for most server OS's.  It has nothing for W7 or W8 OS's.  You have to go to Lenovo.com and go to the driver download site to get the drivers.

- Hauppage 2250 Dual Tuner/capture card for OTA TV and video capture. I put a Ceton Quad Cable Tuner/ Capture card in the one I am building for a client because they have cable TV where I do not.

- AMD Saphire 6450 HD video card - I tried this to see if it improved the video and it gave much lower graphics and gaming graphics score on the WEI than the Intel 4400 on board grahics so I took it out.  The Radeon 6450 card gave graphic score of 4.5 and gaming graphic score of 6.1.  The on board card gave a WEI graphics score of 6.6 and gaming graphics score of 6.6.   Not too shabby.  

- I use a 55" LCD TV connected through one of the 2X Display Ports that the TS140 has.  I have a Bytek Display Port to HDMI adapter.  I have several other adapters from different manufacturers and they all work equally good.

- Logitech K400R wireless keyboard with integrated touchpad.   This works great for controlling the server remotely from up to 15 meters away.

 

The WEI scoring with my box is as follows:

Processor (Calc per second)                                          7.3

Memory (Ops per second)                                              7.4  (should be higher - need to check whether it is running at 1333MHz instead of 1600MHz)

Graphics (Aero)                                                              6.6  (with on-board Intel 4400 graphics)

Gaming Graphics                                                            6.6

Primary Hard Disc (Data Transfer Rate)                         7.9

 

In comparison, I have an N54L Microserver running W7 64-bit Pro OS, 16GB Kingston ECC pc3-10600 DIMM's, OCZ Vertex3 SATA III 120GB SSD, and Seagate 7200 rpm SATA III 64MB cache HDD's, I am running the Modified BIOS with all SATA II ports.  I have a HP RAC and a Syba PCIe 4X USB 3.0 port card in the slots.  I use the eSATA port to let me have 6 internal drives (4X HDD's + 2X SSD's).  I have an ICY Dock 2.5"/3.5" bay in the 5.25" OD drive bay with the OCZ Vertex3 in the 2.5" bay and an OCZ Vertex2 240GB SSD in the 3.5" bay.  I get WEI scores as follows:

 

The WEI scoring with my box is as follows:

Processor (Calc per second)                                          5.9

Memory (Ops per second)                                              7.2

Graphics (Aero)                                                              3.9

Gaming Graphics                                                            4.5

Primary Hard Disc (Data Transfer Rate)                         7.4

 

I have the N54L set up as a data server with two mirrored 3TB internal raid 1 arrays and 3 external 4TB backup HDD's.  The N54L works good as a data backup server.  It works good as a media server for a limited number of streams to workstations.  The big holdup is the bandwidth to the network and lack of HDMI/Display Ports.  I cannot stream media to the HDTV since there is no HDMI or Display Port on the N54L.  I could get a USB 3.0 to HDMI adapter but I would still have no Audio. 

 

My Cost into the TS140 is as follows:

- Lenova TS140                                                     $235 New on Amazon (price has since gone up and is also more expensive on Newegg)

- ICY Dock                                                              $33 New on Newegg

- Win 7 64-bit Pro OS                                             $79  OEM at Royal Discount Software

- 2X Seagate 4TB HDD                                          $278 ($139 x 2) New on Newegg

- 1X HGST 4TB HDD                                              $139 New on Newegg

- Samsung 840 128GB SSD                                   $89 New on Newegg

- 4X8GB G-Skil Ripjaw pc3-12800 UDIMM              $240 New on Newegg

- Sabrent 64-in-1 card reader                                 $10 New on Newegg

- Hauppage WinTV 2240 PCIe Dual Tuner card     $57 Used on eBay

- Intel i350-T2 Dual gigabit ethernet PCIe card       $94 New on eBay

- Logitech K400 Refurb Wireless Keyboard            $14 Refurbished on Newegg

- Orick 7 port USB 3.0 powered Hub                        $12 New on Newegg

- 3X 18" SATA III Cables with 90 degree end           $9 New on Newegg

- 1X 24" SATA III Cable, straight ends locking         $5 New on Newegg

- 3X 3' Cat 6 flat ethernet cables                             $4 New on Newegg

 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-Total Build                                                              $1298

 

I saved some money buying a few used parts and bought stuff on sale as much as possible.  I could have saved money by going with fewer, smaller drives and less DIMM. For that matter, I could have just not done the project at all and spent no money.

 

It has taken a bit to get used to the systems but I like them better than the HP Proliant N54L Microserver for the following reasons:

 

1. Processor - Mine has the base i3-4130 @ 3.4GHz.  This is a socketed processor so it can be upgraded to a Xeon or i7 if desired.  This i3 is much faster and more powerful than the AMD Turion processor @2.2GHz that is in the N54L.  When I convert a iso movie file to MP4 using the Handbrake program it takes 15 minutes with the TS140 vs. 90+ minutes with the N54L. This processor is as fast as an i5-3300 series processor.

 

2. The system boots up in less than 30 seconds from a cold start.  A lot of that is waiting for the network handshake. It loads programs faster than any other computer I have.  It runs graphic and CAD programs as fast as many i7 workstations that are a couple years old. 

 

3. I now have a DVR, media library, TV Tuner, A/D converter, media server, digital media processor, BD Player, and media reader all in one compact single form and place. 

 

4. The TS140 is a lot more capable out of the box with IO that the N54L just doesn't have and even the G8 series really doesn't have (for more money). 

 

I still like the N54L (more than the G8) but I will continue forward in the future with the TS140's for future builds for applications where the absolute smallest footprint is not the highest priority.  If the price remains competitive with the proliant G7's, the features surpass those of the G7's and G8's so the price/value calculation clearly favors the TS140.

 

I took a bunch of pictures during the build but they are large file size so are difficult to put up here.   If I ever get time I want to write up something on the build with parts lists and references to the firmware updates that will help others avoid the problems I had.  It was really annoying not to have basic HDD drivers, video drivers, or BIOS updates when starting up. 

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