The Ultimate Linux Box: Server

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The Ultimate Linux Box: Server

Postby Dutch_Master » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:15 am

Back in 2007 LXF did a feature on the ULB. I was told it didn't sell too well, making LXF having no intention to repeat the performance. So I thought, let's give it a go, starting with the one market Linux has a very strong presence: servers. Prices in Euro, from a Dutch webshop:

Case: Procase IPC-C3F (6x 5,25" extern, 2x 3,5" extern, 1x 3,5" intern) 309.00
PSU: Procase PIZ1038-EPS (650 Watt) 699.00
mainboard: Asus Z8NR-D12 (Retail, DUAL, RAID, Gb-LAN, VGA, SSI EEB) 389.00
processor: Intel® Xeon® E5520 (Boxed, FC-LGA4, "Bloomfield", x2) 429.00 each
Cooling: Cogage MST-140 (x2) 34.99 each
RAM: Kingston ValueRAM 4 GB ECC Registered DDR3-1333 (Retail, KVR1333D3D4R9S/4G, x12) 149.90 each
system-disk: OCZ OCZSSD2-1ONX32G (SSD) 79.90
storage-disks: Western Digital WD20EARS (2TB, x6) 129.90 each
cardreader: Shuttle 22in1 Cardreader PC23 29.00
misc: standard 2.5"=>3.5"Adapter (2,5" in 3,5" bay) for SSD 4.99

The total would be some 5,020 Euro. Not cheap, but then: servers aren't cheap and this wasn't on a budget ;)

The OCZ 32 GB SSD disk is screamingly fast (125 MB/s read, 70 MB/s write) so the machine will be very responsive. The only thing keeping it from the psychological sub-minute boot is the OS itself ;) The storage disks are 2 TB in a RAID 5 array and give you 10 TB of redundant storage. The 4 GB DDR3 RAM sticks are expensive, especially when you put in 12! :o However, servers thrive in the presence of RAM and the board supports 48 GB. If you want to save, use 2 GB sticks instead. That still makes an impressive 24 GB and saves you a massive 816 Euro (Kingston KVR1333D3D8R9S/2G, 81.90 a piece).

The mainboard offers 3 LAN ports, 1 Gbit each, and has a Dual Xeon proc on board. That is some serious computing power. Because of this, it's not an ATX board, but SSI-EEB and the case should reflect that. The housing comes w/o PSU and the 699 Euro PSU has triple redundancy. For extra security you may want to add a UPS to at least one mains input. Enermax do 19" rackmount UPS's, but APC has a reputation to loose here ;) The coolers aren't quiet at 33.5 dB(A), but air displacement is a whooping 160,9 m³/h (or 94,7 cfm) to keep things cool in the hot server room. In comparison, avarage desktop coolers are in the 20-60 m³/h range...

The card-reader is there as there wasn't room for a CD/DVD drive and you'd have to install Linux on it ;) A simple SDHC card serves as installation medium and then functions as a backup for the system-disk.
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Postby Ugly_spud » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:30 am

Nice specs Dutch_Master. :)

I'm not sure how much that would be in real money (GBP) but I think for a server it's not a bad price - I've heard of servers that cost close to £10k.
Tyan S2915 mainboard
2 x Opteron 2354 CPUs
8 x Crucial 2Gb DDR2 PC2 5300 ram
6 x 2Tb Western DIgital Black in RAID array using AMCC 3ware SATA II raid controller and AMMC 3ware BBU-module-03
GeForce GTX285 2048Mb 512bit GDDR3 gfxcard
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Postby Dutch_Master » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:40 am

Do note this is not a personal build! I did build a few computers in the past, mostly for myself but others as well, but this one is selected by spec's ;)

At the current exchange rates, it'll be some GBP 4100 or USD 6100 or AUD 7325 (see http://www.x-rates.com) I'm sure you can find better bargains locally, as Holland isn't cheap anyway and this webshop hasn't the lowest prices either ;)
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Re: The Ultimate Linux Box: Server

Postby nelz » Wed Jun 02, 2010 3:40 pm

Dutch_Master wrote:storage-disks: Western Digital WD20EARS (2TB, x6) 129.90 each


Accepted wisdom is not to use identical disks, especially if using RAID. The thinking being that if a manufacturer produces a duff batch, which they all do from time to time, you could end up with six unreliable disks that fail within a short time of each other. Mixing manufacturers avoids this possibility.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." (Albert Einstein)
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Postby Dutch_Master » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:40 pm

True. But how big is the chance that you'll get 6 disks from exactly the same batch, knowing there are intermediate traders involved?

But if it eases your mind, you're free to source a different manufacturer for a number of disks. Does have impact on the price though, but pretty minor given the overall price tag ;)
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Postby nelz » Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:01 pm

If you're going to the trouble of ordering the 6 disks from different suppliers, you may as well order different ones. If you order from the same supplier, they're likely to be the same batch. Bear i mind that a fault can take 6 months to appear, that's a big batch :-O
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Postby bobthebob1234 » Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:26 pm

This could be like a competition or something

Who can 'build' the 'best' server, home computer, gaming computer, media server/center/frontend/backend, etc for 'budget', 'normal' and 'extreme' price tags!
For certain you have to be lost to find the places that can't be found. Elseways, everyone would know where it was
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Postby Dutch_Master » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:00 pm

No, not at all! This is just a suggestion for hardware for a particular task, not a competition ;) However, you are free to submit your own suggestions ;)

Nelz, I was thinking more along the line of FIFO: traders who first sell old stock before starting at the new shipment just arrived. As well as the faulty batch being broken up amongst many traders. And TBH I think QC at WD is rather better then 100,000+ intervals ;)
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Postby nelz » Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:21 am

Remember the IBM Deathstar? It took a while for the design faults to show up, by which time there were huge numbers out there that failed and had to be replaced. I had one go, which was a pain but not as bad as if 2 or 3 of the RAID had failed.
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Postby Dutch_Master » Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:36 pm

No I don't remember that disk, probably because I never had one ;) ATM I have 3 WD disks in my fileserver, probably also from the same batch, and these are fine (so far). I was already contemplating upgrading the lot to 2 TB each, now I'm seriously considering spending the extra money on 2 more 2 TB disks (I have one already)
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Postby nelz » Thu Jun 03, 2010 3:04 pm

That particular batch of hard driove failures got more publicity than usual, simply because it was IBM, but all manufacturers go through it at some point. Hence the advice to not put all your eggs in one basket. Hard drives are generally reliable, but faulty designs and manufacturing do still occur, so why undermine one of the main reasons for RAID?
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." (Albert Einstein)
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Postby Rhakios » Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:09 pm

When I built my first 64-bit box, I bought two identical drives, one failed with a well known problem, the other is still going strong. The serial numbers were very nearly consecutive. There's just no accounting for some things. <insert shrugging smiley>
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Postby nelz » Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:45 pm

So if you'd bought two different drives, you may have only got the one that didn't fail :P
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Postby Rhakios » Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:05 pm

nelz wrote:So if you'd bought two different drives, you may have only got the one that didn't fail :P


Given the way my luck runs, I would actually have expected exactly the same result. :(
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Postby pctechie » Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:17 pm

My hard drive is a Samsung HD501LJ 500GB SATA 16MB 7200RPM, I bought this of my dad over three years ago for 40 pounds he paid between 120 -160 when he got it brand new as he was getting a 1TB Sata Hard drive.

This is still going strong, granted it has slight degraded and try I lost 30GB :o due to the partition table went a bit :x some time back.

But around 470GB is not that bad considering I use my PC 24/7 and I hardly ever spin down the disk, when its in use.
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