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Topic # 87591 2-Aug-2011 12:03 Send private message

I have been tasked with putting together my first rack mounted server and I'd like not to make a hash of the job.

I have been allocated 2U of rack space and two amps of power. I'm not really sure what two amps of power will allow me to do so let me know if what I am planning is a little over the top.

I haven't purchased a rack mounted case before so I am not sure on what to look for exactly but I have decided to get a 2U case and seen this one that I like:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811152095

As for the rest of the hardware, I am considering going for an Intel motherboard, i5/Xeon E3 (when they're released) CPU and appropriate dual/triple channel memory; most likely between six and eight gigabytes.

I plan to run the OS and other applications on an SSD, most likely also made by Intel, and was looking at the Seagate Constellation drives for data storage.

The drives would be organised in a RAID 0 configuration (redundancy isn't a concern here, the data can easily be replicated with only the time it takes to transfer from another server as 'downtime') and I was considering filling all eight bays with drives.

What should I consider as a method for calculating power requirements and how can I work out how many amps I am likely to use?

With regard to RAID, am I best to buy a (few) hardware RAID cards or make use of software RAID? I am going for maximum throughput here, but don't want to buy something that will have little to no real effect.

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  Reply # 500735 2-Aug-2011 12:07 Send private message

If you need dependent hardware/support, go for a known brand of rack servers (IBM, HP, Dell, etc).

Other helpful points:

- Hardware RAID beats software RAID every single time. Software RAID is not an option.
- And 2 amps will be more than enough for one server, but just check the specs for the PSUs to be certain.




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  Reply # 500736 2-Aug-2011 12:10 Send private message

Upon inspection of the case's product page, it seems you won't have enough power to run it: http://www.supermicro.com/products/chassis/2U/825/SC825TQ-R700LP.cfm




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  Reply # 500751 2-Aug-2011 12:34 Send private message

2amp's is actually very little, it's only around ~500watts. Power consumption is tricky to work out from bit's. I know with dell box's you can use their rack tool to work out the draw.

I've got a ML 350 G5 here with 2 drives and 1 Xeon quad core CPU with 16gb of Ram. That is tested at 1.8amps start and 1.5 amps running under moderate load




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  Reply # 500786 2-Aug-2011 14:05 Send private message

Could you let us know what your planning on running on the server and what you need in terms of HDD space and processing power?

I have that Supermicro case and like all Supermicro its a good build quality (apart from the front USB ports going rusty when ran it in a damp room).

Xeon e3 has been out over a month now but with that chassis its more suited towards dual CPU configs.







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  Reply # 500860 2-Aug-2011 15:47 Send private message

@magu, I'm hoping to stay away from traditional vendors as I'd like to make sure I get exactly what I want in the box and hopefully shave the price down a little from what they charge.

Ah, I forgot to check the manufacturers specification page. /facepalm

I am able to increment my power needs (1 amp at a time up to 4) and more via e-mail, so perhaps the power draw isn't so big an issue as I first thought.

AC Voltage: 100 - 240V, 60-50Hz, 10 - 4 Amp

I am a little confused still, does this mean the PSU requires ten to four amps to run or that it needs at least four amps and can handle up to ten?

@Zeon, As for what I intend to run on the server, it will function as part of a group of file transfer servers primarily serving FTP/SFTP as well as several websites and most likely SQL tasks/load balancing. It will probably work pretty hard :)

Ah, maybe I was thinking of the Xeon E5. They are the comparable server CPUs to the i5, right?

I am a little wary of dual CPU configurations because I am unsure about power usage and I'm assuming that two CPUs will use a lot more than one, especially under load. The trade off is that they should provide better performance but I'd like a few HDDs to run...

As for disk storage, the case I have chosen has eight hot swap bays which I hope to use. I have been looking at the Seagate Constellation drives as they are very reliable and quite quick from what I have read.

I am worried about what kind of power draw having a lot of HDDs will have.

http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/products/enterprise-hard-drives/constellation-es/constellation-es-2...

12V start max current - 2.04A
5V start max current - 0.54A
Average idle power - 7.71W
Average operating power - 10.68W

Does this mean each drive will require 0.54 - 2.04 amps on boot? If so, this may be a little more difficult than I originally expected.

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  Reply # 500890 2-Aug-2011 16:20 Send private message

We recently got a Superserver 6016t which is dual PSU, dual CPU and 4x 3.5" hot swap in 1u. You could look at something like SSD caching with your RAID card which would give you great performance but also larger space due to lower cost, high capacity hard drives.

You could probably do:
- 6016t Superserver
- 2x e5620 CPU
- LSI 9260-4i w/ BBWC
- 120GB SSD
- 3x 2TB SATA HDD
- 8GB RAM

for less than $2500-$3000 NZD + shipping if you tried hard.

Check out this website if you want to buy Supermicro gear:
http://superbiiz.com

TBH I can't see you using more than even 1amp with that kind of configuration.





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  Reply # 502315 5-Aug-2011 10:24 Send private message


AC Voltage: 100 - 240V, 60-50Hz, 10 - 4 Amp

I am a little confused still, does this mean the PSU requires ten to four amps to run or that it needs at least four amps and can handle up to ten?


It is an unusual way of writting it, but I think what they mean is that if you are feeding it from a 100V source (i.e. US power) and having it running at max load (i.e. a full 700W), it will pull about 10A, if you are feeding it from 240V and pulling 700W, then it will draw about 4A. In each case that equates to an input of about 1000W and an output of 700W (which is massively inefficient). I think those numbers are probably given as an absolute worst case scenario.


12V start max current - 2.04A
5V start max current - 0.54A
Average idle power - 7.71W
Average operating power - 10.68W

Does this mean each drive will require 0.54 - 2.04 amps on boot? If so, this may be a little more difficult than I originally expected.


It's not quite so straight forward. The drives require two different types of power 5V (of which it requires 0.54A) and 12V (2.04A). To convert to watts we multiple them together (5*0.54+12*2.04 = 30W) so the power supply needs to provide 30W per drive. 30W (call it 33W to allow for 10% conversion loss) at 240V is (33/240) about 0.13A so each drive effectively pulls 0.13A from the wall. A good quality RAID controller will stagger the startups so that you don't have a massive load while all the disks spin up.

Also, have you considered RAID5? I know you say data loss and down time aren't an issue, but it only costs you one disk's worth of capacity and  changes the repair process from "wake up at 3am, drive out to the site, possibly wait for someone else to drive out and let you in, possibly pay for access to the data center, then wait for the array to reinitialise and the data to copy back" to "Ship them a spare disk and pay the remote hands fee, then rebuild while no one ever notices there was a problem".



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  Reply # 503267 8-Aug-2011 12:13 Send private message

Cheers for the advice Zeon, I am probably going to look for something similar to your suggested configuration. After some quick math installing eight HDDs will draw too much power as well as be overkill for what I need, what I want, however ;)

I have been recommended Adaptec hardware by friends so I am looking to go for the Adaptec 6405 (+ NAND cache module) are they suitable cards in your experience? I like the lack of needing to monitor & replace battery packs.

If I were willing to get a little messy, would it be possible to put the SSD somewhere other than one of the 3.5" slots? I'm thinking that wasting one of the 3.5" drives on an SSD is a little much for me.

Cheers for the SuperBiz website. Supermicro stuff seems difficult to source here.

@heydonms, thanks for clearing the power confusion up. Assuming I have KVM, wouldn't RAID 5 and RAID 0 be the same amount of work? I'd need to ship/purchase the HDD, have remote hands install it and then I'd be able to re-create the array via KVM either way. The data 'backup' will simply be me executing a script to copy from another server.

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  Reply # 503273 8-Aug-2011 12:24 Send private message

1080p: Cheers for the advice Zeon, I am probably going to look for something similar to your suggested configuration. After some quick math installing eight HDDs will draw too much power as well as be overkill for what I need, what I want, however ;)

I have been recommended Adaptec hardware by friends so I am looking to go for the Adaptec 6405 (+ NAND cache module) are they suitable cards in your experience? I like the lack of needing to monitor & replace battery packs.

If I were willing to get a little messy, would it be possible to put the SSD somewhere other than one of the 3.5" slots? I'm thinking that wasting one of the 3.5" drives on an SSD is a little much for me.

Cheers for the SuperBiz website. Supermicro stuff seems difficult to source here.

@heydonms, thanks for clearing the power confusion up. Assuming I have KVM, wouldn't RAID 5 and RAID 0 be the same amount of work? I'd need to ship/purchase the HDD, have remote hands install it and then I'd be able to re-create the array via KVM either way. The data 'backup' will simply be me executing a script to copy from another server.


Yup i have heard good things about Adaptec too, they are a lot more expensive from what I've seen however but no qualms there. Also you could fit the SSD in a couple of places in that chassis (allthough obviously its not designed for this). My bet would be blutac it in the bottom PCI-E card area underneath your RAID card.

The next problem you'll have though is cables. Firstly the breakout cables from the SFF-8087 port is usually designed for sets of 4 drives so you'd need a second breakout cable for just the one SSD. The other problem will be power. I think the main HDD backplane is a molex so you potentially could get a Y splitter molex and then a really long molex to SATA power cable to go to your SSD at the back of the chassis.

Your other option is to look at Chassis' that use 2.5" hot swap slots instead. You can get up to 8x 2.5" in a 1u chassis these days although not really worth it if your after space as 3x 2TB 3.5" will be faster/bigger/cheaper than any comparable 2.5" solution. 





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  Reply # 503280 8-Aug-2011 12:32 Send private message

In terms of rebuilding, the difference between RAID0 and 5 is the urgency with which it needs to be done. When you get a failure with RAID0 that means the whole machine is down, RAID5 it keeps running. This allows the repairs to be delayed temporarily which means that instead of having to deliver spare parts yourself you can get them couriered the next day and instead of paying after hours access or remote hands fees, you can pay business hours remote hands fees.

Of course, you could put off the RAID0 repairs as well, but then your downtime isn't just how long it takes to copy the data back.

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  Reply # 503282 8-Aug-2011 12:34 Send private message

I second the recommendation to just go to HP/Oracle/IBM to buy a server.  Building a rack mount server might sound like fun, but it usually[1] turns out to be a pain. In my early days I self-built, but then I realized that buying off the shelf is easier and much more reliable: warranty, power guarantees, properly engineered for cooling, etc.

[1] If you're mass-building to an exact spec many servers, then assembled machines can be okay if you can't get off-the-shelf to meet spec... but for one-offs my experience is definitely just buy something.

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  Reply # 503285 8-Aug-2011 12:40 Send private message

PenultimateHop: I second the recommendation to just go to HP/Oracle/IBM to buy a server.  Building a rack mount server might sound like fun, but it usually[1] turns out to be a pain. In my early days I self-built, but then I realized that buying off the shelf is easier and much more reliable: warranty, power guarantees, properly engineered for cooling, etc.

[1] If you're mass-building to an exact spec many servers, then assembled machines can be okay if you can't get off-the-shelf to meet spec... but for one-offs my experience is definitely just buy something.


I would somewhat agree but this is why the Supermicro Super Server is such a great concept. All those things you have mentioned about are pretty much covered, all you need to do is populate with CPU, RAM, HDDs and add on cards and you save a hell of a lot of money.

I do some DIY small 1u Supermicro and yes they can be more challenging than Superserver but generally speaking the chassis' are already designed with most thing in place. 





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  Reply # 503467 8-Aug-2011 17:53 Send private message

Zeon: I would somewhat agree but this is why the Supermicro Super Server is such a great concept. All those things you have mentioned about are pretty much covered, all you need to do is populate with CPU, RAM, HDDs and add on cards and you save a hell of a lot of money.

Doesn't really solve the warranty problem (and I would assume no on-site warranty option), especially when the components are separately sourced. Add in fun in troubleshooting compatibility (drive/controller, controller/BIOS, etc) and there's still a disadvantage to the Supermicro approach.

I used pretty much every option at various times, and maybe it's my laziness, but as soon as I factored in my time-cost to assemble and test it was cheaper nearly every single time[1] to buy from HP or Sun. Add the warranty benefits and it was an easy choice.

YMMV of course.

[1] About the only time it wasn't was for extremely specific requirements (usually CPU architecture or memory) that HP or Sun couldn't meet, but this was many years ago and I doubt it would be the situation now.

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  Reply # 505259 11-Aug-2011 22:23 Send private message

PenultimateHop:
Zeon: I would somewhat agree but this is why the Supermicro Super Server is such a great concept. All those things you have mentioned about are pretty much covered, all you need to do is populate with CPU, RAM, HDDs and add on cards and you save a hell of a lot of money.

Doesn't really solve the warranty problem (and I would assume no on-site warranty option), especially when the components are separately sourced. Add in fun in troubleshooting compatibility (drive/controller, controller/BIOS, etc) and there's still a disadvantage to the Supermicro approach.

I used pretty much every option at various times, and maybe it's my laziness, but as soon as I factored in my time-cost to assemble and test it was cheaper nearly every single time[1] to buy from HP or Sun. Add the warranty benefits and it was an easy choice.

YMMV of course.

[1] About the only time it wasn't was for extremely specific requirements (usually CPU architecture or memory) that HP or Sun couldn't meet, but this was many years ago and I doubt it would be the situation now.


Go with the likes of Digicor (supermicro supplier) for onsite warranty for the hard to replace stuff, spare drivers the data center guys can swap out faulty ones for you no problem there, I would choose ram etc.. through the vendor though.

To be honest more and more I prefer the datacenter to own the box and me to just specify my requirements down to the drive model # that way its there responsibility when it breaks... I Just need to make sure I have the redundancy.

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