Low power file server that can torrent?

Patyrn

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Right now I have a media pc hooked up to my TV that doubles as a file server for the house. I'm considering switching to a dedicated file server with a boxee box for hooking up to the tv.

What type of hardware should I be looking at to be able to stream videos to multiple computers at once, and also let me remote desktop in to do all my torrenting directly on the file server?
 

vraa

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I think in regards to remote torrenting you should not do remote desktop but use a webui

uTorrent for Windows has a great webui and Transmission for mac/ubuntu/bsd has a great webui
 

crispy79

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I'm doing the same thing. It has been a ton of fun.

There are positives and negatives to different approaches. I'm assuming that you are a bit of a DIYer (being on this site).

I can tell you why I went with a headless ubuntu server using a software md raid and running rutorrent, (versus unraid or freenas) if you'd like.
 

dandragonrage

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Athlon II or Core i3 running NexentaStor Community Edition. rTorrent works on Solaris (which Nexenta is based on). You'll get the ability to use RAID-Z. (FreeBSD is another choice for RAID-Z and rTorrent.)

If you really want as low power as possible, make sure to get a motherboard without too much extra crap, and get a motherboard that will let you underclock and undervolt.
 
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crispy79

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That is a very good deal on the HP. Still, you will be surprised on how fast even 4 drives fill up.

I am using XBMC on two machines (one asrock ion on our main TV and my daughters computer in her room) and an ubuntu based file server.

I started out with 4 x 1.5 TB drives in a raid 5 about 9 months ago and, they are full!. I am considering buying some 2 TB drives (the current sweet spot) in the near future.

I think that you also pay a bit of a premium for small form factors and so while those 4 drive chenbro itx cases (and this HP are slick) you will find yourself needing more pretty soon.
 

RabidSmurf

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I went with a Zotac IONITX L-E (Intel Atom 330 dual core) board, 4gb ddr3 and 4x 1.5TB drives in RAID 5 (with PERC 5/i) for my low power file server that never gets turned off, I use RDP/VNC and only ever have to plug in a monitor if I need to get to the BIOS.

The Atom processor is surprisingly quick even in Win 7. I believe it comes with it's own onboard RAID controller as well, although I am not sure how good it is. It's ultra quiet since there is no CPU fan, and I doubt it draws much power. Most of the power consumption in my setup will be from the 6 hard-drives.

It also has a gigabit NIC which you will need for streaming HD to multiple things at once, I believe they also make a version with dual gigabit NIC's.

Edit: If you go Atom, be careful not to get a board that uses it's own power brick instead of a standard PSU, I am not sure they can handle alot of drives, and who knows what kind of expandability it would have.
 

NetJunkie

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Price out what you can build and then go compare to the comparable Synology model. Great software with integrated BitTorrent.
 

BecauseScience

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Atom's major advantage is that it's cheap.

You can build low power systems with the i3 and the 45nm 775 dual cores. You just have to be careful about what you buy.

i3 and a board (matx or mitx) with as few features as you can tolerate. The number of cpu power phases makes a difference. You want as few as possible. Use only one stick of 1.35v (DDR3L) ram, the slower the better. Don't go overboard on the ram and buy twice what you really need. Don't use a standard PSU. Go with a DC-DC unit. http://www.logicsupply.com/categories/power_supplies/dc_converters

If you're not in a hurry wait a little while to see if AMD's upcoming Ontario or Zacate make it onto a few mitx boards.
 

pjkenned

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This interesting page suggests Atom platforms can be higher-power than Core i3/i5 + Hxx platform:

http://www.servethehome.com/intel-atom-d510-review-comparison-n330-ion/#more-954

So just to be clear :0)

At IDLE the 32nm chips are very similar. The Atoms use a few (<6w) more under load while the i3 for example will use 40w+ more under load. I'm not really sure what the torrent + ZFS requires CPU wise as I don't have any torrent applications on any box. At idle, they are very similar though.

Also note, the H55 chipset lets you have six on board SATA ports while the D510 (64-bit)'s NM10 chipset only has two SATA ports and limited memory expansion capabilities. There are boards from Supermicro and others that have an ICH9R with the D510 but those cost a bit more, erasing a lot of the cost advantage.
 

BecauseScience

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So just to be clear :0)

At IDLE the 32nm chips are very similar. The Atoms use a few (<6w) more under load while the i3 for example will use 40w+ more under load. I'm not really sure what the torrent + ZFS requires CPU wise as I don't have any torrent applications on any box. At idle, they are very similar though.

The thing that's important is the amount of work done per watt. An i3 consumes more non-idle watts than Atom but it does a lot more work in a given period of time. That means it can finish sooner and go idle sooner. It is entirely possible for a 140w cpu to be more power efficient than a 10w cpu.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Performance_per_watt

To do a real comparison you need to use something like the SPECpower benchmark.

Torrents barely use any cpu at all. ZFS depends on what the OP intends to do with it. It's not exactly light on cpu use but unless the OP is going to be copying large files back and forth 24 hours a day the cpu load should be bursty. (High for short periods with longer idle periods inbetween.)

The difference on the utility bill between Atom and a well chosen i3 system isn't going to be much. Personally, I wouldn't touch ZFS on an Atom system.
 
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cymon

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And how exactly would you provide the dc power to the dc-dc supply?

Could do a 12V lead acid pattery (7.2Ah is a pretty small form factor) running off a trickle charger. Would be a quick and easy online UPS as well.
 

jay2472000

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Could do a 12V lead acid pattery (7.2Ah is a pretty small form factor) running off a trickle charger. Would be a quick and easy online UPS as well.


While thats one option, I wouldnt do it.

1) Who wants a lead acid battery just laying about ?
1B) Ill build/buy an anclosure for it
1C) Awesome so now you got 40$ in a dc-dc PSU, another 40 in a battery that wasnt designed to be used that way and probably wont last long like that , another 40 in an el cheapo battery charger thats absolutely killing any hope of efficiently using that wall outlets power and whatever the enclosure costs.

2A) Ill buy a deep cycle battery.
2B ) Nice, so youre gonna spend a good chunk of change on a good battery and kill it with a crap charger


3A) Heck no Ill buy one of those sweet chargers to go along with it.
3B) Congratulations, you just went from a $20 dollar ac-dc power supply to a $250 dc-dc solution.




I looked into diy battery powered backups. From a tinkerers and an electronics students perspective, youre either gonna have to buy a premade, or spend a decent amount or sacrifice somewhere.


If this where an automotive based project where 12v DC is readily available I could see the viability of a DC-DC supply. Why take 120 v AC, then convert it to DC< then once again go DC-DC, without any sort of line conditioning I think its a waste to do it that way. You introduce one more point of failure, and lose efficiency with each conversion.
 

crispy79

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If you planning on building a NAS type box with expandability (eventually a bunch of drives as your media collection grows), I wouldn't pidgeon hole yourself by doing an ITX case (unless you factor in the price of later doing eSATA port multiplier and expansion chassis) or a DC - DC power supply.

Also, while ZFS / RAIDZ has some very cool features, there are a few gotchas. Opensolaris is dead, FreeBSD has much more limited hardware support and slower pace of innovation. Hardware support for a bunch of popular sata / raid cards is not there. FreeNAS is moving from FreeBSD for this reason (and the presence of some other toolschains for software development, which will help in adding / fixing features.

When btrfs becomes a true replacement for ZFS in a couple of years, we won't be having these discussions so much anymore.

Unraid cost some money ($80-$120) is too slow for multiple streams of high-def media because it only is reading off of one drive at a time.

Openfiler cannot currently handle new hard drivers with 4K sectors correctly.

I would recommend doing a linux software raid5 (MD RAID) and back up important data (family photos etc.) through an Amazon cloud storage service like Jungledisk or simp[ly to some external USB hard drives.

I bought a micro ATX atom 330 board, but those are basically gone these days. I'd probably do a cheap AMD sempron based system now, as I could do the motherboard, proc and ram for just over $100.
 

john4200

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Unraid cost some money ($80-$120) is too slow for multiple streams of high-def media because it only is reading off of one drive at a time.

No, the limitation of a single HDD is not an important consideration for video streaming unless by multiple streams you mean to feed an entire hotel or something.

The specification for maximum A/V bit rate for Blu-ray is 54 Mbps. That is 1080p with full lossless audio, and it is less than 7 MB/s. If you take a 2TB HDD, even 5400rpm, the 512KB random read rate is around 40 MB/s. That gives you more than 5 simultaneous streams. In reality, each stream will probably be less than 7 MB/s, and the reads will probably be buffered at more than 512KB chunks, so you can probably do at least 8 simultaneous streams, and maybe more.
 

pjkenned

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Also, while ZFS / RAIDZ has some very cool features, there are a few gotchas. Opensolaris is dead, FreeBSD has much more limited hardware support and slower pace of innovation. Hardware support for a bunch of popular sata / raid cards is not there. FreeNAS is moving from FreeBSD for this reason (and the presence of some other toolschains for software development, which will help in adding / fixing features.

I'm sure you know this, but FreeNAS actually is staying FreeBSD. The post that sparked the "FreeNAS is moving away from FreeBSD" thought is old and outdated with FreeNAS 8 being built on FreeBSD.

Also, FreeBSD and OpenSolaris tend not to support poor consumer hardware. Things like OpenSolaris not supporting Intel Matrix RAID is not really that bad since AHCI mode works fine and you are using ZFS based RAID for anything there. On the FreeBSD side, the current stable releases not working with the LSI 2008 based chips is probably the biggest oversight. That being said, if you chose purpose built server components, most of them just work. Same thing with ESX(i) really though.
 

BecauseScience

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While thats one option, I wouldnt do it.

1) Who wants a lead acid battery just laying about ?
1B) Ill build/buy an anclosure for it
1C) Awesome so now you got 40$ in a dc-dc PSU, another 40 in a battery that wasnt designed to be used that way and probably wont last long like that , another 40 in an el cheapo battery charger thats absolutely killing any hope of efficiently using that wall outlets power and whatever the enclosure costs.

2A) Ill buy a deep cycle battery.
2B ) Nice, so youre gonna spend a good chunk of change on a good battery and kill it with a crap charger


3A) Heck no Ill buy one of those sweet chargers to go along with it.
3B) Congratulations, you just went from a $20 dollar ac-dc power supply to a $250 dc-dc solution.




I looked into diy battery powered backups. From a tinkerers and an electronics students perspective, youre either gonna have to buy a premade, or spend a decent amount or sacrifice somewhere.


If this where an automotive based project where 12v DC is readily available I could see the viability of a DC-DC supply. Why take 120 v AC, then convert it to DC< then once again go DC-DC, without any sort of line conditioning I think its a waste to do it that way. You introduce one more point of failure, and lose efficiency with each conversion.

The dc-dc supplies use standard laptop power bricks as their input. Their entire reason for existence is high efficiency, low wattage pc systems. Here's a link to bundles that include ac bricks along with some dc-dc psu's:

http://www.logicsupply.com/categories/power_supplies/power_kits

You can get 95% efficiency with the 12v input dc-dc psu's and a decent ac brick. The ones that accept a range of volts or anything other than 12v will have a slightly lower efficiency. Still, they beat out any standard psu for low watt systems.

Once you get up to around 60w idle you can get decent efficiency from a standard 250-300w 80 plus psu.

The other big advantages of the dc-dc units are #1 fanless and #2 small.

I would advise the OP to sit down and calculate the watts needed and choose his psu accordingly. There's no reason to go overboard with the psu wattage on a 24/7 home server because "some day" he might decide to drop in a dozen disks.
 

BecauseScience

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You could also use a 12v input DC-DC PSU with a UPS that uses 12v for battery power.

Interesting idea but that would be very, very bad. The 12v input dc-dc psu's don't regulate the 12v rail. They pass it unaltered to the motherboard. That gives great efficiency because it avoids a second dc-dc conversion to provide the regulated 12v rail for the board but it also means that the 12v input to the dc-dc psu must be very well regulated.

The lead acid batteries used in ups's do not actually provide a stable source of 12v dc power. They typically range from 11 to 13 volts depending on whether they're fully loaded, open circuit, fully charged, partially discharged, etc. That's way out of spec for the atx 12v rail not to mention ripple. Also, the circuitry of the ups will likely pull the voltage higher when charging. There will also be all manner of ugly transients and ripple during charge due to the use of switching converters for fast charging the batteries.

If you want to grab power from a ups you should use one of the automotive rated dc-dc psu's. They're specifically engineered to run from a 12v lead acid battery. I don't have links but they're often called "carputer" psu's.

There are also dc-dc psu's with integrated ups functionality built into them:

http://www.mini-box.com/micro-UPS-load-sharing
 
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