Opinions wanted on low power Windows Server 2008 build (for use at home)

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by Archaea, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I'm thinking about building a box at home with Windows Server 2008 on it.
    I'm currently in a MBA program so that gives me a chance to use the OS for free.

    https://downloads.channel8.msdn.com/

    I could easily do this with a BE-2400 processor on a cheap AM2 motherboard or something equivalent, but I'd like to get others opinions on the hardware they've used or would recommend. I'd like to centralize and ensure my data safety with a RAID 5 setup. Perhaps get three 750GB or 1TB Sata drives. I'd like the CPU/Motherboard to be very low power draw. Integrated everything preferred so as to save on yearly power costs.

    Requirements
    • Power Efficiency
    • RAID 5 (striping with parity) or RAID 0 (mirrored)
    • Able to run as a Domain Controller/File Server for about three other PCs in my house.

    Does the Intel Atom or Via Nano chip/chipset have the power to be a Windows 2008 server or am I stuck with a BE-2400 (about ~= AMD x2 4400+ @ 45 watt) type processor equivalent?
     
  2. Drakan290

    Drakan290 2[H]4U

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    Here's the req's
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsserver/cc196364.aspx

    If you are running a DC and a file server... I'd say go atom. You're not doing anything that requires a processor load, so you can run something really low yield. Atom 330 should work.
     
  3. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Is the Atom still only available coupled with that crappy chipset that uses "six times" the power the processor itself uses?
     
  4. Dangman

    Dangman Ninja Editor SuperMod

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    What kind of RAID5 setup will you be using? Software or hardware based?

    And yes to your chipset question.
     
  5. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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    bah...shame on Intel for not pushing down the power requirements on that chipset!

    It's simply an embarresment that a micro ATX AM2 motherboard can use half the wattage and has twice the features of the mini-itx motherboards that the Atom utilizes.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/Atom-Athlon-Efficient,1997-3.html

    Raid 5 could be either - software or hardware. I'd prefer hardware, but I'm not opposed -- I guess -- to software - it would primarily be a my docs/home directory Server/DC with public media sharing as well.
     
  6. Dangman

    Dangman Ninja Editor SuperMod

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    Ok, software RAID5 can take up to around 10 to 50% CPU usage depending on the size of the array and the CPU being used. If you do software RAID5, which will be enough for file serving to three PCs if you don't mind the poor write speeds but decent read speeds, go with the BE-2400. It's much much better than Intel's Atom for that duty.

    Then again, even if you went with hardware RAID5, I still would recommended the AMD build since AM2 motherboards have PCI-E (usually a better selection of hardware RAID cards) whereas no Atom motherboard has PCI-E.

    Though if you drop your RAID5 requirement, I'd recommend Intel Atom 330 dual-core setup for low power and decent speed for domain controller and file serving.
     
  7. jnex26

    jnex26 2[H]4U

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    I've done somethign similar, When i built my home server i did the following.

    AMD64 + 8 GB Ram.
    2 x SATA laptop HD (RAID 1) use less power than their larger counterparts
    80Plus Cert PSU.
    Replaced all smaller active cooling with passive cooling devices, If i could find one I would replace the CPU cooler for passive aswell

    Running Ubuntu64
    with VMware server 2.0 Beta
    VM Windows Server 2003
    VM Windows Server 2008 (I'm migrating)
    VM Windows XP

    by the way you should know your stuck really with 64bit as microsoft are not really supporting 32 on 2008.
     
  8. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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    http://www.silentpcreview.com/article867-page5.html

    The new ASUS eee PC w/ the ATOM processor only uses 16 watts at idle and ~30 at load. It uses a slightly different motherboard chipset/more efficient or something than the one the ATOM originally shipped with.

    But looks like drive support would be extremely limited. :(
     
  9. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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    AMD Athlon X2 BE-2400 Brisbane 2.3GHz Socket AM2 Dual-Core Processor Model ADH2400IAA5DO - OEM
    BIOSTAR MCP6P-M2 AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 6150 / nForce 430 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

    I can get the above combo from New Egg for $80 and the MB supports RAID 5.
    I've got 2GB of RAM
    I'd need a DVD/ROM - $30
    I'd need a case - - - - Something small ideally. ~$50
    I've got a old 5volt heavy 400watt Sparkle PSU
    I'd need 3 drives for RAID 5. Prolly get three 640GB drives or three 750GB drives. - That'd cost about $225.

    ~$400 bucks.
     
  10. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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  11. Dangman

    Dangman Ninja Editor SuperMod

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    Do note that the MB's RAID is just hardware-assisted software RAID or fakeRAID. Basically the same as software RAID but the RAID setup is done outside of the OS. Also note that the Nvidia RAID chip is slower than Intel's or AMD's RAID setups. So you'll be seeing slightly worse performance than normally seen with other software RAID setups.

    You can get a DVD burner for $25:
    Samsung SH-222F 22X DVD±R SATA DVD Burner - $25

    How much amps does your old 400W Sparkle PSU have on the +12V rail?

    Also, I recommend getting a separate boot drive since you won't have to reinstall your OS in case your RAID array fails or something like that. You could use a 7200RPM notebook drive as your OS drive if you really want to keep the energy usage down.

    If it turns out that your old 400W PSU isn't good or efficient enough, I recommend getting this case/PSU combo:
    Antec NSK4480 ATX Case with Antec Earthwatts 380W PSU - $82

    The NSK4480 is a pretty small ATX case and the EA380 PSU that comes with it is Seasonic made and is 80Plus efficient.
     
  12. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Thanks for the heads up on the RAID performance by M/B vendor. Is there any general AM2 chipset of AMD or Intel that has better or top notch RAID 1 or RAID 5 support on the mainboard. If only RAID one, I could get a couple of 1TB drives and handle it that way.

    The sparkle PSU has only 12 amps on the 12 volt rail, It was an old PSU made during P3 days (5 volt heavy). But 12 amps should be more than enough for a BE-2400, AM2 setup with onboard video, lan, sound, etc.

    If I lose my RAID array then I'm defeating the purpose of having a RAID array. I'm not worried about that fact so I have no problem putting my OS on the RAID array. I do however have a quick question about true software RAID. There is probably no way to set that up in the windows 2008 setup on two 1TB drives for RAID one or three 750GB drives for RAID 5 before you actually load windows (during the windows setup or somethig) is there?
    I've never owned a m/b with RAID options, but I know that should be the case with the motherboard RAID that you set the RAID options up in the BIOS/CMOS settings.

    What I'm getting at is I could utilize a current HP slimline I own, that has only two sata ports and no onboard hardware RAID for the windows 2008 project. It'd be nice to have a true RAID 1 setup, where if I lost one drive I'd still have the OS and data, but if you can't setup the 'software' raid in advance then you'd only have the OS on one of the two drives right? I'll have to muck with this over the next week. I've got two raptor drives and one not in use. My vista os is on a 74gb raptor and maybe I could see how the options work to install a software RAID 1 mirror temporarily to the second 74GB raptor on my primary desktop.
     
  13. jnex26

    jnex26 2[H]4U

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    If you want the machine to be efficent buy a 80 Plus cert PSU
    Most software raid setup's have some sort of BIOS "Configurator" where you can set up the raid in BIOS or Pre-boot Intel's have been doing that for a while.

    Are you sure I've got a P4 875 Pro-b which has on-board raid (Three of them) , maybe you've never configured raid before.

    I don't think you can boot of a true software raid, but I could be wrong.
     
  14. Dangman

    Dangman Ninja Editor SuperMod

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    Well RAID1, RAID0 and RAID5 performance will be roughly the same on AMD and Intel chipsets.

    I recommend ditching that Sparkle PSU for a few reason:
    1) It's an old PSU so it may not even be capable of providing 8A on the +12V rail let alone 12V rail. That's assuming that the PSU could actually provide 12A in the first place.
    2) Inefficient most likely

    AFAIK, no way to setup a RAID5 or RAID1 setup with Windows before you load Windows.

    As for not getting a separate boot drive, that's a poor choice of action for the following reasons:
    - If the RAID array fails, the OS is wiped as well
    - If the OS is screwed up, the RAID array will also be affected as well
    - You'll see even lower performance since the RAID5 drives will be seeking and reading your OS at the same time that they're seeking and reading other files
    - Some software RAID setups cannot be booted from.

    So I still recommend getting a separate boot drive since it makes things immensely simpler
     
  15. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I appreciate the input - bump for more. Still haven't decided/purchased anything yet. Nothing's really completely convinced me yet!
     
  16. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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  17. Dangman

    Dangman Ninja Editor SuperMod

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    How many hard drives can you fit inside that Slimline?
     
  18. Dangman

    Dangman Ninja Editor SuperMod

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    How many hard drives can you fit inside that Slimline?

    And just to throw this out there, might want to take a look at the Windows Home Server and HP's MediaSmart Server EX470
     
  19. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Unfortunately only two. One normal bay for it, and then if I remove the cd-rom I could put another in that bay with some drive bay hard-drive hardware.
     
  20. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I've got another idea.

    I could buy an esata based DAS or NAS enclosure and with adjacent placement run a long sata cable to the esata port on the external DAS or NAS. Still using my slimline, but then being basically unlimited by storage and still be considered lower power.
     
  21. Dangman

    Dangman Ninja Editor SuperMod

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    Good idea. Can't think of anything wrong with that idea besides that will look a little clunky but that's just personal aesthetics. A few options to look at:
    Addonics MST4ML w/4X Multilane interface - $130
    Addonics MST5X1PM Mini Storage Tower w/ 5X1-PM eSATA interface - $185
    Addonics MST5HPMES Mini Storage Tower w/ 5X1- Hardware PM eSATA interface - $209
    AMS DS-2350S Aluminum Black eSATA 5 bay SATA Enclosure - $220
    Sans Digital TR4M 4 Bay SATA to eSATA (Port Multiplier) JBOD Enclosure - $250
     
  22. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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    check out the Bufffalo Quattro units. It seems like those come pre-loaded with drives. 2TB has four 500s, the 1TB has four 250s.

    http://www.shopatbuffalotech.com/cart/home.php?cat=42135&sort=orderby&sort_direction=0&page=1

    For that price I can't hardly complain --- including the drives!?!?


    Alternately with the 30% off msn coupon for ebay buy it now purchases I've found 32 MB buffer, 1TB, 7200 RPM drives for $60 a piece with 20 quantity available.

    lots of options it seems!
     
  23. Dangman

    Dangman Ninja Editor SuperMod

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    Only problem is that those are refurbished units with only a 90 day warranty. Meaning that if either enclosure or drive dies after 90 days, you're out $200. Though if the 1TB drives that comes with DriveStation Quattro still have their manufacturer warranty (3 to 5 years depending on the manufacturer), that's worth the cost actually since if the enclosure dies, you still got 1TB drives for $100 each.
     
  24. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I just picked up the 1TB unit for $129.

    Shipped was $144

    It has four 250MB drives. Meaning I'll have 750GB of storage. Not as big as I'd hoped, but at $144 - that price is ridiculously cheap!

    It'll serve for now and if I get hungry for more space I can sell off the 250mb's and buy 500's or 750's or even 1TBs.