I'm going to build a mini server.

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by deusexaethera, Dec 20, 2006.

  1. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Because I don't have a hell of a lot of use for a server, this server is going to have the job of doing everything I'd ever use a server for: WWW, FTP, file storage, maybe VoIP, who knows.

    It's going to have a five-disk SATA RAID, hardware-accelerated so it doesn't suck CPU power. It's also going to use a Mini-ITX motherboard so I can fit the whole thing in a mini-SCSI case.

    The question is, do I get a board that can use a 2.13GHz P4M chip, or a board with 2x 1GHz VIA C3 chips? (I could also get a Core Duo board, but it lacks the PCI slot that I need for the RAID.)

    Obviously the P4M is going to be a higher-end design than the C3, but at the same time a combination file/web/FTP/etc server would benefit from having more than one execution core because there would be less interference between simultaneously-executing processes.

    So what do you think: would it be better to have one faster, newer core to run all these tasks, or two slower, older cores?
     
  2. mobbarley

    mobbarley Active Member

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    Scrap mini-itx, get a second hand server board off ebay.

    I started my raid box with a mini-itx but had nothing but problems. Admittedly it was an epia-v which is pretty old.

    I got an intel stl2 off ebay with 2x 1gig p3s, 1 gig ecc ram for about $50 us. Its great.
     
  3. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Care to elaborate on the problems you had?

    In any event, my question still applies, regardless of the platform: 1 faster CPU or 2 slower CPUs?
     
  4. 5Gen_Prelude

    5Gen_Prelude There might not be an "I" in the word "Team", but

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    CPU speed is pointless in a low use server. It doesn't even enter into the specs when I put them together for work.
     
  5. rsxm5

    rsxm5 OT Supporter

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    I would go with the faster P4M over those two VIA chips anyday
     
  6. Create

    Create :free at last:

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    I'd take the single chip as well. A simple analysis: 2*1 < 2.13
     
  7. rsxm5

    rsxm5 OT Supporter

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    Doesn't quite work like that...
     
  8. Doc Brown

    Doc Brown Don't make me make you my hobby

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  9. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    I don't like intel either; it's okay, AMD will beat they punk ass again, in time...


    So...do I have to explain for something like the hundredth time what the effect of having two CPUs is? To cut a long story short, having two CPUs is like having two cars -- it doesn't get you to work twice as fast, but it does let you and your wife go to different places at once -- and in some situations that's far more useful.

    So, to further refine my question: does anyone here have a server or two, and if so, which setup would they recommend: one faster CPU or two slower ones? Which actually gives more stable performance in the real world?
     
  10. EvilSS

    EvilSS New Member

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    Normally the slower duals but I don't know how the VIA's compare to a P4M. It's more than just comparing speed since they are two totally different CPU's. There does come a point when one really fast CPU is faster than two really slow ones.
     
  11. Create

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    The P4M can multi-task well enough to get the job done. The P4M is more reliable, is a single meaning lower failure rate than dual, if it fails it'll be helluva lot easier to find and replace, and it'll do just fine with that big cache.

    For easy loads, high reliability + low replacement cost + low effort, seals the deal for the P4M.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2006
  12. mobbarley

    mobbarley Active Member

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    Are you going to be using windows or linux? This might have some bearing.

    On my server (linux) even raid tasks run in parrellel. When using one of the CPUs raid tasks will primarily use the other cpu.

    Also I am using a software raid 5, if you go with hardware you will probably be better off with the P4.
     
  13. mobbarley

    mobbarley Active Member

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    When using the EPIA-V board (Via Eden[i think] 800mhz) software raid performance was dismal, worse than a similarly clocked p3 or thunderbird.

    That would have been OK except that the board kept faulting under high bus load and taking the server down. I tried different ide adapters, different ram and different amounts of ram, different distributions - even bsd but couldnt get it to stop.

    The biggest problem was every time this happened it was usually in the middle of a raid operation and therefore required a resync.


    I eventually gave up and rebuilt the server with the STL2 board. It hasnt faulted yet (using the same IDE cards and back on slackware - my preference). The STL2 with 1gig p3s is many times faster, even before I complied a SMP kernel. Syncing the raid took about 1/3rd of the time it took with the EPIA-V.

    It also has some other niceties such as onboard U160, plenty of fan connectors and better bios etc.
     
  14. mobbarley

    mobbarley Active Member

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    And I dont agree with your choice of hardware raid (if you are going to use linux)
     
  15. rsxm5

    rsxm5 OT Supporter

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    I was referring to your analysis that:"2*1 < 2.13"

    Again, doesn't work like that
     
  16. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    1. Yeah, I know the P4M would be easier to replace should anything bad ever happen to it. Aside from the issue of having multiple cores, the P4M is also more expensive -- the boards cost more or less the same amount of money, plus with the P4M board I'd have to buy the chip separately, which would come close to doubling the cost. While the P4M does have an expanded instruction set compared to the C3 (which I assume is on par with a Celeron III), I'm pretty sure that none of those expanded instruction sets have anything to do with the sorts of activities that servers perform. (With the exception of an ESRI ArcIMS Geospatial Feature Server, but that's beside the point.) So what it would really come down to is whether the two C3s can throughput as much boring FTP and WWW data as the P4M can.

    2. I will be running Windows Server, either 2000 or 2003. I have both at my disposal.

    3. mobbarley, your comments seem to be conflicting with each other. On the one hand, you say that you recommend against using hardware RAID, but on the other hand, you say that when you tried to use Linux's software RAID you had problems with the board overheating and rebooting. It would seem to me, assuming for the time being that I refuse to use any "normal" motherboard, that hardware RAID is a must-have for its ability to keep the FSB clear of the parity-checking data that the RAID needs to operate.

    4. I have no intention of ever using software RAID of any sort. I've experimented with software RAIDs before and I have to say I've not been even slightly impressed. First off, I would have to have a mirror for the OS if I wanted to have any protection at all (since the OS can't boot off a striped array, unless the array is controlled by something other than the OS); and second, why would I want to chew up valuable CPU power and FSB bandwidth (all the more valuable on a tiny board like the one I want to use) when I could spend literally $35 on a full-hardware RAID card that I've used before and have plenty of faith in?
     
  17. Create

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    Hence, you got a decent explanation.
     
  18. Create

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    If cost is really an issue why aren't you building a micro ATX celeron. Give up the mini, go with small, and stuff it up on a shelf in the closet.

    I'd guess yes, but it sounds like your volume will be low enough to not matter.

    Buy a PoS. Stuff it in the closet. Pull a cable. Win.
     
  19. 5Gen_Prelude

    5Gen_Prelude There might not be an "I" in the word "Team", but

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    Exactly - I've got a ~700 Mhz AMD sitting as an email server, web server, ftp server, etc... You would be hard pressed to notice any performance difference to a newer server with such low loads.

    If we were talking about a work server, sure postulate all you want - your home server? Fuck that - just get something cheap and call it a day.
     
  20. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Well...building it is a challenge...

    ...oh hell, you're no fun anymore.
     
  21. mobbarley

    mobbarley Active Member

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    I have no experience with windows and software raid, so I cant offer any tips there. I believe most of my problems were caused with the board, being one of the first miniitx boards it was poorly designed. That said I am glad I didnt try to patch it with a raid card otherwise I probably would still need toreplace it.

    The reasons I chose software are:
    1) Cheaper. I am using IDE drives and an IDE raid 5 card (that is reasonable) is quite expensive
    2) Faster. Think of how much data a modern cpu can XOR compared with an embedded cpu on a raid controller.
    3) Reliable. Linux software raid is pretty proven, i'd trust it over the bioses in most cheaper raid cards any day. Also the deal breaker for me: What if your raid card dies in 2 years? If you cant find one from the same vendor and possibly the same model your data is lost. With software raid, any ide card will do.

    I had 2x scsi drives doing nothing, so thats what I did. I also didnt want any os on my storage media.
    From your initial post it didnt seem like much of a delay-critical server ;)

    edit:for that price, buy three and keep the other two locked away. you might need them.
     
  22. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Ironically, that's exactly what I did: I bought three five-port NetCells.

    As far as the CPU being able to XOR massive quantities of data, this is true, but in order to do that it has to occupy itself exclusively with that task for however many milliseconds it dedicates to each task. That means some other task (processing a VoIP call while handling a data backup from my main computer, for example) gets delayed.

    Besides, specific-purpose hardware is ALWAYS faster than general-purpose hardware. If this were not the case, our computers would have 10GHz processors with no hardware controllers offloaded onto the Northbridge and Southbridge, and SLI wouldn't exist -- everything would be done with massively-complex drivers instead.
     
  23. mobbarley

    mobbarley Active Member

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    You should be fine then :wavey:

    By the time you get through them you will want to build a new server anyway ;)

    You are 100%. Multiple cores and or fast CPUs also help.

    This is true ONLY when we are comparing processors with similar specifications. I dont know the specifications of the netcell processor but it can not compare to the likes of a P4, otherwise it would be similarly heatsinked and not sitting on a pci(x) bus... However we run in to other limitations here such as the host bus/sata bus etc so that may be irrelevent..

    Your point about the 10Ghz cpu/peripherial controllers is outrageous. The southbridge etc goes between very dissimilar buses, making its use appropriate. And if 10Ghz CPUs were possible with our current technology then surely we could do without them ;)

    Over all sounds good, keep us posted when you build it! Stay away from mini-itx :mamoru:
     
  24. mobbarley

    mobbarley Active Member

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    Also the fact that the nexcell has a 5port option is pretty handy. What do you plan to use for voip on your server? i'd be interested in hearing more about that too.
     
  25. mobbarley

    mobbarley Active Member

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    Also is the server going in an airconditioned room? I've had great trouble keeping my hard drives (6 of them) cool. Choose a good case and plan the ventilation with the hard drives getting priority of the cold air. Your data is important.
     

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