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Old 09-16-2003, 08:45 PM   #1
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Putting together high performance file server - suggestions?

I'm designing a render farm with 10 nodes (initially). Without getting into too much detail, I need a really good (read: fast file access) file server. I want it to have RAID 1 (mirror) and possibly RAID 0 (stripe) for speed - if it helps out tremendously. It also needs at least half a terabyte (500 GB) of storage space, and it will likely need gigabit ethernet. The speed of the processor is not nearly as important as the speed at which it can access and write files.

Anyone have any experience building a server like this? Am I better off just buying one from a big company like Dell or Compaq (I can't see how that would be possible, but I could be convinced) or is it just as good to piece one together myself?

My initial thought was a Gigabyte GA-8KNXP motherboard running four SATA 250 GB hard drives - two of them being RAID 0 and the other two on RAID 1 mirroring the first two. That motherboard also has gigabit ethernnet built in and can run dual channel ddr.

Any suggestions? Is SATA fast enough or should I go SCSI? Half a terabyte of SCSI sounds REALLY expensive - is it worth it? Feel free to be as specific as you'd like - even going into part numbers and such if it makes a difference. Suggestions on cooling and other stuff would also be helpful.

I've got all the nodes taken care of, but I've never built a file server before.
Old 09-17-2003, 12:43 AM   #2
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Damn... if I lived near you, I would have volunteered to work with you for free. It would be interesting to actually get something like this up and running. Although I never had the priviledge to work on something similar to what you're doing, I'd say go to vendors only if you need the "end-user support"... however, since this is a Linux project, I doubt you'd find anything useful from Dell support... they do have a reputation for being really good friends with MS.

So I'd say go for a custom-made solution... isn't this what hackers love to do anyway?
Old 09-17-2003, 02:18 PM   #3
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There is a nice little article on building a terabyte file server from scratch at

Might give you some help/ideas.
Old 09-17-2003, 04:06 PM   #4
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bulliver: Great reference! Thanks!

Azmeen: I've cobbled together a very small farm out of user workstations before, this will be my first proper farm as well - I'm excited to do it.

I agree that putting them together myself is the way to go.

Anyone else - any more suggestions? Feel free to keep 'em coming.


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