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Old 07-08-2013, 10:49 PM   #1
DanK42
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Hardware suggestions for RAID Media & Development Server w/Virtualization


Greetings,

My 2 TB RAID 5 NAS recently failed and I'm looking to build something a bit more robust. Initially, I had intended to go with just a simple RAID 5 array with a media server. Now I'm thinking more along the line of RAID 1 or 10 on LVM (or maybe ZFS?) with virtualization for all the servers. The only thing I've picked out so far is WD Red HDs and the case:

iStarUSA D-406-B6SA-RED-ND Red Steel 4U Rackmount Server Case 2 External 5.25" Drive Bays

I'd like suggestions on RAID type, Filesystem, Motherboard, Processor, Memory & Expansion Cards if necessary.

Possible Software: XBMC, (something for transcoding), asterisk, mysql, php, apache, some X10 automation software, and whatever else I can think of

RAID Type: Much of what I'm reading these days suggests avoiding RAID 5 due to the increasingly large size of disks and the likelihood of read/write failures during the rebuild, thus causing total failure. So RAID 10 or RAID 6 come up instead, as well as talk of LVM and ZFS (which seems to be a Solaris thing). I've also heard of using an SSD cache drive in RAID systems.

Number of Drives: I'd like to be able to make use of all the bays available if need be so 12 SATA channels and eSATA would be nice for outside peripherals. Most likely this will require an expansion card.

Motherboard/Processor: I'd like a nice balance of efficient power consumption with the ability to expand. Enough SATA or expansion to handle 12 SATA + eSATA, USB 3, etc. Maybe a single low power processor that could be upgraded to something more powerful if I need more juice...or maybe a single processor on a dual board to upgrade later? Server or consumer grade board? Is it worth the difference? Intel or AMD? XEON, Semperon, i5, i7 or what?

Maybe I'm going about this wrong and should split up to multiple physical servers but I figured even more power consumption. And with virtualization I would be able to avoid all the servers upsetting one another. My apologies if this is a lot of questions and a lot of options, but I suspect things will get narrowed down very quickly as probably some of these thoughts are right out.

Thanks in advance for your responses.
 
Old 07-10-2013, 06:30 AM   #2
cascade9
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I wouldnt try to combine a media server and a development machine in most cases.

Do you really need 12 SATA ports and 12 HDDs? That is a lot of space and a lot of drives. You wotn find many motherobards with more than 6 SATA ports, and the extra ports are likely to be nasty slow marvel controllers (and this goes for most of the cheap PCIe SATA cards as well).

IMO you might be better off with a NAS or low power consumption media server for your media files, and a 2nd machine for the heavy lifting.
 
Old 07-10-2013, 01:21 PM   #3
DanK42
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Thanks for the quick response. I agree I wouldn't try to mix both machines either, that's why I thought perhaps a VM environment would work out, then they are virtually separate machines. Though perhaps even in that case it would be best to maintain separate physical machines for the main and development servers. Still ultimately as things came out of development I'd like to put them on the main server in multiple virtual machines. Or do you think the media server should be an entirely stand alone server? If so what would be reasonable to run on it? As I mentioned apache, mysql, etc are often already on the media servers as well as things like Asterisk and X10 & Automation Servers.

As for the need for 12 SATA ports, no I don't need it. I would just like to know that I could utilize the space the case has if needed. I presume there is little difference between running expansion cards for more SATA ports or onboard SATA ports. If that is the case, the question becomes not do I need 12 but rather is there any reason I can't have 12?

On the NAS and second machine for heavy lifting concept. My NAS just died, the actual board rather than the drives. This is a pain because I can't replace just the board, I have to buy a new NAS. This led me to wanting to build a NAS so I can easily replace parts, which led to me all the other things commercial NAS drives do; media server, web server, asterisk, etc. Which in turn led me to building my own NAS server that does these things. And finally the idea of virtual machines came in and here we are.
 
Old 07-11-2013, 04:42 AM   #4
cascade9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanK42 View Post
Thanks for the quick response. I agree I wouldn't try to mix both machines either, that's why I thought perhaps a VM environment would work out, then they are virtually separate machines.
No, they arent really. You'll still have HDDs storing your media data running in the same case as (I would assume) a fairly powerful CPU, etc.. Increased risks for no real payoff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanK42 View Post
Or do you think the media server should be an entirely stand alone server? If so what would be reasonable to run on it? As I mentioned apache, mysql, etc are often already on the media servers as well as things like Asterisk and X10 & Automation Servers.
Yes, a standalone media server. What you run on it will depend on your needs and wants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanK42 View Post
As for the need for 12 SATA ports, no I don't need it. I would just like to know that I could utilize the space the case has if needed. I presume there is little difference between running expansion cards for more SATA ports or onboard SATA ports. If that is the case, the question becomes not do I need 12 but rather is there any reason I can't have 12?
There are differences between Intel/AMD SATA controllers and the affordable addon PCI/PCIe controllers.

If you decided to use the cheap + nasty 2 port PCIe controllers you'd need 6 of them to get to 12 SATA ports, which is as much as good motherboard.

To get soemthing that isnt cheap and nasty is going to be $100+ even for 4 ports, and more like $250-300 if you want a decent hardware RAID controller. Going to 8 ports will increase costs a lot.

You could also have problems with fitting the HDDs into some of the bays, cabling issues, heat isues, etc..

Its best to just get the storage space you need with some extra for your projected needs for the next 1-2 years. Getting any more storage space than that means you are paying more $$$ for no result.

Are you getting this rackmount just because of the number of drive bays? You could get something with almost as many drive bays and better 120mm fan mounts for 1/3 the cash-

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811321003
 
Old 07-11-2013, 01:05 PM   #5
DanK42
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Quote:
No, they arent really. You'll still have HDDs storing your media data running in the same case as (I would assume) a fairly powerful CPU, etc.. Increased risks for no real payoff.
I guess I'm a little confused when you suggest to use a stand-alone media server and then run what I need on it. That seems contradictory, if it's a stand-alone media server then you'd be running nothing else on it? Why should running a virtual machine increase the risk? As for the payoff, that would be less hardware and less power than two machines. My understanding is that short of the VM software itself media servers don't use a lot of processing power and my development server would have very little traffic. So why build two machines? Albeit Asterisk may need some significant processing power. As for the VM versus running something like Asterisk directly on the media server, asterisk is a bit more complicated to manage than a media server, so I figured having it in a seperate VM might be an ideal solution?

Quote:
There are differences between Intel/AMD SATA controllers and the affordable addon PCI/PCIe controllers.

If you decided to use the cheap + nasty 2 port PCIe controllers you'd need 6 of them to get to 12 SATA ports, which is as much as good motherboard.

To get soemthing that isnt cheap and nasty is going to be $100+ even for 4 ports, and more like $250-300 if you want a decent hardware RAID controller. Going to 8 ports will increase costs a lot.

You could also have problems with fitting the HDDs into some of the bays, cabling issues, heat isues, etc..

Its best to just get the storage space you need with some extra for your projected needs for the next 1-2 years. Getting any more storage space than that means you are paying more $$$ for no result.
Many boards include 4-8 SATA ports, so at worst I'd have to add 2-4 2-port cards or 1-2 4-port cards. I understand that many boards have a second lesser chipset on them though. As for hardware RAID, absolutely not...that brings in a single point of failure and the necessity to replace the RAID card with an exact copy. As I had mentioned this was the whole problem with the NAS drive I have now. When you say a cheap and nasty board, does it not have the throughput, is it just ugly, what makes it nasty? I'm not talking about a 3Ware RAID Card. Software RAID is all I'm doing here, though there is some question which kind of software RAID and whether or not to do LVM. But why would getting a couple run of the mill SATA cards not do the job? Whats the downside?

Quote:
Are you getting this rackmount just because of the number of drive bays? You could get something with almost as many drive bays and better 120mm fan mounts for 1/3 the cash-
I appreciate the case suggestions, however it's not hot-swappable. What I'm really looking for is some hardware that will satisfy my request, in the case I mentioned. At minimal I'd like to be able to run the 6 hard drives in the hot-swap bays and two more (DVD and spare), so 8 SATA channels.
 
Old 07-11-2013, 02:18 PM   #6
DanK42
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Here is an example of a possible build though a slightly different, but similar case that I'm considering. Comparable drive density and includes the PS. This guy is utilizing 3 SATA exp. cards.

http://www.servethehome.com/supermic...hassis-review/
 
Old 07-12-2013, 03:16 PM   #7
cascade9
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If you had of said in your 1st post you actually wanted hotswappable SATA/SAS drives, I probably would have just left this whole thread alone....

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanK42 View Post
Here is an example of a possible build though a slightly different, but similar case that I'm considering. Comparable drive density and includes the PS. This guy is utilizing 3 SATA exp. cards.

http://www.servethehome.com/supermic...hassis-review/
That review never actually says how many drives are being used. Its sure not 12, thats for sure. Most likely 8 max (5 x 3.5'' bays, 3 x 5.25'' bays) as there seems to be no mention of using the 5 bay 3.5''-> 8 bay 2.5'' converter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanK42 View Post
Many boards include 4-8 SATA ports, so at worst I'd have to add 2-4 2-port cards or 1-2 4-port cards. I understand that many boards have a second lesser chipset on them though. As for hardware RAID, absolutely not...that brings in a single point of failure and the necessity to replace the RAID card with an exact copy.
The only motherboaard chipset that has 8 SATA ports that I know of is the AMD A85X. Everythign else is 6 or less SATA ports.

For various reasons, I wouldnt try running a mdadm RAID arrary over several different SATA controllers.

IMO you would be best off with a 4-5 HDD RAID arrary, possibly 1 SSD for the OS + possibly 1 DVD-RW. You should get a huge amount of space that way with 2-3TB drives, far more than your old 2TB NAS.

I spose I should really go into why the marvel controllers are so crap....heres the short version. Low throwput, reliablity problems, nasty design, nasty drivers (linux or windows).

You could well save power by having 2 machines, depending on your usage patterns, what hardware you get etc.. If you only have 2TB of data on your NAS, a big HDD or 2 in the non media server would provide a nice backup solution as well. I'd still have at least 1 more backup solution though.
 
Old 07-14-2013, 08:09 PM   #8
DanK42
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Quote:
The only motherboaard chipset that has 8 SATA ports that I know of is the AMD A85X. Everythign else is 6 or less SATA ports.
Umm 14 listed here on NewEgg

So how would you propose to get better energy efficiency out of two computers? Leave the NAS server on all the time and only run the other when needed?
 
Old 07-14-2013, 11:56 PM   #9
DanK42
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Quote:
The only motherboaard chipset that has 8 SATA ports that I know of is the AMD A85X. Everything else is 6 or less SATA ports.
And here's a board with 14 SATA ports:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131817
 
Old 07-15-2013, 02:10 AM   #10
cascade9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanK42 View Post
Some AMD A85X chipsets, and some 990FX chipsets. 990FX only has 6 x SATAIII ports, any addional ports are from addon controllers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanK42 View Post
And here's a board with 14 SATA ports:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131817
Intel C602, which with the right version can have up to 10 (or more IIRC) SATA/SAS ports (8/2 SATAII/SATAIII)....they arent cost effective at all and are mostly on dual CPU xeon systems so I always forget about them.

The other 4 ports are from an addon controller.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanK42 View Post
So how would you propose to get better energy efficiency out of two computers? Leave the NAS server on all the time and only run the other when needed?
That is one obvious way.

Last edited by cascade9; 07-15-2013 at 02:15 AM.
 
Old 07-15-2013, 03:53 AM   #11
DanK42
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OK, so here's what I'm looking at right now, probably running Open Media Vault:

SUPERMICRO CSE-842TQ-665B Black 4U Rackmount Server Chassis

SUPERMICRO MBD-X10SAE-O ATX Server Motherboard LGA 1150 Intel C226 DDR3 1600
Intel Xeon E3-1220 V2 Ivy Bridge 3.1GHz (3.5GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 69W Quad-Core Server Processor
Kingston 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 ECC Unbuffered Server Memory w/TS Hynix C Model KVR16E11/4HC
WD Red Disks in Software RAID (type undecided)
SSD for System Drive

Expansion slots leave plenty for an add-on SATA card, if I'd like to add another 5x3 SATA Dock. And current 6+2 SATA will be enough for initial setup.

Still need to decide on optimal RAID setup.
 
  


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