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Old 10-29-2011, 05:38 PM   #1
blm14
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Motherboard for inexpensive headless linux file server, RAID5


So I am looking to replace a very old very high-power consumption P4 dell prebuilt with a self-built box. This machine will be used as a media and general file storage dump for my home network. I already have 4 1.5TB SATAII drives and can get more relatively cheaply from work. Here's what I want:

- A motherboard that supports RAID5 and that linux (any distro, really) will recognize natively. If possible I'd like the RAID controller in hardware and not fakeraid because that will allow me to get a less powerful CPU, but if I have to do it in software I'll get a dual-core CPU I guess
- CHEAP! My hope is to spend around $250-300 total including case/PSU
- Low-power consumption. If possible 35W CPU.
- Minimum 4 on-board sata connectors. Prefer 6 or more.

I want to avoid buying a separate RAID controller. Is this a complete pipe dream? I've already posted on tomshardware (http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/299848-30-file-server) so if you'd prefer to reply there that's fine.

Thanks in advance
 
Old 10-29-2011, 05:40 PM   #2
enteptain
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I've had great experiences with tigerdirect dot com
you can get the setup there
 
Old 10-30-2011, 08:39 PM   #3
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blm14 View Post
...I already have 4 1.5TB SATAII drives...
Good move; certainly don't bank on buying any cheaply on the open market at the moment, with the current market conditions and/or profiteering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blm14 View Post
... replace a very old very high-power consumption P4 dell prebuilt with a self-built box...
Also sensible; normally I might point out that you could re-use the case, power supply, but Dell have had odd little tricks to stop people doing this in the past, and that box will be a bit old by now, so I'm not sure that it would make sense for this kind of usage.


Quote:
Originally Posted by blm14 View Post
- CHEAP! My hope is to spend around $250-300 total including case/PSU
- Low-power consumption. If possible 35W CPU.
In reverse order; the TDP of the processor is probably not the most useful thing to look at. The TDP is essentially 'maximum power dissipation so that you can get the heatsink and airflow correctly specified'. You really don't want to minimise that so much as 'actual power usage under realistic usage conditions'. Now the thing is, if you get a processor with a little more computing power, it will be able to get its task done more quickly and thus get back to a low power mode more quickly, so that although it may have a higher TDP that probably won't be reflected in a noticeably higher actual power dissipation (or, alternatively, you may be able to underclock it). Obviously, you can't stretch this line of reasoning too far, but there is no reason to think that, eg, the Atoms, which probably have the lowest TDP, more-or-less, would actually prove lower dissipation, in practice than, eg, a Celeron when execution efficiency is factored in.

Also, a high efficiency, but not vastly over-rated, power supply (to stay close to its optimum operating range) would be good.

I think a Pentium (dual core, Sandy Bridge) would be good - probably the lowest clocked, or close to that if the next one up the range is a negligible amount more expensive. Also, the AMD Llano processors would be good, but probably more expensive (your prices will be different from mine, so I don't know how significant that would be), so it would be difficult to get down to the price of the Intel system, as the SB motherboards have been out for some time now.

The one thing that I would advise is to have enough memory; not having enough will cause swapping and that will slow things down and increase the total power draw, as well as reducing performance. Now, for just a fileserver, you shouldn't need all that much memory, but do think whether you are likely to add extra functions later.

In any case, prefer more memory sockets to fewer and check that you are happy with the maximum supported amount of memory.

In general, the motherboards intended for Home Theatre PC/Media Centre PC usage tend to be low power (and unexciting...not much overclocking or gaming potential) and should be exactly what you need, provided that there are enough SATA ports. You haven't mentioned whether there are any practical limitations on form factor (ie, acceptable size and orientation of the case) but remember that a small board in a big case is possible; the other way round is more tricky... Also, think about noise levels; depending on the location of the box, low noise could be vital or irrelevant.
 
Old 10-31-2011, 10:56 AM   #4
cascade9
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All the current desktop level chipsets I know of (Intel ICH*, AMD SB***, etc.) use fakeriad. If you want hardware RAID, you'll have to pay for it.....

IMO you might as well get a dual-core (in part because of thereasons salasi listed). A dual-core Intel Atom, or AMD fusion ('E' series, 'Brazos') will have far lower TDP and lower power consumption than a single core AMD sempron or intel (insert 'old' series of CPU with a new 'badge engineering' name) CPU.

The only issue with atom is that the boards tend to be miniITX, so you normally only have one expansion slot (PCI or PCIe). The PCIe versions are 'crippled' down to PCIe x4, even with full sized x16 slots. The problem with AMD fusion 'brazos' is that the APU (GPU on the CPU) is still havent code added for better linux support. Lots of the better 'server' distros will not run well with 'brazos', if they run at all.
 
Old 10-12-2012, 04:48 AM   #5
BugMagnet
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for the record

look at ASUS E35M1-M Pro or now E45M1-M Pro

I am building with the former.

It has 5 internal and 1 external sata 6gb/s ports and USB 3.0
I routed a cable from the DVD out the back to the external eSATA port which leaves all 5 internal ports available for hard drives.

Currently, I am keeping 1 drive for the operating system and putting the other 4 into a raid. I am using debian. I could with freeNAS boot from a USB drive and then have all 5 ports for data drives.

Perhaps best of all, the CPU uses 18W. With all sata ports filled (5HD and a DVD) it is drawing 62-65 watts. With green HDs that would be less, I just used what I had so it is not optimized yet.
 
Old 10-12-2012, 05:00 AM   #6
Wim Sturkenboom
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@bugmagnet

Celebrating the first birthday of this thread
 
  


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