Originally Posted by ehaze
thanks for the input on FreeNas.
any input on a ~10 core xeon and micro itx board combo?
Just make sure you read the recommended hardware and probably ask over on the freenas forums if you're considering this route - they're pretty knowledgeable over there.
My gut would say that's overkill but equally this is overclock.net not 'makeitjustgoodenough.net' so if you've got the money to burn have at it!
What I would do though is set up a freenas box using whatever hardware you have and see what the limit to your streams are and judge from that how much extra grunt you may need then size your hardware accordingly. For example sharing over SMB (i.e. for windows) is largely a single threaded activity so max cpu speed is more useful over core quantity.
I built my freenas box around one of the intel atom 8-core processors because it's on 24/7. With hindsight I would have built it around a Xeon but it's perfectly adequate so no justification to mess with it.
If you do go down the freenas route bare in mind that if you value your data then you really (and I mean really) should have a large amount of EEC RAM as well as a UPS. It's one of the benefits and major drawbacks to the zfs file system. Basically it's incredibly fault tolerant of data errors because it crc's the data and about a million other things so it caches a lot of the data in RAM before writing it out (hence the large quantity). If an error creeps in here then the corrupted data gets written and crc'd and stored so once this has happened as far as ZFS is concerned it's right hence why you want ECC RAM to catch these events. The final 'feature' is everything to do with the file system is done when it's online, including repairs, checks etc. This means if it gets into a corrupted state such as a power down before it was able to write the cache to the disk then you can lose all your data because it can't be brought online to repair itself and there are no offline zfs tools hence have a battery backup able to let freenas shut down safely in the event of a power cut. The reason for this is zfs was developed by sun microsystems for server farms where you don't want downtime if you need to repair disks or do other admin tasks.
So, yes, it's great and you can literally do anything you could possibly want a server to do but if you need to asses if it's right for you. I wouldn't hesitate recommending it anyone but only if they were prepared to build or buy a proper box otherwise there are better solutions as other posters have mentioned.