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A simple but pretty good "server"

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
To a lot of folks, the concept of a server isn't reality. They think of something sexy, awesome, and expensive. But to small businesses (SMBs), a server is any computer that just sits there and serves the company's computer needs. This thread is dedicated to my company's server. And to be a thread where I can reference our AMD x4 server.

This thread started me talking about our server. This thread was more about me explaining "why" to folks who haven't choked on 3 years of dust in a real server. And this 3rd thread is well because this poor box deserves some kind of award.

This server was built up on the cheap but sensibly configured.
  • Case and PSU: legacy stuff that was laying around.
  • MoBoard: ASUS M3N78-VM bought at Fry's ... was 6 or 8 months uncurrent, so packed a punch but was low cost.
  • CPU: AMD Phenom II 9550 X4 : same deal, was great value at Fry's that day.
  • RAM: Mix n match from all the other DDR2 computers we had at the time. Has 6GB (2x1 + 2x2)
  • RAID: Highpoint RocketRAID PCIe hardware controller with 4x 500 GB drives in 1TB RAID 5.
  • other RAID: 2x 32GB SSDs via FakeRAID from the mo-board to run the OS.
The most expensive single thing in the system is the hardware RAID card (was $300). This server runs 2 active virtual machines and serves our RAID to the business. One of the VMs is our internal webserver (for employess and for development) as well as running a cron that is essential to our business process. Another VM hosts a postgres database that serves our accounting.

Here are pics of that server and the "rack" cabinet it's in... Yeah, that was an Ikea cabinet that was left abandoned in the business space that I'm renting now. In the bottom is my F1 dedicated folding rig. I learned the hard way not to put that on the same UPS as the server. The monitor and keyboard are connected to the server and F1 via a KVM. You can see my externally mounted drives for the server's RAID. The server is the box behind the monitor.

More about that cabinet: we cut out sections on the back and top with 4x fans in each moving air through the cabinet. We also put it on casters. The quad outlet for this case are 2 dedicated 115V 20A circuits shared with nothing else.


The case? It's a Supermicro server case that initially housed my AMD K6-2 3D Now! windows 2000 box that I used for my desktop at work from 2000 until ... 2004? 05? It's purpose is to hold the components and not cause me to have to stop working to work on it. I open it up and dust it out every year or two. Smily face is the power button. 3.5" drive is disconnected... Just didn't bother to remove it. Notice how thick the aluminum plate is. It was scrap laying in the shop at the time ... it happened to meet the dimensional needs we were looking for ... depth for HDD, width for 2 fans + 4 HDDs.




Now for the good stuff... pretty decent motherboard that I picked up at Fry's and has integrated hdmi video (didn't even notice until this year). It's got 6G of DDR2 RAM. The two SSDs are in a RAID fed from the motherboard. The PCIe card is a raid controller. PCI card is a gigbit ethernet adapter; one cable is split out from the firewall, the other to our network. All the drives were inside the case until we noticed they are hot as hades. ... so we routed the cabling out the back of the case and have the drives bolted to an aluminum plate with fans blowing across them. Copper plates on top are for more cooling and extra stability. On a hot day with lots of usage, you might feel these HDs and think they are warm to the touch. OS is ubuntu server. 9.04




Sooooo... a "server" can be anything from an Intel Atom to a Dell Vostro $350 special, to the sickest gaming rig possible. And it's "rack" can be anywhere or anything suitable (preferably ventilated, not on a desk, and away from people). The top of this cabinet has our 24 port gigbit switch and our core2duo firewall computer, which was intended for small desktop use.


Note that the x4 ran a load of 0 0 0, (meaning under 1% utilization) ... so I have it folding now. It's load is always 4.0 4.0 4.0 and you'd never notice when using the processes it "serves". And the cost? Wow... Ubuntu: Free, serving up the RAID with no limit of users: Free. Windows Server: $800? Virtual machines? Free. The OS's running in the VMs? Ubuntu: Free. The MySql database on a VM? Free. The PostGres DB on the other? Free.

So pretty much a server is about any piece of crap box that is configured for reliability with some thought about fail-safe applied to the whole thing.
Edited by unexpectedly - 1/7/11 at 2:19pm
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OCZ Revodrive 350 PCIe  Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB 7200 rpm ST31000... Acer HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GH70N  Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 
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post #2 of 6
Yep, any computer can be a server of sorts. If you're running it for critical business purposes, then real server grade kit is worth the expense. It won't do anything any faster than a similarly specced machine of half the price, it will just be designed to be as bulletproof as possible.
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post #3 of 6
What RAID card is it? I was not aware Rosewill made any hardware RAID cards at all - I thought all their stuff was fakeRAID.

How do you back up everything?
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_beast View Post
What RAID card is it? I was not aware Rosewill made any hardware RAID cards at all - I thought all their stuff was fakeRAID.

How do you back up everything?
I'm not certain which card we've got ... they have so many offerings it doesn't stand out. I know it was about $400. Ours has 2 internal ports which carry 4x sata2 each. They included 1 cable set (shown in the pics). Hmmm. I'm pretty sure it was Rosewill ,as that was when I first noticed the brand. And I did a ton of research because of all the obfuscation of fake-raid on the market. This card specifically has a chip on it that people said was needed for true RAID. When the computer boots, this card's BIOS starts first and has a number of tools built in. AFAIK, we never access it via OS / software.

Right now, there isn't a true back-up. I'm relying on the raid not totally crashing. I have been going through the directories and removing redundant archives... Once the **** stops hitting the fan, we'll look at picking critical directories to archive to DVD...

Thanks,
Chris
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel i7-4930k SABERTOOTH X79 NVIDIA Quadro K2000 Corsair 4 x 8GB 
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OCZ Revodrive 350 PCIe  Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB 7200 rpm ST31000... Acer HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GH70N  Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 
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post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
OMG, Newegg FTW ... found the email invoice they sent me in 2009:
16-115-048 RAID CARD HIGHPOINT ROCKETRAID 3510
1
$309.99
$309.99

So definitely wasn't Rosewill. Probably was when I first learned of that brand though.
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel i7-4930k SABERTOOTH X79 NVIDIA Quadro K2000 Corsair 4 x 8GB 
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OCZ Revodrive 350 PCIe  Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB 7200 rpm ST31000... Acer HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GH70N  Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 
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windows 7 professional 64 bit ASUS PB278Q 27-Inch WQHD PLS Monitor razer black widow ultimate Raidmax 630w 
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TT Commander Snow Logitech M-U0007 (M500) NextEngine Laser Scanner Mobile Computer Desk 
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3D Connexion Space Navigator Huion H58L Tablet 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
xeon 3440 Maximus III Gene GTS250 G.Skill 2GB F3-10666CL8-2GBHK 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
SAMSUNG SpinPoint P Series SP2004C 200GB 7200 RPM Zalman windows 7 64 bit Gateway FHX3200B 
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel i7-4930k SABERTOOTH X79 NVIDIA Quadro K2000 Corsair 4 x 8GB 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
OCZ Revodrive 350 PCIe  Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB 7200 rpm ST31000... Acer HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GH70N  Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
windows 7 professional 64 bit ASUS PB278Q 27-Inch WQHD PLS Monitor razer black widow ultimate Raidmax 630w 
CaseMouseOtherOther
TT Commander Snow Logitech M-U0007 (M500) NextEngine Laser Scanner Mobile Computer Desk 
OtherOther
3D Connexion Space Navigator Huion H58L Tablet 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
xeon 3440 Maximus III Gene GTS250 G.Skill 2GB F3-10666CL8-2GBHK 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
SAMSUNG SpinPoint P Series SP2004C 200GB 7200 RPM Zalman windows 7 64 bit Gateway FHX3200B 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
Acer AL2216W Razer black widow ultimate CM 500w Coolermaster USP100 red 
Mouse
Logitech MX518 
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post #6 of 6
Highpoint cards are much better than Rosewill, although far from top of the line. I would really recommend you get some backup strategy in place sooner rather than later - go to Best Buy and buy a 2TB drive and copy across the whole lot if you have to, but don't keep your business running like than any longer.
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