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Thread: Hardware advice: Building a new server

  1. #1
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    Question Hardware advice: Building a new server

    Hi,

    as written elsewhere, my home server is way overdue for a remodel. For a change, I was thinking of going Ubuntu (instead of Opensuse) and I am planning to stuff various services in vboxes for easier maintenance.
    Currently, I'm running this services:
    • Perimeter firewall - that is already in a VM with a dedicated NIC and works fine there
    • Storage - NFS and SMB (for DLNA)
    • Postfix / Cyrus
    • Webserver with currently 7 virtual hosts
    • Rendering - I run a weather website at saakeskus.fi and every 6 hours, the server pulls about half a gig of raw data, renders some 6500 charts and uploads them to my webhoster
    • Asterisk PBX (all network, no PCI cards)
    • DLNA server (Mediatomb)
    • Home automation, control and security - a whole collection of stuff knitted together with scripts
    • And a whole bunch of small stuff, like monitoring and so on


    The current box is an AMD Phenom 8650 with 6GB RAM. A year ago, my RAID failed - both disks burned out within days from each other... So I had to invest quite a bit of money for the Seagate Recovery service. NOT NICE! At the moment, I'm running on the USB disk they sent me with my rescued data.
    Anyways, one of the major issues I have, besides that server just being old and becoming unreliable, is power consumption. The 8650 has 95W TDP on the paper but the whole system almost suck me dry. I have over 500kWh per months and one of the criteria for the new server definitely is "POWER SAVE"! The other thing is that it's a HOME server, so I can't have a screaming DELL/HP/IBM/whatever pizzabox which produces more dB than a Hornet on afterburner.

    I'm totally no hardware guy, so I'd be grateful for some ideas on where to start with building the new machine.

    Edit: Forgot - of course, mysql also runs on that machine with several dbs.
    Last edited by sgofferj; March 28th, 2014 at 06:08 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Hardware advice: Building a new server

    How did your old hardware of AMD Phenom 8650 with 6GB RAM deal with the needs listed already? IE do you need more horsepower to do what you want to do or no?

    Just wondering how much storage you are going to put in this?

    What kind of budget do you have?

  3. #3
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    Re: Hardware advice: Building a new server

    Budget is "as much as needed", excluding waste such as buying some brandname datacenter machine for $7k or so.
    Horsepower-wise, the box is idling around 10% most of the time. During chart rendering it goes up to about 40%. A little bit more would still be nice because at the moment, I limit the rendering to 1 core to protect the other services and thus it takes over an hour.
    Storage-wise, I was thinking of something like 4x2, 4x3 or 4x4 TB on ZFS or BTRFS.
    Last edited by sgofferj; March 29th, 2014 at 08:24 AM.

  4. #4
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    Re: Hardware advice: Building a new server

    1. For processor, AMD offers better value for parallel tasks (IMHO) because Intel considers Hyperthreading a premium feature. You may want to look at the Kaveri chips:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819113360
    If considering intel, I would be looking at i7-4770s because they're quad-core with Hyperthreading and Vt-d support. Just make sure to avoid the 4770K or any K-series chip because they're for overclockerz/gamerz.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819116902

    2. Carefully research your mobo's IOMMU (AMD-Vi/Intel Vt-d) implementation because I see a lot of complaints about faulty implementations (my current mobo also suffers this issue).

    3. RAM's relatively cheap, so load up. (I don't normally advise people to do that, but your usage case is one that could actually benefit from a ton of RAM.)

  5. #5
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    Re: Hardware advice: Building a new server

    I'd recommend an AMD FX-8320 + ASUS Sabertooth 990FX mainboard. FX-8320 is cheapest 8-core CPU on the market and is still very powerful, the mobo i recommended have extended lifetime (due to component quality) and 5 years warranty. These CPU and mobo combination have working AMD-Vi support. Xen and KVM works without problems, and You'd better use KVM instead of vboxes, KVM virtual machines is far more faster.

    Sorry for my bad English.

  6. #6
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    Re: Hardware advice: Building a new server

    The FX-8320 has a TDP of 125W, so I would massively increase my electricity bill... AMD-wise, I was looking at an A10-6700 which has 65W TDP including a graphics core, but I'm not sure how good the virtualization support is.

    @Temüjin:
    Thx. I was planning for maybe 16, maybe 32G ECC.
    But exactly that CPU/MB issue made me post here. Hardware is such a fast-changing topic - if you turn away for a moment, you're out and I haven't looked at hardware in years as it was never my topic.

  7. #7
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    Re: Hardware advice: Building a new server

    Quote Originally Posted by sgofferj View Post
    The FX-8320 has a TDP of 125W, so I would massively increase my electricity bill... AMD-wise, I was looking at an A10-6700 which has 65W TDP including a graphics core, but I'm not sure how good the virtualization support is.
    Ok, then there is FX-6300 with 95W TDP (same as Your old Phenom) 6-cores is still better for server than 4-cores of APU You suggested. And why do You need graphics core on a server?

    If You still want A10-6700 - yes, it supports virtualization, and I can recommend You a motherboard with working AMD-Vi: ASUS A88XM-A.

  8. #8
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    Re: Hardware advice: Building a new server

    Hello!

    The difference between the FX and the A10 in terms of wattage is 125W - 65W = 60W. I don't think running an extra 60W lightbulb in your house would cause a "massive" increase in your electricity bill.

    I'd make the decision based on cost of components and what you plan to have your server doing. You might not need a powerful processor. There's a cost difference between the FX and the A10. Also, the HSF for each is going to have to be suitable. An HSF capable of cooling the FX is going to be more expensive than one to cool the A10. In fact, the OEM cooler may be sufficient for the A10 if it doesn't ever get taxed.

    I guess what I am saying is that energy consumption is really just so much FUD. In a year's time, the cost of the extra electricity will be much less than the initial purchase of the components. So make a wise decision on those expenditures based on what you need your machine to do.

    Cheers!

  9. #9
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    Re: Hardware advice: Building a new server

    Well...

    Here in Finland electricity is quite cheap, compared to the rest of Europe but here's a little calculation:
    Electricity costs: 0,0696€/kWh
    Transport costs: 0,038€/kWh (that's what the local electricity company gets for using their cables)
    Energy tax: 0,0235972/kWh
    Total: 0,1311972€/kWh

    60W running 24/7 (it's a server, after all) make
    0,188923968€ (1,44kWh)/day
    5,66771904€ (43,2kWh)/month
    68,95724832€ (525,5kWh)/year

    That's roughly 10% of my total consumption of roughly 5500kWh last year!
    And 69€/year is a pretty good starting point for an amortization calculation when looking at the price difference between power-saving and power-wasting hardware.

    And... that's just the CPU... I haven't even started to take other components into account, such as the graphics chip which is integrated and therefore included in the TDP of the A10 Core i7 or other components.

    Edit: as I wrote, my current machine is most of the time idling around 10%, so I don't really see the need for some 8 core "monster" CPU
    Last edited by sgofferj; March 29th, 2014 at 09:28 AM.

  10. #10
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    Re: Hardware advice: Building a new server

    Quote Originally Posted by sgofferj View Post
    Edit: as I wrote, my current machine is most of the time idling around 10%, so I don't really see the need for some 8 core "monster" CPU
    Well, that's another consideration. We were calculating on full throttle. The difference in power consumption drops significantly when considering that.

    The decision most certainly becomes less a matter of electricity bill and more of initial cost of components.

    A server doesn't necessarily have to rumble like a locomotive when a moped will do. Regardless of the fuel consumption, the moped is cheaper.

    EDIT: By the way, my 60W bulb burning 24/7 costs me $36.76US annually -- and that's actually running at 60W. At 10%, that goes down to $3.68.
    Last edited by QIII; March 29th, 2014 at 09:51 AM.

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