The Beast re-envisioned
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Author:  Chasrobin [ Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:19 am ]
Post subject:  The Beast re-envisioned

Awhile back I built a 40drive monster with an i7-940 cpu which you can read about in these forums and see the pictures.
And for the last 3 years its been a very stable and good system but now its time to do a refresh.
Using some transplant parts from the original beast I will be looking to solve some issues.

1. use only top tier parts, so drivers are easier to get or are already included in windows.
2. Currently using windows 8, moving to Windows Server 2012 essentials (Storage spaces)
3. Reduce multiple raid controllers to just one with an expander as I have found the Areca controllers to reboot numerous times when there are more than one until all drives are ready very annoying.
Not important if your system is on all the time.

So the current beast with it's i7-940, running, "My Movies", "Blue Iris" w/10 camera's, four web pages and home drive shares as well as streaming music and movies was running around 50% utilization.
Most of the time this was not an issue but I added a Davis Weather station to the mix and it caused pauses in responsiveness at the desktop but did not effect anything else.
So I figure I'm reaching it's limits soon.

To this end the new beast will be based on an HP DL380 G6, with two x5560 quad core cpu's
each with similar specs to the current I7-940 effectively doubling its horse power.
It has 32GB of Ram and four 146gb sas drives in a raid set for the OS drive.
Of course I have added a 24port expander and will be stacking my modified Norco 4220 cases on top.
By leaving the top cover off the DL380 cabling is easy and not an issue.
The hardware has been ordered and should be here soon, I will post pictures of the project as I go.

BTW way, I still have a EX490 with a e6400 4gb running just fine I don't think it's been powered down more then 3-4 times in 4-5yrs.
Awesome machine.

Author:  Chasrobin [ Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Beast re-envisioned

Ok, got the DL380 G6 and have installed Win12 essentials.
The Dl has four built in Nics and win12 has built in teaming letting you aggregate their links.
Very cool a 4gb connection and looks like a single connection.
MyMovies has a version for this that looks good and Blue Iris security cameras installed without issue.
I haven't done any real testing yet but it's running around 6-8% load where my I7-940 was running around 40-60%.
If anyone else plans a similar config make sure to avoid the G5 and lower models they are excessively power hungry and very loud.
The G6 uses 95w cpu's and are whisper quiet.
For comparison my I7-940 ran 135w single socket where the DL uses two x5560's @ 95w ea..
But it uses a nice dynamic throttling method to run them at lower cycles if not needed.
On my killawatt usage meter the power draw is nearly identical but the performance is insanely better.

Author:  orinoco [ Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Beast re-envisioned

Sounds like an awesome machine. I still love my EX495 and EX485 machines, but recently began work on a tower machine with 8 x 3TB hard drives running UnRaid. I loved drive extender and can't live without data protection. Are you using Storage Spaces on Win2012 Essentials?

Author:  Chasrobin [ Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Beast re-envisioned

OK, I want to share a "Storage Spaces" scare.
I was using Windows 8 as my server and had moved to storage spaces which I like the write speed isn't so good but read speed is good and where it counts.
I read in many places that you can take a "Storage space" created on one machine and move it without loss.
But I had a wrinkle I was using two Areca 1300x-16 controllers non raid hba's and was moving to the DL380 G6 with a P410I raid controller.
So the original controllers were strictly JBOD (just a bunch of disk) and the P410i does not support JBOD.
OH NO!!!!! start the panic.... was I going to loose years of collection plus family photos....
Then I read something about the raid controller you can create an array that contains only a single drive in it the create a logical drive containing all the space which I did and it worked YEAH!!!!!!!!!
So I get the advantage of my fully cached controller with storage spaces.

Be aware on some of the raid controllers for drives over 2TB you must manually enter their drive capacity or it will default to 2TB.
BTW, its fast YEAH!!!!!!!!! :chicken: :banana: :beerme: :rofl:

Author:  orinoco [ Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Beast re-envisioned

Wow. Thanks for posting your storage spaces feedback. I've been very reluctant to trust Storage Spaces to this point. Sounds like Microsoft hasn't delivered a finished product (yet). Glad to hear this had a happy ending!!

Author:  Chasrobin [ Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Beast re-envisioned

OK I'm sold storage spaces is the $H1T!!! when it comes to home storage as a DE replacement.
I am a network admin and have dealt with raid arrays and their failures for years and they are not fun.
My new beast has a raid controller great love the cache performance but my drives I moved are all jbod configured.
This actually turned out to be a blessing as I had a failure of a backplane board on my Norco 4220.
of course I did not know this but about half of my drives started randomly going offline being marked as bad and eventlog entries went nuts with drive errors.
I knew the drives were fine so I started looking elsewhere now normally with arrays you cannot move the physical location of a drive as this will screw up the array map.
But with storage space I was able to play musical drives without issue I was even able to delete logical drives and re-add them with skipping a beat.
A normal array would have wet itself and barfed data.
Now I'm not suggesting "Storage spaces should be used in an enterprise.
But for the wild and wooly home network its sweet.

BTW DE would have failed miserably and lost data this is a far superior product in every regard.
I think I stumbled onto the magic method for storage spaces lots of small arrays spread across as many drives as possible in a parity storage space. I get mediocre write speed and decent read speed.
Being able to remove pieces of an array and keep going while physically moving drives to new slots PRICELESS!
Also Since using win8 storage spaces over 30+drives I have lost 3 all seagates all 1.5TB with no data loss.
now add a backplane failure not bad.

I can also report a single HP P410 controller through an expander works very well.
to get past the 24drive limit you can chain the expanders and take two drives and place them in an array.
the 24 "Drive" limit seems to refer to a 24 "LUN" limit not physical drives.

example two 1.5TB drives place in a raid 0 array presents as a 2.6TB LUN which can then be dropped into storage spaces as a single drive.
Be aware if you loose one of the drives both fall out and storage spaces will use parity to rebuild the data once you fix the array.
To identify the dead one you must use your raid controller tools.

Edit: OK I know, I know, why not use the raid controller to build larger arrays.
This would require me to pair up similar drives then if one were to fail imagine trying to shop for the exact Model/size replacement.
By using single drive raid 0 arrays and allowing storage spaces to handle things ala drive extender I can use off the shelf drives of any size make or model.
The trade off is not so hot write speed but read speed seems to be comparable to any raid set.
If I had endless money then I would have spares of exactly the same drives but my fear is a year or two down the road I will not be able to find a suitable replacement for that WD20XXXXX drive or that seagate STXXXXXXXX.
Raid arrays are great until the day their not then they are terrible.

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