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post #61 of 7891 Old 09-30-2008, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeSM View Post

I think the better deal is something like the TYAN S5211G2NR or the Supermicro MBD-X7SBA. Socket 775 CPU, normal DDR2 ram, and 2 PCI-X slots as well, plus a couple intel GbE ports. You can find them for about two hundred dollars, and you get 6 onboard SATA ports to boot. Add two of the 8 port SATA PCI-X cards, and you have 22 SATA ports, which fills up a norco 4020 well (with one SATA port for a system disk and the other for a slim optical drive). And the tyan has a couple PCI-E x16 slots to boot. They are both P35 based, with ICH9R SATA ports, so they are very fast onboard ports and well supported in DOS (er.. windows) and Linux.

The Socket 775 CPU's are much cheaper than the socket 771 models for the same performance, and no expensive FBDIMM's required, and these boards handle the latest 45 nm CPU's too. Alas, no overclocking capability...

PS And the tyan comes with a cheap onboard video controller too. :-)

I think you guys going the socket 771 route with FBDIMMs are really throwing money away.

I disagree Mike, the chipsets used in the 771 boards, especially the 5400, are far superior to the 3000 series chipsets used in the 775 boards, and the prices aren't even that much different. With a 771 board, you have the "option" of adding a second CPU if need be, and the ESB2 is just so much more better than the Southbridge/ICH in the 775 chipsets.

But I do agree that if cost is a concern, you can find some of the 775 boards real cheap, and not everybody needs 8 cores.
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post #62 of 7891 Old 09-30-2008, 06:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kapone View Post

I disagree Mike, the chipsets used in the 771 boards, especially the 5400, are far superior to the 3000 series chipsets used in the 775 boards, and the prices aren't even that much different. With a 771 board, you have the "option" of adding a second CPU if need be, and the ESB2 is just so much more better than the Southbridge/ICH in the 775 chipsets.

But I do agree that if cost is a concern, you can find some of the 775 boards real cheap, and not everybody needs 8 cores.

Of course they are better chipsets. :-) But the question is do you actually stress any of the limits of the other chipsets in NAS use. It's all about I/O, and memory bandwidth just isn't that big a deal. And if you can max out the disks and serve the data through the dual GbE interfaces at line rate, then do you really need anything more than that?

A single quadcore can handle software raid at incredibly high data rates, even in windows (:-)) - you don't need another 4 cores for NAS use. Now, if you are are doing constant HD transcoding, that is a completely different animal. But for even line rate NAS functionality, how does the 5000 series buy you anything over the 3210?
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post #63 of 7891 Old 09-30-2008, 06:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeSM View Post

Of course they are better chipsets. :-) But the question is do you actually stress any of the limits of the other chipsets in NAS use. It's all about I/O, and memory bandwidth just isn't that big a deal. And if you can max out the disks and serve the data through the dual GbE interfaces at line rate, then do you really need anything more than that?

A single quadcore can handle software raid at incredibly high data rates, even in windows (:-)) - you don't need another 4 cores for NAS use. Now, if you are are doing constant HD transcoding, that is a completely different animal. But for even line rate NAS functionality, how does the 5000 series buy you anything over the 3210?

But..bbbutt...there's several 771 boards that are only slightly more expensive than the 775 counterparts...

I agree though, for a pure NAS usage, there's very little that a 771 board will buy over a 775 board, EXCEPT when it comes to slots... The 771 boards can support a much higher number/bandwidth of slots. That DOES make a difference.
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post #64 of 7891 Old 09-30-2008, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by alspoll View Post

Which motherboard would you recommend the ASUS or the Supermicro
X7DWE? With the Ciprico having a PCI-X version available of its RAID card, both boards become viable options. Is there any concern that the PCI-X slot would not be readily available in the future if the motherbaord dies?

Also, 1 question regarding the Ciprico cards... it says they support 32 drives. Is that for a single array or all drives attached the system? With the above motherboards, the drive count can be greater than the 32 specified.

Sorry to hijack, but I hope this compares the difference between 2 technologies and long term consideration.

TIA

AL

Not sure specifically about ciprico (haven't used their HW before), but generally HBA's and RAID controllers list the max number of physical drives they can support...in this case 32. You'll usually also find listings for max number of LUNs (for HW RAID controllers) supported as well as the max number of physical drives per LUN. This should be in the user documentation.
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post #65 of 7891 Old 09-30-2008, 07:42 PM
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I hope I'm not sticking my head where it doesn't belong, but I just built my first File Server. The research I did led me to the unRAID solution, and here's the parts I used:



I got the MSI Neo3-F P43 board open box for $60 + s/h http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...2E16813130185R

The E5200 for $85 shipped http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819116072

I got a Cooler Master Hyper 212 off another forum for $20 shipped. I don't think I need this, though. The stock cooler works fine for the volts I'm running.

4GB of DDR2-1000 CAS5 RAM for $48 shipped AR http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820227280

The Cooler Master Centurion 590 $65 shipped http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-Cooler-Maste...d=p3286.c0.m14

I got 4 of these Yate Loon fans from Petra's, but it appears they are Out of Stock now. http://www.petrastechshop.com/12yalod1cafa.html

I got a cheap ATI XL 8MB PCI gfx card for $8 shipped on eBay. I may have not even needed this, though.

And I also got a gigabit router to make sure I get good transfer speeds.

I reused my Silverstone 560W Zeus single 38A rail PSU from my other PC, and also am reusing 4 WD 640GB HDDs (the fast ones) for storage.

Oh, and I reused some leftover 3-3 HDD cages from a couple Antec 900 builds I did in the past for other folks.




So far it's worked great, but I'm still very early in the testing stages. I've transferred 300GB over to it thus far. The mobo is lacking in PCIe slots w/ only 1 x16, and 1 x1 slot. There are 4 PCI slots, though, and 8 sata ports. It's cheap and it's based on the P43 chipset which is 65nm compared to most others that are 90nm. It runs on less voltage and it runs cooler.

I got the E5200 b/c I wanted to run w/ low volts...I was not disappointed.




I'm going to keep it here at 2GHz w/ a 333FSB speed. 0.856v for vcore is just awesome IMO!

Here's a pic of my case before I installed the new CPU HS.







My drives are running nice and cool as well even while transferring over 300GB of data.






I'm waiting for the Kill-A-Watt meter to go back on sale, so I can see how much (or how little) power it draws w/ the drives spun down.

Jeers, cheers, opinions, and suggestions are welcome as this is definitely new to me.
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post #66 of 7891 Old 09-30-2008, 08:12 PM
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You can save some money on the Kill-A-Watt and buy a UPS instead like an APC

Powerchute will tell you exactly how much the power draw is in realtime.

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post #67 of 7891 Old 09-30-2008, 08:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kapone View Post

But..bbbutt...there's several 771 boards that are only slightly more expensive than the 775 counterparts...

Question, are there 771 boards that don't use FB-DIMM's?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MiBz View Post

You can save some money on the Kill-A-Watt and buy a UPS instead like an APC

Powerchute will tell you exactly how much the power draw is in realtime.

Cool. I never did bother to install PowerChute on my PC, although, I do have it connected to the USB port. Windows XP recognized the UPS just fine. If I want to know wattage, though, I do have the 1500VA model with LCD so I can just check directly on the UPS.
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post #68 of 7891 Old 09-30-2008, 08:49 PM
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I do have a UPS. I got real excited, and installed PowerChute again...

...but this UPS is old (or just cheap), and doesn't support that feature.



I've been thinking of upgrading it anyway b/c the battery is on it's last legs. It's more of just a surge protector at this point in time. Thanks for the advice! You probably just saved me some $.
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post #69 of 7891 Old 09-30-2008, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

Question, are there 771 boards that don't use FB-DIMM's?

Not at present.
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post #70 of 7891 Old 09-30-2008, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jason4207 View Post

I do have a UPS. I got real excited, and installed PowerChute again...

...but this UPS is old (or just cheap), and doesn't support that feature.

I've been thinking of upgrading it anyway b/c the battery is on it's last legs. It's more of just a surge protector at this point in time. Thanks for the advice! You probably just saved me some $.

Glad to help

I picked up this APC 1300VA with LCD display for about $135 on a Dell Deal a few months back.



http://www.apc.com/resource/include/...otal_watts=200
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post #71 of 7891 Old 09-30-2008, 09:13 PM
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5400 (dual 771) boards are great but FB-Dimms not so much. They're 'spensive, run Africa hot and use about 10-15w of power per 2GB stick, 60W on 16GB

5100 (dual 771) boards are the sweet spot right now ($150 less than 5400) which uses cost and power effecient 240pin DDR2 ECC ram.

Both setups with 8GB ram will run you approx $850 (5400) vs $550 (5400) which basicly throws in a free Xeon quad core E5410 or an E5420 for a few bucks more.
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post #72 of 7891 Old 09-30-2008, 09:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MiBz View Post

Glad to help

I picked up this APC 1300VA with LCD display for about $135 on a Dell Deal a few months back.



http://www.apc.com/resource/include/...otal_watts=200


I just bought this for my rack. Looked brand new. Much larger capacity if you need it.

http://www.upsforless.com/apcsmartup...a1500rm2u.aspx
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post #73 of 7891 Old 09-30-2008, 11:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jason4207 View Post

I hope I'm not sticking my head where it doesn't belong, but I just built my first File Server. The research I did led me to the unRAID solution, and here's the parts I used:

This is definitely where your head belongs, and it looks like you've put together a system that's going to work out great. I'm definitely warming up to unRAID again a little bit after playing with it a few hours tonight in different scenarios. While I'd tentatively anticipated building a system on WHS to be added as the O/S component to one of the two 'recommended systems' profiles, I'm seriously considering suggesting unRAID as an alternative to people that consider WHS either too simple or too complex (strange as that might sound).

Your parts list seems to be based on items that you found for dirt cheap by being at the right place at the right time (ebay, forums, etc) as well as re-using some existing parts that would normally throw off cost effectiveness ratio (i.e. the drive cages). While that's great for someone with patience to wait for the killer secondhand deal, the systems we'll be recommending will be based on parts people can just throw into a cart at an etailer and click order.

Thanks for your write-up and be sure to subscribe to this thread, since now that you have a storage server, little do you know its just the beginning and you're likely to be wanting to upgrade it, tweak it and improve it - it will never end.



Quote:
Originally Posted by jason4207 View Post

Jeers, cheers, opinions, and suggestions are welcome as this is definitely new to me.

Kill-a-watt is GREAT - i love those things (have a few of them)

In any case definitely check in and let us know how unRAID is treating you as you gain more experience with using it. If I were you and it came time to expand to more drives, it seems like a no-brainer to add the $95 Supermicro 8-port SATA card(s) which you can plug into your PCI slots.
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post #74 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 01:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by odditory View Post

While I'd tentatively anticipated building a system on WHS to be added as the O/S component to one of the two 'recommended systems' profiles, I'm seriously considering suggesting unRAID as an alternative to people that consider WHS either too simple or too complex (strange as that might sound).

Imho, unRAID is a much better choice for pure video archives than WHS. It doesn't duplicate your data, just provides parity protection which, for people on a budget, is often good enough. A benefit over hardware RAID5 or 6 is even if you lose a couple of drives, you only lose data stored on those drives. Another advantage, in case your unRAID install get bjorked (bad flash drive or something), data on the hard drives are still intact and easily accessible since unRAID uses plain ReiserFS. Just use a LiveCD/USB of Linux to boot and you have access to yoru data again. The primary difficulty with unRAID is parts selection, but once you're done with that, it's fairly idiot friendly.

Quote:
Your parts list seems to be based on items that you found for dirt cheap by being at the right place at the right time (ebay, forums, etc) as well as re-using some existing parts that would normally throw off cost effectiveness ratio (i.e. the drive cages). While that's great for someone with patience to wait for the killer secondhand deal, the systems we'll be recommending will be based on parts people can just throw into a cart at an etailer and click order.

The retail version of the MSI P43 Neo3-F is $84 on Newegg or $74AR. I think jason's the only one who's tried the motherboard, so far (big kudos for being the "guinea pig" - his words, not mine ). The MSI P43 Neo3-F is even cheaper than what my older ABIT AB9 Pro is going for nowadays (bought it at $85, now sells for $105 new), albeit it does have one less SATA port.

The ATI Rage XL seems to be always $9.50 on Geeks.com (shipping's a killer, though). unRAID itself can run headless, but some motherboards don't support booting without video. Besides, troubleshooting's a b**** if you don't have a display. Hard to change BIOS settings, too.

The Centurion 590 is often enough on sale for that price. The primary cost (aside from the drives, themselves) would actually be drive cages. With the ease of adding hard drives to unRAID, you're going to want hot-swap. The Pro version of unRAID supports 17 drives (including parity and cache). If one expects expanding to this many drives, the Norco 20-bay case would really be more prudent. I think it's even possible to RAID0/1 the cache so that would increase the number of drives to 18. Hmm, now that I think about it, I probably should ask on the unRAID forum whether it's possible to RAID 10 the cache drive. That makes for both redundancy (since cache is not parity protected) and increased performance (for writes). Lol, that's 20 disks right there.

my unRAID server build
Antec 300, $60 - *sigh* Should have gone with the Centurion 590 or Antec 900.
Abit AB9 Pro, $85 - 9 SATA ports, has been tested by a lot of people with unRAID, but it's old and doesn't seem to support Wolfdales, possible successor is the MSI P43 Neo3-F.
Intel Celeron 430, $40 - TDP 35W
Kingston ValueRAM 2GB, $35 - Good, inexpensive RAM.
ATI Rage XL 8MB, $10
Corsair 520HX, $100 ($80AR) - I could have gotten the 750TX for $100 shipped but I wanted modular and I was only anticipating a max of 9 hard drives.
iStarUSA T-5-SA x3, $45 ($15ea)
TOTAL $375

Alas, it would seem like I would soon outgrow the above. I guess I didn't really anticipate how much data I have to store (and will soon acquire as I build my Blu-ray collection). I'm now researching and planning on a rackmount "fake" RAID solution using the Ciprico cards kapone mentioned and backing up to unRAID.

For those with more modest needs, I think the following cases are worth a look:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811165124
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811165123
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811165125
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811165126
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post #75 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 02:27 AM
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Just as a FYI, the 1.5TB detects fine in my Adaptec 51645 card, and I've successfully mounted it as a JBOD. I only bought 1 drive though, so I can't do any raid testing on it.

Originally I tried to stick it in my Antec MX-1 eSATA enclosure, but it was having intermittent detection problems and making clicking noises. I think the power adaptor may have insufficient juice to spin up the drive.

On a related note, if you happen to have a Silicion Image card (for port multiplier) and an Adaptec card in the same system, do not have the SATARAID5 raid manager window open any longer than you need to, as it seems to conflict with STORSERV.EXE from Adaptec, causing cpu usage to spike to 25% on my system. Once I closed the SATARAID5 window, cpu usage went back to normal - 0 to 1%.

-ala
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post #76 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 04:13 AM
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Quick question: Is anyone considering Mac OS X Server 10.6 Snow Leopard when it is released? Cost aside, I would imagine there are a few Mac folks out there considering it... and possibly others given Snow Leopard's supposed support of zfs.
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post #77 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 05:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plasticquart View Post

Quick question: Is anyone considering Mac OS X Server 10.6 Snow Leopard when it is released? Cost aside, I would imagine there are a few Mac folks out there considering it... and possibly others given Snow Leopard's supposed support of zfs.

Frankly, I'd go Solaris instead if you're going the zfs route. It's free

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post #78 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 06:00 AM
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Frankly, I'd go Solaris instead if you're going the zfs route. It's free

I would as well, but most people I know who use Mac stuff do so because Mac stuff generally just works. Therefore, I would imagine that the zfs implementation would just work as well -- whereas administering Solaris is a bit more involved.
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post #79 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 06:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by odditory View Post

This is definitely where your head belongs...

Thanks for your write-up and be sure to subscribe to this thread, since now that you have a storage server, little do you know its just the beginning and you're likely to be wanting to upgrade it, tweak it and improve it - it will never end.

In any case definitely check in and let us know how unRAID is treating you...

Thanks for the warm welcome!

I subscribed w/ that 1st post, and will keep you guys updated.
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post #80 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 09:17 AM
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How do people feel about spinning down drives?

When I had this feature enabled, I would always think twice about accessing anything on my server, since it would cause my drives to spin up. It got to the point, where if I wanted to listen to 15-20 minutes of music, I would stop myself realizing I would cause more wear and tear on the drives.

I finally gave up and don't spin down my drives anymore. However, I see that most people like this feature. Was my paranoia misplaced? Does the spinning up and down of drives cause unnecessary wear on the drive?
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post #81 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 09:41 AM
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How do people feel about spinning down drives?

When I had this feature enabled, I would always think twice about accessing anything on my server, since it would cause my drives to spin up. It got to the point, where if I wanted to listen to 15-20 minutes of music, I would stop myself realizing I would cause more wear and tear on the drives.

I finally gave up and don't spin down my drives anymore. However, I see that most people like this feature. Was my paranoia misplaced? Does the spinning up and down of drives cause unnecessary wear on the drive?

I stopped spining down a while ago.

With 20 drives, let's say, when they are spinning, they are pulling in about 200w - 240w. And that's when they are being accessed actively, if they are just sitting there, powered on, but not really being accessed, it's more like 160-180w.

At $.15/kwh, that's approx, $.03 per hour or $.72 per day or about $21 per month "extra" that I'm paying in electric cost. I can live with that.

Not having to worry about, what to play, when to play, no delays, less stress on the drives, less stress on the power supplies...priceless.
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post #82 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 10:34 AM
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I'm new to this, but I have mine set to spin-down. With unRAID only 1 drive spins up when reading data (for the most part).
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post #83 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kapone View Post

I stopped spining down a while ago.

With 20 drives, let's say, when they are spinning, they are pulling in about 200w - 240w. And that's when they are being accessed actively, if they are just sitting there, powered on, but not really being accessed, it's more like 160-180w.

At $.15/kwh, that's approx, $.03 per hour or $.72 per day or about $21 per month "extra" that I'm paying in electric cost. I can live with that.

Not having to worry about, what to play, when to play, no delays, less stress on the drives, less stress on the power supplies...priceless.

Unfortunately, my electric costs seem to be 2x what yours are... and of course will be going up over time. But that said, these are still good points and it is also something I have been strugling with. Where I think I'm finally ending up is to have a separate music/DVR/HTPC box that has a few HDDs in it that I keep up 24/7. (Recordings can happen at any point in the day, I listen to music about 12 hours a day, and music storage is very small compared to HD movies.)

This then allows this 20 HDD system to strictly be a movie and backup box, that only gets powered up for a few hours in the evening. So spin down isn't really important for the movie box anymore... but I still like the idea of staggered spinup to allow me to use a smaller PSU. Are there other options beyond a good RAID card that will help with that?
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post #84 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
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Unfortunately, my electric costs seem to be 2x what yours are... and of course will be going up over time. But that said, these are still good points and it is also something I have been strugling with. Where I think I'm finally ending up is to have a separate music/DVR/HTPC box that has a few HDDs in it that I keep up 24/7. (Recordings can happen at any point in the day, I listen to music about 12 hours a day, and music storage is very small compared to HD movies.)

This then allows this 20 HDD system to strictly be a movie and backup box, that only gets powered up for a few hours in the evening. So spin down isn't really important for the movie box anymore... but I still like the idea of staggered spinup to allow me to use a smaller PSU. Are there other options beyond a good RAID card that will help with that?

OMG, 30 cents/kwh?? Where do you live?

Even in California they don't rip you off that bad...
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post #85 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 10:46 AM
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Frankly, I'd go Solaris instead if you're going the zfs route. It's free

Solaris has crappy hardware support. It won't run on a lot of gear...
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post #86 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 11:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Alas, it would seem like I would soon outgrow the above. I guess I didn't really anticipate how much data I have to store (and will soon acquire as I build my Blu-ray collection). I'm now researching and planning on a rackmount "fake" RAID solution using the Ciprico cards kapone mentioned and backing up to unRAID.

Before buying anything I would make sure you cost-compare those ciprico cards to true raid cards. While I understand why kapone runs them (he gets them for dirt cheap), for anyone else I don't see the benefit given the price. If you're looking for inexpensive multiport cards to run software (CPU) based raid, then Supermicro makes a PCI-X 8-port SATA card for $95 as I keep mentioning. If you want to make an investment and step up to hardware-based Raid6 so you can sleep better at night, then get a 12, 16 or 24 port Areca card and leave all the tinkering and complexity behind.
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post #87 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by John Kotches View Post

Frankly, I'd go Solaris instead if you're going the zfs route. It's free

As I mentioned in my build log thread, "been there/done that" with ZFS - too many limitations and issues to make it viable for the application we're talking about here which is media storage. It'd always seemed great on paper to me and has this great reputation, but strangely that reputation is from a lot of people that haven't ever tried using it. It could be that I'm just a total idiot with Linux, but I spent a week trying to improve a ZFS pool's sequential I/O performance on OpenSolaris, and finally threw in the towel with each trip to an OpenSolaris forum that hit me over the head with "yeah, XYZ is a known limitation".

Bottom line, I can't think of any reason to recommend ZFS to the average A/V enthusiast looking to build a media storage system.

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I would as well, but most people I know who use Mac stuff do so because Mac stuff generally just works. Therefore, I would imagine that the zfs implementation would just work as well -- whereas administering Solaris is a bit more involved.

The first word that comes to mind when thinking of ZFS on an Apple O/S is "limitations". I guess that hunch is based on running into brick walls when I've tried adding any more than a few drives to a Mac Pro or Xserve externally. Areca are STILL practically the only company bothering with raid cards that work with Macs, and Apple's own overpriced 8port card isn't worth considering. So, when it comes to attaching a lot of harddrives to a Mac (and I don't consider Xsan/iScsi in this case since it's not cost-effective for media storage), there aren't many options for multiport cards. So, even if ZFS is implemented in a more fool-proof way in snow leopard than OpenSolaris let's say (I don't consider Solaris - not cost effective), not being able to attach a lot of drives to the system continues to be a shortcoming (since, if I have to resort to buying an Areca card to attach a lot of drives, I'm going to use the card's engine to manage my array anyway, and not CPU-bound ZFS).
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post #88 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 11:16 AM
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OMG, 30 cents/kwh?? Where do you live?

Even in California they don't rip you off that bad...

Yep, I'm in CA also... but I have "kindof" a big house... and for really bad people, they make you pay. So to be a better person, last year I installed 200 solar panels (45kw!), and with 0 net usage my bills went from $2000/mo to 4$. (4$ is basically a fixed fee that you can't get out of.) Anyway, I really want to keep it this way... while still being able to play with my eToys... hense my goal to keep my systems as efficient as reasonable.
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It seems to me ZFS coupled with RAIDZ would override any limitations when compared to RAID 5 which suffers from bit rot and the write hole error.
Perhaps the limitations you encountered were a solaris thing? I wonder how the FreeNas .7 will perform with this?

What sort of limitations are we talking about here and how much do they matter? Everything has pros and cons.

Here's a quick little video on freenas .7 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16v4jNYH0GI

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post #90 of 7891 Old 10-01-2008, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Yep, I'm in CA also... but I have "kindof" a big house... and for really bad people, they make you pay. So to be a better person, last year I installed 200 solar panels (45kw!), and with 0 net usage my bills went from $2000/mo to 4$. (4$ is basically a fixed fee that you can't get out of.) Anyway, I really want to keep it this way... while still being able to play with my eToys... hense my goal to keep my systems as efficient as reasonable.

Nice! When will the panels pay for themselves? 2098? Only kidding, but 200 panels sounds expensive! The idea of solar for the house is extremely attractive and hopefully prices fall within grasp of more people as time goes on.
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