Originally Posted by Defcon
Mfusick has pretty much echoed a lot of my thoughts - I too am going to run a Windows OS, on which I plan to run MediaBrowser server, transcoding, downloading etc. I do have a WSE 2012 license, but haven't bought FlexRaid yet.
My data size is about 16TB now, of which only ~7TB is backed up using various external drives but its getting expensive and even though I like the safety and simplicity of a 1:1 copy, I can't really afford to continue and must go for a parity based solution (RAID is out, as are any custom disk formats as used in WHS, Storage Spaces, Qnap, Synology etc). Natively readable disks are a must. I did consider unRaid briefly, but running MB3 is essential too and I am no Linux expert.
And now its time for a shameful confession
I actually bought one of TAMSolutions 24 bay hotswap servers (AMD based) from the giant thread here. I also bought a Seasonic PSU and AMD Opteron cpu to replace, but well, to cut a long story short, it didn't really work out, the PSU didn't fit etc, one of my replacement fans wouldn't power on etc, and to be honest I haven't spend a lot of time trying to fix it since I got busy. I know the server itself is good since it boots up.
I've built plenty of pc's so I'm no stranger to that, but I'm more of a 'buy parts and assemble them', I don't feel comfortable modding things. Then I keep reading about things like the included SATA expansion cards running too hot etc.
So it looks like I have 2 options - 1) fix the server I have, 2) build a new one, and 3) use my existing desktop pc but with bigger hard drives, which will just be a stopgap solution.
My budget is $400-500. Timeframe is a month or so, since my current data isn't online all the time (its on too many disks), and I'd really like to have a media server with all my media available.
For your budget, getting the TAMSolutions server up and running is probably going to be your best bet. I don't remember the exact specs of those servers, but I seem to recall they were SuperMicro servers, that unmodified were on the hot/loud/energy hungry persuasion. Even with modding I think it might be tough to get it truly quiet, because of the cooling all those hard drives will require, but you should certainly be able to bring it down a few notches from jet-engine levels of noise.
As you seem to have already discovered, replacing the power supply and fans are a good start. I assume you were attempting to perform the mod from the first post of the norco alternative thread
in order to get a standard ATX PSU in there. An ATX won't fit in that case in terms of being a bolt on replacement, but you should be able secure it with some double sided foam tape and it will be a lot easier on your ears. As far as the rear fans and the fans on the internal fanwall, they could be replaced with quieter fans obviously but it appears they are PWM fans, so in theory you could just run them at a slower speed. I'm not sure about the particular board in that server, but I know my old Dual Opteron SuperMicro workstation had a similar board in it and it was also insanely loud until I wnet into the bios and change the fan control settings.
Then you have the question about what to do with the other "guts" of that server. As is, it should do pretty much whatever you want for traditional storage server duties. But I'm not sure how well that Opteron will handle transcoding duties. I suspect it could handle "light" transcoding duties, but if you're going to be doing multiple HD transcodes at once, I doubt it would be up for that.
If you need to do a lot of transcoding, you have a couple options...
1) Upgrade your CPU. That motherboard can handle up to 2 6-core Opterons, and I'm assuming that MB3 Server is multithreaded well enough to scale well on multiple cores, so you could drop in another 2212, or replace the existing CPU with a 4 or 6 core model. This is probably the cheapest and easiest, but you'll still be running old technology, and finding upgrade parts for the CPU could be tricky.
2) Ditch the motherboard and get something more current. This is going to be more difficult, and likely more expensive. If you replace the motherboard, it is unlikely that you'll find anything that has 3 (or any) PCI-X slots on it. That means in addition to buying a new motherboard, and CPU and RAM, you'll also need to figure out how you're going to connect 24 SATA ports to the new board because the old cards won't work in new motherboards. (and board you find that has PCI-X slots is probably older, and if it is
current, it's probably outrageously expensive) You could of course get the IBM cards that everyone around here is using, and either flash them yourself, or buy them already preflashed to the LSI firmware that will allow you to use them as normal HBA cards instead of RAID adapters. If you go down that road the costs start adding up pretty quickly though, and you'll find yourself at the $500 mark before you know it.
As far as building a new one goes, it is
an option, but given your stated budget and requirements , I don't think it is a realistic one. (even if you could piece one together for that price, I doubt it would be able to match the TAM server you already have)
One other option would be to get something like this
and something like this
and one of the aforementioned IBMm1015 flashed RAID cards, and connect it to pretty much any PC you want, and you can add 16 drives to pretty much whatever computer you want. since the external solution is using an expander backplane, you won't necessarily get full read/write performance if you're trying to use all 16 drives at once (It'll be using 4 3Gbps links total) so things like parity calculations on FlexRAID might take longer, but should still be plenty fast to saturate your network. It also has the advantage of being able to just pop in a 2nd internal to external bracket (or start with a double bracket
instead) and then all you need to do is buy another storage array, and you're good to go for another 16 drives. If my math is right, you could get the SATA card, the double bracket, and 2 of the 16 bay storage units and still come in at under $500.