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I'm in the mood for some renovation...

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Well...y'all know me. I run a fairly significant computing/AV infrastructure at home, but I think it is time (given the upcoming holidays and some free time) to re-assess what I'm running and maybe consolidate it. Here's what I'm running on the server side:

- A 24 port chassis (downgraded from 48 port, since the advent of 3 and 4TB drives) home server that is (still) running WHS v1 as the main storage server
- A 12 port chassis backup storage server that also runs WHS v1
- A "TV" server that runs dual Ceton cards serving HTPCs throughout the house as well as being the domain controller and a download server for stuff (if need be)
- An Air Video server (yes, I'm running a separate server for that....) that allows us to access our media on the road/remotely/in the car (yeah, that's pretty cool).

So.....let's try and reduce the server count. Can I do it all except the backup server, with a single server??

My issues/prerequisites/constraints:

- I'd love to run Unraid as the main storage server, but I'm...well...apprehensive. I don't know Linux as well as I do Windows and I hate command lines (I guess I could adapt). This is one of the major stumbling blocks why I'm still running WHS v1. It's "familiar".
- Have to have Air Video or it's equivalent.
- Have to be able to house dual Ceton cards to serve the house.
- Whatever we come up with, must be on all the time, so idle power consumption (no sleeping or hibernating) is very much a factor.

So.....

I re-assessed my hardware (vs just going out and buying new stuff) and said...well...I have a shitload of hardware. smile.gif I'm just being dumb. So, I started experimenting with the existing hardware to see what I can do.

- I tested an Intel DX58SO 1366 motherboard and an i7 960 (all existing) with 12 GB RAM (3 sticks), an Intel PRO dual port pci-e network adapter, an el cheapo (ancient) ATI PCI video card with an 85+ power supply and I idle at ~55 watts. This is when the motherboard turns off all fans (because the temps are cool), when the fans are running, I see ~61 watts.
- This i7 is a quad core with hyper threading, so it "should" be able to run my needs outlined above?
- My thought is to run Server 2008 R2 as the host OS and then run Unraid as the storage server within a VM. That "should" fulfill my requirements.
- The DX58SO already has an Intel LAN port and the dual card gives me two more. That should be enough to dedicate two ports to the storage server and one for the other stuff.

Does this sound like a plan/feasible?
post #2 of 12
That should be a fun project. I run Unraid so I'm familiar with it. Command line really isn't needed. It should all be handled through the GUI. In those rare cases when you have a problem is the only time you might need the command line. Now if you plan on running Unraid I wouldn't want to run it on server 2008r2. I've run systems on Hyper-V and wasn't very happy with the performance. I've since moved to ESXi and I'm much happier. I've never seen anyone running Unraid on Hyper-V, while there are quite a few running it under ESXi. I would see if your hardware supports VT-d passthrough, and look into ESXi. You could run a Unraid VM, and a 2008r2 VM. Pass your HBA though to Unraid, and the Ceton cards to 2008r2. If you did that you should stay away from the latest version of ESXi though since it's having problems with the Ceton cards. If your going to run one server though your going to need some sort of expander since you can't get enough HBA'a along with your Ceton cards and NIC.

Here's a very good thread from the Unraid forums about a build using Unraid on ESXi. I think he's doing a lot of the same stuff you want to do. If memory serves he's even running an expander. Good luck.
http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=14695.0
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
I have been warming up to ESXi as well...so this is good stuff. smile.gif Will be experimenting. Oh, and yes, I already have an Intel 24 port SAS expander from a leftover project. It's been siting in my parts bin for months...tongue.gif
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Interesting... Same hardware, same everything, Server 2008 idles ~56w while ESXi 5.1 idles ~68w (I did configure it for the power saving mode, instead of the default).

And 5.1 is supposed to have support for the deep P states. Hmm..
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Virtualization = mind ^%$# !!! smile.gif

And that's when I'm quite familiar with the various bits and pieces. But, the needs for a "home" server as compared to a data center server are quite different. For e.g.

- The X58 board I'm using has "two" (in theory) SATA controllers. 6 ports via the Intel ICH10R (set to AHCI mode) and 2 eSATA ports via the Marvell 88SE621 controller. My plan was to use the Marvell ports for ESXi's datastore and pass through the ICH10 ports to a VM running WHS v1. In addition I'll be adding one to two M1015 8 port cards as well with the intent to passthrough to the WHS VM as well.

ESXi:
- Won't let me "passthrough" the onboard ICH10 to a VM without borking the Marvell ports as well. The datastore disappears!
- Alternatively, I can use RDM to pass individual disks (from the ICH10 ports) to the WHS VM, but now it is debatable if they will support spin down or not.

Hyper V/Server 2012:
- Is next in line.
- That thing doesn't even support controller passthrough, only disks.
- Debatable if spin down will work in this case as well.

We'll see. What a minefield...
post #6 of 12
What version of ESXi are you running? Like I said the newest version seems to be having issues with passthrough. I was running it on a Gigabyte X58 board for a while. I had no problems passing though the extra 2 jmicron ports. I didn't try passing through the intel ports though. Keep trying I'm sure you'll get it to work eventually.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by duff99 View Post

What version of ESXi are you running? Like I said the newest version seems to be having issues with passthrough. I was running it on a Gigabyte X58 board for a while. I had no problems passing though the extra 2 jmicron ports. I didn't try passing through the intel ports though. Keep trying I'm sure you'll get it to work eventually.
I tried all of them. 5.0, 5.0u1, the current 5.1

The problem is I DON'T want to pass the Marvell ports through (need them for the datastore). I only want to pass through the Intel ports, and it does do that, but...then it is unable to access the two Marvell ports in the hyper-visor.

And I don't want to waste another slot just to have datastore drive(s) running off of some controller.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Weee.....! smile.gif

Well, some progress atleast. I got the disks to spin down in a VM that is running WHS 2011 (with the DrivePool addin) WITHOUT passing through ICH10R! I just used physical RDMs in ESXi to pass the individual disks through, used the LSI SAS Adapter as the adapter in the VM and modified the driver for the SAS adapter to support spin down by following the Microsoft instrcutions. at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/hardware/ff561476%28v=vs.85%29.aspx.

Now that spin down works without passing the whole controller through, that simplifies things. I might just keep ESXi after all.... smile.gif

On a different note, WHS 2011 with the DrivePool addin works great. I'm getting almost 90MBps writing to the drives over hardwired gigabit. That same network/disks with WHS v1 would never go above 45MBps or so.
post #9 of 12
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post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
btw, for anybody else doing this, and trying to use physical RDMs as passthrough with the intent of spinning down disks..there is one more gotcha.

ESXi has a built in SMART daemon and this is configured to run every 30 minutes. While this is usually good, with spinning down disks, this is a problem as they wake up. I still haven't found a way to change this 30 minute interval (if somebody knows this, I'd love to know!), but we can certainly shut down the daemon, and keep it shut down across reboots.

- SSH into your ESXi box using the root login

chkconfig smartd off
/etc/init.d/smartd stop


That'll fix it, and no more disks waking up just to get SMART info.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
And put in one of the M1015 cards and tested (after modifying the driver inf) and everything works the way it is supposed to. Including disk spin down.
post #12 of 12
Great!
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