Originally Posted by Kiwi_in_KC
My goal is to avoid the need to have a PC as a server or a client in being able to play my various forms of media. This is for many reasons but the primary being the heat and asthetics of a PC.
I too have been searching for a cheap, quiet, low-power, cool-running media server for serving up content to various standalone clients. I've decided that the best configuration for me is MAID, massive array of inactive disks.
Originally I was hoping to do this with a Kuro-Box, which is sort of an open-source Buffalo LinkStation. The one I have is equipped with a 266MHz PowerPC, 128MB of RAM, and Gigabit Ethernet. It runs an embedded Linux (Montavista) and I installed a 400GB IDE drive inside the enclosure. It's slightly larger than a paperback book and consumes around 12 watts of electricity at idle. Storage expansion is through a couple of USB 2.0 ports.
The problem I ran into was when trying to expand my storage. The USB-SATA bridges I was using don't support passing of power management commands (I don't believe any do). Even worse, the USB-SATA bridge was preventing the SATA drives from spinning down on their own. So in order to achieve my goal of a low-power system, I am going to have to go with an x86-based Linux system, using an 8-port SATA controller for expansion. I've already confirmed that Suse 9.3 supports power management of SATA drives; I can spin them down and set the stand-by time, and it all works.
My plan now is to go with an ultra low-power VIA mini-ITX board with VIA C3 processor, and run Suse 9.3 Linux. I really wanted to avoid building a system, but I don't see any other solution to the hard drive power management problem. I already considered, and then rejected an underclocked mobile Athlon-based micro-ATX solution. Right now I'm leaning towards an Antec Aria case. I'm hoping this will hold me over until my storage requirements exceed 6TB.