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post #1 of 11 Old 08-15-2016, 09:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Unhappy Sad Morning Please Help (Spec Discussion)



Sadly, I woke up this morning to messages from my family that my server was unreachable. When I went to find out why, I discovered the server was not on. Alas, pushing the power button did not remedy the situtation. Nor did checking all the connections and toggling the surge protector and then trying the power button again. I am however, getting a heartbeat light on the board, so I am not entirely sure what is going on. I should have an answer on that by later this evening, since I am getting it in front of a tech first thing this morning. Still, there will obviously need to be some sort of repair. I figure there are three scenarios at this point.

Best case, the power supply or something similar needs replacing, and I'm back up and running with minimal effort or expense.

Bad case, something has happened which has caused the board to die, but has left the HBA card and processors intact and still useable.

Worst case, whatever happened, one or both of the processors will need replacing, meaning I likely wind up with a whole new sytem instead.

With the best case, obviously I won't be replacing the server, just a single part. It is with the other two cases that I am in need of some help. Mostly, I am not savvy enough to know how best to allocate resources when building out the server. I haven't yet researched what a new board will run me, but since the processors are getting a bit up there in age (dual Xeon L5520), I am assuming the board will be a little on the pricey side. If that turns out to be the case, then I may still simply be better off replacing instead of repairing. Or will I? Therein lies the rub. I don't know enough about the technical side of server performance, to know which specs I should be worried about. Sure, bigger and faster across the board is always nice, but not always necessary. And, in this case, it may not be possible to go bigger across the board.

So, since I do not know how Emby does its thing, I have a few questions.
  1. Am I better off with the dual L5520 (2.26 GHz and 4 cores each) or a newer, core i7 (probably quad core) that runs at a higher speed?
  2. If I go with a new processor, am I going to notice a difference between an i5/i7 and the Xeon E3s that look to be from the same series?
  3. Since the only thing I will be running on the system is Emby,will it make much difference if I continue using the 24 GB of RAM I have now, or if I wind up with only 8-16 GB (assuming I have to rebuild and need to save money)?
  4. Since the metadata is in the media folders, will making the OS drive an SSD really do much to improve server response for library browsing, or will it just improve my boot times?


Regardless of which direction I wind up taking, the new machine needs to be abale to fit/handle a dual port SAS adapter and a M1015 SAS HBA. So if I go with a totally new system, I still need a decent-size board. I can go with prebuilt or not, it really doesn't matter. There is nothing wrong with my current case, so I am probably better off just dropping the new guts into it, but I am open to suggestions..
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post #2 of 11 Old 08-15-2016, 11:11 AM
 
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Sometimes the culprit lies outside of the obvious so the first thing I would do is unplug all of the non-essential parts from your MB (peripheral cards etc) and see what it does. I usually start with PSU, CPU, RAM and a power switch and if that boots, then start adding components back until you find the culprit. If it is still not booting with the bare minimum, then I'd follow your course of replacing components like the PSU.

I would think the worst case scenario for you is unlikely as usually the type of failure that results in multiple component failure is going to have a very distinct smell associated with it. If you didn't open your closet door and immediate start swearing because of the fumes you probably aren't in that bad of shape.

If you did lose a motherboard, getting a replacement can be expensive if you're looking for new, but if you can settle for a used/pull board then I'd venture a guess you can find a lot of those old server boards pretty cheap.

Unless the system wasn't doing something you wanted/needed it to do, I wouldn't dump a whole bunch of money into an upgrade unless you find the cost (and effort) very close what it would cost to keep it at the current spec.
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post #3 of 11 Old 08-15-2016, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajhieb View Post
I would think the worst case scenario for you is unlikely as usually the type of failure that results in multiple component failure is going to have a very distinct smell associated with it. If you didn't open your closet door and immediate start swearing because of the fumes you probably aren't in that bad of shape.
This. Also, don't rush--even if your family is pestering you. Set aside the time to work on this methodically and check each component one-by-one. A few months ago, I was up until the wee hours because a headless server merely needed some bios boot settings adjusted and the *monitor* I had brought over, which was working fine the day before, had died. Every component is suspect until proven otherwise, even though it's probably the psu or mobo.
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post #4 of 11 Old 08-15-2016, 03:03 PM - Thread Starter
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@ajhieb @EricN , while I was waitign for responses, this is exactly what I attempted to do. I don't have a full bench, but I have a few tools.

Check #1 , I disconnected the PSU and hooked it up to a PSU tester. The PSU checked out. Next, I disconnewcted the M1015 but left the RAM and CPUs attached. When I pushed the power button, "nothing" happened, but I was greeted by the briefest of ozone smells. I quickly disconnected power, but, I don't think anything was still happening anyway. There are no burn maks on the board and no popped caps. What I don't have is a spare board. A new board is going to run me about $150. After shipping, taxes, and install, I am up to about $200. The problem I am worried about is that the board may have taken something else with it along the way. If that's the case, then my cost obviously goes up, but I won't know until the new board arrives and I begin moving components over.

Or, for $360, I can go with a new E3-1230 @3.4 GHzwith 8GB of RAM. It's only a single processor and less RAM, but it's a beefier processor and apparently runs cooler. If I wind up replacing the board, RAM and both processors on the current machine, it's right about $300. Either solution will require a new OS purchas as well, despite Windows 8.1 being totally fine on the current OS drive.


Given the use I am putting the machine to, I don't think the drop in RAM is going to make a very big difference. The increase in processor power would seem to be a good thing, but it is half the number of processors/threads, so it may not actually be all that big of a difference.
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post #5 of 11 Old 08-15-2016, 08:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, I have narrowed my choices down. I will either be repairing the current system and rolling the dice nothing else is wrong. That will run me $200-250, depending on if the board went alone or not. I can purchase a new board, CPU, and RAM and simply put new guts into the case. That will run me about $440.

Old: Dual Xeon L5520 @2.2 6 GHz w/ 24 GB RAM
New: Xeon E-3 1230 v5 Skylake @ 3.4 GHz with 16 GB RAM

Or I have the third option of possibly buying a lightly used gaming PC and converting it into a server.

Gaming rig: i5-3570k, 8GB ddr3-1600, asrock z77 pro4m (without overclocking is still a robust 3.4 GHz)


The OS drive and server cache will be a SSD, regardless of the solution.

As far as I can tell the big difference between the second and third options comes down to the Xeon supports hyper-threading, and the i5 has integrated graphics (which is not really necessary for the server.)

Does anyone have any thoughts or input on what sort of performance I might expect from each?
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post #6 of 11 Old 08-15-2016, 09:13 PM
 
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I hate giving advice regarding performance since it can be so subjective. (everyone seems to use these things differently)

But to further add to the confusion, you might also consider scouring the interwebs for a decent barebones server. They can be had for the price of your replacement motherboard, and there is the added bonus of having a few more spare parts if anything else goes wrong in the near future.

What board is the one you're replacing? Is it in a standard or proprietary case?

Just my personal view, but if I can replace hardware with same or similar and avoid having to start my build over from scratch (which it sounds like you'd be doing with any significant hardware changes) I'll always opt to go back to what worked before. It typically seems like getting the thing up and running again is pretty painless, but actually getting all of the little bells and whistles takes forever, and usually ends up being more trouble than it's worth. But again that is based on the assumption everything was working the way you wanted in the first place. (Some here insist on a fresh install every other week whether it needs it or not, but I don't buy into that)
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post #7 of 11 Old 08-15-2016, 09:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ajhieb View Post
I hate giving advice regarding performance since it can be so subjective. (everyone seems to use these things differently)


What board is the one you're replacing? Is it in a standard or proprietary case?
The current one needing to be replaced is a Tyan S7012. If I just replace the board, it would be with a Supermicro equivalent.

Nothing terribly proprietary at all. Also nothing terribly complicated, just moving the pieces from the Tyan over, everything else stays the same, assuming that is, the board didn't take any components with it.

That last part is my only real concern. If I buy the replacement board, the price to repair is vrey reasonable. If, however, I need to replace some RAM or one (or both) of the processors, now the price starts to creep close to what "starting from scratch" would run me.

Finding a barebones option sounds like a good way to spend tomorrow morning though.
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post #8 of 11 Old 08-15-2016, 09:48 PM
 
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My current server is based on a TYAN S7012 as well. If you're not opposed to eBay, last I looked Mr. Rackable had several servers with the S7012 installed, that were in your price range. I bought mine from them and had a good experience with them. (though shipping across the country took a while for me, I suspect it would be faster to AZ)

This seems about the cheapest. The other option if you go the barebones rout is to just move your peripheral cards into the new box, along with your boot drives, and never skip a beat. I know if all of the IPMI hardware is connected, those boards can be a bit fickle to transplant, so keep that in mind.
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post #9 of 11 Old 08-17-2016, 02:48 PM - Thread Starter
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This seems about the cheapest. The other option if you go the barebones rout is to just move your peripheral cards into the new box, along with your boot drives, and never skip a beat.
Nice find. That's essentially the same price I would be paying for a new board and install of the old components (without know if any went when the board went).

I've put some feelers out and have also had an offer to pick up someone's lightly used gaming rig that they have moved on from. I'm crunching some numbers and waiting to hear back to figure out which way is going to give me the strongest overall performance in terms of being used as a dedicated Emby server.
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post #10 of 11 Old 08-17-2016, 05:45 PM
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Aryn - Damn..if this had happened a few weeks ago, I had a boatload of those motherboards that came out of our datacenter (we were doing upgrades). I literally sold/dumped the whole lot to someone for pennies.

Grr...
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post #11 of 11 Old 08-18-2016, 05:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Aryn - Damn..if this had happened a few weeks ago, I had a boatload of those motherboards that came out of our datacenter (we were doing upgrades). I literally sold/dumped the whole lot to someone for pennies.

Grr...
Figures. This is the sort of "just off" timing that has defined most of my life.


Tomorrow is the day we will be agreeing to drop money on a solution. We're going to go down the list of options versus money tonight.
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