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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, I'm an HTPC newbie, but I'm not computer illiterate by any stretch, and I've tried to do a little bit of homework before posting. Here's what I'm looking to do: I want to take a Norco 4020 case, stuff the bejesus out of it, and basically turn it into a 20T NAS. That's where it seems my plans vary a little from some of the other builds and recommendations I have read about.


(edit - I guess they are essentially doing this over here http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1071162 , and I've browsed through that, but that thread seems a little over my head; can't get passed the debate over dual vs. quad-core processors and atx boards, etc.)


I already have an HP MSS with 4T, and I want to continue to use that as like the front-end, running WHS. So, what do I need to do the build? Case, Mobo, Processor, Memory, PSU, and SATA Controllers for the drives, right?


I guess where I have uncertainty is what I should be looking for in some of these components. Most of the builds seem to be HTPCs, which I assume means they will be running the OS off the box, but given my situationwhere I essentially want the Norco to act like a big NAS volumeI'm assuming I don't need to be as concerned with a high-powered, super-fast motherboard and processor, or tons of memory? Or do I?


I will be looking to stream HD video from the box. Do I need to go full-throttle, like I were building an HTPC, or can I scale back for my application?


CD
 

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I am actually pretty content with just running WHS, and adding drives to the storage pool. I am up to 5.5TB and when I run out I will just add more drives via eSata.


- Josh
 

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Well, what kind of redundancy do you want? I'm using unraid at the moment and like it a lot, but a 16 drive limit means to get to 20, you'll need to use the iffy 1.5 drives or wait for newer drives.
 

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You need to decide on how you want the storage to be configured to begin with. IE, what type of drive configuration, RAID or not etc? If you don't want a hardware RAID based system then you could start with something like this board;

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813182142


Good because of the PCI-X slots as there are a number of 8 SATA port PCI-X boards around that are fairly cheap ($100 range) so you could stick in 2 of them getting you to 22 SATA ports with decent read speeds due to the PCI-X slots compared to just a PCI slot.


Or, you could follow the parts of this server more or less;

http://lime-technology.com/?page_id=49


6 SATA onboard, 4 SATA per 1430SA and 2 more SATA on the SYBA. Unfortunately, this puts you at about 10 drives as the limit unless you stick in a slow PCI card for more SATA ports.


In either case, then you can run an OS with either some sort of software RAID (linux based for example) or mirroring (Windows Home Server for example). Unraid certainly is a good solution too but you only get the capability of 15 data drives (at the present with talk from the developer of possibly expanding this in the future at some point). You could move the WHS OS over to this unit as well as some of the drives and maybe convert the HP MSS to be just a HTPC (running a more couch friendly HPTC OS) or sell it off. I know almost nothing about the HP MSS to know what you really have there. But, there's no real point in building a server in that Norco case and keeping the HP as a server too unless you want to keep the 4T in it as well as the 20T you want to install in the Norco.


Peter
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoshDorhyke /forum/post/15480475


You need to decide on how you want the storage to be configured to begin with. IE, what type of drive configuration, RAID or not etc? If you don't want a hardware RAID based system then you could start with something like this board;

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813182142


Good because of the PCI-X slots as there are a number of 8 SATA port PCI-X boards around that are fairly cheap ($100 range) so you could stick in 2 of them getting you to 22 SATA ports with decent read speeds due to the PCI-X slots compared to just a PCI slot.


Or, you could follow the parts of this server more or less;

http://lime-technology.com/?page_id=49


6 SATA onboard, 4 SATA per 1430SA and 2 more SATA on the SYBA. Unfortunately, this puts you at about 10 drives as the limit unless you stick in a slow PCI card for more SATA ports.


In either case, then you can run an OS with either some sort of software RAID (linux based for example) or mirroring (Windows Home Server for example). Unraid certainly is a good solution too but you only get the capability of 15 data drives (at the present with talk from the developer of possibly expanding this in the future at some point). You could move the WHS OS over to this unit as well as some of the drives and maybe convert the HP MSS to be just a HTPC (running a more couch friendly HPTC OS) or sell it off. I know almost nothing about the HP MSS to know what you really have there. But, there's no real point in building a server in that Norco case and keeping the HP as a server too unless you want to keep the 4T in it as well as the 20T you want to install in the Norco.


Peter

Thanks JD; this was some of the kind of information I was looking for. So you're saying one of the things I should be looking for, at a minimum, is 2 PCI-X slots on the MB; that way I can use these SATA cards, which everyone says is the way to go http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...121009&Tpk=mv8 .


To answer everyone's question, I'll probably stick with WHS in one form or another (running off the MSS as a front-end or load it on my new server), and look to use its duplication rather than a true RAID. Can't I just turn this new "server's" drives into one big volume, that my MSS can read from?


CD
 

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Depends on the HDD card. If the HDD can do RAID, it can present Windows a container that will appear as one big HDD (just one drive letter). If the card cannot do RAID, you can do spanning inside of Windows, or you could use mount points (which, IMHO, is a much better idea for Windows). Mount points work like this:


D:\\ (drive 1, server drive)

D:\\Media (mount point location)

D:\\Media\\Drive2 (1st 1TB media drive)

D:\\Media\\Drive3 (2nd 1TB media drive)


And so on. That way you have a quick way to look at them, and just one share location for your other hardware.


If I was doing this I would probably run UnRAID or some other purpose built OS. But Windows can do it; as long as redundancy's not a big concern. If you do Windows mirroring, you will lose a TON of space (1/2 of it) to mirror drives. I'd absolutely suggest doing something else (unless you only have a small amount of data you want to mirror). An UnRAID server with just 11 drives will have the same storage capacity at a 20 drive Windows server (with all drives mirrored).


Quote:
Originally Posted by CDLehner /forum/post/15480751


Thanks JD; this was some of the kind of information I was looking for. So you're saying one of the things I should be looking for, at a minimum, is 2 PCI-X slots on the MB; that way I can use these SATA cards, which everyone says is the way to go http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...121009&Tpk=mv8 .


To answer everyone's question, I'll probably stick with WHS in one form or another (running off the MSS as a front-end or load it on my new server), and look to use its duplication rather than a true RAID. Can't I just turn this new "server's" drives into one big volume, that my MSS can read from?


CD
 

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The supermicro mv8 is cheap but also pci-x and difficult standard for the future.


While more expensive... Highpoint 2320 is a 8 port pci-e card that would work well in a windows environment (I even think unraid supports it in the latest beta ver, I think its the same chipset but pci-e). Though for the price difference it may just be better to buy cheap and replace later if needed. Can't really comment on perf difference of pci-x and pci-e.


As MJFink said when you are talking about 20 drives and 20TB of expected storage WHS protected mode becomes less and less practical because 50% of your space/drives are dedicated to data protection.


Honestly if you want to fill the norco and have 20TB, the best option probably would be to build a linux based raid box and do RAID6 with a hot spare.


Unraid while a good solution seems to be finicky about hardware, one of those things that once it works it works well but getting it to work can be tough requiring lots of research into the right hardware for such a large build.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by dandirk /forum/post/15483311


The supermicro mv8 is cheap but also pci-x and difficult standard for the future.


While more expensive... Highpoint 2320 is a 8 port pci-e card that would work well in a windows environment (I even think unraid supports it in the latest beta ver, I think its the same chipset but pci-e). Though for the price difference it may just be better to buy cheap and replace later if needed. Can't really comment on perf difference of pci-x and pci-e.


As MJFink said when you are talking about 20 drives and 20TB of expected storage WHS protected mode becomes less and less practical because 50% of your space/drives are dedicated to data protection.


Honestly if you want to fill the norco and have 20TB, the best option probably would be to build a linux based raid box and do RAID6 with a hot spare.


Unraid while a good solution seems to be finicky about hardware, one of those things that once it works it works well but getting it to work can be tough requiring lots of research into the right hardware for such a large build.

Ah ha; this is starting to get a little over my head. Let me see if I understand: so Dandirk, you're saying the mv8 card is a popular choice, because it is cheap, but that pci-x is a protocol which may not be supported into the future? Better to look for pci-e Controller cards, even though they're a little more expensive? Is that maybe being too particular, given that I don't necessarily need my server to be smoking fast? How does the speed of pci-e compare to pci-x?


I mean, I guess I don't; it's looking like I'm not going to be able to do what I was looking for, which is like turn the Norco into like a 20T volume that runs off my MSS. I'm starting to look into unRAID. This is getting to be more than I bargained for.


CD
 

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The short answer to your question is, No, you can't do what you are trying to do. WHS does not support any kind of drives for the storage pool, other than DIRECT ATTACHED drives. i.e. It will not use network shares, iSCSI, ATA over Ethernet or anyother kind of pseudo SAN mechanisms to present a LUN/volume to WHS. Just won't happen.


You can either:


- Add USB based external drives to your existing MSS

- Junk the MSS, install WHS on your new server (in the Norco 4020), and have the ability to add up to 20 disks to the pool.
 

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PCI-X is backwards compatible with PCI so you can drop that Supermicro 8-port SATA PCI-X controller on a motherboard with no PCI-X slots. The only caveat is you'll suffer a performance penalty. If you only need to access one drive at a time, it doesn't matter. The PCI bus should deliver fast enough throughput to saturate a gigabit connection. If you're doing software RAID (Linux, unRAID) and you stick the card in a PCI slot though, that's when you'll notice the performance hit.


For a Windows Home Server configuration, the Supermicro card should be fine.


Gbit: 125 MB/s


PCI: 133 MB/s

PCI-X: 1,067 MB/s


PCIe x1: 250 MB/s

PCIe x4: 1,000 MB/s

PCIe x8: 2,000 MB/s

PCIe x16: 4,000 MB/s
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by kapone /forum/post/15488497


The short answer to your question is, No, you can't do what you are trying to do. WHS does not support any kind of drives for the storage pool, other than DIRECT ATTACHED drives. i.e. It will not use network shares, iSCSI, ATA over Ethernet or anyother kind of pseudo SAN mechanisms to present a LUN/volume to WHS. Just won't happen.


You can either:


- Add USB based external drives to your existing MSS

- Junk the MSS, install WHS on your new server (in the Norco 4020), and have the ability to add up to 20 disks to the pool.
OK, thanks for the clarification; at least now I know what I can't do.


CD
 

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In theory, you could do


4 x http://www.addonics.com/products/hos.../ad5sapm-e.asp

1 x http://www.addonics.com/products/hos...sa3gpx8-4e.asp


to attach 20 drives to your existing MSS assuming your MSS has a PCIe x8 slot that card can fit into. However, I doubt you'll find anyone here who would recommend this route.


You are better off building a standalone NAS type device. WHS can work (I think it has some drive limit too like 16 drives maybe or 16T???) but due to the mirroring of data you really are losing a lot of possible data space compared to using other OS's.


That first server MB I posted just happens to be Unraid compatable and would work with those PCI-X to SATA cards you posted.


Peter
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoshDorhyke /forum/post/15490283


You are better off building a standalone NAS type device. WHS can work (I think it has some drive limit too like 16 drives maybe or 16T???) but due to the mirroring of data you really are losing a lot of possible data space compared to using other OS's.


That first server MB I posted just happens to be Unraid compatable and would work with those PCI-X to SATA cards you posted.


Peter
Reference - The Microsoft WHS developers are reporting that users have attached at least 27 drives and created capacities over 22TB. I had heard rumours of a 16TB limit, but that might have been caused by the 16TB WHS server that is currently being sold.


What is perhaps the key benefit of WHS is it can be grown organically. If you started now you might be adding 1 or 1.5TB drives, but next fall you will be adding 2TB drives. I believe only UnRaid supports unlike drive sizes (and I think UnRaid also supports online expansion as well). WHS also provides integrated backup options, streaming, and remote access as well. It is also designed to be run headless.


What isn't usually mentioned is that fault tolerance is selective. Duplication is folder specific, so you will likely want protection for music and DVDs, but maybe TV recordings and BluRay backups don't really need backing up. The server is designed to be administered remotely, so once it is plugged in and stuck on a shelf in the basement you can just forget about it.
 
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