Budget Servers

time

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 18, 2002
Messages
4,821
Location
Brisbane, Oz
#1
I'm looking for a couple of budget servers, intended for smallish databases and files.

First up, I can't see any wonderful bargains from Dell, HP or Lenovo, and local support is critical. So unless someone can suggest something, they will have to be built from off-the-shelf parts.

Preferably rack-mounted, so I'm thinking 3U and just a standard PS2 PSU (no shortage of rack space).

There needs to be two servers, one active and the other ready to take over if anything at all happens to the first one. Not because it's a 24x7 application, but because the service guys will need to be able to take the whole thing away and wait for parts. For this reason, I'm thinking that normal redundancies are a waste of money (eg PSU).

As I said in another post, ECC RAM is my only requirement. I actually don't care that the system probably won't halt if there's an unrecoverable error - there is still automatic correction of single-bit errors and hopefully event log entries. Feel free to talk me out of this, it complicates things a lot.

Probably only 2x8=16GB RAM.

Probably Xeon E3-1225 (because it includes graphics) and some Asus C236 workstation motherboard to get the ECC support.

Probably Server Essentials, although I wonder if a desktop OS might be just as good for this application.

For storage, I'm thinking ONE Samsung PM863A 1.9TB (I'd prefer the 3.8TB model) for each box. Essentially, I think that SSDs are several times more reliable than HDDs, not to mention handily quicker. This series is limited by SATA, but I don't care. It *does* have power loss protection.

I'm open to advice on whether a separate boot drive might be useful, and I haven't ruled out a pair of 3-4TB HDDs for backup (but it's extra hassle). I don't think I would even bother with hot swap bays, except maybe the HDDs.

The biggest challenge is figuring out the simplest way to switch from one server to the other when needed. Because neither Oracle or MS SQL Server are in the foreseeable future, I can install DBMS and application software on both boxes without licensing worries. Which makes me think that there is nothing to be gained from virtualizing the environment, and probably unwanted complication for the service guys. Thoughts?
 

Chewy509

Wotty wot wot.
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
2,981
Location
Gold Coast Hinterland, Australia
#2
I just had a quick look at options, and they are certainly scarce. Lot's of 1P servers in 1RU, but pretty much all 3/4RU servers were all 2P...

I know many years ago the entry level HP ML150's had a rack conversion kit, but HP seem to only support the rack conversion kits with the ML350 or better now... (ML10's are really cheap for a tower server, which fits the requirements except being rackable - https://www.newegg.com/global/au/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA24G43J4333 ).

Do you any of your suppliers deal with Supermicro (especially their barebone server setups)?
 

Handruin

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2002
Messages
12,922
Location
USA
#3
If you're building from off the shelf, would this 4U case work for you?
https://www.newegg.com/global/au/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16811147233
I use one for my NAS and it fits a standard PSU.

This Ryzen motherboard says it supports unbuffered ECC and lists compatibility with many Ryzen CPUs:
https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard/GA-AX370-Gaming-K7-rev-10#sp

If you decide to go Xeon E3, you could look into a Supermicro motherboard that has an on-board BMC. This can help with remote diagnostics and management.

When I built my NAS about 4 years back I went with the following...which I think could run the database you suggested just fine.

Intel Intel Xeon E3-1270V3 (relative performance to a i7-4770k)
SUPERMICRO MBD-X10SL7-F-O
32GB RAM DDR3L ECC (8GBx4)
Seasonic 650W 80+ Gold
Case: Rosewill RSV-L4411
 

Chewy509

Wotty wot wot.
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
2,981
Location
Gold Coast Hinterland, Australia
#4

time

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 18, 2002
Messages
4,821
Location
Brisbane, Oz
#5
Lot's of 1P servers in 1RU, but pretty much all 3/4RU servers were all 2P...
I'm not keen on 1U where it's not necessary. Tiny fans are very noisy and theoretically have a shorter life. You are also talking an exotic power supply and no expansion without a riser.

I don't have anything much against 2U except the need for low-profile cards.

I guess you could use a rack shelf and pack in a couple of tiny towers instead.
 

time

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 18, 2002
Messages
4,821
Location
Brisbane, Oz
#7
In theory, SSDs could be scrambled in the event of a power failure while data is being written.

Enterprise drives have "power loss protection", typically a capacitor to sustain power until everything critical is written out.

Has anyone experienced the consequences of not having this feature?

You can purchase somewhat reasonably priced enterprise SSDs with protection from Samsung, eg PM863a up to 2TB. Has anyone bothered with one of these as a boot drive? Or as a data drive?
 

Handruin

Administrator
Joined
Jan 13, 2002
Messages
12,922
Location
USA
#8
I have four of the Samsung SV843 enterprise drives in 960GB that have the power loss protection and I use one as a boot drive for my daily workstation, one for a boot drive in my NAS, and two as data drives in my two esxi servers. I've not had any problems with any of them so far. All of these systems have a UPS behind them but they have been powered off abruptly at one point or another.

I have used other SSDs without power loss protection and have not yet experienced issues with lost writes. Those include several Samsung 840 pros, 840 evo, and an 850 pro.

The enterprise systems we use and sell at work all have SSDs with power loss protection.
 
Last edited:

time

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 18, 2002
Messages
4,821
Location
Brisbane, Oz
#9
Samsung white paper on power loss in SSDs

It looks to me like consumer SSDs still have journaling, so only the data in the RAM cache is lost - the SSD does not get scrambled. I would hope that the OS could cope with that without scrambling the file system.

So I'm thinking that full power loss protection makes sense where you don't want to lose even the most recent transaction, or power is unreliable. But with my limited understanding, it doesn't look it is necessary for boot drives, or maybe even for data drives if power is unlikely to be interrupted during active processing.

What do you think?
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2002
Messages
19,315
Location
Monterey, CA
#10
Samsung white paper on power loss in SSDs

It looks to me like consumer SSDs still have journaling, so only the data in the RAM cache is lost - the SSD does not get scrambled. I would hope that the OS could cope with that without scrambling the file system.

So I'm thinking that full power loss protection makes sense where you don't want to lose even the most recent transaction, or power is unreliable. But with my limited understanding, it doesn't look it is necessary for boot drives, or maybe even for data drives if power is unlikely to be interrupted during active processing.

What do you think?
I have regular workstations with SSDs that regularly get hard-off power events. If anything this has less impact than it did with spinning disks (the drive is actively writing less of the time, so less likely to interrupt a write).
 

LunarMist

I can't believe I'm a
Joined
Feb 1, 2003
Messages
15,037
Location
USA
#11
I have regular workstations with SSDs that regularly get hard-off power events. If anything this has less impact than it did with spinning disks (the drive is actively writing less of the time, so less likely to interrupt a write).
I have regularly turned off power on a laptop by holding the button for eight seconds or whatever, which I think is the same thing. It was a lot faster than waiting forever for the computer to wake up or shut down naturally.
On one of the older ones I used to take the battery out when it was acting up.
 
Top