Potential Upgrades to My New "Vomit Box"

Newtun

Storage is good
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#1
Apologies in advance, but I just got one of these: Dell PowerEdge T20 Intel Xeon E3-1225 v3 Quad-Core Tower Barebone Server for $279, from yesterday's Ars Technica/TechBargains deals list. (I'm getting too old to "roll my own" any more. This will replace my 8-year-old home-grown PC with a e5200 dual-core [OC'ed to 3.2 GHz], running Ubuntu LTS, and I'm hoping for a noticible improvement in response time.)

I use the PC mainly for light to moderate web-browsing, Emails, small document/spreadsheet editing, etc. Oh, and 100% CPU utilization on the World Community Grid anti-cancer project.

So, that Dell T20 comes with a 1 TB drive, but I'd like to add an SSD to store the OS and software, and part of my home directory. I was looking at ≈120 GB SSDs, and I was interested in the Samsung 750 EVO and the Intel 540s. I feel those are the most reliable brands.

But then I saw the Intel SSD 600p Series PCI-Express 3.0 x4 unit for < $20 more.

Would this be a worthwhile upgrade over the SATA SSDs (even if only a little bit)?

According to the manual, if I'm amalgamating it right, the T20 has these:

SLOT 1 PCIe card connector 1 - x16 Generation 3 (connection to processor)
SLOT 2 PCIe card connector 2 - x1 Generation 2 (connection to Platform Controller Hub)
SLOT 3 PCI card connector 3
SLOT 4 PCIe card connector 4 - x4 Generation 2 (connection to Platform Controller Hub)

So would that Intel 600p SSD work OK in SLOT 4, and be any faster than an SATA SSD? Oh, and does trim work OK on these PCIe SSDs?

And the other question I have is about a later upgrade, to a video card to replace the Intel CPU "on-board" video. I assume I could use SLOT 1 for the video card, but the manual says it can only provide 25 watts. I would mainly want the video card to take some load off of the CPU when I do my occasional YouTubing.

Thanks for any suggestions.
 
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Chewy509

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#2
FYI, That SSD has an M.2 based form factor connector, and will need a PCIe adapter card to work with a regular PCIe x4 slot. Also, you'll need to ensure the BIOS of the T20 supports booting from M.2 based SSDs... (Most modern EFI based systems do, but you never know).

eg. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA4M53SS6788

Otherwise M.2 based SSDs often offer superior performance to regular SATA based SSDs. (At work we get 2.5GB/s read performance from a Samsung 950, vs 540MB/s for the best SATA based SSD).

You may have issues with graphics cards in the PCIe x16 slot, as most cards require the 150W optionally available with PCIe Gen2.1 spec, but according to the spec, the slot only must provide a minimum of 25W...
 

Newtun

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#4
Thanks very much for the advice, Chewy. Second things first, you're probably right that the integrated GPU is sufficient for my needs. I hope that Ubuntu's drivers support the video acceleration, though.

As far as that Intel PCIe/M.2 SSD, I mistakenly thought that it could be "direct-connected" to a PCIe slot. And I checked the server's manual, and found no evidence that "the BIOS of the T20 supports booting from M.2 based SSDs", so I'll give up on that idea, dang it. (FWIW, I'm planning to use the "legacy" boot mode, not EFI. I don't see any big advantage to EFI, other than "modernity". But then again, my eyesight is getting worse over time.)

So I guess I'll check into those Intel or Samsung SATA SSDs instead, and wrestle with the drive-cage installation. Another nice thing about the PCIe SSD, though, is that it comes with a 5-year warranty. Of course, that may be of limited value - "Oh, your SSD failed after 3 months, too bad. Here's a refurb-ed replacement that will fail after 4 months. Hope you had good backups."
 

Newtun

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#6
So I got a Samsung’s 128 GB 850 PRO SSD. It comes with a 10-year warranty! I should live so long . . .

Since the PC user's manual didn't have specific details, I also got a 2.5"-3.5" adapter bracket and a SATA cable. I'm hoping the power supply has a spare SATA power cable, since Dell says:
The PowerEdge T20 can help you:

  • Consolidate data and media files with six internal hard drive bays supporting large storage capacity.
(They don't mention that there are only 4 SATA connectors onboard, so to use 6 hard drives, you'd have to add a separate controller [and remove the DVD drive].)

I also got a second 4 GB UDIMM to enable dual-channel usage.

Thanks again for your inputs.
 

Newtun

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#8
My 4 deliveries are supposed to happen tomorrow. :) (Or, I assume, 1 delivery of 4 packages.)

But I was looking into an issue I thought about, how to minimize "wear" on the SSD. Specifically, the 30-50 (?) BOINC project files I will be getting daily, that could probably be kept on the rotating HD instead.

Apparently, the Windows BOINC client allows you to specify where to keep those files, but not the Linux client, from my (limited) Googling.

But someone suggested that, since the Linux BOINC files are in the /var directory, one could set that directory to be mounted on the HD, not the SSD. Their claim was that the /var directory is mainly for files that vary a lot over time.

Does that sound reasonable, or should I not even bother worrying about it?
 
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timwhit

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#9
I wouldn't worry about it at all, I doubt that this is all that much data that it will have much of an effect on the longevity of your SSD. Moving /var to a mechanical disk will make a lot of other things much slower, so I wouldn't do it on a system that I want to be responsive.
 

Bozo

Storage? I am Storage!
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#11
Wasn't there a thread here that had calculated it would take someone years and years (20?) of use to wear out an SSD?

Also Tech Report abused some SSDs and they lasted a very long time.

The SSDs in my system are over 5 years old and I bought them refurbished.

I'd worry more about a mechanical hard drive failing.
 

LunarMist

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#12
Wasn't there a thread here that had calculated it would take someone years and years (20?) of use to wear out an SSD?

Also Tech Report abused some SSDs and they lasted a very long time.

The SSDs in my system are over 5 years old and I bought them refurbished.

I'd worry more about a mechanical hard drive failing.
I could wear them out quickly enough. ;)
 
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#13
A couple years ago Ars calculated that writing to an SSD (forget which one) continuously at max speed couldn't reach the wear life within the warranty period. This isn't something that I worry about.
 

Newtun

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#14
Thanks for the advice, all. I got the vBox about a couple of hours ago, and installed the second UDIMM.

Here are the Memtest86+ RAM speed test results before and after this dual-channeling:

10399 vs 17351 MB/s, about a 67% speed increase. I have included the (fuzzy) screenshot pix from my tablet below.

The box came with SATA cables already plugged into the mobo SATA connectors. So I'll just have to plug in my SSD, and then start in on the Ubuntu install and customization.

Thanks again!

1dimm.jpg . . . 2dimm.jpg
 
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Newtun

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#15
Happy Labor Day Weekend all (for us US'ers). (Isn't "Labor Day Holiday" an oxymoron? Oh, boy, I get a day off for working my ασσ off the other 364 days.)

After a few days now, I checked the last 15 World Community Grid anti-cancer results for my new vBox vs the old PC, and I see that the average compute time is >67% better, per core, or >135% better overall. Small sample, I know, but a significant difference.

And I get pretty darn good responsiveness when I use it for more mundane tasks like Emailing and cruising the web.
 
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