The first concept I had for my file server revolved around the Asus Eee Box. It met the low power requirements, was very quiet, and it's diminutive dimensions would make it perfect to tuck away. However using this box would mean that I'd be stuck with external USB drives for storage. While this would not be terrible, there would be an added cost for a disk enclosure, and performance would take a hit as well.
Then I found out that Intel sells an Atom based motherboard, complete with SATA II ports and a PCI slot. After a little further reading about the product, I decided to go with it and picked out components to round out the system.
Here's what I got:
- Intel BOXD945GCLF Atom processor Intel 945GC Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo
- Intel PWLA8391GT 10/ 100/ 1000Mbps PCI PRO/1000 GT Desktop Adapter
- G.SKILL 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Desktop Memory
- SYBA SY-IDE2MC-4B IDE to CF/MMC/MS/SD Adapter
- COOLER MASTER Centurion 541 RC-541-SKN1 MicroATX Mini Tower
- Antec earthwatts EA380 380W ATX12V v2.0 Power Supply
- 2 Transcend 2GB Secure Digital (SD) Flash Card Model TS2GSD133
I've already come in at least $30 cheaper than what the rumored Eee Box price would be, and I've got something much more flexible.
In reading about this Intel motherboard, I learned that there are some compatibility issues with linux/bsd and the integraed Realtek ethernet controller. I opted to get the Intel gigabit pci card to ensure compatibility, but also because the onboard only supports 10/100mbit.
The SYBA card adapter will take both CompactFlash or SD and fully supports DMA for speedy data transfers. I also picked up two 2GB SD cards for my trip to Italy. When I get back one of them will become the primary drive for the file server. No noise, and very low power consumption. I'm not too sure how great the SD card will work, but I don't expect any major problems.
I feel that the power supply is a bit overkill right now. But when looking for power supplies that were compatible with the Intel mobo, there are limited options that meet the 80+ efficiancy rating and include an ample number of SATA power connectors. I've alwasys liked Antec's power supplies, and I'm sure that this one will work nicely.
I haven't purchased the disk drives yet, but I will likely choose the WD Caviar GP 1TB drive. They are damn near silent, and as part of Western Digital's 'Green Power' line they've managed to reduce power consumption by a few watts.
My order should be arriving on Monday or Tuesday. Pictures and an update will follow when I've got it all together.
I've wanted to build a dedicated file server for quite some time now. I had a lot of requirements floating around in my head for what I wanted to achieve, mainly:
- 1TB+ of fault tolerant disk space - I've already got 5 disk drives in a variety of sizes holding my precious data. Losing a disk would be a tragedy. So the new storage system needs redundancies in case of a disk failure.
- ZFS - I'm a big fan of what Sun has brought to the table with ZFS. Snapshots are perfect if you've ever blown important files away with an accidental slip on the delete key. And the ability to grow a pool makes future expansion a breeze.
- Energy Efficient - My current server is my old desktop. On average it draws 165W of power, all day, every day. Worst part is, 98% of the time it's not doing a damn thing. For the new server I'd like to be using < 60W. I feel like using less electricity than a standard light bulb is a fairly good goal.
- Easy to Manage - I've seen some truly terrible management GUI's in my time, and I feel that most companies really underestimate how important a solid design is. A good web based interface is my preference, but I also want to be able to muck around at a lower level if needed.
Today I purchased most of the hardware to build a box that would meet all of these goals. I decided to wait until after I return from my trip to Italy to purchase the hard drives. Tomorrow I'll get into the details of the hardware I picked out and the overall plan for how I'm gonna do this.