Monday, March 5, 2012

A Power Efficient and Quiet Server

Right now, I have a Dell Power-edge T110. It works well, but it is noisy and overpowered for serving files and archiving. It also lacks the space to house a nice stack of drives. I want a server specifically for archiving and file serving. My family has numerous hard drives which contain terabytes of family generated media, and I want all this media collected and backed up redundantly. I want a server that is:
  • Low power
  • Quiet 
  • Fanless as possible
  • Raid six
These requirements are driven by needing an always-on quiet machine. Right now, the dell is noisy enough that I can hear it across my place and it is rather thirsty.

The Case is designed to hold everything and a bag a chips. The major requirement is that it needs ten 5.25 inch bays. It will need nine bays for the three Bay Adapters and one bay for the Fan Controller. More on the fan setup later. This setup will allow the server to hold one sixty four GB SSD and up to eleven hard drives which have yet to be selected. The SSD will have an adapter to allow it to fill a three and a half inch drive space. The hard drives for the raid will be purchased at a later date. Each bay adapter can hold four drives and a fan. There will be a temperature probe running from the fan controller to each bay adapter. The temperature probes will be thermally coupled with the bays via some good ol' Artic Silver When the machine is idling, the fans maybe off or running really slowly.  When you ask the server to work for you, the fans will kick-in if there is enough heat in the drive bays.  The fan controller can control up to 4 fans, and it uses 4 temperature sensors to provide information to drive its behavior. Each of the 3 banks of hard drives will get its own temperature sensor, and the large case fan will be controlled with the fourth temperature sensor. In summary, this will allow the fans to activate on an as-needed basis.

The motherboard is a low power dual core atom processor which is passively cooled. This is done to conserve energy and reduce heat output. It also has six sata ports and a host of other input and output connections. In the spirit of being quiet, the power supply is fanless and very efficient. The motherboard has a sata card in the PCI slot to give a total of ten ports. This will allow nine drives to act in a software driven raid 6 configuration with the final drive holding the operating system. In the raid six configuraion with nine two-terabyte drives, there will be eighteen terabytes of usable space with the capability of loosing two drives. There are four gigs of RAM in a two by two configuration. The ram has a CAS latency of four-four-four-twelve.  

Stay tuned for more assembling silliness!

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