Help me build a low-power server!

Navy_BOFH

Active Member
Aug 2, 2013
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As the title says - I am running around in circles trying to decide how to build my next server. My requirements for myself are:

1) Low power (Xeon-D is definitely on the menu)
2) Must be able to run ESXI or Hyper-V
3) Must be able to take my existing 5x 3Tb WD Se drives (with space to grow)
4) IPMI
5) 10GbE (either copper or fiber) for future networking expansion with a growing lab

In regards to number 2, I am hoping to make it an all-in-one deal for the home. It will run Server 2012, my file storage, and Plex server among whatever else comes to mind. I want to run either pfSense or Sophos as well... hence needing multiple GbE NICs. My biggest piece that's stumping me is HOW to run the NAS part... either run it as hardware RAID 5/6 and have Windows Server share it out, or a software option? Suggestions?

In the end I am hoping to ditch a Mac Mini and Drobo setup I've been using, sell the Drobo, and re-use the drives. Budget limit is $1000 if I can stay below that, the better. Thinking Xeon-D (don't know if 4 cores will be enough) with around 32Gb RAM, a couple new SSDs, and a U-NAS case (or something else similar). Have no current target power limit but my last server run around 220w average, want to be below 100 if ideal.
 

helsyeah

Active Member
Aug 22, 2015
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I can chime in on the NAS part: I've been running Napp-it for a ZFS NAS on my ESXi AIO for over a year now and it's been working well. There is a VM appliance that you can basically drop onto ESXi and go.

The biggest caveat to the using a VM for the NAS is that it is highly recommended you pickup a HBA card to passthrough to the VAS VM so it has hardware access to the drives.
 

Navy_BOFH

Active Member
Aug 2, 2013
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I can chime in on the NAS part: I've been running Napp-it for a ZFS NAS on my ESXi AIO for over a year now and it's been working well. There is a VM appliance that you can basically drop onto ESXi and go.

The biggest caveat to the using a VM for the NAS is that it is highly recommended you pickup a HBA card to passthrough to the VAS VM so it has hardware access to the drives.
What if I used something like the Supermicro Xeon-D boards with the onboard SAS controller? Would I be able to pass it over to the VM and keep the rest on the SATA headers?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Keljian

Active Member
Sep 9, 2015
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Melbourne Australia
What is the motivation behind power saving? what is your power target? is it for home use?

Thinking Xeon-D is unnecessary/limiting.

ZFS via freenas w/an M1505 under ESXi would be the way I would go for file serving
 

BLinux

cat lover server enthusiast
Jul 7, 2016
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I'm not sure why the Xeon-D or wondering if 4 cores is enough? Not sure how much compute power you think you need (I think that part of your requirement seems vague... ) and why 32GB RAM?

high CPU power vs low energy cost are somewhat opposite forces; not saying its not possible, but at some point you're going to have to decide which is more important to you. #3 and #5 are easily solved so long as you have a couple f PCI-E x8 slots open.

I would also consider a quiet small box with a Celeron N29xx, supports VT-x, not VT-d though...

I think FreeNAS is a great solution too... although I don't use it myself.
 

Navy_BOFH

Active Member
Aug 2, 2013
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It is for home use - but going to also be used for some limited tinkering and lab use.

My processor pick was for low(er) power consumption for said use with the idea of using Sophos UTM, Server 2012 R2, whatever storage option I pick, and another 1-2 miscellaneous VMs. RAM was for the same idea as well.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Keljian

Active Member
Sep 9, 2015
429
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Melbourne Australia
It is for home use - but going to also be used for some limited tinkering and lab use.

My processor pick was for low(er) power consumption for said use with the idea of using Sophos UTM, Server 2012 R2, whatever storage option I pick, and another 1-2 miscellaneous VMs. RAM was for the same idea as well.
Any haswell or later xeons or will have very low idle consumption with lots of power on tap.
Xeon-d may shave a little more power off, but on a cost/performance ratio, unless power is very expensive, you're better off with an e3-1xxx v4,5 or 6.

4 cores would be what I would be shooting for, hyperthreading if it is in the budget. If the budget is tight, an i3-6xxx would fit the bill.

16 gig of ram would be sufficient for what you are planning but it never hurts to have some extra.
 
Last edited:

jrdnlc

Member
Jun 26, 2015
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I have a E3-1276v3 server I can sell you with a Supermicro X10SL7 board and 16Gb of ECC RAM. Only reason for the sale is switching my server to dual xeons

Vt-d and Vt-x is supported also
 
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niekbergboer

Active Member
Jun 21, 2016
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For a low-power/low-price compromise, don't rule out the Core i3s: as I remarked in my build topic, those i3s are essentially dual-core Xeons. Put them om a server motherboard with ECC RAM, and you've got yourself a cheap low-power server.
 
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gea

Well-Known Member
Dec 31, 2010
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As the title says - I am running around in circles trying to decide how to build my next server. My requirements for myself are:

1) Low power (Xeon-D is definitely on the menu)
2) Must be able to run ESXI or Hyper-V
3) Must be able to take my existing 5x 3Tb WD Se drives (with space to grow)
4) IPMI
5) 10GbE (either copper or fiber) for future networking expansion with a growing lab

In regards to number 2, I am hoping to make it an all-in-one deal for the home. It will run Server 2012, my file storage, and Plex server among whatever else comes to mind. I want to run either pfSense or Sophos as well... hence needing multiple GbE NICs. My biggest piece that's stumping me is HOW to run the NAS part... either run it as hardware RAID 5/6 and have Windows Server share it out, or a software option? Suggestions?

In the end I am hoping to ditch a Mac Mini and Drobo setup I've been using, sell the Drobo, and re-use the drives. Budget limit is $1000 if I can stay below that, the better. Thinking Xeon-D (don't know if 4 cores will be enough) with around 32Gb RAM, a couple new SSDs, and a U-NAS case (or something else similar). Have no current target power limit but my last server run around 220w average, want to be below 100 if ideal.
One of the SuperMicro Boards with onboard LSI HBA offers this,
either a Xeon/Celeron-D (up from 20W Dualcore) or Socket 1151 with G4400 or better

see my build examples
http://www.napp-it.org/doc/downloads/napp-it_build_examples.pdf

You can also try my Solaris based ZFS storage VM for a ZFS software Raid
http://napp-it.de/doc/downloads/napp-in-one.pdf
 

mumford

New Member
Jun 25, 2016
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Rumor is that the new AMD Zen idles at 2.5W (4 cores) and 5W (8 cores). Also, Intel's Kirby Lake is coming out in a couple months as well. I suggest that you wait for a little while.
 

T_Minus

Build. Break. Fix. Repeat
Feb 15, 2015
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I really like the E3-1220L V2 + $60 SuperMicro E3 motherboard as "LOW POWER" with virtualization options still.

I've had mine for sale a while and no bites, I think I'm going to convert (after some convincing by others here ;) ;)) it into a 'free' esxi box that runs my house pfsense router, and maybe a linux VM for temp monitoring and door alarms when I find some suitable sensors.


The E3-1220L V2 is, to me, one of Intels 'great' CPUs of the past for power usage and 'power' it has.... and of course ECC, VT-x, VT-d :)
 

Michael Hall

Member
Oct 9, 2015
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For a low-power/low-price compromise, don't rule out the Core i3s: as I remarked in my build topic, those i3s are essentially dual-core Xeons. Put them om a server motherboard with ECC RAM, and you've got yourself a cheap low-power server.
Non-Atom derived Celerons and Pentiums (i.e. the Gxxxx series) support ECC RAM and VT-d too, though they're probably less suitable for the OP, as they lack HyperThreading. I've got a G3220 on a Supermicro X10SL7-F with ECC RAM in my NAS.
 

helsyeah

Active Member
Aug 22, 2015
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Non-Atom derived Celerons and Pentiums (i.e. the Gxxxx series) support ECC RAM and VT-d too, though they're probably less suitable for the OP, as they lack HyperThreading. I've got a G3220 on a Supermicro X10SL7-F with ECC RAM in my NAS.
I must be missing something, I don't see that VT-d is supported on Pentiums/Celerons, at least on ARK: Intel® Pentium® Processor G3220 (3M Cache, 3.00 GHz) Specifications

EDIT: Actually, for that matter, I don't see it on the i3's as well: Intel® Core™ i3-4160 Processor (3M Cache, 3.60 GHz) Specifications

I must be missing something...
 

niekbergboer

Active Member
Jun 21, 2016
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Switzerland

tenet

Member
May 4, 2015
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As the title says - I am running around in circles trying to decide how to build my next server. My requirements for myself are:

1) Low power (Xeon-D is definitely on the menu)
2) Must be able to run ESXI or Hyper-V
3) Must be able to take my existing 5x 3Tb WD Se drives (with space to grow)
4) IPMI
5) 10GbE (either copper or fiber) for future networking expansion with a growing lab
You didn't mention cost or chassis constraints. Have you looked at something like this for your needs: Supermicro | Products | SuperServers | 1U | 5018D8-AR12L

You could always purchase a different chassis and go with that board/CPU combo. Just keep in mind that it only comes with 2x1GBe and 2x10GBe SFP+ instead of 6+2, so that might be a negative.