~~Help~~: ~~~Newbie~~~First~~~Server~~~

Discussion in 'DIY Server and Workstation Builds' started by Leelakrishnan Boopalan, Oct 25, 2018.

  1. Leelakrishnan Boopalan

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    Geeks, I am a newbie, trying to build a server for my skillset development.

    I know .net development and wish to learn cloud-based technologies.

    I am planning to set up a lab having around 10-20 virtual machines (SQL Server, Oracle, Workstation, build server, test server, LB etc...) using Hyper-V.

    I have chosen a used Dell PowerEdge 1U R620 from eBay around $300. Configuration listed below.

    Processor: 2 x Xeon E5-2670
    RAM: 128 GB
    HDD: None
    No RAID cards & No power cables
    The whole purpose of the server is ONLY for learning and 0% professional.

    Geeks, please answer my questions.
    1: Is this choice correct?
    2: Can I add desktop HDD (5400 / 7200 rpm) to the server which is available on eBay for few bucks? Share, if there are any other cheap options.
    3: Is it necessary to have a RAID card for up and running the server?
    4: I am planning to have this server in my living room. Will it generate a lot of noise? (Work hours: ~4 hours of a day).
    5: Is there any other important components I am missing?
    6: What are all the key points I need to remember before starting the build? Let me know from your experience.

    Thanks
     
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  2. marcoi

    marcoi Active Member

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    Here some answers:
    2: Can I add desktop HDD (5400 / 7200 rpm) to the server which is available on eBay for few bucks? Share, if there are any other cheap options. - A: you need to check the configuration and manual. I know some dells backplain (where hdd connect too) are either SATA or SAS and sometime support both. Once you know which type are supported you can decide on what to get for storage.

    3: Is it necessary to have a RAID card for up and running the server? A: probably not necessary if this is a test system. Raid will either get you performance increase (raid 0) or data protection (raid 1) etc. You can just attach all your storage store the VMs on each individual drive. For larger storage space you can either get a bigger drive (6-10TB) HDD or get a raid card and create an array of several smaller drives (5 x 2TB drives Raid 0).

    4: I am planning to have this server in my living room. Will it generate a lot of noise? (Work hours: ~4 hours of a day). A: a 1U server will be loud. Expect 60 DBA or more noise levels. I wouldnt put it in a living room for fear of family retaliation.

    6: What are all the key points I need to remember before starting the build? Let me know from your experience.
    A: Decide if your dev environment is important or if you dont care if you lost it. Then plan accordingly for data backup of VMs, etc..

    Hope it helps and good luck. There are 1 million options when it comes to home labs and sometimes it takes just diving in and playing around with tech before you settle on what you really need/want.
     
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  3. Leelakrishnan Boopalan

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    @marcoi Thank you so much... Really helpful
     
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  4. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator
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    A few answers, and one may be useful to you: https://forums.servethehome.com/ind...de-pickupten-ends-8am-est-friday-10-26.22290/
    • This is a nice server.
    • With 20 VMs, running databases and such, 1-2 of these https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/intel-s3500-800gb-129-lots-available.22288/ will be much better than a desktop hard drive. I know you do not want production quality, but inexpensive quality SSDs are lower power, lower noise, and more reliable than hard drives. If you have 20 VMs chugging along, you will become disk IOPS limited quickly with a 5400rpm hard drive
    • The lack of RAID cards, depending on how the chassis is wired may require you to buy a PERC card and potentially cables. Look out for that.
    • Expect it to be loud. You may be able to find tower/ pedestal servers in that price range which use bigger fans and can be much quieter.
     
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  5. Leelakrishnan Boopalan

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    @Patrick Sure, I will check those options. Thank you so much...
     
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  6. K D

    K D Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forums from a former .Net dev.

    1. From a capacity standpoint you should be fine. I have run a similar config but with 48 gb ram for the TFS/SQL/SSRS/SSIS and Biztalk on hyper-v. 128GB Ram should make it better.

    2. I would recommend you go with an SSD as @Patrick has explained. Even cheap consumer SSDs are better than HDDs. But do check whether the system supports SAS or SATA and get the right drive.

    3. Addressed by @marcoi

    4. Loud server especially when under load. Definitely not recommended for the living room. If It's a single level house, you can hear the fans screaming in every corner of the house. Seriously reconsider if you an to keep it in the living room. Better choice would be a tower server which you can quieten down. But noise sensitivity is subjective. You need to decide if it's acceptable.

    I've had a neighbor ask me

    5. You may need a PERC card if the backplane is a SAS backplane

    6. Just get started and reconfigure as your needs change.
     
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  7. Leelakrishnan Boopalan

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    @KD Thank you for your suggestion. Yes, still I have the option to move towards tower server. Any tower server DIY suggestions. Budget < $500.
     
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  8. WANg

    WANg Active Member

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    a) That's, what, a 12th Gen? Yeah, that's a Sandy/Ivy-EP based machine. Decent, but recall the first rule of IT is the rule of diminishing returns on spending. $350 for a server like that is great. If you need to blow more than 30% on it to get a slight performance boost? Not worth it.

    b) Depends on the chassis. Some chassis are SATA, some are SAS, and whether you can slot regular 3.5" HDDs depend on which chassis you got. I totally agree with the others here - HDDs are to be avoided unless it's only for long term archival storage - for regular I/O lifting, just get SSDs. They are much better IOPs wise and a bit less on the power consumption.

    c) That'll depend on whether the machine comes with embedded PERC (PowerEdge Enterprise RAID Controller) or not, and whether you plan to attach more disks to the backplane. You might need an HBA (host bus adapter). Of course, whether you need to run RAID on it is another matter altogether, and resides upon whether you consider the contents ultimately disposable or not.

    d) It'll sound like LaGuardia Airport for the first 4 minutes (between power-up to OS boot), but once the OS boots the 6 shrouded chassis fans should quiet down quickly (just keep the chsssis cover closed, okay?). That being said, even if it doesn't generate a lot of noise, it's still going to be chomping down on electricity - especially if both PSUs are drawing down on power. The 1U footprint might also make it immediately ridiculous in a typical living room.

    e) Did you figure out what the networking options might be? On the R620s there is a mezzanine card between the PSUs and the IPMI port. Base models can have a dual or quadport Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet NICs, while more expensive models can have 10GbE or Infiniband adapters there. There is a PCIe x16 slot which some might use with a GPU, or add extra 10/40GbE NICs in. Then there is the question of where you want to situate the boot media. At my workplace the R620s are fitted with dual SD card slots in the back mezzanine that is used to house (typically) the VMWare ESXi boot volume. Depending on whether you plan to run ESXi, you might choose to do the same or not. Also, depending on whether you are planning out a homelab or not, you might want a set of Dell ReadyRails to go with a server rack.

    Oh yeah, and finally - OS/software stack licensing. If you have an MSDN subscription and don't mind seeing the "unregistered software" watermark in the VMs that you log into, that's fine...just don't start begging strangers or trawling warez sites looking for software to run. If you are an IT guy or dev at a Microsoft shop chances are you'll have easy access to software in question. Just don't get too crazy with those privileges. I did have to put the kaboosh to a former dev of ours who used up half the MSDN entitlements for the company doing labs for stuff that he doesn't really use. Don't be that guy.

    f) Permission from the missus/significant other or room-mates. If you are in a relationship, make sure they are okay with you running this beast, and there is an explicit understanding regarding who shall be paying for its upkeep. AFAIK no one only turn a server on and then power it off after about 2 hours. That's a 24/7/365 presence in your house, and all you'll do is to feed it more VMs, more tech and make it even more permanent (attache SAN/NAS to it, add VPN connectivity so you can reach it from outside the house, etc). Think of it more like a kilowatt chomping tamagotchi.
     
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  9. nthu9280

    nthu9280 Well-Known Member

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    Lot of good info/advice from the fellow members here. Since this is going to be in the living space, noise and heat are going to be a big piece of the puzzle.

    You indicated that you are fairly new at this. So my recommendation is to look at prebuilt workstations -
    Dell precision T3610/T5610/T7610
    HP z420/z620/z820
    Lenovo S30

    I'm not familiar with Lenovo line but both Dell & HP are custom motherboard formats and makes it harder reuse the chassis to upgrade
    down the road. But they both have a sleeker look. Look for the ones with cpus like E5-1620, E5-1650 etc

    Depending on # of VMs, you can add memory some like SQL may need 8gb/vm or more while others can perform well with 4gb or less.

    If you are in US, look at eBay seller digitalmind2000 (pc server parts) and their selection of Dell/HP workstations.
     
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  10. Leelakrishnan Boopalan

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    Thank you folks. Every piece of information I receive here, improves my understanding of the server infrastructure.

    Initially, I thought of building a beefy work station, then I realized the RAM (32 GB) would be not be enough to satisfy my needs. (# of workstations)

    I spent some hours with the Google god and changed my direction towards the server. Either a pre-baked (used) one or a custom build.
    Also, I am very specific about the budget. It should not exceed $500. (+/- 15% is fine).

    Still I am having the confusion in choosing the processor, either E5-2600 series or E5-1600 series.
     
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  11. nthu9280

    nthu9280 Well-Known Member

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    E5-16xx are used on single CPU, E5-26xx upto dual and E5-46xx upto quad config.

    They will work fine in other cofiguration
    Meaning you can use 4600 series in dual or single cpu boards. Same is true other way but max # CPUs in a system is dictated by the first #. While you can use 1600 in quad board, you are limited to max 1 CPU

    While HP Z600 (older model) only advertises 48gb (6x8gb) max I have tested with 6x16gb. I assume that is true with Z620. I don't own one so not 100% certain.

    The reason I'm suggesting the workstations knowing the shortcomings / limitations is that: 1. you can get almost ready to go configuration and quickly up and running.
    2. Noise and easthetics.
     
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  12. Leelakrishnan Boopalan

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  13. marcoi

    marcoi Active Member

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    #13
  14. nthu9280

    nthu9280 Well-Known Member

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    It's an auction.. can't say what it will at the closing..
    1u in a living room?
     
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  15. marcoi

    marcoi Active Member

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    side note. I had great success with intel systems. I got a system based on the s2600cp MB and P4000 case. See thread link. For a 4u it is very quiet. At the time I think it cost me around 800. I like Dells, also have r720 server, but you may need to keep an eye open for other brands of servers to keep to your budget. Or plan on getting a server will less specs and add to it over time.

    https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/intel-s2600cp-w-intel-p4000-case.9104/
     
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  16. WANg

    WANg Active Member

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    ...It'll be above $650 if you look at the pricing off the previous similar auctions, like this one:

    Dell R620 16-Core Server 2x E5-2670 2.6GHz 128GB-8 4 Bay | eBay

    The RAM alone (16x8GB DDR3L DIMMs) are worth about $350-500 out on the refurb market, and much more if you gun for 16GB DIMMs.
    You'll still need the buy the drives, the drive caddies and you might need the second power supply.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 26, 2018
  17. Leelakrishnan Boopalan

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  18. Leelakrishnan Boopalan

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    Now, I come to understand that running a 1U server in the living room is not be possible due to the noise levels. I checked a couple of youtube videos.
    Also, as I am in the early stages, I wish to go with the tower server/workstation (Thanks to @nthu9280 ).


    Here is the breakup of the break of the workstation I would like to go...
    HP Z620 barebone - ~ $200 (Max) With all the bells and wishtles
    2 x Xeon quad core - ~ $ 50 (Max) later, having plans to move to 8 core processor if required
    RAM DDR3 refurbished - ~ $200 (Max) for 128 GB - I hope it will be very diffcult to get 128 GB for this price.
    HDD / SSD - Existing Ones

    Your valuable comments are welcome.
     
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  19. marcoi

    marcoi Active Member

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    also keep an eye out on Craigslist website for servers. I was able to score a dell r720 for 200. i have search alerts on CL setup to email when a new ad comes up with server in the desc/title.
     
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  20. WANg

    WANg Active Member

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    a) Z620 Barebones - if you are buying it used, it'll not be barebones. It'll be a machine with CPUs/RAM pre-populated
    b) Dual Quadcore - nope - if you are looking at a dual Xeon, you're probably be paying $50 per CPU, and if it's one of the better SKUs, probably more like $100.
    c) Nope - you won't be putting 128GB in that machine - at least, not for $200 and not the way you want to. Take a look at the service manual - notice the diagram on page 27?
    CPU0 has 8 DDR3 slots connected to the core, while CPU1 is only connected to 4. You are dealing with 12 RAM slots in total, and you'll need to populate it in a specific way to go 128. So you could put in 12 sticks of 8GB ($50 each if you are lucky), which will get you 96GB in total, which is what the manufacturer intended when they came up with the machine. You could go 192GB (which is the absolute max supported), but that's 12 sticks of 16GB (which are $250 each if you are lucky). If you want 128 you'll need it to be 8 sticks of 8GB DIMMs, then on the other socket you'll need to put in 2 pairs of 16GB DIMMs. At some point the cost of getting it to the number you want will outweigh the net worth of the machine itself. DDR3 is also a bit of a dead end to invest heavily onto, as the only machines using it will be anything older than Haswell EPs (E5-x6xx or x6xx-v2).

    Also notice that in order to reach CPU1 the I/O will have to go through CPU0 and then through its QPI link, giving any I/O operations extra latency if originating from CPU1.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 26, 2018

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