Project TinyMiniMicro: Reviving Small Corporate Desktops

WANg

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Jun 10, 2018
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Does anyone know if any of these (or other similar small footprint) take ECC RAM? I 've been wading through specs looking for likely candidates, but thought I'd ask if someone knew off the top of their heads.
The Lenovo P320/330 and the Z2 Mini G3/4. The t740 thin client "might", but someone (not me) will need to test this theory out. Although...ECC on a corporate NUC? That's a bit of an overkill.
 
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Markess

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May 19, 2018
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The Lenovo P320/330 and the Z2 Mini G3/4. The t740 thin client "might", but someone (not me) will need to test this theory out. Although...ECC on a corporate NUC? That's a bit of an overkill.
Thanks! Saved me some digging. You're right of course, overkill on a NUC. But, if I happened to want to use it as a backup server and already had ECC SODIMMs laying around that I couldn't find a use for...... :)
 

tangofan

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May 28, 2020
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The Lenovo P320/330 and the Z2 Mini G3/4. The t740 thin client "might", but someone (not me) will need to test this theory out. Although...ECC on a corporate NUC? That's a bit of an overkill.
There is a note in the Z2 Mini G4 Memory Specs that Intel Core i5/i7 processors only support non-ECC memory. I'm assuming that this would be valid for the G3 as well. Unfortunately the models with Xeon CPU are prohibitively expensive on eBay in comparison to the i5/i7 models. :(
 

Geran

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Oct 25, 2016
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Anyone with an M720q, M920q or similar looking for the PCIe adapter and network bracket...here is where you can find it: (it takes about 8-10 days to arrive)

 
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TomUK

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Aug 30, 2017
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Been following this series with great interest as I've been wanting to build a 'high' performance k8s cluster at home for ages.

These micros appear to tick a lot of boxes, especially in the physical footprint and power departments. The problem at least for me is finding decent spec machines available that don't cost the earth here in the UK! I am a bit concerned about the longevity of these systems - there's very little space to grow / upgrade over time too, I guess the approach here would just be to add newer more capable nodes to the cluster when they hit the second hand market at the right price, and then retire old nodes once they aren't worth running anymore.

I do think DIY Ryzen builds appear to offer more bang for you buck at the moment (at least here) - Though they take up more space and power as a downside. You need way less machines to get the equivalent compute power - also increases your total number of PCIE lanes as well (so having many NVME and multi gigabit ethernet is achievable if needed).

I think you could build a new 8 core micro ATX Ryzen box (excluding storage) with 5 or 6 M2/U2 ports, 10GB Ethernet, and 64GB of RAM for about £800 - or I can get about 3 decent modern 4c8t micros with 16gb RAM and crappish SSDs for that
 
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WANg

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Jun 10, 2018
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Been following this series with great interest as I've been wanting to build a 'high' performance k8s cluster at home for ages.

These micros appear to tick a lot of boxes, especially in the physical footprint and power departments. The problem at least for me is finding decent spec machines available that don't cost the earth here in the UK! I am a bit concerned about the longevity of these systems - there's very little space to grow / upgrade over time too, I guess the approach here would just be to add newer more capable nodes to the cluster when they hit the second hand market at the right price, and then retire old nodes once they aren't worth running anymore.

I do think DIY Ryzen builds appear to offer more bang for you buck at the moment (at least here) - Though they take up more space and power as a downside. You need way less machines to get the equivalent compute power - also increases your total number of PCIE lanes as well (so having many NVME and multi gigabit ethernet is achievable if needed).

I think you could build a new 8 core micro ATX Ryzen box (excluding storage) with 5 or 6 M2/U2 ports, 10GB Ethernet, and 64GB of RAM for about £800 - or I can get about 3 decent modern 4c8t micros with 16gb RAM and crappish SSDs for that
Yeah, that's one of the trends I observed about European (*cough* geographically speaking, brexit means brexit and all that, heh) off-lease hardware availability - there simply isn't much of a secondary market catering to local homelabbers when it came to the TinyMiniMicros (at least not when I check eBay using my French account) It might be that a large chunk of them are exported to CIS countries to fuel their secondary markets, or local IT simply does not have the same buying patterns as their American equivalents and have that many in stock to push pricing down. We really should do a "homelabber's state of things" for US/EU/UK/APAC folks.
 
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risysadmin

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Sep 19, 2018
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I just bought a Dell Micro 7050 with an i7 6700T and am very impressed with it. Runs ESXi 7 without an issue and sips power, roughly 10W on idle. With my transition to docker I'm looking to replace a DL360p which idles at 10 times that. Before I order 2x16GB sticks of RAM to replace the 2x8 it came with, has anyone tried a 32GB stick in one of these? The CPU and chipset supposedly support it, but I'm not brave enough to try.
William Lam has reported that 32GB sticks work in 6th gen NUCs here: 64GB memory on the Intel NUCs?
 
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Mashie

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Jun 26, 2020
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What is the smallest ex-corporate option if you are looking for something that can hold 2-3 3.5" HDDs? Thinking Ceph cluster candidates.
 

Evan

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Jan 6, 2016
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What is the smallest ex-corporate option if you are looking for something that can hold 2-3 3.5" HDDs? Thinking Ceph cluster candidates.
Problem is the need for 10G for kind of proper Ceph. Does it have to be 3.5” disks ? That kind of puts you into much larger (20L or larger) boxes. The only really small thing that could possibly be had cheap is the HPE Microserver gen10+ , maybe just the dual core CPU option when it’s on discount which is often is and that’s about ~7L
 

Mashie

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Jun 26, 2020
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Problem is the need for 10G for kind of proper Ceph. Does it have to be 3.5” disks ? That kind of puts you into much larger (20L or larger) boxes. The only really small thing that could possibly be had cheap is the HPE Microserver gen10+ , maybe just the dual core CPU option when it’s on discount which is often is and that’s about ~7L
Thanks, I currently have 8x10TB in a RAID 6 array for home storage. I'm investigating options to move this to a distributed model going forward. The form factor I had in mind would be something like the HP Elite 8300 SFF's or similar.
 

Evan

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Jan 6, 2016
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I really don’t know if you can beat that single box with the raid6 array.

Normal Ceph is 3x replication.
Of you could do erasure coded pools (like raid 5 or 6) but i don’t know if I would ever do that other than testing.
Honestly I am kind of same I would love to run say 3 or 4 small systems with erasure coding for my storage but I have a big feeling it’s going to be massive unreliable compared to just a single system. I would be using all 2.5” sata ssd as one pool and maybe a separate NVMe pool for hotter data. One part of brain is saying you run big systems for real workloads why not build a little home system to play. The other part is telling me I am an idiot for even considering it.
 

Mashie

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Jun 26, 2020
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You are probably correct with your thinking. It will add complexity, risk and cost (hardware and power) for possibly not much of a gain.

I shall scrap this idea, thanks.
 

Geran

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Oct 25, 2016
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So I just bought my second M720q and I have two of these brackets and risers coming soon as well.

One M720q (G5400T) will be used for pfSense and the other one (i3-8100T) will be used for Plex.

Now to find a tinyminimicro or SFF box to replace my Blue Iris 813M. Leaning more towards an SFF box since it supports 3.5" HDDs.
 
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Geran

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Wow, it looks like the THINKCENTRE M720 TINY can be configured with a 4-port Intel i350 PCIe network adapter.

Yup, that's only if you buy it from Lenovo configured that way. Most of the ones on eBay are sold without it so you would have to get the riser & support bracket from China (linked earlier in this thread) or buy the kit from Lenovo for around $330.
 

amalurk

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Dec 16, 2016
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Yup, that's only if you buy it from Lenovo configured that way. Most of the ones on eBay are sold without it so you would have to get the riser & support bracket from China (linked earlier in this thread) or buy the kit from Lenovo for around $330.
And then does the card take up the space of the 2.5 hdd/ssd bay?
 

WANg

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Jun 10, 2018
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Problem is the need for 10G for kind of proper Ceph. Does it have to be 3.5” disks ? That kind of puts you into much larger (20L or larger) boxes. The only really small thing that could possibly be had cheap is the HPE Microserver gen10+ , maybe just the dual core CPU option when it’s on discount which is often is and that’s about ~7L
That’s more or less an HPe Proliant EC200a (one M2 SATA and 2 3.5” HDD bays)...there’s an ongoing thread about them being on offer via eBay for like 150 USD each..but It would no longer be TinyMicroMini since it's neither tiny, micro nor mini. The EC200a is like a mythical “HPe Microserver Gen9 Light”...which I am not a fan of, as it was just like HPe Microservers lately - so much wasted potential. 2 instead of 4 DIMMs, no PCIe slot and only 3.5” bays. Not dense, not versatile, it's almost like a solution looking for a specific niche problem. The disk expansion box for it isn’t all that common whatsoever and commands a ridiculously steep price for the box. I kinda like the ThinkSystem SE350 (imagine 3 m75q mounted one after the other, so rather versatile), but it's freaking noisy when the fans spin up.
 
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