Racking a Norco 4220

Tun

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Nov 20, 2011
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John4200, thank you for the heads up on that noice problem.
I won't have it in my livingroom but place it in my server room at home.
Also, I found that some have modded the fan to be more quiet?

Would it be better if I go for a 2U PSU? (remove the redundancy, I really don't need that part) to get rid of the noice?
Any suggestions?
 

matt_garman

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Feb 7, 2011
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In case you are not aware, note that the fans in those 1U redundant PSU modules are very loud. They sound like a loud vacuum cleaner. If you use the case anywhere near where people will be, the noise can be quite annoying. They are really intended mainly for datacenters.
FWIW, the redundant 1U fans in my SC836 aren't that loud, in general. They can be loud. But if you use a Supermicro board with the chassis, then you get decent temperature-controlled fan speeds.

I've had two boards in this chassis: first, an X8SIL-F. This board seems to have some temperature sensor problem that causes the fans to ramp up to max speed after 24--48 hours or so. I'm working with SM to resolve this.

Because of the fan issues, I replaced the board with an X9SCL+-F, and the system is actually fairly quiet all the time. I wouldn't want it in my living room of course... but this week I actually had to temporarily move it up into the living room due to some construction work taking place in the basement (where the server normally lives). Even with music or TV playing at normal, moderate levels, the server's fan noise is completely drown out.

But my system is barely loaded at all, and has only seven (of a possible sixteen) drives---and they are 5400 RPM "green" drives at that.

On the other hand, if you don't have intelligent fan control (or a messed up board like me), the fans running at full speed are crazy loud. My wife and I could hear the fans on the main floor (ground level) of our house, with the server in the basement.
 

matt_garman

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Feb 7, 2011
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I'm glad to be proven wrong here, if anyone have any solid proof of this.
And one thing that I'm not certain of is how things are lined up for meassure.
So for all that I know, I'm wrong thinking that 450mm opening is not the number to base the calculation upon.
It may be that I should use the 465mm (center hole to hole width).
Not sure about the measurements, but I am sure that the "new" RL-26 rails work just find with the RPC-4220 chassis in a standard rack. (In my case, the standard rack is the StarTech 4POSTRACK25. Also note the caveat that the case only slides out about 2/3 the way with the new RL-26.)

You mention questionable design regarding the Norco, I kind of like the design overall.
But I understand that the "non-standard" width and that kind of design is a big drawback.
The quality I can't say anything about, but after reading a lot of forum threads this weekend I think I know what you mean.
Yeah, that's just my opinion. :) I guess I do like the design of the Norco cases, just not terribly impressed with their execution. My power button punched through, and I seem to remember some other complaints about flaky buttons. I definitely recall some people complaining about the "backplane circuit board SAS expander" modules in the 4220/4224 being flaky, and needing to be replaced by Norco. I consider these quality issues. But then again, it's obvious that they are targeting the the budget/home server market. But they really should sell a nice set of matched "rapid rails", even at a higher price. (Again, just my opinion.)

Dual PSU included, "rapid rails" for square holes also included, mini-sas 6Gb/s backplane included, many/all cables included,
SES-2 management included. And a statement that this will work with an EIARS-310C standard rack (the same as their own rack system follow).
Looking at the price, I can have it for ca USD 900 plus USD 200 in shipping plus USD 275 for the Norwegian VAT.
I still consider it reasonable, considering I don't need to buy the psu/cables/rails and so on extra.
My 836 chassis did not come with any SAS or SATA cables. Only power and front panel cables.

Side note: the Norco 4220/4224 (and maybe others) come with a bracket that allows you to use redundant PSUs.

Sorry for hijacking this thread a second here, but since you got a Supermicro chassis you might be able to answer this as well.
The SC826E16 (se link abowe) has 3 SFF 8087 connectors on its backplane.
BPN-SAS2-826EL1 (singel LSI SAS2X28 expander chip).
Is this 6Gb per channel, shared between 4 drives?
Or am I able to utilize the 6Gb to every drive?
Are you sure about that? I didn't follow the link, but my understanding of Supermicro's chassis part numbers is as follows: the "E16" to me suggests that it has a single 6 Gbps SAS expander chip, which implies a single mini-SAS connection. If this chassis holds 12 hot swap drives, then I would expect the "A" version to have three mini-SAS ports. The "A" version of SM chassis is most like the Norco 422x cases, that basically have SAS-to-SATA break-out cables in circuit board form. Supermicro's "TQ" versions have individual SATA ports (one for each drive), like Norco's older 402x cases. SM also has the "E26" versions, which have dual-redundant SAS expanders. Also note that they have one manual for all versions of their cases, and different sections in the manual cover the different backplanes based on whatever model you got. I almost overlooked this and ordered the wrong chassis for work!

I'm not too informed on SAS expanders. For work, I bought the 846E1 (only 3 Gbps, predecessor to the E16)... but this is for a backup server, so I never cared about performance. I just wanted something simple (and what's simpler than using one cable to connect 24 drives?).

Let us know what you end up getting, and take pictures! :)
 

Tun

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Nov 20, 2011
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I'm not sure what motherboard to go for yet.
My first choise was a serverboard with intel 5520 chipset and Xeon CPU, but now I'm waiting for the "new" 2011 socket xeon (seems to be further delayed into 2012).
Then I might try a Intel Core i5 2500 CPU based on the Z68 chipset (ASUS maximux IV Extreme-Z).
Only one problem with that ASUS is that it "might" not support the Intel RS2WC080 SAS/SATA card (Some say that ASUS with the H/P-67 chipset won't go past POST in boot with that card inserted).
I'll have to dig some more into that problem before I pick a card.

What I do need from the motherboard is the Intel Virtualization support, as I'm planning to try ut vmware.
And the RS2WC080 in JBOD mode is for my home NAS (running ZFS on either FreeNAS or OpenSolaris)

Regarding load on the PSU I don't think my use and the model I can get will be in trouble.
Other than one of the mentioned motherboards with 32GB ram, I'll be using 1x dvb-s2 satellite card, 1x gfx card (not heavy used) and upto 12x 2TB disks.

What options do I have if I want/need an intelligent fan control for the PSU if the motherboard doesn't support the supermicro PSU connectors for PSU fan control?
 

Tun

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Nov 20, 2011
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Sorry for not using multiquote, it's soon 6 o'clock in the morning here, have been up all night to read and try to order the 4postrack25, not as easy as noone is shipping to Norway.

You're entitled to your opinion and after reading too many forum posts the last days I'm starting to agree with you on this one.

Yeah, my bad, the multilane sas/sata cables to the 8087 port doesn't ship with the case. But it's not that big deal, my point was that the SM ships with much "included" that the Norco has to get extra. Making the extra price for the SM not too big to handle.

The supermicro site states that it has 3 SFF 8087 connectors.
(E16 model).
Backplane model is listed as BPN-SAS2-826EL1
826 backplane with single LSI SAS2X28 expander chip.

The A model also states that is uses 3 SFF 8087 connectors.
The TQ model's backplane has 12 SATA connectors.

I'll try to look more into this.

As far as I'm aware of each 8087 connector is able to provide for 4 SATA ports, so three of these make sens on a 12bay chassis.

Yes, pictures are coming as soon as I figure out what to buy and can have it shipped to Norway. Had high hopes for this before christmas but...time is running out.
 

john4200

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Jan 1, 2011
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FWIW, the redundant 1U fans in my SC836 aren't that loud, in general. They can be loud. But if you use a Supermicro board with the chassis, then you get decent temperature-controlled fan speeds.
Which fans are you talking about? I was talking about the fans in the power supply units (PSUs). If you are talking about the PSU fans, how do you hook them up to the SM MB to get them temperature controlled?

Also, Tun was talking about a 2U chassis, so the chassis fans would also be louder than those on your 3U SC836. The smaller the fans, the faster they must spin and the louder they are.

I have a 4U Norco chassis with 120mm chassis fans and a Seasonic X-Series PSU. It is the only type of hot-swap HDD chassis that I have ever heard that is quiet enough to go in the same room as a person (I had to replace the rear-mounted high speed chassis fans with much quieter ones). I have worked with several different kinds of chassis for the datacenter (including Supermicro), and I would be hesitant to put any of the SM chassis even in the next room from where people will be. In most cases, it would need to be down in the basement in an enclosed room to be acceptable, and even then the high-pitched whine can usually be heard even on the next floor.
 

Patrick

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John... I can't tell you how much I am thinking about blogging a sound deadening scheme for my new rack/ house... Seems like a good place for some DIY knowledge.
 
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matt_garman

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Which fans are you talking about? I was talking about the fans in the power supply units (PSUs). If you are talking about the PSU fans, how do you hook them up to the SM MB to get them temperature controlled?

Also, Tun was talking about a 2U chassis, so the chassis fans would also be louder than those on your 3U SC836. The smaller the fans, the faster they must spin and the louder they are.

I have a 4U Norco chassis with 120mm chassis fans and a Seasonic X-Series PSU. It is the only type of hot-swap HDD chassis that I have ever heard that is quiet enough to go in the same room as a person (I had to replace the rear-mounted high speed chassis fans with much quieter ones). I have worked with several different kinds of chassis for the datacenter (including Supermicro), and I would be hesitant to put any of the SM chassis even in the next room from where people will be. In most cases, it would need to be down in the basement in an enclosed room to be acceptable, and even then the high-pitched whine can usually be heard even on the next floor.
I was talking about all fans in my system (i.e. chassis, backplane, and PSU fans).

I don't think I did anything special to have the motherboard control the PSU fans speeds. I suspect it's controlled by the "JPI2C" connector on the motherboard (on the edge of the board, adjacent to the RAM slot and ATX power connector). See pages 1-6 and 1-7 of the X9SCL+-F manual, item number 45, "PWR supply (I2C) System Management Bus".

As to whether or not non-SM boards have this connector, I have no idea. Even if they do have the connector, I'm not sure if the protocol is proprietary or not. You'd have to check with SM directly.

Also, I don't know about all SM 2U chassis, but at least the 236 has 80mm fans, just like my 836.

I don't have an SPL meter, so it's hard to say exactly how quiet (er, "not loud") my system is. Going from memory, it seems like the fans average about 2000 RPM. The system is definitely quieter than our dehumidifier in the basement. Also, music or TV at moderate volumes completely drowns out the sound of the system (it's temporarily been moved upstairs into our living room).

I did a web search for "common spl levels". Using this as a crude way to measure how loud the server is, I'd say somewhere around 40 dB at one meter away. At 10 meters, it pretty much fades into the background, unless you make a point to listen for it.

Note that I also have my BIOS set to the slowest fan profile (can't remember the name of it off the top of my head). Not sure if that makes a huge difference or not.
 

matt_garman

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Feb 7, 2011
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John... I can't tell you how much I am thinking about blogging a sound deadening scheme for my new rack/ house... Seems like a good place for some DIY knowledge.
Does that mean you've actually put some time and effort into creating a sound-insulated room for your gear?

There's this insulation called "Icelene" that they sometimes use when building houses. Have you ever seen that "Great Stuff" expanding foam that comes in a spray can? It's basically that, but on a huge scale (they basically blow it in with a firehose). Anyway, I learned about it at a home show many years ago. They claim they use it in multiplex movie theaters to acoustically isolate one theater from the next. Seems like if you had a smallish spare room or bigger closet, you could use this stuff to keep the noise isolated.

Someday I hope to be able to build my own home; if I have the the opportunity and means, I'm spraying that stuff in interior walls as well, just in case my kids grow up and have lousy taste in music. ;)
 

PigLover

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Jan 26, 2011
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Someday I hope to be able to build my own home; if I have the the opportunity and means, I'm spraying that stuff in interior walls as well, just in case my kids grow up and have lousy taste in music. ;)
You'll regret that decision the first time you need to pull in a new electric outlet, network jack, or pretty much anything else that you might fish in through the walls...
 

Tun

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Nov 20, 2011
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Hi,

Just a quick update.

I've found a Norwegian retailer for the CSE-826E16-R1200LPB chassis.
But the price tag put me off, nearly USD 1790 before shipping.
So I'm still looking for other options on this one.

After looking into the Supermicro Motherboards as well I found the X8DTH-6F of interest.
I think this would be a great motherboard for running vmware.
And also thanks to the inbuilt LSI 2008 SAS unit, which is possible to flash to IT firmware,
it also seems ok to run my NAS from (ZFS).
Again, the norwegian retailer is very overpriced, around USD 960 before shipping.

Any thoughts about this motherboard?
Good for virtualization and intel vt-d for passthrough of the LSI SAS to FreeNAS?
Easy to flash the LSI firmware?
Possible to run with only 1 CPU or do I need them both?
Vaste of money since the 1136 socket is on overtime on its lifespan?

Also got some feedbak from the Norco, that the new rails on the 2212 would fit the EIARS-310C standard.
So if noone is able to ship the supermicro parts abowe to Norway for a good price I might just end up with the Norco for starters.

And still waiting for respons from the StarTech 4POSTRACK25 from two retailers.
Looking forward to get that one and starting installing my equippment.

Funny how things change from one cabinet not being up to the standards and hard to fit into the rack, and into getting too much options but non able to deliver.
At the moment the Norco 2212 seems closer to the finish line.

BTW: my budget is around 4500 USD for everything so the supermicro isn't out of the question, just don't want to pay extra if not needed.

Regarding sound levels from fans.
I know this is SERVER equippment, thus not ment to be in a home/livingroom. And I do have a dedicated room for this.
I've got 5 HP servers (2U and 1U) and know all about high fan speed and sound levels.
The 2U supermicro chassis seems to use 80mm fans and those I can replace with less noicy fans.

Quick question regarding the supermicro chassis PSU.
What 2U PSU with low noice can you recomend if I remove the redundant 1U psu's in the 2U chassis?
Thinking about 800W at least (or how much do I need to keep 12 disk spinning?).
 

john4200

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Jan 1, 2011
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I have a SM X8DTH-F running linux. I prefer MBs without built in HBA or RAID. The X8DTH-F has plenty of PCIe slots, and I prefer to have all of my hot-swap drive ports coming from PCIe cards. By the way, it is a 1366 pin slot, and you can run it with only one CPU.
 

Tun

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Nov 20, 2011
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The onboard or PCIe option when it comes to the LSI SAS/SATA ports I guess is something you either love or hate. The good thing is that it's cheaper until it breaks, but then it's easily replaced since you can pick up the same part as an PCIe board and continue uninterrupted.
You have the iF model? (can't find one with only the -F option).
Sorry, typo there with the socket number but glad to hear that it boots off with only one CPU.
 

john4200

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Jan 1, 2011
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Yes, technically it is the X8DTH-iF. But I usually leave off the "i" since it does not provide any useful information that I can tell.
 

Tun

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Nov 20, 2011
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A decision has been made.

I got the StarTech 4POSTRACK25 from the Netherlands (should arrive around the 5.-7. december).

And due to (too) high prices on the Supermicro parts in Norway, lack of retailers able to ship to Norway, and without too much hassle, and the fact that I would prefer the new Supermicro motherboards for the new Intel Xeon E5 CPU's to prolong the lifespan of the new setup, I'll settle with a Norco 2212, Asus Z68 chipset based motherboard (probably won't tolerate a LSI 9211-8i), Intel Core i5 and run this until I can upgrade to the Supermicro line in 2012 as soon as the Xeon E5 is ready.

So I'm now ordering the Norco 2212 with the "new" RL-26 rails.
Hoping that it will fit.
Will post back pictures ASAP. (Any requests?)

The Asus Z68 trouble with the LSI controller means that I'll have to postpone my NAS but that's ok. I might order one just to try anyway.
Thinking of trying out this one:
http://www.lsi.com/products/storagecomponents/Pages/LSISAS9211-8i.aspx
(guess that this is the same: http://www.amazon.com/SAS9211-8I-8P...8I7M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1322186791&sr=8-1 )

Also, I'll be able to play around with vmware and prepare my working environment for the upgrade to come in 2012.

I want to give a big thank you to everyone helping me out here!
It has been very much appreciated.

EDIT
btw, what's the difference between the LSI HBA and RAID cards apart from the obvious?
I mean, the HBA also support RAID functions... (not as well maybe?).
Anyway, I guess that a HBA only card is ok for me since I'm going to use it as a JBOD with ZFS.
 
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mobilenvidia

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HBA = LSI 9211 = No RAID, probably best for ZFS, also fastest I've found
RAID = LSI 9240 (IBM M1015) = RAID 0, 1, 10, can also do JBOD but NO cache

IBM M1015 is your best bet, it's relatively cheap and can do both worlds.
I've flashed it to a LSI9240 and a 9211, so you can run it in IR or IT modes

If you are going to run RAID5 or 6 get a cached card.
It will do so much better with the controller able to use the cache to work out the distributed parity
 

Tun

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Nov 20, 2011
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Thanks mobilenvidia,

I won't do any RAID with the cards so I'll stick to the 9211 if I understand you correctly.

Also, I've got a vital feedback on the Asus card. No vt-d. So I've changed the motherboard to an ASRock Z68 Extreme7 Gen3.
That takes care of the LSI problem too.
 

Tun

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Nov 20, 2011
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Hi cputter638,

I'll read your other thread too, and sorry if I've hijacked this one with my 2212 and other topics.

And yes, I'll post back here my findings regarding racking the 2212 with the "new" RL-26 rails.
The 4postrack25 is delayed and I doutbt it will be here before the weekend.
The 2212 should be here soon so I'll get some numbers.
 

cpotter638

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Dec 6, 2011
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I ended up going with the 4220. Just received my 4220 last night. Had a question re: items included in Norco "accessory box". All items are pictured in below photo. My question - what are the items in the photo?
  • I assume the 2 u-shaped brackets are for an redunant PSU or for PSU units that don't have screw holes that match up with the back of the Norco case? My PSU has holes that match the Norco. I assume I mount the PSU with 4 screws and don't use these U-shaped brackets?
  • I assume 2 rectangular plates on bottom right are CPU mounting plates? Possibly for 771 or 775 socket? I'm using a Supermicro X9SCM-F & Intel E3-1220. I assume these plates are not used in my build?
  • Other than the wrench, what are the items in the right / upper portion of the photo? I have no clue re: these items.

Thanks for the help.
Chad