[OpenIndiana-discuss] Any hardware snafus in this lineup?

Philip Robar philip.robar at gmail.com
Tue Mar 25 08:00:13 UTC 2014

On Tue, Mar 18, 2014 at 3:47 PM, Harry Putnam <reader at newsguy.com> wrote:

> Sorry to be a pest with this  PS, but any chance you can lay out a few
> models of mobo cpu that have your idea of home server type setup?
> Also, is it at all likely that any of them would be able to run IDE drives?
> I have a couple of 500 GB that would make a good OS drive and mirror

Most server boards from the last few years will not have IDE controllers,
but will have a PCI slot or two so you can add an inexpensive controller
for this purpose.

It appears the two (mobo and cpu) together that you are discussing
> could be $700 or more, but possibly I don't know how to pick out
> candidates and am looking at the wrong stuff.
> I'd like to keep the price below $1500  With a few extra HDD not being
> part of that price... so I guess really something like $1800+.
> Do you think its possible using the high end of the equipment you are
> proposing ... then case, powersupply, fans.  possible graphics card
> etc etc?

I don't see how you got to $700 with the parts I mentioned...

> I do not require a dedicated graphics card but just not sure how

SupperMicro boards are likely to be configured.... if they offer built
> in graphics, and audio capabilities or what.

Server boards have at least some type of basic VGA video built in, but
usually do not have audio. The Lenovo server I mention below is an
interesting exception.

Really, any URLS you can offer, or google searches you can suggest to

help get this thing off the ground... would be appreciated.

First let me make it clear that I'm not an expert at this. What I know I've
learned in the last few months as I look at my options for my own new

I'm mostly going to concentrate on current Intel Haswell (socket 1150)
solutions to keep things simple. If you're willing to spend the time you
could probably find a good deal on used or discontinued Ivory or Sandy
Bridge stuff. Buying anything much older, like you would find in a surplus
store or coming off lease, doesn't make sense to me as their long term
energy use will almost certainly offset any initial saving.

I'm also going to assume that you're building a dedicated home server that
will run 24x7, but will be idle much of the time. That way we can eliminate
server boards that use Intel Z87, Q87 & H81 chipsets with their support for
over clocking and multiple/collage displays. (This is based on Supermicro's
web site. There may be server boards that use these chipsets that would be
fine for our purpose. I don't know what really distinguishes the more
desktop oriented chipsets from server chipsets like Intel's C222/C224/C226
other than to say that they're goal is stability and reliability, and lack
support for sleeping and hibernating (or so I've read).)

Since we're starting from scratch it doesn't make any sense to not use ECC
memory, so that eliminates inexpensive sub-$100 desktop motherboards.

(While AMD has supported ECC in all their CPUs for many generations now and
some makers like ASUS often support ECC even on desktop boards, I haven't
been keeping up with AMD CPUs since they fell behind Intel several years
ago. It may be the case that you could build an less expensive or
competitive to Intel server with ECC support by choosing the right AMD
CPU/APU and board, but I just don't know enough about AMD to provide any
guidance for that option. And since Intel has all price points covered with
CPUs that are more than good enough it's just not worth my time to
investigate the matter. And...

since almost everyone building a server these days uses Intel chipsets and
CPUs, that's what you're going to find the most support for in forums.
Sometimes it just makes sense to follow the pack.)

Here are some decision points that will help narrow down your board choice:

1) Decide if you need or want a mini-ITX board, if you do that will narrow
your choices down quite drastically. I'm going to assume that uATX is the

2) Do you want remote management via IPMI? If not you might be able to save
a few tens of dollars by getting a board without it. Considering that you
can get a working LCD monitor at Goodwill for less than $10 dollars this
may not be a crucial feature for you, especially once the system is up and

3) Decide how much memory you are ever going to need. Most of the sub $200
dollar mATX server boards support 32 GBs, but a few only support 16.

An aside on memory. Several people in the FreeNAS forums are quite vocal in
their claims that you need at least 16GB of memory if you're going to use
ZFS. While they provide lots of anecdotal reasons for this, knowledgable
people who have looked at the disaster cases they point to as warning
against not having enough memory have said that it is not at all clear that
too little memory was the cause of the failures. As a counter example my
current simple home file server:

Intel Celeron 450 2.2 GHz (Conroe-L, e.g. Core Solo)
4 GB non-ECC RAM
FreeNAS 9.2x with kernel auto tuning turned on

1 x 3TB ZFS formatted drive

I rarely have more than one connection to the server at a time. Even with
two sustained SMB transfers I alway have 1.5 to 2 GB of memory free. Even a
low end CPU like this is fine for file serving an HD video or two or three.

I'm going to go with 8 GB in my server just because memory, even ECC
memory, is pretty inexpensive (~$50 4 GB) and I might want to run one full
time Windows 8 VM.

4) Decide how many built in SATA and/or SAS connectors you want. Most
boards will have at least 4 with 6 to 8 being the norm.

5) Do you want built-in USB3?

The Supermicro boards you're most likely interested in are the UP Xeon
socket 1150 boards:


They have a zillion variations and each letter in the name stands for a
feature. Here's the decoding chart:


It's one generation out of date, but you'll probably be able to make it

As I said previously Tyan , ASUS, ASRock and other other also make server
motherboards, but Supermicro appears to be the most popular.

"Server" boards without IPMI start at about $100 at newegg. A middle of the
road Supermicro board is ~$175 at newegg.

Here are the CPUs I mentioned previously:

Haswell Celeron G1820 - $40 at Microcenter. (The low power G1820T should be
about the same if you can find one.)
Haswell Core i3 4130 - $100. If you need AES-NI support for file system
Haswell Xeon E3-1200 V3 - Starting at around $220. If you need serious
horse power.

Note many of the Haswell CPUs have low power versions, but they can be hard
to find.

Figure $100 for 8 GB of ECC memory.

That's $300 to $500+ with memory, depending on your CPU needs.

Here are the prices for the Atom
I mentioned at new egg:

$285 ASRock C2550D4I Intel Avoton Atom 4
$340 SUPERMICRO MBD-A1SRi-2758F-O Avoton 8
$415 ASRock C2750D4I Intel Avoton Atom 8

Advantages of the ASRock include mini-ITX form factor, very low TDP and
idle power use, support 64 GB of ECC RAM, 12 SATA ports, AES-NI,
approximately 1/4 (4 core) to 1/2 (8 core) the average processing power of
a low voltage Xeon. The Supermicros are a little different. (For one thing
they use SO-DIMMS.) I'll leave it to the sufficiently motivated to look
into the differences.

I've seen lots of hand waving and back of the envelope calculations, but I
don't have a definitive answer as to whether or not the Avotons (14 watt
TDP and 22 watt TDP respectively) will save you money over a separate MB
with a G1820 (53 watt TDP) or G1820T (35 watt TDP) or not. My guess is,
figuring that 1 watt/year = $1/year, is maybe--over several years. If you
need AES-NI support than that along with the lower power use probably makes
the 4 core board the best choice for most home users vs a separate MB +
Haswell i3 purchase.

You can find review of Avoton and other server boards at

If low energy use in the long run and saving a few dollars is important
than an ATOM S1260 board might be a good choice:



$50 less than 4 core Avoton

8.5 watt TDP




Passive cooling
2 cores, 4 Threads


~= ATOM N2800 in performance (lacks out of order exec, which the Avoton has)
1 SO-DIMM slot - 8GB max


Only 1 PCI slot, no PCIe slots

USB3 only - may be a problem for older OSs





And finally if you want an alternative to DIY, this Lenovo ThinkServer
TS140 for $290 at Amazon (they've been as low as $235 back in December) is
the best deal going for a simple server:

   - Processor: Intel® Core i3-4130 processor 3.4 GHz, 2 Cores 4 Thread ,
   no Turbo Boost, 3M Cache, 54W TDP
   - AES-NI, VT-x, but not VT-d
   - Upgradable to a LV Xeon
   - RAM: 1 x 4 GB PC3-12800E 1600MHz DDR3 ECC-UDIMM UDIMM | 4 Slots Total
   - 32GB MAX
   - Hard Drive: NONE installed with 3 vacant 3.5'' bays, can squeeze in
   one more and a fifth if you remove the DVD drive.
   - RAID: Software supporting 0, 1, 5 Levels (Might be Windows only?)
   - Optical Drive: DVD-ROM
   - Power Supply: 280W 80+ Bronze - Idles at ~13-20 watts depending on
   which reviewer you believe.
   - Intake and exhaust fans
   - Networking: Intel Gigabit Ethernet (Integrated)
   - Intel 226 Chipset
   - 3xPCIe, 1xPCI
   - 4xUSB3, 2xUSB2
   - 5xSATA III
   - Intel 4400 graphics (via the Core i3 4130), 2 Display ports, 1 VGA
   - Onboard audio
   - 26 decibels - very quiet


   - No sleep or hibernate support in BIOS, it's a server.
   - No IPMI, AMT 9 (client oriented remote management) only works with
   Xeon CPU except for power on/off.
   - No PCIe power connectors.
   - Will need an inexpensive adaptor if you want to replace the PSU.
   - Only one free SATA cable supplied

If you wanted to build this yourself it would cost you:

$132 Motherboard w/o IMPI (non-open box, but only 16 GB RAM MAX)

$100 Core i3 4130

$050 4 GB ECC memory
$015 DVD Drive

$040 Bronze PSU

$050 Case

So you're getting the case, power supply, audio, much better video and
expanded RAM support for free. And you know in advance that it will be
quiet if that matters to you.

There are lots of very positive reviews at
Many people are buying these for use as desktop or HTPC machines because
they're so quiet and reasonably priced.


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