I need an upgraded server. I want something that can handle replication of a SaaS database with on-disc encryption. Keeping with my habit of building my own machines, it would require more space than my current TeraServer could provide, and frankly the disk access times are a little slow now on the old one (I suspect the RAID backplane I sourced wasn’t capable of delivering the SATA-2 speeds the drives could). It’s being used for far more applications than I had planned too.
5 years is a long time in hardware and I’m amazed to see how storage costs have dropped further. This time I could get two disks that would provide me with full drive RAID redundancy at a capacity of 3TB at SATA-6 speeds. That means I could go for the 1U rack mount case at mini-itx.com (C2-RACK-V3). This case also supports a PCI-E card – so I can add a video capture card for some security monitoring using ZoneMinder too.
The drives are fast and surprisingly quiet too (Seagate 3.5″ 3TB Barracuda 7200RPM). To ramp up the system performance of this one even further I used a Crucial M4 SSD for the Linux system partition. That was a new experience! The thing boots in seconds.
With the spinning drives mounted using rubber washers to reduce vibration and noise, the three drives fitted in comfortably, with room to spare.
For the mainboard, I wanted something with a bit more processor power (it would need to handle Linux software RAID and video capture analysis for ZoneMinder). It also needed to fit the case and I didn’t want any cooling fan that would add to the height and noise. Eventually, I found an Asus C60-M1 at a very good price from an on-line store in Germany. It was a compromise – the processor is the same clock speed as the previous server board, but anything higher wouldn’t come fanless. I settled for the same clock speed (but twice the cores helps!) It fitted ok in height, but there was a bit too much of a gap between the board and the chassis back-plate. I don’t think any of the provided blanking plates would cover the entire back-plate either. That wasn’t important for me anyway.
4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 RAM would be plenty to handle the extra Linux apps I have been (and will be) running on the server. With that amount of RAM, I could even run the Linux tmpfs in a ramdisk to make it even faster.
I installed Centos 6, configured the drives, and I’m amazed at how fast this little mini-itx powered beast flies compared to my previous creation. 5 years is a long time in hardware.