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Topic Title: Advice needed on new server build
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Created On: 01/03/2012 11:41 AM
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 01/03/2012 11:41 AM
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danrimer
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Hi All

I am building a replacement server for my business. At present I have the following:

1 x dell poweredge 2650 xeon 3.2GHz/3Gb RAM/5x72Gb SCSI
This server runs MS SBS 2003 and SQL server 2008 and for those not familiar with older stuff, this is a 3.2GHz HT processor ie 1-core with hyperthreading. Performance is OK for our small number of users (5 exchange users and 10 database users).

1 x hp ml150 quad core xeon 1.66/8Gb RAM/2x250Gb SATA
This server runs a few VMs, all of which are windows XP at present.

A few rackmount NAS devices (snapserver 4400 and more - about 2Tb total).
for backup and file sharing.


I want to build a replacement that will hold all of the above. I am quite happy running the SBS2003 server as a VM on the new server. The ML150 server will be removed, but all the VMs moved to the new server. Nothing too taxing is running on here...

I am thinking of an 8-core Opteron 4280 (2.8GHz) with 4 x 4Gb Unbuffered ECC 1333MHz RAM on an Asus KCMA-D8 board, using only one of the processor sockets and RAM banks. The plan is that I can add a second processor and split or add to the RAM if necessary at a later date.

I hope to use 2 x Vertex3 SSDs for the server's primary drives (arranged as a mirror for security) and a Promise ICpFSE16650 RAID controller to service the 16 hard drive slots I have. I should then be able to add cheap SATA storage as I need to, ie for Acronis backups of clients and the individual VMs.

The main server OS will be Windows Server 2008 R2 and the SQL server 2008 will run on this natively, using the SSDs for the database and OS.

I should mention that I've obtained a nice 16-bay server case with dual redundant PSUs (2 x 800w).

I have used Xeon based servers for years but since I have phenom desktops both at home and at work, I want to give the Opteron a try.


Thanks for taking the time to read my nonsense!


Dan
 01/03/2012 12:35 PM
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danrimer
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Or should I buy http://www.supermicro.com/Aplu...000/SR56x0/H8SGL-F.cfm with a 6000 series Opteron as I'm unlikely to need a second processor but may need more RAM in the future...

Am I correct in thinking that unbuffered RAM is faster than buffered RAM?
 01/03/2012 03:13 PM
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BobCochran13
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I suggest you look on Newegg.com for buyer reviews of the Asus KGPE-D16 motherboard. Another person built an SQL Server system based on this board and Opteron 6128s. The buyer feedback on Newegg is priceless and I also suggest checking Amazon.com (which may carry the same component) and reading the reviews there as well. I do have the Asus board and find it to be quite powerful with a single Opteron 6174. I may replace this with 6200 series Opterons, though. I am having great difficulty getting PCI Express adapter boards to fit on the motherboard's PCIe slots, I am not sure if this is because of how my Norco chassis is constructed or whether the Asus motherboard is designed for a different type of PCIe adapter -- there is a mention of " PCIe GenX2" that I have not investigated yet. My other gripe about the Asus board is that it is hard to route cables to the onboard USB headers because of the header location. I have not yet posted feedback to the NewEgg page for that motherboard because I want to install two Opteron processors and see how things work out before making final judgment. This motherboard may not be right for you.

I think you should aim for maximum speed and power rather than just enough. It is fun building a new system, but you don't want to spend enormous amounts of time on it. That is where the buyer reviews of different products are very helpful. I suspect a lot of feedback for the Opteron motherboards are from people who want to set up database servers.
 01/05/2012 06:26 AM
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danrimer
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Thanks for your reply, Bob.

Having read an awful lot of reviews, I am still not very much better off! I did read some UK reviews before I asked the question. Most reviews are from people wanting to build systems for rendering or VM. I understand that for people running these applications, multiple cores and multiple CPUs are the best option. However, very few reviews seemed to give any indication of performance of SQL server running on these platforms.

I think I have decided on the Supermicro H8SGL-F motherboard and Opteron 6234 CPU. This processor appears to give one of the best price/performance ratios (of [cost price] / ([clock speed] * [number of cores])).

How does the performance of an Opteron 6234 differ from that of a Phenom X6 1055T? I know the opeteron has 12 cores @ 2.4 and the phenom has 6 @ 2.8, but on a core/core ghz/ghz basis how do the chips differ? I am using a 1055T as my office desktop running windows 7 ultimate with 16Gb RAM. I am going to install a test of SQL server 2008 R2 on it and see how good the performance is. I can always underclock the 1055T to 2.4GHz if the opteron is comparable to the phenom at similar clock speeds.

RE: your reference to "PCIe Gen X2" I believe this is simply the next version of the PCIe spec, normally called PCIe 2.0 (Asus list it as PCIe Gen2 X4,8 or 16), running at twice the speed of the predecessor but remaining physically compatible. I wonder if your chassis holes don't quite line up...
 02/11/2012 12:55 AM
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danrimer
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Thought I'd give an update on the server progress...

System is complete. Processor runs cool and quiet and spends most of it's life at 1.4 GHz!

Hyper-V is amazing on this CPU! Needed to install the Microsoft AVX (?) patch for the processor but other than that it was plain sailing. Only thing worthy of note is that windows XP runs like a dog under hyper-v on this system. The same task run on the previous server (a 1.6ghz quad core xeon) took only 8 seconds to complete - the Opteron took around 50+ seconds!

"Solved" the problem by upgrading the guest OS to vista! Now the VM completes the same task in 1.8 seconds!

SQL server is also seeing big benefits. Previous long query would take up to 30 seconds to complete, now it only takes around 5 seconds.

Only problem I have (and I guess it's not a problem per se) is that the processor never goes into "Turbo" mode. Using CPU-Z, the cores never exceed 2.4GHz. I have tried running prime95 x64 set to one cpu core (both in prime95 and in task manager/processor affinity) and all that happens is all the cores but one are at 1.4, the active one is at 2.4. Supermicro tech support gave me a Microsoft Hotfix, but that just crashed the server and forced a recovery from backup! Anyone have any advice on this?

Thanks all

Dan
 04/09/2012 10:28 AM
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Rodger Hooks
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Hey guys,

Thanks and sharing you topic and good surprise,Moving to a new server is never easy or painless no matter how much work a software company has taken to make paths relative and isolate server specific settings. The fine authors of the Serendipity blog engine have done a very good job with these abstractions, but there are a couple of tricks and tips which will help you out if you need to move to a new server and a new domain name.

Nice to meet you

Thanks a lot
Rodger Hooks
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