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Budget Database Server

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April 15, 2009 7:24:44 PM

First time poster here so be easy on me  I want to build a machine mainly as a database server and this is not really going to be a huge database machine but needs to be up 24x7 doing some kind of data processing. I really don’t have a lot of money right now so I’m limiting my budget to $500. Here are my current selections and I would really appreciate any of your comments. Thanks.

MB/CPU Combo: AMD Phenom II X4 940 / BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX - $294.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

HDD: WD1001FALS - $109.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: Antec EA650 650W - $79.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) - $54.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This week
BUDGET RANGE: $500
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: 24x7 database server (small scale)
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com
PARTS PREFERENCES: Any reliable parts will do
OVERCLOCKING: Yes
MONITOR RESOLUTION: None.

More about : budget database server

April 16, 2009 2:12:05 AM

It should be good enough, but I wouldn't overclock a database server (or any other server) if it should run reliably 24x7. The bottleneck will most likely be the hard disk, not the CPU. A 450W PSU would be enough.
April 16, 2009 2:20:57 AM

A quality 400W will do just fine, in fact, this one would probably be great

Corsair 400W PSU

Edit: Also, a quad core is probably overkill for what you're doing. A Phenom II X3 would do just as well and save you some $$

Related resources
April 16, 2009 2:57:33 AM

For a database server that needs to be up 24/7, you really must go with Raid. The quad-core cpu is overkill. You should really look at Intel because Intel has their "Matrix Raid" on most motherboards over $100 and it allows you to take 2 drives, for example, and create 2 different Raid arrays on them. Also, it allows you to add drives down the road without any problem. Only Intel offers creating 2 different Raid arrays using one set of drives. If you don't need the full 1TB right now, then look at getting multiple smaller drives.

How many users/clients will there be accessing the database server?
What OS - 32 or 64 bit? If 32 bit, then 4GB of ram is too much.

Check this out:
http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx...
$390 before S&H and choose a case w/ good airflow. And if you want to overclock, then the Zalman 9700 @ $35 is great for now and future upgrades. It is one of the best heatsink/fans, is quiet, and doesn't clog up with dust easily.
I included 2 Seagate ES.2 500GB drives because they are designed to run 24/7 and are the fastest 7200rpm drives in database benchmarks and are almost as fast as the Velociraptor. Regular desktop drives, such as the Caviar Green/Black, Deskstar, Spinpoint and 7200.11/12 are not designed to run 24/7 and have a much greater chance of failing when used 24/7. This is why the ES.2 & other enterprise-class drives cost more. Also, enterprise-class drives such as the ES.2 are designed to get much higher performance in servers.
For 24/7 use, Raid 1 will suit you as long as there isn't a large number of users & transactions happening simultaneously, which is where Raid 10 would be needed.

I have experience designing servers and using Raid, and from my experience, this setup will work whereas a single "desktop" drive won't. One more note: if your database needs a quad-core cpu & 4GB ram to run smoothly, then even 2 drives won't be able to keep up with the large amount of data processing.
April 16, 2009 6:55:56 AM

I think you guys are right, a lower processor should still do the job but I also want to save some room for the future in case the processing requirement gets higher later.

The number of initial clients accessing the DB is probably anywhere from 0 to 50 at the same time (it will grow later on) but the back-end data processing is going to happen most of the time, that's why I was originally going for a faster processor. I have both 32 and 64 OS systems and I'm leaning towards 64-bit to get faster speeds.

specialk09, thank you for coming up with the list (highly appreciated). I clearly forgot about the RAID option due to my budget but still you were able to come up with a good list .. ofcourse I still need to add a CPU case to the list.

Additional questions before I came up with a new build list:

Newegg reviews are showing lots of issues with the ST3500320NS drive, should I be scared?
Do I need to purchase additional software to setup this raid configuration?
What kind of CPU casing do I need to support 2 or 4 drives?
Do you think the recommended "Intel Celeron E1400" is still ideal for me?

This forum is simply awesome. Thanks!
April 16, 2009 10:17:03 AM

Newegg reviews...pretty funny. Most, if not all of those bad reviews are for the wrong drive. Most people don't know what the ES.2 drives are and they just see the size + the brand and leave a review when they should be looking for the 7200.11 desktop drives. I used to rely on newegg reviews but I quickly learned that they end up being a "forum". I would only read the reviews that state the reviewer purchased it from newegg. Also, for some reason, something simple as a hard drive causes many people to become fanboys.
I trust Seagate and WD's RE3. I haven't seen numbers for WD's new RE3 so I can't comment on them; however, they are very close in price to the ES.2. Another FYI, Seagate is the #1 manufacturer of drives so they get people bashing them who don't like them just for this reason. They also produce the fastest drives from 7200rpm to 15k rpm. I have used 8 of the 7200.11 500GB for the last 16months and have had no problems and also 6-7200.10s for 2+ yrs w/ no problems. I also have 8 WD Raptors in use for the last 1.5yrs and only 1 died a few weeks ago but it was in a Raid 10 so I have had no data loss and no downtime.

--"Do I need to purchase additional software to setup this raid configuration?"
Nope. Using the Intel motherboard I selected or another with the ICH10R southbridge, you can use the 6 Sata ports for Raid. I can give you step-by-step instructions too.

--"Do you think the recommended "Intel Celeron E1400" is still ideal for me?"
Look for a Microcenter near you because they have better prices for Intel CPUs most of the time. They have the Intel Q8200 for $130($175@newegg). Microcenter has the E5200 2.5GHz for $68(includes stock heatsink/fan). This CPU should be able to handle a fair amount now and you can always overclock it to at least 3.0GHz later on. You shouldn't need a better heatsink/fan unless you want to go above 3.2GHz.
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

You can even find the E2200 for $50 - 2.2GHz. I had the E2000(1.8GHz) & OC'd to 3GHz.
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

In several benchmarks(non-gaming), the Intel dual-core cpu's can keep up with AMD's 3 & 4 core chips. If you are worried about overclocking something running 24/7, these Intel chips have so much headroom, its kinda ridiculous. My old Q6600(2.4GHz) has been OC'd to 3.0GHz for the last 2yrs and my PC runs 24/7. Will your database be crunching data 24/7?

Question for you: how many GBs do you need currently for the database and how large do you expect it to grow? Because of your budget and the number of clients, you could either get smaller drives(ES.2/RE3) or get 4 total drives but use desktop versions OR use Short Stroking, which uses the first 15-20% of the drives and leaves the rest empty. This improves IOP & random access quite a bit. TomsHardware just tested this.
Here is the article.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/short-stroking-hdd,...

What do you mean "CPU case"? I know I haven't included a case for the PC but I don't know what you mean.
I added 3 different cases to the Wishlist for you to choose from and I also changed the ram to 4GB(2x2) DDR2-800. The Antec case is also free shipping, so that should save at least $10-15. I realized I also forgot a DVD drive. Maybe you have one that you can use to set it up with.
April 16, 2009 1:34:52 PM

I think the original PSU and CPU were overkill for just a simple database server. I bet you could get by pretty cheap on this.
April 16, 2009 7:03:13 PM

This is my first time to order from newegg and I know that they are really known for their exceptional service but I'm not really sure about the consistency of the product reviews.
specialk90 said:
Newegg reviews...pretty funny. Most, if not all of those bad reviews are for the wrong drive. Most people don't know what the ES.2 drives are and they just see the size + the brand and leave a review when they should be looking for the 7200.11 desktop drives. I used to rely on newegg reviews but I quickly learned that they end up being a "forum". I would only read the reviews that state the reviewer purchased it from newegg. Also, for some reason, something simple as a hard drive causes many people to become fanboys.
I trust Seagate and WD's RE3. I haven't seen numbers for WD's new RE3 so I can't comment on them; however, they are very close in price to the ES.2. Another FYI, Seagate is the #1 manufacturer of drives so they get people bashing them who don't like them just for this reason. They also produce the fastest drives from 7200rpm to 15k rpm. I have used 8 of the 7200.11 500GB for the last 16months and have had no problems and also 6-7200.10s for 2+ yrs w/ no problems. I also have 8 WD Raptors in use for the last 1.5yrs and only 1 died a few weeks ago but it was in a Raid 10 so I have had no data loss and no downtime.


Do you have a link about setting up this RAID configuration? I don't want you take too much of your time 'cause im already in debt to you :)  I need to buy you a beer sometime.
specialk90 said:
Nope. Using the Intel motherboard I selected or another with the ICH10R southbridge, you can use the 6 Sata ports for Raid. I can give you step-by-step instructions too.


Wow great prices there, too bad I live in the NW and there’s no microcenter around here. What we have is Fry’s Electronics and I hate going there for some odd reason. Yeah I think you are gearing me to the right direction, I’ll stick with these INTEL type processors and just overclock it just a little bit without needing to add additional heatsink.
specialk90 said:
Look for a Microcenter near you because they have better prices for Intel CPUs most of the time. They have the Intel Q8200 for $130($175@newegg). Microcenter has the E5200 2.5GHz for $68(includes stock heatsink/fan). This CPU should be able to handle a fair amount now and you can always overclock it to at least 3.0GHz later on. You shouldn't need a better heatsink/fan unless you want to go above 3.2GHz.
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
You can even find the E2200 for $50 - 2.2GHz. I had the E2000(1.8GHz) & OC'd to 3GHz.
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...


Yes, it will perform data processing every 30 min (24x7) and it will spawn like 10 different processes at a time, so I really need the system to be reliable so I’m taking your RAID advice seriously. This overclocking thing is very new to me and I’ve never done it before so it amazes me to see that you guys are making them scream to their fullest potential.
specialk90 said:
In several benchmarks(non-gaming), the Intel dual-core cpu's can keep up with AMD's 3 & 4 core chips. If you are worried about overclocking something running 24/7, these Intel chips have so much headroom, its kinda ridiculous. My old Q6600(2.4GHz) has been OC'd to 3.0GHz for the last 2yrs and my PC runs 24/7. Will your database be crunching data 24/7?


The current DB size is around 5GB right now and it has the potential of growing 1GB every month. Thanks for the article, short stroking is very interesting to read but sounds like a big waste of space there. 80% is such a large number for me to take, maybe 50% is acceptable?  So what kind of RAID is ideal for my setup? I want to say Raid 1+0 but it has a minimum of 4 drives right? And it maybe slower compared to other RAID configuration. Maybe I’ll take a chance with the desktop drives hoping that they will not all fail at the same time (I know, I’m so cheap). This is what you get when you have kids in this kind of economy. So if I purchase your recommended drive, what kind of RAID setting are you going to suggest to me?
specialk90 said:
Question for you: how many GBs do you need currently for the database and how large do you expect it to grow? Because of your budget and the number of clients, you could either get smaller drives(ES.2/RE3) or get 4 total drives but use desktop versions OR use Short Stroking, which uses the first 15-20% of the drives and leaves the rest empty. This improves IOP & random access quite a bit. TomsHardware just tested this.
Here is the article. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/short-stroking-hdd,...


Sorry, I meant pc case. Thanks for these 2 very cool ATX casings, and they can handle gazillion of drives  but I’m sure they will sound very loud too.
specialk90 said:

What do you mean "CPU case"? I know I haven't included a case for the PC but I don't know what you mean.
I added 3 different cases to the Wishlist for you to choose from and I also changed the ram to 4GB(2x2) DDR2-800. The Antec case is also free shipping, so that should save at least $10-15. I realized I also forgot a DVD drive. Maybe you have one that you can use to set it up with.


specialk90, I can’t thank you enough. Thanks for all the valuable information you have given me.

Thanks guys!
April 16, 2009 8:55:16 PM

I really appreciate your kind words.

For your database, I think 4 250GB drives in Raid 10(1+0) using normal drives should work. Raid 10 even gives you tolerance for 2 drives to fail at once so you should be fine.

With the bad reviews at newegg, look at it this way. This is something I learned as part of my business degree several years ago(I feel old): the 80/20 rule. 80% of bad experiences complain/voice their opinion whereas only 20% of good experiences voice their opinion. This is something you can apply to everything.

I wouldn't trust the Seagate desktop drives right now. WOW. I can't believe their problems, especially when mine have been running fine(knock on wood).
April 16, 2009 9:33:35 PM

I should also add that Raid 10 is not slower than the only other Raid option with 3+ drives: Raid 5. Raid 1(mirror) is part of Raid 10 and Raid 1 provides faster reads than a single drive due to "split seeks" where the OS can read from both drives simultaneously, thus improving read speeds. Plus, Raid 10 is much faster for writes than Raid 5 using the onboard Intel raid. One option for increasing random access speeds is implementing short stroking in this way: create the Raid 10 using all of the drive space but only create 2 partitions, a 'C' for OS & programs and a 'D' for database. For 'C', only use 40GB which should be plenty for OS + apps and then the 'D' partition can be 30GB, which will give you plenty of save for quite some time. When you need more space later on, you can use a partition manager to enlarge the 'D' partition. This way, you are limiting the hard drive heads from having to move too much, thus improving random access & IOP. I have used Acronis Disk Director and it works great.

Here are the instructions for creating the Raid 10 array:

1) When PC boots up, hit 'Delete' or whatever gets into BIOS.
2) Go to the section that has you select "AHCI", Raid" and IDE(I think) and select Raid. This is usually on the 1st BIOS page. Then save & exit.
3) After POST screen, another screen should pop up and says hold "Cntrl" + "I"(letter eye) to enter Intel Matrix Raid configuration- do that.
4) Once in, it will ask to "1-Create Raid", "2-Delete Raid", "3-Reset Raid 2 Non-Raid" and "4-Exit". Select #1.
5) It will ask to add the drives you want to use so add all 4 drives.
6) Then it will ask what Raid you want. select "Raid 10"
7) Now select "Stripe Size" read below for this part.
8) Select how much space you want allocated to that array.
9) Select create
(The "Stripe Size" and Space allocation order might be reversed)

Because you are using a database, I don't know whether a 16KB or 32KB stripe size will work best for that particular database. I always use 32KB for my Raid 10 and 64KB for my Raid 5. I just remembered something: its a little more technical, but is designed to make using databases on Raid far more efficient/faster. I need to know what OS you will use. I'll try to summarize quickly: it deals with sectors on a drive and how the OS creates partitions. Vista & Server 2008 deal with sectors & partitions a little different than XP. You can setup the sectors & partition in a way that each read or write is split evenly among each drive and each sector. I'll find the article that I first read about this technique. I remember it because it improves performance quite a lot.

1) What OS?
2) What type of database and do you already know what the best/most efficient block size is for your database?
April 16, 2009 11:07:22 PM

I like your suggestion about the stroking technique and I can adjust the partition in the future as the data grows, brilliant! I'm currently using XP x64 Edition, database is Oracle 10g and I need to research your block size question, although i remember seeing 32K before but I’m not so sure.

So here is what I have so far:

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx...

Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 2.33GHz LGA 775 95W Quad-Core
Foxconn G45M-S LGA 775 Intel G45 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
4 Seagate Barracuda ES.2 ST3500320NS 500GB
PC Power & Cooling Silencer PPCS420X 420W ATX12V 80
Transcend 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
SAMSUNG 22X DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223F
Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Any further comments?

specialk90 said:
I should also add that Raid 10 is not slower than the only other Raid option with 3+ drives: Raid 5. Raid 1(mirror) is part of Raid 10 and Raid 1 provides faster reads than a single drive due to "split seeks" where the OS can read from both drives simultaneously, thus improving read speeds. Plus, Raid 10 is much faster for writes than Raid 5 using the onboard Intel raid. One option for increasing random access speeds is implementing short stroking in this way: create the Raid 10 using all of the drive space but only create 2 partitions, a 'C' for OS & programs and a 'D' for database. For 'C', only use 40GB which should be plenty for OS + apps and then the 'D' partition can be 30GB, which will give you plenty of save for quite some time. When you need more space later on, you can use a partition manager to enlarge the 'D' partition. This way, you are limiting the hard drive heads from having to move too much, thus improving random access & IOP. I have used Acronis Disk Director and it works great.

Here are the instructions for creating the Raid 10 array:

1) When PC boots up, hit 'Delete' or whatever gets into BIOS.
2) Go to the section that has you select "AHCI", Raid" and IDE(I think) and select Raid. This is usually on the 1st BIOS page. Then save & exit.
3) After POST screen, another screen should pop up and says hold "Cntrl" + "I"(letter eye) to enter Intel Matrix Raid configuration- do that.
4) Once in, it will ask to "1-Create Raid", "2-Delete Raid", "3-Reset Raid 2 Non-Raid" and "4-Exit". Select #1.
5) It will ask to add the drives you want to use so add all 4 drives.
6) Then it will ask what Raid you want. select "Raid 10"
7) Now select "Stripe Size" read below for this part.
8) Select how much space you want allocated to that array.
9) Select create
(The "Stripe Size" and Space allocation order might be reversed)

Because you are using a database, I don't know whether a 16KB or 32KB stripe size will work best for that particular database. I always use 32KB for my Raid 10 and 64KB for my Raid 5. I just remembered something: its a little more technical, but is designed to make using databases on Raid far more efficient/faster. I need to know what OS you will use. I'll try to summarize quickly: it deals with sectors on a drive and how the OS creates partitions. Vista & Server 2008 deal with sectors & partitions a little different than XP. You can setup the sectors & partition in a way that each read or write is split evenly among each drive and each sector. I'll find the article that I first read about this technique. I remember it because it improves performance quite a lot.

1) What OS?
2) What type of database and do you already know what the best/most efficient block size is for your database?


specialk90 said:

I really appreciate your kind words.

For your database, I think 4 250GB drives in Raid 10(1+0) using normal drives should work. Raid 10 even gives you tolerance for 2 drives to fail at once so you should be fine.

With the bad reviews at newegg, look at it this way. This is something I learned as part of my business degree several years ago(I feel old): the 80/20 rule. 80% of bad experiences complain/voice their opinion whereas only 20% of good experiences voice their opinion. This is something you can apply to everything.

I wouldn't trust the Seagate desktop drives right now. WOW. I can't believe their problems, especially when mine have been running fine(knock on wood).




April 17, 2009 2:01:59 AM

Your budget grew quite a bit. And you kept the ES.2 drives. Did you find something that made you keep the ES.2 drives vs desktop drives or other server-class drives?

FYI, Microcenter does ship as well which would drop the price on the Q8200.
!