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Getting Power to New Home Built Server Using Dell PowerEdge 6850 Mobo

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November 5, 2009 9:10:20 PM

Hello again!

I am not a new system builder, however I am working on my first home built server. I had expected that everything would be pretty similiar to a desktop/workstation computer, but immediately after opening up the motherboard I see that there are some pretty big differences that I am unfamiliar with.

The Project: My Current Plans

I am trying to build a fairly basic server from base components utilizing whatever parts I can find cheaply or inexpensively, for now all I care about are minimum components to make it boot and install an OS. I will also be building a custom acrylic case so that it can function as an (oversized) desktop since I don't have the space or equipment for a rack. Once I have made it that far I plan to try using it with other machines to form a cluster.

I have a Dell PowerEdge 6850 motherboard and compatible CPUs + Ram, and NOTHING ELSE including chasis from the 6850.

This is a hobby machine simply to help myself learn. I have no plans for its later use after it is completed.

The Problem(s): Where to plug everything in, what adaptors (if any) are needed?

This is probably a very simple matter for people with experience with Server Hardware, but I am not one of those people.

Looking at the motherboard itself I see none of the following:

A place to plug in a 24 pin motherboard cable from a power supply.

I do see a place at the bottom left hand corner near the CPUs that is quite obviously meant for something to be plugged in that I suspect is the power, however I am not familiar with the plug.

A place to connect a switch.

A place to connect CD drives etc.

I suspect that I'll need to use some of the PCI / PCI-X slots for this, no big deal.


I do know that the server typically uses a redundant power supply, however even with that I don't see how it would be attached if I had one. Is there any adaptor out there that'll let me use one (or more) ATX power supplies with a typical 20 or 24 pin adaptor to power this motherboard?

As I said I only plan to use the minimum hardware to make it boot with the exception of using multiple CPUs. It shouldn't need as much power as most servers using the same mobo would.

Although the PSU issue is the one that has most of my attention at the moment since a computer isn't much good without any power, as soon as I figure that out the switch is going to be just as important... I'm completely at a loss on this one. The documentation for the mobo on dell's web site is not at all helpful. I was hoping to find a diagram indicating what is what like I have been able to find for all the mobos I've built workstations with, but alas I've had no such luck.

Any help?

Thanks in advance!
November 6, 2009 2:25:17 PM

Ok I work with server hardware daily my question to you is this a learning exp for software or hardware? it it is the hardware finding converters and such is not going to give you real world exp... I use a vostro 220 with boot from raid 0 and 2tb for storage as home server 4 gigs ram runs wonderfly with server 2008. Now to learn on the software side this is all I need and really if you are trying to learn hardware well should have got the whole server.. Tell me what you looking for and I will see how I can help.

T
November 6, 2009 2:39:24 PM

Ok so the two white thingies next to the 4 proc places are the power connecters I used this:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Change_a_Dell_6850_Moth...

to see what things are step 19 is best picture. I will tell you right now pretty sure no converter for that plug. You are going to have to get server power supply and will need it if you are using all 4 procs hope you got allot of time and a big case. Server mobos are just a pain in the ass if you don't buy a case with them. And worse when from DELL LOL. Dont mind dell so much just would never buy dell peices and try to make something.
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November 6, 2009 6:46:45 PM

Hey T. Thanks for your response.

I will answer your questions one by one.

thently said:
Ok I work with server hardware daily my question to you is this a learning exp for software or hardware? it it is the hardware finding converters and such is not going to give you real world exp...


The answer to your question is yes to both. I have been teaching myself computer stuff (hardware and software) since I was in high school simply by deciding on something I want to do and then taking the steps to figure out how to make it happen regardless of whether a different sort of project would be easier, or how relevant it might be to the work place. It's fun for me, and while I do use the knowledge at work it is my hobby, and I really like figuring out how to make things work and do unconventional things with what I have to work with.

In this case I already had the RAM, a couple controller cards, CPUs which are normally pretty expensive but couldn't use the CPUs because they are incompatible with most of the Xeon mobos out there. A couple weeks ago I got lucky when I found a mobo that'll take them fairly inexpensively and so I'm turning the parts into a learning experience of how to make the server work. I did not go into this thinking "Hey I want to build a server..." so much as "I have some parts to make a server, let's build it!"

On the software side of things, the idea of building a cluster has been something I've thought about for years, again just to see if I could make it work. I've read that LINUX is the best OS to make that happen, but I have absolutely zero experience with it. Well, with this machine in the works, a newly built dual xeon work station, and another near to completion dual xeon workstation it seems an ideal opportunity to try and learn and see if I can make it happen.

Once it's done... I dunno... knowing me I'll try to make the cluster even bigger and better just because... or I might decide to begin the design of a highly customized RPG server of some sort - Neverwinter Nights 2 perhaps... or more likely I'll just see what game shows the most promise and popularity when I'm ready to actually do it.

thently said:
I use a vostro 220 with boot from raid 0 and 2tb for storage as home server 4 gigs ram runs wonderfly with server 2008. Now to learn on the software side this is all I need and really if you are trying to learn hardware well should have got the whole server..



As I said before, I didn't really go into this thinking "Hey I want to learn to build a server" so much as "I have parts for a server, this is a great opportunity to learn it." I'm trying to keep costs down, and quite frankly I'm not passionate enough about learning specifically this to want to drop several grand on a complete server when I have no real NEED for one after it's complete. Besides, working through the problems that come with doing things the hard way in my experience helps to create a better understanding of the way things work the easy way.

thently said:
Tell me what you looking for and I will see how I can help.


Simply put - the path of least resistance (note: buying an entirely new server is a form of financial resistance) to make this thing boot so I can install LINUX.

I would not consider building a custom case a form of "resistance" in this project simply because as a somewhat crafts minded person i'm looking forward to it and think it will be fun. In order to know how much acrylic sheet I need to buy, I need to figure out what kind of power supply I need to get, and where it can be placed relitive to the physical mobo.

As I said I'm unfamiliar with server specific hardware so I need to know:

What is this plug called (so I can search for more info online).

What I need to purchase to give power to this mobo.

Is possible to find an adapter to allow me to the ATX power supplies I am more familiar with.

When building a workstation you have the power supply and the mobo, and one connects directly to the other and you can move on to other steps (I'm sure you knew that already) . When I did searches for this however I saw people talking about a "Power Distribution Board" which I am unfamiliar with as it's not something that is used in most work stations, and alot of the power supplies I saw available for sale did NOT include cables, so I have no idea of what i'd need to buy to fit that little plug.

Thereafter I need to figure out where/how to connect a switch once I've got the power supply connected since I did not see the obvious bar of pins that are typically found on workstation mobos.


I hope that helps to give you a better idea of what I am doing and what I'm trying to accomplish.
November 6, 2009 6:53:29 PM

thently said:
Ok so the two white thingies next to the 4 proc places are the power connecters I used this:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Change_a_Dell_6850_Moth...

to see what things are step 19 is best picture. I will tell you right now pretty sure no converter for that plug. You are going to have to get server power supply and will need it if you are using all 4 procs hope you got allot of time and a big case. Server mobos are just a pain in the ass if you don't buy a case with them. And worse when from DELL LOL. Dont mind dell so much just would never buy dell peices and try to make something.


Thanks for the link!!!

I think that's the most useful web page I've found for explaining this mobo yet. I happen to agree with you when it comes to the Dell thing, but in this case ya work with what you can get. I already had the CPUs which are really finnicey when it comes to which mobos they will work in, and when I saw the poweredge mobo for sale fairly inexpensively I jumped on it as a new supermicro board (the only other brand I know of that makes a mobo that'll use the CPUs) is way more money than I'm willing to spend on what essentially comes down to a learning and hobby project.

Do you know what those little white plugs are called so that I can do a search online for cables, adapters (if they exist), power supplies, etc? Ideally I'd like to find something that is modular.
November 6, 2009 8:05:29 PM

I learned just like you are so i understand I love projects like this My current project is trying to combine 2 pc power supplies to make 1 that can power a car amp for my house LOL. Well good and bad news looks like the power supply is cheap $40 to $60 but modular like you said an 1470 whatts daaaang. I just don't see how you are going to get this done unless you can find a sheet that tells you what each pin on those white dohikeys is voltage wise. And at that point it just gonna be nuts tryin to hook it all up... I have not given up I am still looking but like you have noticed hard to find much info on that plug at all never seen one myself but I will poke around a bit more.

T
November 6, 2009 8:31:44 PM

Ok just found a kiker depending on your location you might be a little out of luck this mobo ONLY WORKS WITH 220 Volts hence the 1470 whatts we cannot use in the US and prob why I am not finding much info either.

T

PS. I could not even find anything on that plug im guessing it has to do with the backplane used in the real pe6850 this is all very propritary.. You are really going to have to getto this one to make it work... I would e-bay it I like a bit of a challenge but I think this will be a bit much and a mess even if you get it working. Tell me if you are going forward maybe I can help a bit more just want you to know what you are about to get yourself into.
December 11, 2011 12:05:44 PM

thently said:
Ok just found a kiker depending on your location you might be a little out of luck this mobo ONLY WORKS WITH 220 Volts hence the 1470 whatts we cannot use in the US and prob why I am not finding much info either.

T

PS. I could not even find anything on that plug im guessing it has to do with the backplane used in the real pe6850 this is all very propritary.. You are really going to have to getto this one to make it work... I would e-bay it I like a bit of a challenge but I think this will be a bit much and a mess even if you get it working. Tell me if you are going forward maybe I can help a bit more just want you to know what you are about to get yourself into.


"forgive me i haven't slept much"

not to jump into your convo but mobo's don't usually run on mains power the psu does and then converts into the lower power levels of the motherboards components. which if im not mistaken is all dc of different polarities and voltages and grounds. what they probably did is use 220 power supply so that the system pulls less amperage due to the fact that properly designed electronics that run on 220v use half the amps as 115v / 120v equiv electronics. because of the multiple phases or wave forms meaning a smoother safer power source and more reliable system. you probably don't need the 1470 watts if your not pushing 8 scsi drives spinning at 10,000 rpm. you are going to have to do a load calculation to figure out what your max power used will be and i would recommend at least 1.75 times that for your wattage but that's just a guess. you would probably be OK with a 900 to 1000 watt if your not pushing SCSI drives. but remember hdd are mechanical so no matter what type they still eat juice so if your pushing too many you'll need ample power. Oh and you can use a 220v power supply in the US you will just have to install a 220 outlet for it its pretty simple to do just be careful. hope that was somewhat helpful im gonna read some more of yalls convo to see if i can help further. BTW I learned the same way. and no matter what you are always learning in this field that's why i love it keeps the brain fresh.
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