Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Server built from Desktop Components

Last response: in Components
Share
March 7, 2012 11:47:26 PM

Hello! I would like to build a small cluster for my business using Microsoft Hyper-V 2008 R2 (Aka Core Server) and I would like to look into using desktop level hardware as I can get 3x the components (Processor, RAM, and Drives) as I can using "server grade" hardware (like Xeon Proc, ECC Ram, and SAS Drive)

Am I doomed to build this myself or does anyone know of a vendor that can build 1u servers using desktop grade equipment? I can't imagine that I am the first person to think of this as I can see a few haxor built ITX cluster farms that are super moded for Beowulf.

Thanks in advance.

PS. As a bonus, I would LOVE to use the AMD series of Zambezi procs as they seem to be uber fast with lots of Virtualization percs.
March 8, 2012 12:36:59 AM

By far the best option is a Dell / IMB / HP prebuilt system

using consumer level parts and even server parts bought from retailers you have no guarentee that there will be replacements avaliable if something fais.

e.g. Motherboard dies and its 3 weeks for a replacement.

We just bought a 2U Dell R410 (2x Xeon Quad Core /w HT, 24gb RAM, 2x 500gb SAS HDD's, 8 Intel Network Ports, Dual 700w Redundant PSU's)

for just over 3k (AUD) and have a 24hour replacement part gaurnetee.

I run Hyper-V 2008 R2 (Hyper V Core only) as well. If your doing a Hypervisor cluster you will need shared storage (Storage Area Network) so you have failover clustering to other physical server if one dies.

Dont mess around building a server for a business. get one built with guarenteed response and repair times. 2 weeks+ without computers is just not an option.
m
0
l
March 8, 2012 12:50:20 AM

While I totally agree with you position on buying good hardware for a production environment, I can safely say that in this case I really want to purse the idea of using desktop hardware to build a small 1u server farm. I will be building several clusters over the next few months using Proxmox, Hyper-V and VxServer in order to experiment, and I am not crazy about giving Dell my hard earned money for their warrany and mediocre hardware.

I would REALLY prefer to have a 30u rack fille with 10 servers a switch and a NAS device, but I would MUCH rather pay $700 per node than $3k per node.

Make sense?
m
0
l
Related resources
March 10, 2012 6:53:46 PM

I have to agree with Hugo,
technical support should be a priority for you as a business owner, unless you have an IT person who could readily support your technical needs. Unless that person has adequate/comparable hardware to keep you operational. Dell, HP, Lenovo all have small business solution packages that can supply you with your needs business wise.
m
0
l
March 13, 2012 7:11:57 PM

greensimian said:
Hello! I would like to build a small cluster for my business using Microsoft Hyper-V 2008 R2 (Aka Core Server) and I would like to look into using desktop level hardware as I can get 3x the components (Processor, RAM, and Drives) as I can using "server grade" hardware (like Xeon Proc, ECC Ram, and SAS Drive)

Am I doomed to build this myself or does anyone know of a vendor that can build 1u servers using desktop grade equipment? I can't imagine that I am the first person to think of this as I can see a few haxor built ITX cluster farms that are super moded for Beowulf.

Thanks in advance.

PS. As a bonus, I would LOVE to use the AMD series of Zambezi procs as they seem to be uber fast with lots of Virtualization percs.


If I read between the lines correctly, you are a small business owner (perhaps a very small business, such as a "just you in a garage" kind of small business) and you want a lot of computing power for cheap. A cluster made out of cheap consumer parts may very well be fine for that. Google started out with using such a setup, and there are cases where it may make sense to do so:

1. You are not expecting 99.999% uptime out of such a setup. Consumer parts lack high-reliability features like ECC RAM and are generally made to a lower quality/reliability standard than actual server gear. Making a cluster out of cheap consumer parts may work OK for testing purposes where extreme reliability isn't a big factor, such as for testing/developing software before you deploy it on your real server-grade cluster, or if your particular work doesn't demand extreme reliability or uptime.

2. You are 100% comfortable in doing 100% of the support for the equipment and most importantly, being 100% responsible for it if anything goes wrong. If you are the owner of the business, you probably are. If you have a boss, I'd think long and hard about being 100% responsible for something unless there is a HUGE financial gain to be realized from taking the "risk."

3. You are making a fairly small cluster that has fairly small inter-node bandwidth requirements and fairly low memory requirements. Consumer grade hardware is pretty limited in regards to I/O bandwidth and memory capacity compared to server hardware. The most important of those two is I/O bandwidth. Scaling is key for cluster performance, and the I/O interconnects are key for cluster scaling. You may be okay with one or two gigabit Ethernet links to each machine if you only have a few machines and don't push a lot of inter-node traffic. But as the number of nodes goes up, the bandwidth requirements increase exponentially. Server hardware generally has more I/O expansion capability than inexpensive desktop hardware, allowing for more and higher-bandwidth interconnects like 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Infiniband, etc.

It sounds like you may be okay with putting together a server made from cheap parts as you mention it is small (likely fulfils #3) and it is for experimentation (likely fulfils #1). I suppose at the worst, you end up with a few new desktops if things don't work out?

HugoStiglitz said:
By far the best option is a Dell / IMB / HP prebuilt system

using consumer level parts and even server parts bought from retailers you have no guarentee that there will be replacements avaliable if something fais.

e.g. Motherboard dies and its 3 weeks for a replacement.

We just bought a 2U Dell R410 (2x Xeon Quad Core /w HT, 24gb RAM, 2x 500gb SAS HDD's, 8 Intel Network Ports, Dual 700w Redundant PSU's)

for just over 3k (AUD) and have a 24hour replacement part gaurnetee.

I run Hyper-V 2008 R2 (Hyper V Core only) as well. If your doing a Hypervisor cluster you will need shared storage (Storage Area Network) so you have failover clustering to other physical server if one dies.

Dont mess around building a server for a business. get one built with guarenteed response and repair times. 2 weeks+ without computers is just not an option.


The OP can simply buy more cheap machines and keep them in a closet until needed, and spend less on parts than buying something better just to have part replacement guarantees. He just has to walk to the closet, pull out one of the spare machines or spare parts, and remove and replace the bad parts/machine. That would be a lot quicker than getting an OEM's tech out there to do it :D  Granted, that hits on my point #2 above as the OP is responsible for anything breaking, but just saying.
m
0
l
March 16, 2012 2:50:07 AM

Firstly, I've never built a server before nor have I ever required guaranteed uptime.

A possible option is to go halfway between consumer and enterprise grade hardware. You can start with a low-mid range server motherboard and put a desktop cpu and ECC memory in it. The cost of inexpensive supermicro or tyan motherboard isn't much higher than desktop motherboards, but still has many of the features you will need.
m
0
l
March 16, 2012 9:41:46 PM

underclocker said:
Firstly, I've never built a server before nor have I ever required guaranteed uptime.

A possible option is to go halfway between consumer and enterprise grade hardware. You can start with a low-mid range server motherboard and put a desktop cpu and ECC memory in it. The cost of inexpensive supermicro or tyan motherboard isn't much higher than desktop motherboards, but still has many of the features you will need.


That is a good idea, except that you will need to use the "server" versions of desktop components for the most part. Actual desktop CPUs in server motherboards either aren't completely functional or won't physically fit. You can put an Intel LGA1155 Sandy Bridge desktop i3/i5/i7 in a server 1155 board, but ECC won't work; for that you need a Xeon E3-1000 series CPU. Ditto with a Core i7-3xxx in an LGA2011 server board, you need the Xeon for ECC. The single-socket-only Xeons are generally only modestly more expensive than the equivalent desktop Core i* model. AMD's current server boards are all Socket C32 or G34 and won't physically fit desktop AM3+ or FM1 CPUs. However, C32 CPUs are fairly similar to AM3+ ones in features and price (although they are only 95 watt and less models) and you can get single socket C32 boards.
m
0
l
!