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1st Server Build - Lots of parts, needs lots of help

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August 25, 2012 7:32:58 PM

This is my first attempt at a server build and I welcome any and all advice.

This is going to be a home server for file sharing, media streaming, personal web hosting,...

I have lots of parts cannibalized out of multiple old systems and I would like to come up with the most efficient system I can without having to spend much on new parts.

Here is what I'm working with:

3 Intel D945gtp motherboards with Pentium 4 3.4 ghz processors
http://downloadmirror.intel.com/15171/eng/D945GTP_TechP...

3 3ware 9550sx 4 port raid controllers
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

3 3ware 9000s 8 port raid controllers
http://www.3ware.com/products/pdf/9000_DS_012605.pdf

2 kingston 1GB ddr 400 sticks
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2 kingston 1GB ddr2 800 sticks
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

A boat load of 512MB PC2 sticks
http://www.pc2buy.com/5395/patriot-memory-patriot-signa...

14 500GB WD HDs WD5000YS
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (But not the bare drive type)

I'm also looking at this case to throw it all in
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

My plan was to use 1 of the mother boards, do 2 of the drives in a raid1 for the OS, and then use 2 of the 9000s controllers to setup 2 raid5 arrays with the other 12 HDs. Then I happened into the 9550sx controllers and I'm told they are a world faster then the 9000s so I would kind of like to use them. The problem there is that I don't have 3 PCI-X slots on those old motherboards and I would need all 3 of them to utilize all of the HDs I have?


So is there a an older (cheap) motherboard I could pickup with 3+ PCI-X slots so I could use the 9550sx controllers or should I just stick with what I have and use the 9000s?

Any other suggestions are also welcomed.

Thanks
August 25, 2012 8:42:52 PM

Until I didn't get anything wrong:
- you have / need PCI and PCI-E slots. I don't see PCI-X involved?
- don't worry about the speed of the controller. The speed of the (old) discs will be the limiting factor
- this will be a noisy system, because you need ab bunch of fans to keep it cool with all the discs
- I would never set up a 6 disc raid-5 with these old disks, because they are likely to fail. At least test them all for bad sectors before you start
- if you use all of your discs you don't have a spare one to restore a broken raid. What then?
August 25, 2012 9:17:18 PM

The case you're looking at will only hold 10+1 HDD's, unless you plan on adding some sort of 5.25" bay hot swap converter. noidea_77 brings up a good point about needing spare drives for your RAID array(s), so that's something to keep in mind.

You should be able to get by just fine with 1 or 2 of the 8-port RAID controllers hosting 2 RAID-5 arrays. I would suggest using the on-board SATA for the OS array. No sense going out of your way to find a board with PCI-X slots (not to be confused with PCIe slots, which your boards have).

Your motherboard only support DDR2-667, so go with 4x512MB modules. You could also buy a larger kit dirt cheap... just check the manual for compatibility.
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August 25, 2012 10:24:56 PM

noidea_77 said:
Until I didn't get anything wrong:
- you have / need PCI and PCI-E slots. I don't see PCI-X involved?
- don't worry about the speed of the controller. The speed of the (old) discs will be the limiting factor
- this will be a noisy system, because you need ab bunch of fans to keep it cool with all the discs
- I would never set up a 6 disc raid-5 with these old disks, because they are likely to fail. At least test them all for bad sectors before you start
- if you use all of your discs you don't have a spare one to restore a broken raid. What then?


My understanding was that the 9550sx works best in a PCI-X 133mhz 64bit slot. That's why I was talking about PCI-X. My main concern was with needing to use the 3 4-port cards and so not having enough slots on these motherboards.

I tested all the drives before pulling them from their old systems so no bad sectors at the moment. I may use other drives for the OS and keep two of the 500GB disks as spares also.
August 25, 2012 10:26:37 PM

tivatar said:
The case you're looking at will only hold 10+1 HDD's, unless you plan on adding some sort of 5.25" bay hot swap converter. noidea_77 brings up a good point about needing spare drives for your RAID array(s), so that's something to keep in mind.

You should be able to get by just fine with 1 or 2 of the 8-port RAID controllers hosting 2 RAID-5 arrays. I would suggest using the on-board SATA for the OS array. No sense going out of your way to find a board with PCI-X slots (not to be confused with PCIe slots, which your boards have).

Your motherboard only support DDR2-667, so go with 4x512MB modules. You could also buy a larger kit dirt cheap... just check the manual for compatibility.



My plan with the case was to adapt the 5.25 bays down to hold more HDs.

I was already planning on using the on-board SATA for the OS so thats good.

If I use one of these boards I will probably upgrade the memory to whatever the board/OS maxes out at.
August 25, 2012 10:32:44 PM

If I stick with these boards that only have two slots and use the 2 8-port controllers will using the on-board LAN then be a limiting factor?

Also, will the type of slot (x1, x8, x16...) the cards are used with make a difference?

I just don't want to use the crappier controllers and an unideal motherboard if there is another board I could pick up for $50 that would be significantly better. I also don't want to waste $50 or more on something that wouldn't really help much.
!