Sign-in / Sign-up
Your question

Low power NAS/Server

Tags:
  • New Build
  • NAS / RAID
  • Power
  • Servers
  • Systems
  • Product
Last response: in Systems
February 5, 2013 7:13:30 PM

I am looking to build a NAS unit (or small home server) that is power efficient and would appreciate your input regarding parts. I would like it to have the following requirements:

1. MB should be mini ITX and have a minimum of 4 SATA 6Gbs ports (preferably 6 or more for expandability). Could look into uATX but I already have several mini ITX cases as possibilities, plus I don't want this huge thing that looks like another PC tower next to my regular PC.

2. Regarding the CPU, I guess that depends on the above. I want this to be power efficient, to sip power in a similar way as pre-built NAS boxes from Synology/QNAP. I've looked at some Ivy Bridge i3 35w CPUs and there is even a 17w Xeon (more expensive though), but I don't see any ITX MBs that have the SATA ports that I require. On the AMD side, all I can think of is their Trinity APUs, but those do not go lower than 65w TDP and have a lower performance than i3s from Intel. Maybe getting the AMDs to sip power would be a feat.

3. This is mainly going to be a NAS box, in which I would like to have access to my files locally and when traveling. But I guess this is included in things like FreeNAS, OpenMediaVault, etc. Maybe some other minor modification here and there (again, probably included in the software). However, I would like it to be powerful enough to run something like Windows Server Essentials 2012 if needed (more likely if my FreeNAS/OMV, etc., installation fails or gives me too many headaches).

4. This NAS will run software RAID (again, FreeNAS/OMV) preferably on ZFS so I would like the MB to support 8GB or more of RAM. And if I run WSE 2012 the RAM will come in handy.

5. I am planning to have 4 3TB hard drives in mirrored or RAIDZ2 to start with, Possibly add more capacity at a later time (hence the extra SATA ports).

Any help and comments are appreciated. Thanks!

More about : low power nas server

February 5, 2013 9:03:46 PM

Hi,

I did a lot of research and i finally found this board : http://www.asrock.com/mb/overview.asp?Model=FM2A85X-ITX

It has 7x SATA 6.0G (Yeah, 7 ) and it's mini-itx. I think that's the only board with so much Sata 3 on the market :p 

I think you will be good with a A4 since it will be for a media server (right?) : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Very cheap, good. The Intel cpus have lower wattage but all of the Intel boards only have 2 or sometimes 4 sata 3 and they are expensive.


- The Brownie
m
0
l
February 5, 2013 10:13:02 PM

Thanks for your reply Bromeh! I did see that board as a possibility. My only concern is the power consumption of the APU as this will only serve as a NAS to serve files to other PCs and an HTPC. I just purchased an A10-5700 APU for said HTPC, so I will see about power consumption.

It would be great if I could lower the power consumption of the APU in the BIOS in some way, but I am not familiar with this architecture, so I don't know.

Another way, I guess, would be to go Intel and add a SATA 6Gbps card for expansion in the future. Again, I'm not sure about power consumption here either.

I thought about Intel Atoms and AMDs other APUs (E350, E450, etc.) but first, I'm not sure if they are capable of powering a Windows Server. I know those are the types of CPUs used by Synology (Atoms), etc., but they obviously do not have the overhead of having to run Windows Server. Also, I'm not sure about their capabilities for FreeNAS, OMV, NAS4Free, etc.
m
0
l
Related resources
February 5, 2013 10:17:27 PM

ravennevar said:
Thanks for your reply Bromeh! I did see that board as a possibility. My only concern is the power consumption of the APU as this will only serve as a NAS to serve files to other PCs and an HTPC. I just purchased an A10-5700 APU for said HTPC, so I will see about power consumption.

It would be great if I could lower the power consumption of the APU in the BIOS in some way, but I am not familiar with this architecture, so I don't know.

Another way, I guess, would be to go Intel and add a SATA 6Gbps card for expansion in the future. Again, I'm not sure about power consumption here either.

I thought about Intel Atoms and AMDs other APUs (E350, E450, etc.) but first, I'm not sure if they are capable of powering a Windows Server. I know those are the types of CPUs used by Synology (Atoms), etc., but they obviously do not have the overhead of having to run Windows Server. Also, I'm not sure about their capabilities for FreeNAS, OMV, NAS4Free, etc.


The A10 is great but the only problem is that it's 100W :/ 

If you can lower the frequency in the bios to something between 1.5GHz - 2.0GHz (since it will be a server) the power consumption will be very lower.

I heard about those integrated cpus and they are crap don't think about them.


- The Brownie
m
0
l
February 5, 2013 10:24:20 PM

Most modern cpus have VERY good power savings features(idle power as low as underclocking, but underclocking limits the MAX power). You can enhance it by undervolting the system.

With the system spending most time idle will also sit in the lowest power state.

How low of a power consumption are you aiming for?

This user got some good numbers out of an Intel system, but I am betting AMD can get pretty low too.
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/page-360258_28_50.htm...

Also, my media center idles about 23-31 if I trust my ups. I went to all ends for lower power, ITX, undervolt,notebook hard drive,ssd,notebook dvd,under voltage on the memory, 300 watt power supply(almost tempted to get a 80+ GOLD PSU[its 450 watts] but it seems to be louder(user comments) and not much better at this low of a load).

Modern hardware efficiency impresses me so much. The all core full load vcore is 1.04 :)  the 1.22 is turbo and I can not alter its voltage for some reason.


I honestly remember being quite impressed with the idle power consumption on my AMD 955BE system. I almost went AMD for my media center, but could not find a board with all the features I needed.
m
0
l
February 6, 2013 12:05:55 AM

The APU I ordered for the HTPC is an A10-5700 65w, so at least it should not spike as much as a 100w APU when on load. However, this A10 is not unlocked so I am not sure if I'll be able to alter its multiplier, but my guess is that lowering it should not be a problem. I'll play with the setup when it gets here to see how much power I can safe with tweaks here and there.

Regarding the embedded CPUs, I've read similar stories, some indicating they are the bottleneck in their NAS setup.

In terms of power consumption, I am not sure if we are able to match those of Synology NASs, but that would be ideal. Realistically, I would say less ~30w (wishful thinking maybe?). I am sure if I can undervolt, shut down/put HDDs to sleep when not in use and put the CPU/APU in a low power state I should be able to achieve this.

Would it be possible to put these systems in a sleep state and power them back on when accessed? Something like Wake-On-Lan? If this worked it would be an excellent option.
m
0
l
February 6, 2013 12:12:37 AM

WOL should work(should be fast too), 3.5 inch drives have about a 4-5 second spin-up time(vs the 2 for a notebook drive). You can set the drives to spin down as long as the delay is not an issue.

WDC green drives auto park the heads when idle as part of some kind of power savings feature, But I would guess the RED's may be better for you if you want raid and whatnot.

With onboard video and a high efficiency power supply(and 5200/5400 rpm drives), I think you will be surprised(in a good way).
m
0
l
February 6, 2013 12:35:49 AM

Don't forget too that many Mini-ITX boards have a PCI-E x1 or x16 slot - you can get a low profile SATA card to add 4 or more extra ports to whatever are on the board already, depending on which NAS case you are using. (and 7 SATA on a mobo is probably because the chipset supports 8 and they dumped one to the back panel as E-SATA).
m
0
l
February 6, 2013 12:43:59 AM

jacobsta811 said:
Don't forget too that many Mini-ITX boards have a PCI-E x1 or x16 slot - you can get a low profile SATA card to add 4 or more extra ports to whatever are on the board already, depending on which NAS case you are using. (and 7 SATA on a mobo is probably because the chipset supports 8 and they dumped one to the back panel as E-SATA).


The add-on card is a good idea but they usually cost a lot compared to a normal motherboard with integrated ports.

Quote:
The APU I ordered for the HTPC is an A10-5700 65w


I didn't know there was a 65W version of the A10 ... good to know.


- The Brownie
m
0
l
February 6, 2013 12:56:23 AM

Quote:
Don't forget too that many Mini-ITX boards have a PCI-E x1 or x16 slot - you can get a low profile SATA card to add 4 or more extra ports to whatever are on the board already, depending on which NAS case you are using. (and 7 SATA on a mobo is probably because the chipset supports 8 and they dumped one to the back panel as E-SATA).


AMD is great with their SATA 6Gbps support by their chipsets. Intel is still lacking in this area (maybe because they can).

Quote:
The add-on card is a good idea but they usually cost a lot compared to a normal motherboard with integrated ports.


Yes, a good SATA 6Gbps add-on card with 4 ports would usually cost half of what you pay for a MB.
m
0
l
February 6, 2013 1:03:17 AM

Quote:
AMD is great with their SATA 6Gbps support by their chipsets. Intel is still lacking in this area (maybe because they can).


Yeah that's one thing i like about Amd motherboards : they are fully loaded. On a Intel motherboard you have 2 usb3.0 and 2 sata3.0. Price : 150$.

On a Amd motherboard, you have 6 usb 3.0 and 6 sata 3.0. Price : 75$.

Don't want to start on a new subject so i'm going to stop there


- The Brownie
m
0
l
February 8, 2013 3:04:24 AM

Does anyone think it would be possible to use a Pico PSU for such a setup?
m
0
l
February 8, 2013 4:28:54 AM

Depends on the power consumption of the hard drives(I noticed a decent drop going from a 7200 rpm desktop drive to a 5400 rpm 2.5 inch). I mean those will be the hog in a lower power system.

I am not 100% sure how much 5 volt(looks like 6-8 amp) that psu has. laptop drives and SSDs take the 5 volt rail.
m
0
l
February 22, 2013 5:13:23 PM

Just wanted to follow up regarding my testing. It's going slow as I've been busy and it does not look encouraging. So far I have tested various NAS software as well as Win7, Win8, and Windows Storage Server 2012. This consisted of the system with just the main HDD running. I'm just trying to get a feel of what a baseline power consumption would be. With Win7 the system was idling at ~34w. Win8 further reduced that to ~27w and Storage Server managed to get it to ~26. Now, it's a different story with the open source NAS software. OpenMediaVault and NAS4Free idled at ~45, while FreeNAS idled ~73w.

As you can see there is a huge difference in power consumption between platforms, with Win pretty much taking advantage of all the power saving features of the A85X chipset. When trying to enable power management features in NAS4Free and FreeNAS, the system was not able to set the desired CPU state. I still need to run some tests switching some things around in the BIOS (underclocking, etc) to see if this helps with the NAS software, which I would prefer over the Windows Storage Server offering mainly because of the lack platform of drivers for the latter.

Also, voltage and frequency in all 3 Win setups never went below 1.072v and 1400MHz respectively.

Regarding its intended use for an HTPC, so far it idles ~58w when in OpenELEC (I tried the regular XBMC but power consumption was very erratic, jumping from the high 50s to the low 90s, as the CPU was always being used).

Will keep you guys posted. Any ideas are always welcome.
m
0
l