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Dual Processors in a NAS Device Worth It?

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March 31, 2004 4:42:29 PM

Please forgive my ignorance if this is an alltogether silly question. Also, I think this is the best forum to ask this.

From what I understand, dual processors only offer a worthwhile benefit in certain situations. In other applications, a single processor would function just as well.

Our company is currently evaluating HP NAS devices. Our plan is to use the NAS to store the data for our file and email servers, then use replication software to mirror that data to a second NAS offsite, every hour or so. The HPs we're looking at run MS Windows 2003 Storage Server. We're trying to decide between a single, ~3Ghz Xeon processor, or dual ~2.6 processors. We plan on packing it with as much RAM as the budget will allow.

My question is, is this the type of application where dual processors shine? My gut feeling would be yes, but admittedly, I'm not sure why.

Finally, has anyone here had any experience with HP NAS devices, good or bad? Would something from say, Dell, be cheaper and just as reliable? I work for a not-for-profit company, so while we're willing to spend enough money to get the right equipment for the job at hand, we're not exactly rolling in it. Any legitimate ways to save money are always welcome.

Thanks in advance for any help anyone might be able to provide.
March 31, 2004 8:51:54 PM

The CPU is rarely a bottleneck in NAS devices, but I guess it depends on how many users are hitting it. It’s my understanding that CPU performance comes into play more with the quantity of requests, rather than the amount of data. Personally, I’ve setup NAS servers for groups/teams of 20 or so users only using single 200MHz CPUs. I’ve never had the opportunity to use a NAS in a large corporate setting, but I have worked with Windows NT servers that handled file storage and print for about 500 users. That system was a dual 200MHz! Still pretty week, and it works just fine. It sounds silly but it’s generally a rule of mine that the only thing you need high processor performance for is processes that require a lot of processing, such as databases, web applications and the like.
March 31, 2004 9:09:36 PM

Thanks, that actually helps a lot. We're not very large, so perhaps we don't need that powerful a machine. We just wanted to be sure we weren't skimping on horsepower now, only to regret it later.
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April 1, 2004 12:19:05 AM

if your already spending all this money on a nas, just make it a dualie. also, why did you decide to go with hp? the dell nas system is very nice.

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April 2, 2004 2:36:32 PM

we haven't decided on anything, yet. that's why i came here ;) 

i'll give the dells another look. thanks.
April 2, 2004 4:14:03 PM

It also depends what kind of disk setup you're thinking of.

If you're running RAID 5 with a software XOR engine you'll need some decent processing power. If it's a hardware XOR engine you won't need so much processor power.

If you're not running RAID 5 you won't need so much processing power.

If it's on 100mbit ethernet it won't matter at all since your ethernet will be your bottleneck.

You could also look at a dually motherboard with only one processor installed, so you could always add a 2nd one in the future if you find it isn't keeping up.

edit:
I just re-read your post, and I'd say your best deal for the money (if it's strickly going to be a NAS) would be a P4 Celeron on an i875 board with intel CSA gigabit. Spend the money you save on the processor(s) and get a half decent SCSI RAID 5 setup with hardware XOR.

You shouldn't need any CPU power for a NAS (if all it's doing is serving files).

If you find the box is getting slow, you can always swap the Celeron for a P4 later. A P4EE 3.2 is just a Xeon 3.2 anyways.

*Dual PIII-800 @900 i440BX and Tualeron 1.2 @1.7 i815*<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by JCLW on 04/02/04 12:22 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
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