"Proper" server v powerful PC

jase

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How cheap, effective and easy is it to build a server style PC as an
alternative to purchasing a "proper" server class machine. For example, if I
built a PC with the following specs:

1 x AMD 64 X2 4800
1 x (Insert good quality 939 motherboard here... any suggestions?)
1 x Western Digital Raptor 36GB 10000RPM SATA
2 x Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10000RPM SATA
1 x Thermaltake Armor Alu Super Tower
1 x Q-Tec 650W PS
1 x ATI Powercolor X300Se Gfx PCI-E
3 x Kingston 1GB DDR PC3200

How would the above system compare to, say, a HP or Dell server? I mean in
terms of performance?

The reason I ask is that I could build the above machine for around half the
price of a HP or Dell server. Obviously my primary concern is stability and
performance, but if I could, say, get a machine 0.9 times as good as a
server for 0.5 times the price then I would have to consider it.

I have a limited budget and need the machine to be a database server. If a
"homebuilt" server is a viable option then are there any suggestions with
regards suitable components for the server? For example, I figured that a
dual core chip such as the X2 would perform far better for database work
than a single CPU... how does this compare to a dual CPU system?
 
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> I figured that a
>dual core chip such as the X2 would >perform far better for database work
>than a single CPU... how does this compare >to a dual CPU system?

Are you sure? IIRC, I read an article that compared the performance of
like-for-like rated dual core and single core processors, and the
single core one was faster.
 
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Jase wrote:

" 1 x AMD 64 X2 4800
1 x (Insert good quality 939 motherboard here... any suggestions?)
1 x Western Digital Raptor 36GB 10000RPM SATA
2 x Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10000RPM SATA
1 x Thermaltake Armor Alu Super Tower
1 x Q-Tec 650W PS
1 x ATI Powercolor X300Se Gfx PCI-E
3 x Kingston 1GB DDR PC3200 "


Good luck with the Q-Tec PSU.
 
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"Jase" <jase@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:NRINe.16001$1F5.6249@newsfe4-win.ntli.net...
> How cheap, effective and easy is it to build a server style PC as an
> alternative to purchasing a "proper" server class machine. For example, if
> I built a PC with the following specs:
>
> 1 x AMD 64 X2 4800
> 1 x (Insert good quality 939 motherboard here... any suggestions?)
> 1 x Western Digital Raptor 36GB 10000RPM SATA
> 2 x Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10000RPM SATA
> 1 x Thermaltake Armor Alu Super Tower
> 1 x Q-Tec 650W PS

Don't buy Q-Tec. For a server - or for that matter any PC - you want a
decent PSU, and that sure as hell ain't it.

> 1 x ATI Powercolor X300Se Gfx PCI-E
> 3 x Kingston 1GB DDR PC3200
>
> How would the above system compare to, say, a HP or Dell server? I mean in
> terms of performance?
>
> The reason I ask is that I could build the above machine for around half
> the price of a HP or Dell server. Obviously my primary concern is
> stability and performance, but if I could, say, get a machine 0.9 times as
> good as a server for 0.5 times the price then I would have to consider it.
>
> I have a limited budget and need the machine to be a database server. If a
> "homebuilt" server is a viable option then are there any suggestions with
> regards suitable components for the server? For example, I figured that a
> dual core chip such as the X2 would perform far better for database work
> than a single CPU... how does this compare to a dual CPU system?
>

--
Derek
 
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Jase writes:

> How cheap, effective and easy is it to build a server style PC as an
> alternative to purchasing a "proper" server class machine.

Very much so, if the actual requirements of your server permit it.

"Proper" servers are simply computers with characteristics that are
usually important in server applications. The extent to which these
characteristics are important to your application determines how
closely you must approach a "proper" configuration when building your
server.

> For example, if I
> built a PC with the following specs:
>
> 1 x AMD 64 X2 4800
> 1 x (Insert good quality 939 motherboard here... any suggestions?)
> 1 x Western Digital Raptor 36GB 10000RPM SATA
> 2 x Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10000RPM SATA
> 1 x Thermaltake Armor Alu Super Tower
> 1 x Q-Tec 650W PS
> 1 x ATI Powercolor X300Se Gfx PCI-E
> 3 x Kingston 1GB DDR PC3200
>
> How would the above system compare to, say, a HP or Dell server? I mean in
> terms of performance?

Performance is only one issue for servers. Reliability is another.

What's the maximum load you'll put on your server, and what type of
load will it be?

What duty cycle will the server have (most have 24/24 and 7/7)?
What's the minimum uptime you wish to ensure for the machine?

I built my own server (P4 3.0 GHz, Asus motherboard, a couple of fans,
two 120 GB SATA drives, cheap video card, etc.), and it runs extremely
well and meets all my requirements with power to spare. If I were
building a machine that would handle air traffic control with very
heavy loads and mandatory uptime of 99.99999%, however, this type of
configuration probably wouldn't be satisfactory.

> The reason I ask is that I could build the above machine for around half the
> price of a HP or Dell server.

There's a lot of margin built into purpose-built servers, because they
are usually sold to businesses, and business-to-business sales often
involve extremely generous margins.

However, purpose-built servers often do have features that are not
considered important on desktops, and vice versa. You don't need a
fancy video card on a server, for example, since the console may only
be used in text mode, when it is used at all. But you do often need
very reliable and performant disk subsystems, since heavily-loaded
servers are often doing heavy disk I/O continuously, and the disk
subsystems must be able to tolerate this.

> Obviously my primary concern is stability and
> performance, but if I could, say, get a machine 0.9 times as good as a
> server for 0.5 times the price then I would have to consider it.

Obviously.

> I have a limited budget and need the machine to be a database server. If a
> "homebuilt" server is a viable option then are there any suggestions with
> regards suitable components for the server? For example, I figured that a
> dual core chip such as the X2 would perform far better for database work
> than a single CPU... how does this compare to a dual CPU system?

Don't get carried away with CPU power. Database servers may be
I/O-bound, which means that you need very performant and reliable
disks (SCSI RAID arrays, for example). Even a very ordinary CPU may
be largely sufficient.

In many applications, servers put heavier loads on disks than desktops
do, and desktops put heavier loads on CPUs that servers do. Lots of
memory is a good idea for any system, server or desktop.

Servers often need good backup facilities (DAT or DLT drives) and
power conditioning (UPS with battery backup) to ensure maximum uptime.
They often need good ventilation, too, with fans that are reliable
(and thus more expensive), because they may be under substantial loads
and because again the uptime is important.

In summary, there's no real dividing line between servers and
desktops. Just build a system that meets the requirements of whatever
you plan to use it for.

--
Transpose mxsmanic and gmail to reach me by e-mail.
 
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Jase wrote:
>
> How cheap, effective and easy is it to build a server style PC as an
> alternative to purchasing a "proper" server class machine. For example, if I
> built a PC with the following specs:
>
> 1 x AMD 64 X2 4800
> 1 x (Insert good quality 939 motherboard here... any suggestions?)
> 1 x Western Digital Raptor 36GB 10000RPM SATA
> 2 x Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10000RPM SATA
> 1 x Thermaltake Armor Alu Super Tower
> 1 x Q-Tec 650W PS
> 1 x ATI Powercolor X300Se Gfx PCI-E
> 3 x Kingston 1GB DDR PC3200
>
> How would the above system compare to, say, a HP or Dell server? I mean in
> terms of performance?
>
> The reason I ask is that I could build the above machine for around half the
> price of a HP or Dell server. Obviously my primary concern is stability and
> performance, but if I could, say, get a machine 0.9 times as good as a
> server for 0.5 times the price then I would have to consider it.
>
> I have a limited budget and need the machine to be a database server. If a
> "homebuilt" server is a viable option then are there any suggestions with
> regards suitable components for the server? For example, I figured that a
> dual core chip such as the X2 would perform far better for database work
> than a single CPU... how does this compare to a dual CPU system?

Besides the other advice you have received, be sure to use ECC
memory and a suitable system. Memory errors are the weak link in
all computer systems; almost everything else has checks to ensure
correct operation. ECC extends this to memory, at very reasonable
cost. Memory errors can be due to stray cosmic rays and other
things completely out of your control.

--
"If you want to post a followup via groups.google.com, don't use
the broken "Reply" link at the bottom of the article. Click on
"show options" at the top of the article, then click on the
"Reply" at the bottom of the article headers." - Keith Thompson
 

jase

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"Mxsmanic" <mxsmanic@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:542fg15li1p5puh6qiro0km17s68ngqs21@4ax.com...
> Jase writes:
>
>> How cheap, effective and easy is it to build a server style PC as an
>> alternative to purchasing a "proper" server class machine.
>
> Very much so, if the actual requirements of your server permit it.
>
> "Proper" servers are simply computers with characteristics that are
> usually important in server applications. The extent to which these
> characteristics are important to your application determines how
> closely you must approach a "proper" configuration when building your
> server.
>
>> For example, if I
>> built a PC with the following specs:
>>
>> 1 x AMD 64 X2 4800
>> 1 x (Insert good quality 939 motherboard here... any suggestions?)
>> 1 x Western Digital Raptor 36GB 10000RPM SATA
>> 2 x Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10000RPM SATA
>> 1 x Thermaltake Armor Alu Super Tower
>> 1 x Q-Tec 650W PS
>> 1 x ATI Powercolor X300Se Gfx PCI-E
>> 3 x Kingston 1GB DDR PC3200
>>
>> How would the above system compare to, say, a HP or Dell server? I mean
>> in
>> terms of performance?
>
> Performance is only one issue for servers. Reliability is another.
>
> What's the maximum load you'll put on your server, and what type of
> load will it be?

It's really hard to say because the application will be a database driven
website. It will be transactionally heavy and the maximum load depends on
the peak number of simultaneous users I guess - and this depends on how
popular the site is. I would hazard a very rough guess at around 50-100
simultaneous users for the first year or so.

The majority of transactions will be SQL select statements, although a
significant minority will be updates and inserts.

> What duty cycle will the server have (most have 24/24 and 7/7)?

Yeah 24/7.

> What's the minimum uptime you wish to ensure for the machine?

Well the application will not be business critical, although obviously the
more uptime the better.

> I built my own server (P4 3.0 GHz, Asus motherboard, a couple of fans,
> two 120 GB SATA drives, cheap video card, etc.), and it runs extremely
> well and meets all my requirements with power to spare. If I were
> building a machine that would handle air traffic control with very
> heavy loads and mandatory uptime of 99.99999%, however, this type of
> configuration probably wouldn't be satisfactory.
>
>> The reason I ask is that I could build the above machine for around half
>> the
>> price of a HP or Dell server.
>
> There's a lot of margin built into purpose-built servers, because they
> are usually sold to businesses, and business-to-business sales often
> involve extremely generous margins.
>
> However, purpose-built servers often do have features that are not
> considered important on desktops, and vice versa. You don't need a
> fancy video card on a server, for example, since the console may only
> be used in text mode, when it is used at all. But you do often need
> very reliable and performant disk subsystems, since heavily-loaded
> servers are often doing heavy disk I/O continuously, and the disk
> subsystems must be able to tolerate this.

Are there any AMD 64 939 "server" quality motherboards out there?

>> Obviously my primary concern is stability and
>> performance, but if I could, say, get a machine 0.9 times as good as a
>> server for 0.5 times the price then I would have to consider it.
>
> Obviously.
>
>> I have a limited budget and need the machine to be a database server. If
>> a
>> "homebuilt" server is a viable option then are there any suggestions with
>> regards suitable components for the server? For example, I figured that a
>> dual core chip such as the X2 would perform far better for database work
>> than a single CPU... how does this compare to a dual CPU system?
>
> Don't get carried away with CPU power. Database servers may be
> I/O-bound, which means that you need very performant and reliable
> disks (SCSI RAID arrays, for example). Even a very ordinary CPU may
> be largely sufficient.

Will the Western Digital Raptors be suitable disks for a transactionally
heavy database server? Or would I be much better going for SCSI?

> In many applications, servers put heavier loads on disks than desktops
> do, and desktops put heavier loads on CPUs that servers do. Lots of
> memory is a good idea for any system, server or desktop.

Yeah I would be looking to have 3GB of RAM.

> Servers often need good backup facilities (DAT or DLT drives) and
> power conditioning (UPS with battery backup) to ensure maximum uptime.
> They often need good ventilation, too, with fans that are reliable
> (and thus more expensive), because they may be under substantial loads
> and because again the uptime is important.

Yes.

> In summary, there's no real dividing line between servers and
> desktops. Just build a system that meets the requirements of whatever
> you plan to use it for.

Thanks for the good, positive answer. :)
 

jase

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"Derek Baker" <me@xyzderekbaker.eclipse.co.uk> wrote in message
news:_rudnc2xFoZ95JreRVnytA@eclipse.net.uk...
> "Jase" <jase@hotmail.com> wrote in message
> news:NRINe.16001$1F5.6249@newsfe4-win.ntli.net...
>> How cheap, effective and easy is it to build a server style PC as an
>> alternative to purchasing a "proper" server class machine. For example,
>> if I built a PC with the following specs:
>>
>> 1 x AMD 64 X2 4800
>> 1 x (Insert good quality 939 motherboard here... any suggestions?)
>> 1 x Western Digital Raptor 36GB 10000RPM SATA
>> 2 x Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10000RPM SATA
>> 1 x Thermaltake Armor Alu Super Tower
>> 1 x Q-Tec 650W PS
>
> Don't buy Q-Tec. For a server - or for that matter any PC - you want a
> decent PSU, and that sure as hell ain't it.

OK. I have no clue about PSUs. :)
 

jase

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"Random Person" <nonexistent2032@yahoo.co.uk> wrote in message
news:1124573855.661722.42020@g43g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
>> I figured that a
>>dual core chip such as the X2 would >perform far better for database work
>>than a single CPU... how does this compare >to a dual CPU system?
>
> Are you sure? IIRC, I read an article that compared the performance of
> like-for-like rated dual core and single core processors, and the
> single core one was faster.

But as this would be a database server then it would take advantage of the
dual core CPU multitasking capabilities.
 

jase

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"CBFalconer" <cbfalconer@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:4307AD3E.A84DF245@yahoo.com...
>
> Besides the other advice you have received, be sure to use ECC
> memory and a suitable system.

OK.
 
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In article <NRINe.16001$1F5.6249@newsfe4-win.ntli.net>, Jase says...
> How cheap, effective and easy is it to build a server style PC as an
> alternative to purchasing a "proper" server class machine. For example, if I
> built a PC with the following specs:
>
> 1 x AMD 64 X2 4800
> 1 x (Insert good quality 939 motherboard here... any suggestions?)
> 1 x Western Digital Raptor 36GB 10000RPM SATA
> 2 x Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10000RPM SATA
> 1 x Thermaltake Armor Alu Super Tower
> 1 x Q-Tec 650W PS
> 1 x ATI Powercolor X300Se Gfx PCI-E
> 3 x Kingston 1GB DDR PC3200
>
> How would the above system compare to, say, a HP or Dell server? I mean in
> terms of performance?
>
Ridiculous.

HDD transfer rates will be piss poor. Even Compaq Proliants from 5
years ago used 5 or more drives in RAID arrays. As well as that, they
supported hot swapping, the dual CPU boards have proper load balancing,
and the cooling is ALOT different.

If you want a server, there's tons of dirt cheap stuff on E-Bay.


--
Conor

If Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened
rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic
music.
 
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In article <gxPNe.16180$1F5.5324@newsfe4-win.ntli.net>, Jase says...

> It's really hard to say because the application will be a database driven
> website. It will be transactionally heavy and the maximum load depends on
> the peak number of simultaneous users I guess - and this depends on how
> popular the site is. I would hazard a very rough guess at around 50-100
> simultaneous users for the first year or so.
>
So the CPU is overkill for a start.

> Yeah 24/7.
>
So AMD CPUs are DEFINITELY out and if it were my money, I'd look at
Pentium 3s.


> Well the application will not be business critical, although obviously the
> more uptime the better.
>
So redundant PSU and hotswap drives then.


> Are there any AMD 64 939 "server" quality motherboards out there?
>
No.


>
> Will the Western Digital Raptors be suitable disks for a transactionally
> heavy database server? Or would I be much better going for SCSI?
>
Two won't do you much good.


> > In many applications, servers put heavier loads on disks than desktops
> > do, and desktops put heavier loads on CPUs that servers do. Lots of
> > memory is a good idea for any system, server or desktop.
>
> Yeah I would be looking to have 3GB of RAM.
>
Err why?



--
Conor

If Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened
rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic
music.
 
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Jase wrote:
>
> How cheap, effective and easy is it to build a server style PC as an
> alternative to purchasing a "proper" server class machine. For example, if I
> built a PC with the following specs:
>
> 1 x AMD 64 X2 4800
> 1 x (Insert good quality 939 motherboard here... any suggestions?)
> 1 x Western Digital Raptor 36GB 10000RPM SATA
> 2 x Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10000RPM SATA
> 1 x Thermaltake Armor Alu Super Tower
> 1 x Q-Tec 650W PS
> 1 x ATI Powercolor X300Se Gfx PCI-E
> 3 x Kingston 1GB DDR PC3200
>
> How would the above system compare to, say, a HP or Dell server? I mean in
> terms of performance?
>
> The reason I ask is that I could build the above machine for around half the
> price of a HP or Dell server. Obviously my primary concern is stability and
> performance, but if I could, say, get a machine 0.9 times as good as a
> server for 0.5 times the price then I would have to consider it.
>
> I have a limited budget and need the machine to be a database server. If a
> "homebuilt" server is a viable option then are there any suggestions with
> regards suitable components for the server? For example, I figured that a
> dual core chip such as the X2 would perform far better for database work
> than a single CPU... how does this compare to a dual CPU system?

I've built plenty of servers over the years - only ever top-spec.

You have received some fairly good advice in this thread - I'll add what
I hope is some more.

The X2 CPU and intensive database work will get along very well
together. You will get a huge boost with the dual-core CPU over a
single-core with a higher clock speed.

The standard (and probably the best) drive setup for a database server
is 2 drives in RAID 1 (operating system, programs and transaction logs)
and the database on a RAID 5 array - three drives. I personally prefer
to put the OS and programs on a single, quick drive (Raptor, single 15K
rpm SCSI) with a regular clone to an identical drive, ready to hot swap,
with the database on RAID 5 and logs on their own RAID 1 array. Do a
google on this - it's quite complex and everyone has their own ideas
about the best solution...

SCSI is the most reliable, probably the quickest, and certainly the most
expensive.

In this case, SATA with NCQ might be adequate.

If you want serious redundancy, have a look at the hot-swap devices
offered by www.span.com. I use them a lot. They have the best
selection of stuff for high-end servers that I have seen in one place.
They do hot-swap SATA drive cradles.

You could also consider RAID 6 - which allows two drives to fail
simultaneously and still keep on working. That, with hot-swap caddies,
will give you all the security you need - provided the rest of the
machine is up to scratch. There are a lot of RAID controllers that have
recently been launched and even more about to be launched that have the
PCI-Express interface. I'm waiting on a test/evaluation board from
Broadcom - but I need RAID 0, so you will probably need a different
brand for your application. Definitely worth looking at for quick
throughput - quicker than SCSI and PCI-X. Cheaper, too.

You'll struggle to find a 939 motherboard that will be 100% reliable
with 3GB of memory. Only yesterday did I manage to get my ASUS A8N SLi
working properly with 4GB of memory, after struggling for weeks. I am
still not convinced it is flawless, and would not trust it as a server.
Get yourself 2003 Server with 4GB of memory and remember the /PAE /3GB
switches in your boot.ini where applicable.

If you have a heavy transaction load, the more data that can be cached
in memory will boost performance and reduce load on the drives - hence
max memory.

One of the most important thing to consider is the cooling of your
drives. They ***WILL*** need direct airflow blowing over them. Don't
just stick them in a closed case and hope for the best.



Odie
--
Retrodata
www.retrodata.co.uk
Globally Local Data Recovery Experts
 
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Servers should be reliable and have fast hard drives. You should use ECC memory, a RAID disk array with redundancy (not RAID0), and a UPS.

Jase wrote:
>
> How cheap, effective and easy is it to build a server style PC as an
> alternative to purchasing a "proper" server class machine. For example, if I
> built a PC with the following specs:
>
> 1 x AMD 64 X2 4800
> 1 x (Insert good quality 939 motherboard here... any suggestions?)
> 1 x Western Digital Raptor 36GB 10000RPM SATA
> 2 x Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10000RPM SATA
> 1 x Thermaltake Armor Alu Super Tower
> 1 x Q-Tec 650W PS
> 1 x ATI Powercolor X300Se Gfx PCI-E
> 3 x Kingston 1GB DDR PC3200
>
> How would the above system compare to, say, a HP or Dell server? I mean in
> terms of performance?
>
> The reason I ask is that I could build the above machine for around half the
> price of a HP or Dell server. Obviously my primary concern is stability and
> performance, but if I could, say, get a machine 0.9 times as good as a
> server for 0.5 times the price then I would have to consider it.
>
> I have a limited budget and need the machine to be a database server. If a
> "homebuilt" server is a viable option then are there any suggestions with
> regards suitable components for the server? For example, I figured that a
> dual core chip such as the X2 would perform far better for database work
> than a single CPU... how does this compare to a dual CPU system?

--
Mike Walsh
West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.A.
 
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Jase writes:

> It's really hard to say because the application will be a database driven
> website. It will be transactionally heavy and the maximum load depends on
> the peak number of simultaneous users I guess - and this depends on how
> popular the site is. I would hazard a very rough guess at around 50-100
> simultaneous users for the first year or so.

This depends on your definition of simultaneity.

I often have a fair number of users more or less simultaneously
looking at my site (in the sense that they've arrived and haven't yet
left), but from the computer's point of view, there's nobody using the
system 99.99% of that time, as the load generated by each user is
extremely small (an occasional burst of a couple page loads, and
that's it).

Something else you may wish to keep in mind is that, unless you have a
lot of bandwidth to your user community, the speed of your Net
connection is likely to limit your capacity a lot more than your
server performance. Your connection will saturate long before you run
out of CPU and probably long before you're pushing your disks to their
limits as well.

> The majority of transactions will be SQL select statements, although a
> significant minority will be updates and inserts.

Relational databases generate a lot of I/O but there are still a lot
of variables to consider. If you already have statistics showing the
details of your user activity that can help you to plan for an
appropriate server configuration to handle it.

> Well the application will not be business critical, although obviously the
> more uptime the better.

In that case--if you can survive a few hours down on rare
occasions--you can save a lot of money by not going with high-end SCSI
server disk drives and the like. Mission-critical servers cannot
afford to be down at all, and so a lot of money on server
configuration for such systems is put into drives that have extremely
high reliability (as opposed to extremely high capacity--it's
difficult to have both), and redundancy such as RAID arrays that keep
the system up even if any one drive fails.

Essentially the last 0.1% of uptime can cost almost as much as the
first 99.9% of uptime, because insuring that a system is _always_ up
is extremely expensive. If it only has to be up "most of the time,"
you can save a lot of money.

> Are there any AMD 64 939 "server" quality motherboards out there?

I don't know. I think MSI or others are known for their server
motherboards. Motherboards from any reputable vendor aren't likely to
fail very often if you treat them well, but it's also true that a
motherboard failure can take your server offline for quite a while,
since it often means replacing the motherboard, and you can't slide
one out and slide another in.

> Will the Western Digital Raptors be suitable disks for a transactionally
> heavy database server? Or would I be much better going for SCSI?

The most reliable disks are often SCSI disk simply because users who
have a need for high reliability (for servers) also prefer the other
advantages of the SCSI interface. So vendors usually put the two
together.

The more inexpensive desktop drives have a ton of capacity but they
aren't as reliable overall. They may run for ten years, or they may
fail after ten days. For desktops this isn't too much of an issue,
but it's important for servers. Similarly, servers need interfaces
that can handle very high data and connection rates, so something like
a USB interface obviously wouldn't do, and server disks have to have
high rotational speeds to deliver the data rates.

The price difference is a bit alarming. At my local computer
warehouse, a 250 GB Seagate 7200 RPM drive is about €119. A 300 GB
Hitachi SCSI drive at 10000 RPM is €899!

> Yeah I would be looking to have 3GB of RAM.

Fortunately RAM is cheap. However, if the server is _very_ heavily
loaded, fast and/or reliable RAM might be best, and that can be more
expensive.

Remember that most fast CPUs today never come anywhere close to their
potential speeds because they spend a lot of their time waiting for
the system RAM to react. RAM as fast as the CPU costs a fortune.

But in this area remember that you need lots of RAM to help reduce the
I/O traffic to the disks; the RAM doesn't have to be fast from the
CPU's viewpoint. So you can get by with ordinary RAM from the corner
computer store in most cases. Your system is much more likely to have
trouble handling I/O than it is to have trouble handling the
processing load, in most scenarios.

Keep in mind also that any desktop PC configuration today is a hundred
times faster than the mainframe systems that kept hundreds or
thousands of users happy a few decades ago. So CPU is not likely to
be a problem. Most CPU power on desktops is spent just driving the
video display; since a server doesn't need a fancy video display, a
lot more CPU power can be dedicated to handling remote users, and with
several billion instructions per second routine today, that's a _lot_
of remote users.

Another, straightforward way of looking at things is: How much will a
failure or overload (drop in response time) on your server actually
cost you in terms of lost business? That will give you some idea of
how much you can and should spend on the server. If three hours of
downtime will cost you one purchase worth $40, you can easily afford
to cut costs on hardware and tolerate the possibility of that
downtime. If downtime costs you $500,000 a minute (and yes, some of
the largest online systems can cost that much), you should spare no
expense in setting up your servers.

--
Transpose mxsmanic and gmail to reach me by e-mail.
 
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Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware,alt.comp.hardware.homebuilt (More info?)

"Jase" <jase@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:NRINe.16001$1F5.6249@newsfe4-win.ntli.net...
> How cheap, effective and easy is it to build a server style PC as an
> alternative to purchasing a "proper" server class machine. For example, if I
> built a PC with the following specs:
>
> 1 x AMD 64 X2 4800
> 1 x (Insert good quality 939 motherboard here... any suggestions?)

940 motherboard, registered memory, Chipkill advanced ECC.
Consider Arima HDAMB or Asus SK8V.

-- Bob Day
http://bobday.vze.com

[snip]
 
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On Sun, 21 Aug 2005 09:34:16 +0200, Mxsmanic
<mxsmanic@gmail.com> wrote:



<embedded replies to both Mxsmanic and OP>

>Something else you may wish to keep in mind is that, unless you have a
>lot of bandwidth to your user community, the speed of your Net
>connection is likely to limit your capacity a lot more than your
>server performance. Your connection will saturate long before you run
>out of CPU and probably long before you're pushing your disks to their
>limits as well.

Good point. OP's use as described is not likely to need any
of the CPUs metioned.


>In that case--if you can survive a few hours down on rare
>occasions--you can save a lot of money by not going with high-end SCSI
>server disk drives and the like.

A rather affordable compromise can be a good PCI IDE raid
controller, though the cheap SW types may be more limited,
only RAID 0,1 so an extra $60 might be well spent... though
if the described use only required 3 drives, RAID 1 might be
enough.


>> Are there any AMD 64 939 "server" quality motherboards out there?

MIght be more in the socket 940 format, but IIRC tyan makes
at least a couple variations of same 939 board.



>> Will the Western Digital Raptors be suitable disks for a transactionally
>> heavy database server? Or would I be much better going for SCSI?

I"m not so sure you can really classify this use as
"transactionally heavy", even if that is a large percentage
of the (mostly idle) time the system spends.



>The more inexpensive desktop drives have a ton of capacity but they
>aren't as reliable overall. They may run for ten years, or they may
>fail after ten days. For desktops this isn't too much of an issue,
>but it's important for servers. Similarly, servers need interfaces
>that can handle very high data and connection rates, so something like
>a USB interface obviously wouldn't do, and server disks have to have
>high rotational speeds to deliver the data rates.

Having a hot spare or two can allow some cost reduction if
OP didn't want to use SCSI, but your point about the last ~
0.1% of uptime was a good context.



>
>The price difference is a bit alarming. At my local computer
>warehouse, a 250 GB Seagate 7200 RPM drive is about €119. A 300 GB
>Hitachi SCSI drive at 10000 RPM is €899!
>
>> Yeah I would be looking to have 3GB of RAM.
>
>Fortunately RAM is cheap. However, if the server is _very_ heavily
>loaded, fast and/or reliable RAM might be best, and that can be more
>expensive.

IMO, ECC is the main priority.

> If downtime costs you $500,000 a minute (and yes, some of
>the largest online systems can cost that much), you should spare no
>expense in setting up your servers.

Towards this end of expense vs gain, it may still be useful
to have a server case (with good HDD cooling and ample
room) and redundant power. IMO it's more important than
putting down the extra $250 on a fast CPU given any
particular budget.
 

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