Key items that I want for my EMS:
- Easy, straight forward, quick access to any and all media files and drives
- Ability to run programs at the server level (such as TVeristy to transcode files to play back on XBOX, etc.)
- Use only basic/commodity type hardware whenever possible
- Use Minimal runtime power
- Generate minimal heat
- Ability to run Virtual Machines for pet projects
- Ability to install a high-end GPU/Graphics Card for potential server-side transcoding projects
- Use a single power supply instead of the standard two supplies that BackBlaze typically uses
- Hardware RAIDs
- Lack of power management capabilities for the drives
- Non Standard File Systems (in my case, I'll be using NTFS - for those in the Linux world, please don't hold this against me!)
1 - BackBlaze Custom 4U Server Pod Case
1 - Associated Parts - Nylon Mounts, Nylon Screws, 90 degree molex connectors, fans, etc.
9 - 5-Port SATA Backplanes with Integrated Port Multipliers
2 - 3124 Based Silicon Image Controllers (4-Port, 64-Bit PCI)
1 - 3124 Based Silicon Image Controller (4-Port, PCI Express)
1 - ASUS P6T Workstation Edition MB (i7 Based)
1 - Intel Quad i7 Processor
2 - 6GB DDR3 Memory Kits (12GB Total)
1 - PCI Express Video Card - basic for now
1 - 1200 Watt ToughPower Thermatake Power Supply with Modular Connectors
1 - Windows Server 2008R2 x64 with HyperV
1 - SATA Drive for Loading OS (i.e. Boot Drive)
I know I'll get a ton of questions on this, so let's talk a little turkey on the RAID setup.
Some of you will no doubt want to RAID your data for protection. I'm not a fan of anything more complex than mirrored RAID setups. I've lost enough data with drives in a typical RAID 5 setup that I frankly avoid them like the plague. Another consideration is that if this is going in a home, the usage is going to be extremely light. Keeping a RAID array powered up will use a lot of extra energy and generate a lot more heat. If you are like me and live in a Sun State, the last thing you need is more heat!
The other reason people want a RAID is for performance, but you'll never see it at the client level. The best connection that most will do with a server like this is a hard-wired gigabit network connection. A typically hard drive can read about 100MB/sec or 800Mb/sec. In short, your gigabit ethernet (i.e. 1000Mb/sec) will quickly become the bottleneck for your data transfers.
The good news is that I did a test with my test EMS box and I was able to stream 16 movies at once without a RAID.This was a mix of bitrates that is comparable to everything from iPod to DVD to BluRay. With all 16 movies playing/streaming, I used just over 100Mb/sec of bandwidth on my network wire and around 9 to 12MB/sec of disk throughput or only about 1/10 of what a decent desktop drive is a capable of outputting. For a typical setup of serving a few MP3s and a movie or two concurrently, you'll have more than enough bandwidth without a RAID for most users.
In short, RAID if you want, but you'll use more power and probably get no real world performance benefit. What you might get is data protection, but you have 45 slots for extra hard drives - it might be just as easy to script a backup to a spare HD or use BackBlaze for online backups :)
The next big choice is whether to use Linux or Windows. I know Microsoft Window Server like the back of my hand. I support it all day long and for me there really wasn't any other choice. At the end of the day, it is cheaper for me to use Windows Server 2008R2 as I'll spend much more in time learning the Linux side of things which is also a real cost for me. Either OS is great and both have support for Port Multipliers. Use what you are comfortable with or use it as opportunity to learn something new. I would also encourage you to use the 64-Bit Version of whatever OS you decide on.
If you've got an idea to make the EMS better, let me know. If I like it, I'll give it a try and post the results!
The covers the basics for now. Next up, installing and wiring up the port multipliers.