Friday, September 3, 2010

Building a low-power FreeNAS Server: Part 2

Part 2 of my series will be a shopping list of the materials I've picked to build by FreeNAS server.

Everything starts with the motherboard. I was looking for a low-power Mini-ITX board that had a built-in gigabit ethernet controller and I've decided to pick an Intel D510MO. This is a desktop board based on the Atom processor which is cheap and low power. There were third-party Atom boards that were maybe 10-15$ less than the Intel-branded one, but some reviewers complained on excessive heat and I didn't want to have heat problems. I was initially looking into the VIA C7 platform but it can't beat the Atom in terms of performance. I still don't know if the intel BIOS built on this board can work on a serial console. That would be surprising, but I will keep you posted.

I purchased two 1Tb Seagate 7200 RPM SATA disks -- nothing special here, except that 7200RPM was an imported factor for me. I want these disks to be as fast as possible when I'm copying large amounts of data.

For the case, I picked a cheap MicroATX one. Why MicroATX? Because Mini-ITX cases are expensive, and usually can't fit more than one hard disk. I selected a R102-P from Rosewill which happened to be 20$ on Newegg. That case is not only cheap, but it can hold 4 hard disks (which doesn't seem too common on MicroATX cases) and the front is very well ventilated with a lot of air holes right in front of the disks.

The case doesn't come with a power supply. And I didn't want to; since I was looking to be the most power-efficient possible, I picked a 80-Plus 250W power supply from Sparkle. 250W for an ATX form factor is also not that common, but I was really looking into getting what I need and not more -- an idling 500W PS consumes more power and one rated at 250W.

The last thing I bought is a gizmo made by Koutech - an adapter that converts a 10 pin USB header into a standard USB plug. Using this, I can put FreeNAS on a small USB key, and plug that key directly on the motherboard inside the case -- no dangling key outside the box. The motherboard doesn't have an IDE header, so I couldn't use a more common IDE to CF card converter. We'll see how this goes.

That's it for now. I'm currently in the process of having all this shipped to me and I will soon see how things work out.

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