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SoulsCollective
04-24-2014, 03:20 AM
Hi folks, long time no post but good to see XS still kicking along. Not sure if this belongs more in Server or Storage, but I'm guessing Server, so here goes:

Looking to redo our home network and centralise things a bit without hopefully sacrificing too much in the way of performance and usability. Goals for this build are
serve as a central and convenient point of storage for everything from movies to wedding photos to files for my wife's Masters thesis, so need both space and a fairly high level of redundancy and data protection. Truly important commercial (tax) stuff is backed up offsite, so what is left, while valuable, isn't justified off-siting (plus there's a lot of stuff, currently sitting at about 4TB)
be relatively futureproof, providing at least 12TB of total space, whilst running relatively quietly
play nicely with both Windows and OSX
as I'm a bit concerned about the recent surveillance/data mining revelations brought to light (yeah yeah tinfoil etc), I'd like to retain control and ownership of all the stuff we currently have sitting in various cloud services (Dropbox etc), so needs to run some sort of personal cloud service (BitTorrent Sync, OwnCloud, etc - open to suggestions here)
be fast, or at least as fast as reasonably possible, because if it doesn't relatively seamlessly replace storing stuff on local HDDs I know my wife won't use it which defeats the purpose
hence perform well over our LAN (support teaming, jumbo frames, etc)
not die (server etc) and not require fiddling to keep up. Particularly as we want to use it as a cloud replacement; if my wife's at Uni and can't access her Masters stuff like she currently can with her Dropbox account, she won't use it again which again defeats the purpose. I'll also be somewhat unimpressed if I can't access notes and files from work. Hence, uptime, reliability, etc (another reason why we need data protection and redundancy).
I've done my own digging and contemplating, and have worked out what I think will do a reasonably good job hardware-wise. Keep in mind that I'm in Australia, so availability of parts locally is somewhat restricted compared to you folks in the USA.
CPU: some manner of low-TDP i5 part, currently looking at a 4570S
CPU cooling: Noctua NF-12P. Overkill, but I have one spare from a prior build. May even be able to run fanless (that'd be nice).
Mobo: Probably an MSI Z87I mITX board, but really anything in the form-factor with dual NICs that support teaming will do
RAM: 2x4GB DDR3-1600 of some manner (OR - contemplating 2x8GB if I do end up running ZFS, see below)
OS HDD: 240GB Intel 730 SSD. Way too much capacity for intended usage, but this is the smallest size I can find one in (AND - wondering whether I can partition it and use some for ZIL/L2ARC if I end up running ZFS, see below)
RAID: LSI MegaRaid 9361-8i
RAID HDDs: 6x WD 3TB 'Red' drives in RAID-6
Case: BitFenix Phenom mITX. Will replace fans with Noctua variants, as much happier with their noise profile.
The RAID controller is already purchased (and was the subject of some debate, see below). The rest of the hardware is open to any alternate suggestions.

All this is missing is an OS (and any suggestions/feedback). I am currently leaning towards running some flavour of Debian. I am, however, by no means an expert in *nix, with experience being limited to running Debian rather than MacOS on some inherited hardware back in the PowerPC days. I like to think that I'm reasonably capable of working around difficulties as they arise, however, so despite being much more comfortable in Windows environments I'm reasonably sure some manner of *nix distro will serve the intended purpose better than running Server 2012 or something (I'd also really like to not have to shell out more cash just for a software license).

I am undecided on some specifics, though. Firstly, I'm reading a lot about ZFS. Filesystems are not my forte, but there is a good deal of positive buzz about it, both from a performance (good) and data security (doubleplus good) perspective. On the other hand, I am also hearing from parties reporting slower performance than running EXT3 or 4, that it can be hugely complex to maintain, and that it has enormous hardware requirements to produce good performance (a friend tells me not to even consider it unless I have >24GB of RAM, which seems a rather high requirement). I have done as much digging as I can on this issue, but haven't really found a clear (and recent - a lot of stuff written on the topic is years old) cost/benefit summary vs just running EXT4.

On a related note, I am also unsure whether I should be looking at Debian-Linux, or Debian-BSD. I know nothing about BSD, but again, my Google-Fu tells me that it is supposedly not quite as well-supported as the Linux kernel and can be slow to receive updates - however supposedly its native version of ZFS is more reliable and generally better than ZFS-on-Linux (which is, again according to sources some years out of date, supposedly much slower). I'd like to maintain at least some degree of familiarity with the OS running on this build, but if running Debian-Linux will measurably impact performance, uptime or access to updates then I'd consider it worth the time to learn my way around BSD.

Finally, I'm wondering if anyone has any input on use of a HW RAID controller vs software RAID (either using mdam or ZFS). Back when I last had any exposure to this stuff HW raid was miles faster (particularly in relation to parity RAID, which I am proposing to use), however when I posed these questions to my closer circle of friends opinion was split on whether to use software RAID instead as it removed the RAID controller as a potential single-point-of-failure and supposedly was just as fast. My Googling turns up a few threads on the issue, and from what I'm seeing performance on a HW RAID controller is still faster, up to about 35% when running mixed read/write operations. As above, I already own the controller I'm proposing to use (had to order the thing from the US and use a shipping forwarding service, there's basically nothing available locally that isn't already crammed into a server enclosure), so this is more from academic interest than whittling down parts list. To my mind, though, the risk of the RAID controller dying seems vanishingly small (all the ones I've had experience with have delivered years of continuous uptime with nary a hitch), and probably significantly smaller than that of the hosting MB dying. Still, if SW raid is as fast/faster (ZFS RAID management in particular is supposedly very good indeed) then I'd be silly to be using the card just for the sake of it. Interested in opinions :)

Thanks for any input! Expect a build log when all is settled ;)

Hawkeye4077
04-24-2014, 05:19 AM
for BSD type stuff look at nas4free and freenas they usually have plugins or modules that might fit your needs. I once tried nas4free, but I need to be able to run Boinc so that was kinda moot.


I've been using Windows Server 2008r2 for some time now and have not had any issues with it even though I've changed hardware alot. With just 1 intel nic I get over 110 mb/s writes across a Cat6 gigabit network setup. Thats even with running Boinc in the back ground and functioning as a HTPC till my Z-Box gets back from RMA.

My Server:
Supermicro H8SGL
AMD Opteron 6128
8gb Corsair XMS3 DDR3-1333
HighPoint RocketRaid 2720
Raid 5:4x WD 750GB Green
Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard
Fractal Define R4

SoulsCollective
04-24-2014, 10:30 PM
Thanks for the input - I did look at OpenNAS etc, however my question re BSD was more on a cost/benefit front of using Debian-BSD or Debian-Linux, given that from my reading
ZFS on BSD is more up-to-date, being a native implementation, than ZFS-on-Linux
BSD generally offers fairly good device support, but less so than Linux
Debian-BSD is supposedly slower than Debian-Linux, apparently suffering most in the areas of data throughput

On a related note, I have learnt that the Intel 530 series I was originally proposing to use does not have power loss data protection (ie supercap or similar to ensure writes are committed on power loss), despite the 320-series it replaces having such. Have therefore specced up to a 730, which is a pain as the lowest capacity I can find them available in is 240GB. Still, I can use it for ZIL/L2ARC if I end up running ZFS.

Hawkeye4077
04-25-2014, 02:19 AM
For BSD hardware Support look here:
http://www.freebsd.org/releases/10.0R/hardware.html
http://www.freebsd.org/relnotes/CURRENT/hardware/

I don't know if either of the two free nas distro's have transitioned to 10/11 yet, but my 2720 had a love/hate relationship with 9.3 when i tried it last

tiro_uspsss
05-04-2014, 03:16 PM
Julian! Long time no hear or see! :wave:

re: ZFS needing heaps of RAM... bulldust! :) You only need a truckload of RAM if you enable dedup (this is where ZFS/OS checks if you have double+ copies of files). If disabled, I've heard ppl run it with as little as 2GB & I myself have played a little with FreeNAS / NAS4Free(?) with..crap.. either 2 or 4GB or there abouts :up:

Andi64
05-06-2014, 11:26 PM
Thanks for the input - I did look at OpenNAS etc, however my question re BSD was more on a cost/benefit front of using Debian-BSD or Debian-Linux, given that from my reading
ZFS on BSD is more up-to-date, being a native implementation, than ZFS-on-Linux
BSD generally offers fairly good device support, but less so than Linux
Debian-BSD is supposedly slower than Debian-Linux, apparently suffering most in the areas of data throughput

On a related note, I have learnt that the Intel 530 series I was originally proposing to use does not have power loss data protection (ie supercap or similar to ensure writes are committed on power loss), despite the 320-series it replaces having such. Have therefore specced up to a 730, which is a pain as the lowest capacity I can find them available in is 240GB. Still, I can use it for ZIL/L2ARC if I end up running ZFS.

I don't know if it meets all your needs, but FreeNAS is an excellent option. I have a modest FreeNAS server, with 4x1TB WD Blue HDDs, 8GB RAM and a Pentium G2030. I have a CIFS share, with most of the space used for it, and a 500GB Datastore for my Virtual Machines (Media Center, VoIP, VPN, AD, Mail, SQL, and 6 virtualized ESXi).

Performance wise, it's excellent. On Windows I have ~900Mbps bandwidth, with 1 gigabit uplink. My 2 ESXi servers are connected with 2x1gbps uplinks with iSCSI, and read/write performance is up to 200MB/s.

But, if you seek performance, you should use at least 8GB RAM, and I would recommend 16GB or more if possible. SSD for ZIL and L2ARC is useless unless you know what you are doing. First of all, for a ZIL log you'd need 2 SSD in RAID1, and only the sync writes will see a boost in performance. CIFS, AFP or iSCSI (Windows client) won't see any performance benefit 'cause they don't write in sync.

L2ARC does not needs to be RAIDed, you could use a single SSD for that. It acts as a read cache, and it'll be recreated each time the NAS boots. It'll use it only when you run out of RAM.

Instead of throwing SSDs for more performance, which won't happen because of the way it works (again, unless you have a lot of sync writes and/or you work with more data that could fit in your RAM) I would buy 32GB ECC RAM

Edit: oh, also, for OS just use an 8GB USB pendrive, if you go with FreeNAS or something like that.

Vinas
05-08-2014, 05:53 AM
Hi folks, long time no post but good to see XS still kicking along. Not sure if this belongs more in Server or Storage, but I'm guessing Server, so here goes:

Looking to redo our home network and centralise things a bit without hopefully sacrificing too much in the way of performance and usability. Goals for this build are

Thanks for any input! Expect a build log when all is settled ;)
I use an Intel NUC (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856102035) and a PROBOX 4HDD/SDD USB3 eSATA drive enclosure (http://www.mediasonic.ca/product.php?id=1357290977) connected via USB 3. No RAID, just straight with cloud backup - if a drive fails I buy a new on and re-download the contents from the cloud backup service. It's fast, low power, low cost, active cooling for HDD life, works well as my server. :up:

EDIT: I've been down the full server path over the last twelve years or so, and honestly the evolution to my setup above has been the best experience so far. I've got kids and a wife, along with a farm complete with farm animals to look after so I can't be bothered with babysitting my server very often... I don't worry about having the correct modules, drivers, RAID cards, software RAID, backup scripts, fan failure (although the two fans (one in the NUC, one in the enclosure) could fail). One thing to mention is I am fortunate to not have bandwidth caps enforced, and a 5mb/50mb connection, so the cloud backup coupled with the simplified setup above works well for me. Transfer speeds are around the 45-60MB/sec with initial bursts of ~100MB/s. Total storage I have is about ~6TB across five cloud protected drives. It's file level backup, but I do have versioning so I can go back about a month if I notice a corrupt file in time... Power wise this setup pulls about 35w at the wall on the kilowatt. I also have a sync data directory that I sync and share with Google Drive so I can share files, and have remote access via Open VPN. I think the NUC+Enclosure and mSATA SSD for the NUC + RAM and HDDs cost me around $600. I use crashplan for backup at about $70 per year. So not free, but cheaper for what it does... Anyway, many things to consider :-)

SoulsCollective
05-11-2014, 03:49 AM
Thanks for the additional input folks :)

Update time: server is built, and has been named Sugarcube by my wife. Sugarcube consists of:
CPU: i5 4570S
CPU cooling: Noctua NF-U12, currently running fanless and sitting at about 30C idle, 45C load
Mobo: MSI Z87I mITX board. As above, this is literally the only mITX board I can find that supports teaming, so no ECC support.
RAM: 2x8GB Corsair DDR3-1600
OS HDD: 240GB Intel 730 SSD. Way too much capacity for intended usage, but this was the smallest size I could find an SSD in that has some manner of power-loss data protection
RAID: LSI MegaRaid 9361-8i with BBU
RAID HDDs: 6x WD 3TB 'Red' drives
Case: BitFenix Phenom mITX. Fans replaced with Noctua NF-P12s (front fan will be a BitFenix 230mm Spectre, which is currently on order)

I'm using Phoronix Test Suite to benchmark each of the storage configs considered, however I work full-time and each run takes about eight hours, so combined with me fiddling and trying to remember how to Linux progress is slow. OS currently installed is Debian stable (Wheezy 7.5) for all tests, so some more speed may be eked out with a newer kernel but the stability is more important to me (although the lack of kernel support for the Intel HD chip means Gnome is currently running in fallback mode...yay).

Reference run (on the Intel 730 SDD): http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1405102-BY-SSDTEST9384

Test using the LSI controller to do all the work (RAID-6), formatted as EXT-4: http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1405102-BY-LSIR6EXT455

Additional results to follow, first running ZFS on top of a R6 array managed by the LSI card, then ZFS running on the raw drives passed through the card, then ZFS running on each drive configured through the controller as a separate RAID-1 array (which should allow the controller's cache and write optimisations to come into play).

SoulsCollective
05-12-2014, 04:45 PM
Again using RAID-6 powered by the LSI controller, but running a ZFS filesystem on top: http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1405127-BY-TEST7477399
No tweaks or alterations have been made for this run, no L2ARC, ZIL, etc - just the same logical drive as in the above test with ZFS on top. Much worse than EXT4, even though it should be benefitting from the same cache optimsations as the EXT4 test, however none of the advantages of ZFS are in play hre.

tiro_uspsss
05-12-2014, 07:05 PM
Again using RAID-6 powered by the LSI controller, but running a ZFS filesystem on top: http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1405127-BY-TEST7477399
No tweaks or alterations have been made for this run, no L2ARC, ZIL, etc - just the same logical drive as in the above test with ZFS on top. Much worse than EXT4, even though it should be benefitting from the same cache optimsations as the EXT4 test, however none of the advantages of ZFS are in play hre.

highly likely cause running a RAID array with ZFS on top is virtually a no-no / highly unrecommended! :)

Baenwort
05-12-2014, 07:18 PM
Just wanted to give an encouraging word that I at least am following this to see where you end up.

I'm about to start my own journey down this path and I'm debating the merits of sticking with a HW RAID card over ZFS software RAID. I'm also enticed by ZFS but leery of discarding a already in hand HW card. You're build is very similar to the one I'm contemplating with the exception of ECC ram and my plan to use an old Intel X25 I have.

SoulsCollective
05-13-2014, 03:16 AM
Currently running PTS on the HW RAID with ZFS on top using a 64GB L2ARC, so should get results in about eight hours or so. In the meantime, to respond to some of the input:


But, if you seek performance, you should use at least 8GB RAM, and I would recommend 16GB or more if possible.Current build is using 16GB, which is basically the maximum capacity I can give it given that mITX boards only have two DIMM slots - well, that, and 16GB density modules are practically non-existent.

SSD for ZIL and L2ARC is useless unless you know what you are doing. First of all, for a ZIL log you'd need 2 SSD in RAID1, and only the sync writes will see a boost in performance. CIFS, AFP or iSCSI (Windows client) won't see any performance benefit 'cause they don't write in sync.I understand that the performance benefits will only be seen in specific write scenarios, but given that I have a massive amount of unused SSD space, even allowing for some heavy over-provisioning, and ZIL will only benefit from ~2-3GB space, I don't really see a reason not to :) As for the RAID concern, I am given to understand that this was only a necessity in earlier versions of ZFS where ZIL failure would hose a pool. This issue has been corrected in more recent builds.

Instead of throwing SSDs for more performance, which won't happen because of the way it works (again, unless you have a lot of sync writes and/or you work with more data that could fit in your RAM) I would buy 32GB ECC RAMSadly, as above, there is no ECC option in the mITX form factor, otherwise I definitely would!

highly likely cause running a RAID array with ZFS on top is virtually a no-no / highly unrecommended! :)From my understanding, it's really more a case of that the full featureset of ZFS doesn't really come into play when not running raw drives, or preferably using RAID-Z parity implementations. But even with ZFS running on top of a logical drive, features like snapshots, export/importability, etc are still useful - the question is whether the performance cost/benefit equation works out favourably ;)

Just wanted to give an encouraging word that I at least am following this to see where you end up.

I'm about to start my own journey down this path and I'm debating the merits of sticking with a HW RAID card over ZFS software RAID. I'm also enticed by ZFS but leery of discarding a already in hand HW card. You're build is very similar to the one I'm contemplating with the exception of ECC ram and my plan to use an old Intel X25 I have.Heh, thanks - there's a real dearth of actual numbers-based analysis, isn't there! As always, it seems the best solution is just to muck in and do it yourself :P

SoulsCollective
05-13-2014, 03:47 PM
And here we have the same setup as before, just with a 64GB partition of the SSD set aside as L2ARC - http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1405132-BY-ZFSW64GL253.

Given that performance has dropped below the margin of error, I suspect something has not quite gone right, so take this above result with a grain of salt. Taking the system down for reboot and reinstalling PTS.

Baenwort
05-13-2014, 07:35 PM
Sadly, as above, there is no ECC option in the mITX form factor, otherwise I definitely would!

There are two options that I know about:

1) ASRock Rack (http://www.asrockrack.com/general/productdetail.asp?Model=E3C224D4I-14S#) If you have a Haswell i3 (this is what I'm planning on building around) which is available in the US at Newegg for $190. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157467

2) Supermicro (http://www.supermicro.com.tw/products/motherboard/Xeon/QM77/X9SPV-LN4F-3QE.cfm) If you don't mind the embeded Ivy Bridge i7-3612QE. I don't know about availability of this one as it wasn't on my radar due to the soldered on CPU.

I've read rumors of a Asus board that is capable of it but just rumors so far.

NKrader
05-13-2014, 08:13 PM
There are two options that I know about:

1) ASRock Rack (http://www.asrockrack.com/general/productdetail.asp?Model=E3C224D4I-14S#) If you have a Haswell i3 (this is what I'm planning on building around) which is available in the US at Newegg for $190. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157467

2) Supermicro (http://www.supermicro.com.tw/products/motherboard/Xeon/QM77/X9SPV-LN4F-3QE.cfm) If you don't mind the embeded Ivy Bridge i7-3612QE. I don't know about availability of this one as it wasn't on my radar due to the soldered on CPU.

I've read rumors of a Asus board that is capable of it but just rumors so far.
or any of these
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100006519%2040000302%20600009028%20600016286&IsNodeId=1


on a side note, HOLYCRAP (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157475)

Buckeye
05-13-2014, 09:20 PM
Yeah they have a nice storage server based on the ASRock board.

http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/6315/asrock-rack-1u12lw-c2750-12-bay-storage-server-review/index.html

SoulsCollective
05-13-2014, 10:51 PM
Thanks for the input folks, however -
Keep in mind that I'm in Australia, so availability of parts locally is somewhat restricted compared to you folks in the USA.
Plus, server is already built using the above specs ;)

SoulsCollective
05-14-2014, 02:20 AM
Second test with above setup using 64GB partition for L2ARC: http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1405143-BY-ZFSW64GL215

So, not much improvement here. Time to test running ZFS on drives passed through the LSI controller.

SoulsCollective
05-15-2014, 03:24 AM
And - a RAID-Z2 of six logical volumes each consisting of one drive in RAID-0 managed by the LSI controller (so taking advantage of the controller cache and other optimisations) - http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1405158-PL-RAIDZ2ONL38

Results are interesting. The 64GB L2ARC is obviously helping benchmarks here, but generally speeds seem lower across the board from the HW controller managing a straight RAID6 formatted as EXT4. I'm planning on tidying up these resuls slightly and putting up a comparison soon; probably tomorrow.

SoulsCollective
05-16-2014, 08:42 PM
Right, data:


Test
% change - RAID-Z2 vs RAID-6
RAID-Z2 on 6xRAID-0
ZFS on RAID-6 64GB L2ARC
ZFS on RAID-6
EXT-4 on RAID-6


Flex IO (low good)
-97.15%
41.58
28.37
31.99
1457.38


FS-Mark (high good)
-56.83%
262.43
207.6
217.13
607.87


Dbench 1 (high good)
-32.66%
623.22
530.08
537.46
925.54


Dbench 12 (high good)
-35.94%
2085.61
314.68
459.17
3255.55


Dbench 48 (high good)
-22.05%
2377.04
252.26
333.37
3049.62


Dbench 128 (high good)
-15.10%
2388.28
465.3
487.44
2812.92


IOzone read (high good)
0.38%
7509.26
1099.61
1236.56
7480.87


IOzone write (high good)
-22.85%
148.66
101.51
187.57
192.69


Thread I/O read (high good)
3.25%
13289.23
2475.33
2528.86
12870.94


Thread I/O write (high good)
-22.85%
148.66
101.51
187.57
192.69


Compile init compile (high good)
-14.35%
499.84
791.88
702.57
583.61


Compile create (high good)
-9.23%
285.6
123.27
126.01
314.65


Unpack kernel (low good)
0.69%
10.16
10.74
10.74
10.09


Postmark (high good)
-0.72%
5357
5842.5
5557
5396


Gzip compress (low good)
0.07%
13.53
13.64
13.54
13.52


PostgreSQL (high good)
-39.31%
5172.22
4460.68
4604.84
8521.75



First things first, we can probably discard kernel unpacking and gzip compression - results basically do not change across configuration, so I suspect the limiting factor here is CPU speed and not storage. Secondly, I have no idea what is going on with the Flex I/O test such that any ZFS tested config performs so enormously faster than EXT4 (remember low numbers are good here), other than that perhaps the entire dataset is fitting in ARC. Worth noting, but I'm not entirely sure how well this will match up to real-world performance.

IO-Zone read, Threaded I/O read and Postmark are all within the margin of error of the tests, so performance here is basically equivalent. As expected, read performance is not a huge issue for ZFS, particularly when data can fit wholly in one of the ARCs.

Operations that involve some manner of write access or mixed read/writes are more challenging. On average, RAID-Z2 performs 30.24% slower than RAID-6 on identical hardware and OS. Closest is CompileBench initial creation, worst is FS-Mark.

Hawkeye4077
05-18-2014, 11:40 PM
This is a really nice looking server board.

http://www.asrockrack.com/WS/photo/C226%20WS+-1(M).jpg

Cold Fussion
06-23-2014, 12:36 AM
This article popped up on Ars a couple days ago (http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/06/the-ars-nas-distribution-shootout-freenas-vs-nas4free/). It basically discusses the basic setup and comparison of FreeNas and Nas4free. I know you're not able to, but I've always read to use ECC ram when using ZFS, but I'm not at all an expert on these things so I wouldn't know.

Hawkeye4077
06-25-2014, 02:09 PM
I have been testing OpenMediaVault on my system for about a month now. I now use a Dell PowerEdge T20 server, (Dell's answer to HP Microservers), and after a little bit of work, managed to get all my required stuff running on it. I use the SnapRaid plugin to determine Parity across the drives, with a pooling setup using aufs, it only spins up the drive that has the media on it that I need at the time. It's plugin system is not all that extensive, but the distro itself is put together from start with small NAS/Media Server in mind. Current stable version is 0.5.x, but .6 (1.0) is just around the corner, and will be based off Debian Wheezy for greater hardware compatability.