Abundo needed a new NAS/SAN. After investigating several commercial vendors equipment, such as Dell, HP etc I came to the conclusion that a custom built machine would give the best performance and flexibility for the money.

After carefully selecting equipment, I ended up with

  • SSD: OCZ Vertex plus R2 2.5″ 60 GB
  • PSU: OCZ Modxstream Pro 600W PSU with modular cabling
  • CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1230V2 Quad Core 3.3GHZ 8 MB S-1555
  • DRAM: 2 x Corsair 8GB DDR3 Venegance PC3-12800 1600 MHz CL10
  • Chassis: Compucase S411 19″ 4U
  • Disk backplane: Chiefteck 4×3.5 SAS/SATA in 3×5.25″ trays
  • Disk: 2 x Seagate Barracuda 3TB, SATA 6 Gb/s (SATA 3.0), 64 MB Cache, 7200 RPM
  • Motherboard: ASUS P8C WS C216 for E3-1200 and Core I3 ECC S-1155 ATX

The SSD is used to boot Vmware ESXI 5.1. Details on the software setup will be posted in another blog entry.

I selected the Xeon CPU to get 8 MB of L3 cache. Large cache is important when running many parallel tasks.

The motherboard has room for 4 DIMMs and maximum 32 GB o DRAM. It has dual Intel 82574 NICs, which are well supported in ESXI and gives high throughput with low CPU load.

All images below can be shown in high resolution by clicking on them.

IMG_0014 Unpacking all the components. Many boxes
IMG_0015 Chassis, a 19″ rack mountable 4RU model. Feels pretty rigid, durable and heavy. Weights 14 kg/31 pound
IMG_0016 Here is the front view of the 19″ chassis. Depth is only 560mm / 22″ so it will easily fit into a 600×800 19″ rack.
IMG_0017 Chassis, with the front removed.Note the fan behind the left three 5.25″ drive bays. That fan needs to go since I’m gonna have disk backplanes there.
IMG_0018  Inside of chassis.
IMG_0019 Here you can see the two 80×80 fans at the back. They are good for air flow, but I later learned that they compete for space with the grapics card.
IMG_0020  Here you can see the drive encloures. Each has room for four 3.5″ drives, supports hot plug and fits into 3×5.25 drive bay.
IMG_0022 The motherboard with the CPU and its heatsink, and 2×8 GB RAM mounted.The motherboard is shipped with a small board that shows diagnostic information during boot using two 7-segment LEDs. It can be seen to the left standing straigth up marked with “GP”. This card is very useful if there is any boot problems.
IMG_0023  Motherboard mounted in chassis
IMG_0033 Done some cabling.Here you can see the back of the two disk backplanes. Each has a fan that keep the drives cool.
IMG_0034 Another view. Plenty of cabling. The modular PSU makes it simpler to get some control over the cabling, unused cables not connected.
IMG_0035 Rear view. Plenty of ports, most of them will be unused.Note the RS-232 serial port to the right, not a common interface today. It was included with the motherboard so I though what the heck and mounted it?
IMG_0036 Front view. A total of eigth 3.5″ drives can be fitted. The motherboard only has six SATA ports, so I have only connected the left four drives.To use the other four, an additional SATA controller is needed.The chassis supports mounting two additional drives vertically in the middle, although today I have no plans to use that.
IMG_0037 Here you can see the small SSD mounted on thewhich I use to boot the Vmware ESXI from. It also houses the virtual machine that implements my NAS.
IMG_0038 Finally, everything is mounted except the graphics card.When ordering the components I switched CPU from an core i5 to an Xeon at the last second and forgot that the Xeon CPU does not have any built-in graphics.No problem, I just dropped in a Nvidia card I had lying around. A little overkill with 1GB RAM but it works. I had to put the card into the third PCI Express slot, since the fans at the back and the card heatsink made it impossible to mount it in the first slot.