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Re: hardware eval
> Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2004 15:12:33 -0400 (EDT)
> From: Andrew Douglas Inman <ainman@xxxxxxxxx>
> X-X-Sender: ainman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> To: umce.linux@xxxxxxxxx
> cc: mcgarr@xxxxxxxxx, Adam Herscher <ahersche@xxxxxxxxx>
> Subject: hardware eval
> Message-ID: <Pine.SOL.4.58.0410041505220.7294@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> MIME-Version: 1.0
> Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII
> We're looking at replacing the .di box hardware that we currently run in
> Sites and to support ITCOM later this year with some mini-PC style hardware
> running linux.
> Currently they run on X1 (1u Sun hardware) w/ 1GB of RAM, dual 18GB drives
> (these are 500Mhz ultra 2i processors).
> In the new configuration we'd like at least the following config:
> 1GB Pentium 4 (xeon) process, atleast 1GB of RAM, at least 36GB of disk,
> in a low form factor (hopefully at least 2 for 1u), in low heat producing
> box that can run via a serial interface.
> Below are some links to stuff I've found online, I'm going to order a couple
> of them by the end of the week.
> If you have any input on what to buy or pointers to something I've not found
> please let me know by Friday. I'm also interesting in knowing who'd like to
> test this hardware when we get it.
Are you looking for ECC? SCSI or IDE disk? ECC+SCSI should be more
reliable, but more pricey. 5400 rpm or 7200 rpm?
What kind of ethernet are you expecting? 1g or 100m??
Not worried about expansion, pci slots, parallel ports, etc.?
How much do you want to pay?
Kernel-wise, new scsi & ethernet drivers may require configuration
changes for the kernel. Probably nothing big, but worth watching.
Are you trying to optimize particularly for which one of these:
small form factor?
high density of servers?
hardware maintenance convenience?
compatibility with existing umce linux or hardware?
ordering convenience or quick delivery?
also just what do these do? (Sorry, I have no idea what ".di" means.)
Processor-wise, any reason why Xeon in particular? Clock tick per
clock tick, pentium 3 will outperform pentium 4, especially with linux
& gcc. It's available at > 1Ghz, and will run our current kernels and
software unmodified. AMD is also worth considering, although I think
k7 might require a different kernel. VIA will certainly require
a different kernel, but is much lower power. Uniprocessor 1ghz is far
enough behind the bleeding edge there are other possibilities. If you're
currently running a dual ultra-2i @ 500 mhz, keep in mind a
uniprocessor 1ghz intel machine is probably actually a step backwards
in terms of cpu capacity. More on your links later, but they
actually had very varied CPU choices.
The linuxbios folks
seem to be getting interesting results, and they've got stuff that
works on a variety of mainboards.
They seem in particular to be doing well with supermicro mainboards, so
that might be worth taking into account. IBM & dell aren't so well
supported -- might be very worthwhile twitting our sales reps about
this - could help both us and linuxbios if ibm/dell know they're losing
sales because they aren't being sufficiently opensource friendly.
supermicro 1u prices:
includes pentium 3 machines starting at $524, pentium 4 starting at $621.
Clock speeds seem to be a big secret (probably at supermicro site...)
but at a first glance, this looks very cheap & similar to what we have.
These machines won't be ultra low power though, nor will they be quiet.
Case-wise, it is possible to buy empty 1u boxes and separately purchase
& install mainboards and other components. I'm not 100% sure we want
to be in this business, but I think both citi and the linux box have
done this and claim it's cheap and easy. Do you want some of these to
be desktop or tower cases? There is of course an attraction to having
the same motherboard & guts even if you go with several different
I doubt any of these will be as cool running as the Sun x1, nor will
they have the LOM feature that sun's hardware has.
If you get interested in the linuxbios stuff, then yes, I'm very
interested in playing with the hardware. Otherwise, well, it's
another 1u machine -- but I can help with bootcd, driver, or kernel
config issues if things don't just work.
For very low end machines, another interesting possibility is:
They aren't very fast, but for low power embedded applications,
they look quite reasonable. They're opensource friendly and
speak serial console.
VIA cpu -- see above -- definitely lower power, maybe neat for
encryption, will require new kernel, possibly other changes (openssl?)
not very much memory - 32M.
PowerPC. Will definitely need a new kernel. At least.
But if you want PowerPC this is very neat, and this
could be a very fun project.
This *may* support openfirmware a la macintosh, recent RS/6K,
in which case it may look the most like the sun in terms
of serial "bios" support.
But this is probably slow, no ECC.
Bunch of options here. Some of these could be just
right. Not quite enough detail to be sure,
might need other/custom mods -- serial bios for instance.
But cases are interesting -- might be worth matching with mini
ATX mainboards we find elsewhere w/ serial bios.
It's cute. But SODIUM DDR ram is probably rare and pricey.
serial bios support isn't mentioned.
DDR DIMM probably pricey. Only non-ECC.
Lan port is 10/100 only.
AMI bios - probably similiar to what we have on the
western scientific 3u machines. Serial support
there had some weird quirks (then again, they all do.)
Of course, there's no guarantee this supports a serial bios.
Some other random pages I found:
one site's cluster hardare evaluation technique - but everything
they list would be just as useful for us.
Links to more small form factor rackmount things:
small 1u machine. Right speed cpu, but will probably require a differnet
kernel to work with VIA cpu (which is however low power=less heat.)
Does do AES in hardware. Less memory than you want, but very small form
factor and low power.
2 motherboards in one 1u box. But only goes to 512M.
Seems to be oodles of other VIA possiblities.