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Build A Compact Low Power Atom Server

Discussion in 'NAS Article Discussions' started by travisco_nabisco, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. travisco_nabisco

    travisco_nabisco Regular Contributor

    Apr 23, 2010
    BC, Canada
    Thanks for an interesting article.

    It looks like you found a great little platform for a small server. The most interesting thing to me was your mention of Vortexbox. I hadn't heard of that before and may need to look into it as it seems to be an excellent way to streamline the ripping and serving of the DVD's I own.

    I already did some poking around and determined I could even store the rips on my existing NAS which would allow me to build a Vertexbox with a small HDD.
  2. jms703

    jms703 New Around Here

    Apr 27, 2010
    Interesting post. I looked at building an Atom system, but I ended up deciding against it in the end.

    * Why I didn't chose an Atom (Intel Atom D525) or Zacate (AMD E-350):
    I'm well aware that a low end Atom or Zacate processor can handle the basic tasks. I'm concerned that I may want to add functionality to this system in the future, and that is where this gets tricky. You can't upgrade an Atom (or Zacate) motherboard. The Atom/E-350 route seems fine for simple tasks, like firewalling or even a NAS, but underpowered for adding any other functionality, including VMs. So Atom is nice, for basic and limited tasks, but you should know that you will hit a performance wall at some point and an upgrade means a new system.

    * Why I preferred a Sandy Bridge CPU:
    From everything I've read lately, the low power Sandy Bridge CPUs like the Pentium G620T and i3-2100t all seem to have similar power consumption to an Atom or E-350. The added bonus is that I can always upgrade to an i5 (such as i5-2390T) if I feel I need AES-NI to speed up VPNs. In addition, I can even upgrade to a Xeon E3-2130 if I want all of the i5 plus more cache and more threads for an ESXi/Xen/KVM server that can run my PF firewall along with other things. So I feel like I have lots of room for growth. The new Intel S1200KP board has 2x builtin Intel NICs and will support all of the Sandy Bridge CPUs. I've seen really low power consumption rates on this CPU and the D67/H67/H61 chipsets.

    In the end, for my home server I chose a Xeon E3-2140 with 16GB RAM. I run Fedora 16 (because it has some the newest Linux KVM features) as a type 2 hypervisor. My VMs include PFSense, SecurityOnion, BackTrack 5, SANS SIFT, CentOS syslog server with Splunk, etc. I do all of this on one system. I no longer have multiple systems creating excess heat and using lots of electricity. When idle, my E3-1240 system uses 40 watts. Yes, that's right, 40 watts. The Sandy Bridge CPU architecture is *very* efficient.

    This may not be useful for everyone, but it's worth considering what you want out of an Atom and if your needs will increase in the future.
  3. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Intel Drivers

    Very intersting article ... would like to build one me too.
    The only problem could be drivers : Intel on its Support Site says that there is NO drivers for Windows 2003 or 2008 Server regarding this Motherboard !!
    What driver could I use ??

    Regards - migi.
  4. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    i am sure i understand why to do this. it is serving files at a price higher than a nas. what am i missing. why would i want a server vs a nas when a lot of nas drives have dlna and other server functions? i would understand if it was an application server.

  5. 00Roush

    00Roush Very Senior Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    In many cases Win XP drivers will work for Server 2003 and Windows 7 drivers will work for Server 2008.

  6. iliketofish

    iliketofish New Around Here

    Feb 9, 2010
    I built something like this awhile back and love it!

    I put a windows 7 machine like this together for my file and media server. My TV is hooked up to it as the monitor and I have a wireless keyboard and mouse. When I built it, I just needed a file and media server, but I soon found out that I could watch NFL games via P2P over the internet and they looked great on my TV. Since I live in Europe and don't get NFL games over satellite, it was really cool. My wife also likes to show Region 1 DVDs on that computer to the kids and we can use our DVR for region 2 DVDs, so we don't have to try to hunt down a codefree DVD player for our needs.

    My system has an Atom processor and needs about 17W average throughout the day. This system is powered down with everything else network each night and started up fresh each morning.

    For us, this little system has done exactly what we want at low cost and I can transfer files between 40 and 80 MB/sec, which is great since I do large file transfers several times a week for work and home.

    If I were currently home, I would tell what components my system has, but I'm not, so I can't say exactly what everything is. But it's basically the same thing as this article describes, just a year older, maybe.
  7. stevech

    stevech Part of the Furniture

    Mar 13, 2010
    San Diego
    I too built a min-ITX box using an Intel ATOM motherboard. Worked OK but not fast enough to process 1080i recorded HDTV files.

    I replaced that with a newer cheaper Gigabyte mini-ITX mobo with an AMD E350 CPU, DDR3 memory, USB3 and eSATA. Huge difference. Works great. Running Win 7.

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