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How do you do....it? Thread, Cheapest way to obtain high-performance file server in Technical; Originally Posted by SYNACK Using may cheap cards means that although the silicon may be slow and shared between drives ...
  1. #16

    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Using may cheap cards means that although the silicon may be slow and shared between drives it is only shared between a small number of drives making its comparitive performance better than if it was fully burdened.
    Hmm - if we're buying two servers we could actually test this. Instead of buying that second server with 12 SATA ports on the motherboard we could get a motherboard with a stack of PCI Express slots and load it with as many eBay SATA controllers as we can fit in and see what happens...

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  2. #17
    TheLibrarian
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    I'm working from memory, so you may want to check this for yourself - RAID 5 is fast for reading files but not so good at writing them - and IIRC not so good with lots of small files.

    Off the top of my head I can't remember much more - sorry.

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    Our file server (not user areas admittedly) uses the on-board RAID on an Intel P35 motherboard. Copes very well and has done for a few years now. Had no complaints about speed, and obviously the CPU is doing the bulk of the work, but it doesn't need to do anything else. Hardware RAID is always preferable, but we put ours together for £300 or so total, with RAID 5 on 3 drives, and RAID 1 on another pair. There's space for more too.

  4. #19
    TheLibrarian
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    If you are buying two servers, then you've got the redundancy you require from RAID 5 - you could go with a much faster but less fault resistant RAID.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLibrarian View Post
    I'm working from memory, so you may want to check this for yourself - RAID 5 is fast for reading files but not so good at writing them - and IIRC not so good with lots of small files.
    Problems with read / write performance should hopefully be evened out by a large cache on a hardware RAID card (because that's what you're paying the money for, after all), and I imagine the large / small files issue might be more to do with the file system on top of the RAID array. Saying that, I suppose it might be benificial to have the server have a decent amount of RAM so as to provide a second-level disk cache to complement that on the RAID card? Would 8GB of RAM be a sensible amount for a file server - would it make much / any difference to performance? Or will adding another cache just add more lookup time and actually reduce performance?

    Anyone any suggestions as to a file system? This will be a Linux machine, so I guess there's a choice of Ext3 or 4, Reiser FS and whatever else comes with Ubuntu or Debian these days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLibrarian View Post
    If you are buying two servers, then you've got the redundancy you require from RAID 5 - you could go with a much faster but less fault resistant RAID.
    Have the file server run a RAID-0 array, you mean? The second-server-as-backup idea is that it can take over if it really has to - if the RAID card goes bang and there's no access to the main file server the backup can take over until we get replacement parts, probably loosing a day's data in the process (because the backup server will be backed up overnight, so you'd lose the current day's work). I'm not sure I'd want that happening every time a disk went, assuming disk failure is (hopefully) rather more common than RAID card failure. Also, the idea of spending £1,000 on a RAID card is that it can do RAID-5 at a decent clip.

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  7. #22
    TheLibrarian
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Have the file server run a RAID-0 array, you mean?
    Something along those lines, yes.

    If you were to ensure data replication from primary to secondary went on at regular intervals rather than just over night - although this just complicates the issue and may be best ignored.
    Last edited by TheLibrarian; 24th May 2010 at 11:43 AM. Reason: I should read what I write before submitting....

  8. #23
    TheLibrarian
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    I'm not being much help here I'm afraid, again you need to choose the file system wisely, some systems don't sit too well on hardware RAID, they aren't aware of the non-volatile cache on the RAID controller and force flushes which can slow things down.

    Which ones do this I really can't remember, I'm going back a while and not to Linux so I could be taking complete cowpats.

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    dhicks (24th May 2010)

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLibrarian View Post
    If you were to ensure data replication from primary to secondary went on at regular intervals rather than just over night
    Could do, but then we'd probably be looking at running rsync or similar every hour, or running DRBD (which, from previous experience, is a bit of a blighter to get working alongside SATA controller drivers) to do constant replication, all of which is going to take up network bandwidth that could be used to serve files.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLibrarian View Post
    some systems don't sit too well on hardware RAID, they aren't aware of the non-volatile cache on the RAID controller and force flushes which can slow things down
    Thanks, something to check up on - time to check Wikipedia for the caching characteristics of various file systems...

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    andyrite's Avatar
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    I'm using a Areca ARC-1280ML with 2TB Western Digital WD2002FYPS RE4-GP drives configered with Raid 6. I've had 5 of these drives fail now. Raid card is pretty good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    I figured around £5,000 should cover two servers - one with 6 2TB disks, giving 8TB of apparent storage, organised into a RAID-5 array via a top-of-the-range RAID card, and one with 9 2TB disks, giving 12TB of apparent storage, used to to hold backups of the first server. If we spend £2,000 on a pile of 2TB disks and £1,000 on a really good RAID card that still gives us £2,000 for cases, motherboards and power supplies, which should be more than ample. I figure if we're spending £1,000 on a RAID card it should have a large enough read/write cache to overcome most performance issues from having larger disks with slower response rates - that said, if anyone can recommend a particular harddrive I'd be interested to know if any particular 2TB disks beat others for performance.

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    I think what @andyrite was hinting at is using 12x1Tb disks instead of 6x2Tb disks. The reason being that more spindles = more speed/faster IO's. The other thing you can do with 12x1Tb disks is use RAID-50, so you have two 6 Disk RAID-5 arrays Stripped together. This should improve write speeds as the system should alternate writes between the two stripes. Also you get two disk redundancy (1 for each RAID-5 array) rather than 1.

    Only problem is you need a chassis and the SATA connectors to hook up 12 disks insead of 6 - but it's an idea. Should give a faster more risiient solution with the sme storage capacity for around the same money?

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  16. #28
    TheLibrarian
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Thanks, something to check up on - time to check Wikipedia for the caching characteristics of various file systems...
    Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    Only problem is you need a chassis and the SATA connectors to hook up 12 disks insead of 6 - but it's an idea. Should give a faster more risiient solution with the sme storage capacity for around the same money?
    The disks andyrite mentions seem to be 2TB ones - I figure if we're buying 1TB disks then we might as well spend the bit extra and get 2TB disks and have double the storage. richardp might have had rather a good idea earlier when he pointed out that you can run the OS from USB or Flash disk - if we skip having a CD drive or OS harddrives then we can fill the whole PC case with 2TB drives, running the OS from a memory stick plugged in directly on the motherboard.

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    If your looking for performance in regards to read/write speed then have a look at the VeryPC fileservers, we have one and in honesty not much can touch it for read/write speed. Think the 12tb cost us about 7k but it blows most stuff out the water.

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