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Old September 27, 2012, 02:51 AM
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Default Server motherboard questions

In the real world, in an office setting where the server is basically controlling the network for 10 machines and acting like a file server, does it make any difference if the motherboard has 1 CPU or 2, does it make any real difference if you go with Xeon X3s or X5s, 2011 or 1155 chipsets? do you even need a server motherboard or will a normal motherboard work just fine? what does the "server" motherboard get you that a "normal" motherboard doesn't (other than the possiblility of dual CPUs)? How does dual LAN ports help you? What is the expected bottle neck in network speed response (the hard drives?)? I guess I am asking all these questions since I am not sure that the added cost of dual CPUs etc will make the system as a whole work any faster. Thoughts out there from people who do this for a living?

I have built a number of new workstations for the network and now I am looking at the server which is old and noisy. It works fine but I have an urge to tinker with it. Not sure if upgrading will be of any benefit other than a learning experience.

also can you use SSDs in a hot swap RAID configuration? (getting back to the what's the slowest part of this whole system question). the workstations have 1Gb ethernet ports and CAT 5e and 6 cables and a Gb router.

Or should I leave well enough alone since it is more complicated than a workstation, or should I buy a server already put together that one will assume will work when it arrives.

Last edited by bonanza2000; September 27, 2012 at 03:10 AM.
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Old September 27, 2012, 07:15 AM
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Location: Maynooth
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If the server is only a file server and say domain one cpu is fine because you will never even push that to 100%. If you run SQL or any other server side stuff you will need to look into your needs as far as app requirements go. if your network switch supports it dual NICs allow for load balancing, so you could have two clients pulling 1gbit each before they start to notice it start to choke.

I have not done this yet for myself, but the next server I build for my business will be RAIDED SSD for the main data with spindle RAID for larger non crit data. in high usage environments you can get away with less servers to get the same I/O with SSDs, and you should be replacing your drives more often then the life span of the SSD anyway to maintain uptime. You will also easily allow the network dual NICs be the bottleneck vs a spindle RAID that will bottleneck sooner.

Yes you can use SSDs in a hotswap raid array.

If your server is "old" and dusty you should probably looking at replacing it from a reliability point of view. The size of the new server is dependent on the needs your company has, it might come down to just a cheap single cpu single nic setup or much bigger. The company can use it as a tax write off and amortize it over 2 years if I remember correctly so in the end it nets out anyway and you get the reliability of a new server. In my experience unless the company outgrows the server, replacement is every 5 years or so.
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Old September 29, 2012, 12:29 PM
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Server CPUs have additional instruction set and server OS can utilize these instruction sets to optimize and boost performance.

The industry is heading towards virtualization so most of server CPUs have special instruction set which would boost performance of those application specifically designed for it.

You mentioned that it will act as a domain/file server so even a Xeon E3 will b more tha sufficient enough.

Typically server motherboard will contain features such as IPMI (IP-KVM etc, Redundant power connectors, dual or quad NIC. Obviously it's up to you to determine whether these features will be useful or meaningful to you.

You could use SSDs in the server for critical data that needs to be accessed by everyone at all times but usually hard drives will do fine if you build RAID out of 4+ drives unless you are dealing with large files.

I would suggest purchasing a branded name server such as HP, Dell, Lenovo because they have warranty - usually has a NBD warranty for 3 years which means you won't have to worry about something dying in your server and have it replaced. You do have to typically pay quite a bit more for them BUT it's matter of business and if you can afford down time. Remember, you still have to pay the employees even if the server goes down and won't be replaced/repaired for a whole week.
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