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Server hardware upgrade later this month

Posted by on Aug 1, 2014 in Minecraft, WinMX

If you read our forums (and I hope that you do!) you may have noticed a new thread in our Hardware section. In this thread I’ve been detailing the specifications of our new server platform which we will be migrating to this month.

This is one of the largest and most expensive upgrades we’ve ever done and I’d like to detail what we have now and what we’ll have once the upgrade is completed. But before I do that, I should explain that only the first phase of the upgrade is happening this month, later on this year the second part will occur and then the upgrade will be complete. I’ve staggered the upgrades in two parts to get the best value. Things I know that will be increasing in price have already been bought while things that will be going down in price have not.

So let’s get on to the specs!

GREEN = New Stuff, Phase 1 (This months upgrades)
PURPLE = Coming in Phase 2 (Being Added later this year)
BLACK = Current part we already have and will be used in the new server

1. Intel XEON E5-2630 v2 (6 Cores, 12MB Cache, 2.6-3.1GHz) CPU (£450)
2. Intel Core i7 3930K (6 Cores, 12MB Cache, 3.8GHz Clock Speed) CPU (£440)
3. 64GB of Kingston ECC 1600MHz 1.35v UDIMM Memory (£486)
4. Dual Socket Asrockrack EP2C602-4L/D16 Motherboard (£242)
5. X-CASE 4U 24  Bay GEN II Rackmount Case + 7 SAS 8087 Cables (£422)
6. SuperMicro CPU Heatsink for LGA 2011 (£35)
7. 1TB Western Digital Black Hard Drive (£70)
8. Samsung 840 Pro 128GB SSD (This is where our Minecraft games live!) (£120)
9. 9x4TB Hitachis 8x2TB Samsungs 7x3TB Western Digitals (£1500+)
10. LSI 9260-4i RAID Controller with 512MB ECC DDR2 + LSI CPU (£350)
11. HP 32 Port SAS Expander Card (£130)
12. Corsair HX 1000Watt Power Supply (£120)
13. 900 Watt CyberPower UPS Battery Backup (14 Minutes run time for power cuts) (£216)

You can see from the part list that this is one very expensive upgrade. I’ve included the prices as people often ask what each component costs. Obviously though only the parts in green have already been purchased. The Intel XEON E5 2630 V2 is coming later this year.

Our current server is equipped with 24GB of DDR3 Non-ECC RAM. So our memory is increasing by 267%. This is a drastic increase which will meet our servers needs for the foreseeable future. If however we did ever need more memory I could stick another CPU in to the motherboard and bump the memory to 128GB. The motherboard itself can take up to 512GB of memory if we needed it but I think 64GB will be perfect well through to 2018.

The importance of the ECC memory is for integrity checking and recovery. Our current Core i7 3930K does not support ECC memory so while it will function fine with it the ECC feature itself will be disabled. This is my motivation for upgrading later on this year to the Intel XEON E5-2630 V2 which does support ECC memory.

So what are the goals of this upgrade? Speed, Reliability, Expandability and a reduction in Power Consumption. This motherboard has on-board video and networking which significantly lowers overall power consumption as I won’t need to use a dedicated graphics card or network card. It also offers huge expansibility through its dual processor design and 512GB RAM support. But it also affords us great reliability. It is fully validated for the highest workloads in an enterprise server environment. Its ECC memory support is one part of that making sure data held in RAM can not become corrupted.

Other components such as the RAM which is 1.35v instead of 1.5 also lowers power consumption and of course supports ECC as noted above.

Finally the new case has been chosen due to its reliability. Our current case is something I cobbled together with a Lian-Li PC343B and a bunch of Jou-Jye Backplanes. Whilst it has served me well over the past three years it has reached a point where its thin aluminium frame is being rattled apart by the 25 spinning disks installed within it. The new case is an all steel construction and designed from the start to handle up-to 24 Hard Drives and the vibrations they create. The Lian Li was never designed for the stress I’ve put it under.

So that is the upgrade. I have named this build like I usually do, Colossus was our old server the new one I’m dubbing Prometheus. You can follow the builds progress in its dedicated thread on our forums.