HP ProLiant MicroServer Owners Club! (Attempting to sell here will result in bans)

Discussion in 'Storage & Backup' started by oli, May 10, 2011.

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  1. Statts

    Statts RIP

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    OK, so I should have mine in 14 days.

    My planned build:-

    * upgrade to 8GB ECC
    * 4 x 3TB in the 3.5" bays
    * 4 x 1TB 2.5" in a Supermicro CSE-M14T
    * 1 x 160GB 7200rpm 2.5" drive for OS velcro'd inside somewhere

    At the moment, just trying to work out the best way to handle all the drives. {H} reported that the standard controller will recognise the 3TB drives, so then I just need something similar to a BR10i to connect the 4 x 1TB drives up to.

    Oh, OS will be Solaris Express 11 or similar and will run 2 RaidZ1 pools due to the differing drive capacities.
     
  2. Hyram

    Hyram Member

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    Drivers For All & Silencing The N36L

    According to HP Support, there are no Windows XP drivers for the Proliant Microserver:

    [Thursday, April 28, 2011 10:45 AM] -- Amal P says:
    Windows XP drivers are not available for HP N36L servers.


    Not from HP there isn't, they'll only support Windows Server 2008 R2 on it ... but some minor sleuthing shows the chip-makers themselves have everything we need.

    Drivers for the RS785E northbridge and SB800-class (SB8xx includes the SB820M) southbridge for all OSes (including XP and linux) are available direct from AMD on this page if you can scrounge a login and password from somewhere (AMD locked this page down in July, the buggers) but the latest Catalyst Embedded packs for Windows XP, Vista and 7 (and their relatives) can be had from here. The Catalyst Embedded installer packs have the necessary display drivers for the Radeon HD 4200M that's embedded into the 785E.

    Drivers for the onboard Broadcom-based NIC for all OSes (including XP and linux) are available direct from Broadcom on this page.

    If you plan on using XP or Windows Server 2003 (or the original Windows Home Server, which is based on Server 2003), it is advisable you download & install the AMD Processor Driver so that the OS can handle the feature-set of the Athlon II N36L. If you wish to use Cool 'n Quiet with your older OS, you will need this driver, and in Power Options, set the scheme to 'Server Balanced Power and Performance'.

    For what it's worth, I got 32-bit XP Pro SP3 installed & running in short order on my MicroServer without any missing marks in the Device Manager just by using software from the above links. The only things I must point out is that you need to set the onboard SATA controller to "IDE" in the BIOS, and forget an F6 driver setup (or the manual change-the-driver-after-install trick) as they just don't work. Not that this really matters, as there's basically no benefit from using AHCI in XP anyway. Apart from that, it has been smooth sailing and wicked performance from such a tiny box. I even grabbed the free version of Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 and it availed itself of the Neo's VT quite nicely.

    As has been noted, because of the double-wall steel construction and the apparent cheapness of the drive mounts the MicroServer can quickly develop resonance problems, especially once you go to two or more drives. There's no room for adequate physical decoupling of the drives from the chassis, so after experimenting with the most 'wobbly' drive I have (an original Hitachi 7K1000) the best solution I've found is some adhesive-backed felt, which can be bought at craft shops and larger stationers. Rather than putting them on the outside of the drive bracket, though, I put them on the inside -- after punching a suitable hole, 2cm squares were stuck over the mounting holes on the inside of the bracket, and another small square on the rear shaft. The drive bracket really is cheap, and is actually the source of most of the noise the little ProLiant makes -- there is enough flex in the bracket itself (and enough slip-clearance in the chassis) for the sides of the bracket to slap between the chassis and the hard drive itself. Applying felt on the inside distances the drive from the bracket, as well as eliminating the slip-clearance to give a much tighter pressure fit. Using some more in the ODD bay helped stop the rotational racket up there, too.

    Using an old but trusty Radio Shack branded sound pressure level meter, with Old Rattly in bay 2 (case center) and a stock bracket, noise was approximately 36 dB (A-weighted) at 1 meter, but after felting, 23 dB-A. Still, there's room for improvement. Next step was to gut the box and apply four small squares (about 10cm a side) of 'Dynamat' adhesive bitumen to the centre of the top, bottom and side panels to soak up induced case resonance. I used the Dynamat as I had some left over after a car-audio install, but it can be considered a bit thick, at 2mm -- if I were to re-do this, I would use roofer's tape, which is a thin layer of bitumen on soft aluminium. Case-modders sometimes use bitumen on side panels to absorb rattles, but bitumen can pong badly when it gets too hot if the internal airflow is not good enough. The insides of the N36 hardly get warm, and even after running Prime95 for two hours and the rear fan blocked with foam, there wasn't much in the way of a temperature increase, and there was no waft of summers-day-highway.

    The fan was the next to be examined. Again, there is absolutely no room for any kind of decoupling as the 120mm Adda would slap the inner metal restraining bracket if there was any imbalance in the blades. What worked suprisingly well was moving the fan to the outside of the case -- popping off the protective chrome grill and snapping it onto the other face meant I now had room to use four silicaceous fan mounts, which also added the necessary distance to allow the rotor to spin clear of the raised grill. Who's going to be staring at the back of the machine, anyway, right? Oh, I did check temperatures afterwards -- no change. Then I thought, why blow when you can suck? I reversed the fan so that airflow was back to front. Instead of pulling heated air from the HDs over the heatsinks, cool air from the back washed over the heatsinks first. The result was a three degrees Celcius drop in both CPU and chipset temps (according to the BIOS) and no change to the HD temps (according to SMART), which resulted in the rear fan's idle speed dropping from 1030rpm to 950rpm -- not much, but noticable.

    The Adda is a pretty quiet fan, but I had quieter. Alas, almost all the 4-pin 120's I had were quiet because they were slow, and as th SPCR review pointed out, if the BIOS senses the fan speed drop below 900rpm it's instant shut-down. I rummaged further and found a Xigmatech 'Red Scorpion' CPU cooler which turned out to have a 1800rpm 120 on it. Would this still spin fast enough on the N36's idle pulse-width? I shifted the wires in the miniMolex to their new off-by-one position, hooked it up and booted into the BIOS. 895 rpm without shutdown, with about two thirds the noise signature of the Adda. Succ-a-sess, Baroni!

    Next was the front door. Remove the lock, and using a small flat blade screwdriver gently lift the dozen or so little pressure-tongue cutouts around the inside of the front frame a tiny, tiny amount. Overdo it and you won't be able to close the door again, but get it right and the front door becomes a comfy pressure-fit and will stay closed without locking. Whilst I was removing the lock, I noticed that the door is a two-piece affair, a perforated metal frame and a perforated plastic face, with the performations offset. Lifting the door off the frame, I popped the three bottom retaining clips with my fingers, laid four squares of thin black fan filter foam on the metal, and snapped the plastic face back on. This may sound silly at first, as I now have the air moving backwards, which would mean dust gets sucked in the rear, leaves a few particles on the innards and then gets stopped in its tracks by the filter. Fan filter may stop dust quite well, but it is also remarkably adept at filtering out the high pitched "eeeee!!!!!!" of a spinning drive. The only issue with this is that you have to remember to pop the foam out and clean them every couple of months or so, as you're not going to be seeing the patina build up over time as you're staring at it.

    You can tell this is going to be a HTPC+NAS, can't you :)

    I tried a Gigabyte GT210 low profile x16 card, and an HIS 5450 x16. As the slots are reversed to a normal PC (x16 on the left, x1/x4 on the right) cooler clearance is important. I ended up choosing the 5450 not just because its cooler was thinner but because it had lower power consumption -- three watts nominal and nine watts playing a HD video. The GT210 added nine watts and twenty watts respectively, as well as raising the chipset temperatures a couple of degrees.

    One final mod. The bloody health LED! AAAGHH! MY EYES!!! I hate blue LEDs, and as the box was destined to live under a mate's new telly, awfully bright and horribly distracting. Solution: slide the top cover off and put two layers of duct tape over the offwhite shroud that illuminates the HP logo, and trim the tape back carefully to the edges of the shroud with a scalpel or some other sharp blade so you can put the top panel back on cleanly. With the double-duct-tape layer, the once-ultrabright logo is now just discernable in daylight, and an unobtrusively blue in the dark.

    Taste test time! Shift Old Rattly to bay 1, add 1 x Samsung, 1 x Sadgate and 1 x WD Black. Get XP to copy a 3 GB file from bay 1 to the other three bays' drives simultaneously. Point the sound-meter at it and get 16 dB-A with no discernable resonances, shimmies or oscillations. Total power consumption whilst playing a 1080p and doing two file copies at once was 39 watts.

    Colour me impressed :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2011
  3. CordlezToaster

    CordlezToaster Member

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    where are you ordering this from?
    Supermicro CSE-M14T
     
  4. Statts

    Statts RIP

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    eBay. 10char
     
  5. Dropbear

    Dropbear Member

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    Great post Hyram, and welcome to the forums
     
  6. OP
    OP
    oli

    oli Member

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    Just updated FP with link to Stanzas pics and Hyrams post. Good stuff guys. If anyone wants any more specific info posted in there let me know. Hope everyone's having fun. :D
     
  7. Snuffy22

    Snuffy22 Member

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    My build is complete!! :D

    Hardware:
    HP N36L MicroServer (running hacked achi bios)
    4GB DDR3-1333 Kingston (non-ecc)
    OS: Intel X25-M G2 SSD (In ODD Bay)
    Storage: Seagate 1TB SV35 7200.5 SATA 32MB 24/7 Rated.
    Video: HIS 5450 512M DDR3 HDMI
    TV: Digital Now Dual Hybrid PCIe (7164) TV Tuner

    Software:
    Windows 7
    XBMC for HTPC usage
    SABnzbd for downloads
    TV Scheduler Pro for TV recording

    Everything runs perfectly, smooth and silent and cool 24/7 :D
     
  8. Goonit

    Goonit Member

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    Snuffy, what's this hacked BIOS you speak of?

    Excellent post Hyram! Did you happen to try and media playback with the onboard?
     
  9. rmuser

    rmuser Member

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    Okay then. Got mine yesterday. This is what I have done so far.

    - 8GB Kingston NON ECC RAM
    - 4 x 2TB WD Green EARS (Advanced Format) in the swappable bays
    - Flashed BIOS for full speed on the ODD SATA port
    - Hitachi 160GB 2.5" SATA drive in the ODD bay. Double brackets, oh yeah.
    - Scientific Linux 5.5, no GUI
    - Created 4TB RAID10 with the _unpartitioned_ 2TB drives.
    - Intel PCIe Gbit NIC, disabled onboard NIC

    That's as far as I got. The RAID synced at about 200MB/sec which seemed ok and hdparm was showing 220MB/sec sequential reads off the RAID10. Need to do some further io testing to confirm that I am getting the best I can out of the Advanced Format WD drives.

    ** If anyone wants the 1GB ECC RAM and the 250GB HDD that came with the server please PM me.

    Very impressed with the hardware although it's not that friendly to those with fat fingers like me. It will live in the ikea stereo cabinet under my TV which has glass sliding doors at the front and is open at the back. When I was doing the install I couldn't hear it over the noise from the Samsung slim USB DVD drive. Once installed with the glass doors closed it was not noticable at all and that was with low ambient (kids in bed asleep, no other fans in the room) noise. It is much quieter than the dual 3.5" USB drive caddy it is replacing. Niiice.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2011
  10. Snuffy22

    Snuffy22 Member

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    See OP :p

    10char
     
  11. Kaddude

    Kaddude Member

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    I have installed VMWare ESXI on my server and Windows Home Server as my first virtual machine. I found the performance in copying files to directories in the VM to be slow - about 15 MBps on a gigabit network. I installed an Intel NIC card but the speed hasn't really changed. Anyone have any suggestions on how I can get better performance?
     
  12. Hyram

    Hyram Member

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    Ta - just wanted to add my bit. I hate having stuff I buy restricted by the manufacturer (*cough*mapple*cough*) and as there's still uses for older OSes for one reason or another, the driver hunt was important to me. I'm also a nut for making things as feasibly quiet as I can without going overboard, motor noise and fan noise gets on my nerves :p

    No, although the HD 4200 is allegedly capable of handling 1080i being stranded with De15-out and no audio pretty much defeats the purpose. As a desktopper, it's acceptable even with Aero running, although to enable desktop 3D you need to bump the 'VGA memory' in BIOS up to 256MB.
     
  13. Twizzly

    Twizzly Member

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    ordered parts for this on monday from the middle of the US on monday, and it's already in melbourne. WOOOO:D
     
  14. SaTaN

    SaTaN Member

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    no there isnt! :)
    XP needs to die, and server 2k3 also! there is absolutely no reason to want to put either of them on this server (ok, I can *maybe* understand the want to s2k3 if you have it already, but not xp).
     
  15. cuahtemoc

    cuahtemoc Member

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    Going the SE11 route for ZFS with maximum reliable storage, is there any better way than the following ?

    Hardware:

    8gb ECC, BR10i in 16x slot.
    2x250gb 2.5" HDD's mounted under optical bay - install SE11 and mirror install onto other disk
    5x2tb 5k3000 - setup as a Raidz vdev and use for data storage using Napp-It to configure.
     
  16. Dilbery

    Dilbery Member

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    So when I put non ECC ram in mine, it usually works for a while then comes up with a BSOD saying that the bios isn't ACPI compatible or something?

    Have I fudged the bucket with something?

    Done AHCI hack aswell.
     
  17. Hyram

    Hyram Member

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    Let the virtual machine have total access to the NIC in the PCI slot by disabling all of that NIC's host interface mechanisms except VMware's, perhaps?
     
  18. Dropbear

    Dropbear Member

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    seems ok to me ... i think a mirrored OS is probably over kill on a hobby server like this, but I guess it doesn't hurt..
     
  19. cuahtemoc

    cuahtemoc Member

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    I figured for $60 extra, why not.
     
  20. Dropbear

    Dropbear Member

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    ive not actually checked a BR10i will physically fit in the case - I assume you have or it's been done elsewhere?
     

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