Building a low power Sandy Bridge ESXi + ZFS Storage Array

I have finals this week, so I will update this post as I have more time. In the meantime, I am working to get vmware ESXi (free version of vmware Virtualization server hypervisor) onto a custom whitebox build to replace my aging Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 server that uses around 125 Watts while idle.


Let me start by giving you a brief overview of my old system:

  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 2.66Ghz LGA 775 95W TDP
  • Corsair Builder CX430 430Watt Power Supply
  • 4GB PC2-6400 667Mhz DDR2 Ram 1.5v
  • ATI Radeon 4800 basic PCI-E graphics (no PCI-E power needed)
  • Biostar Tpower I45 Motherboard (I45 Chipset)
  • LSI SAS3041E-R SATA II 300Mbps RAID controller
  • OS: Ubuntu Linux 10.04
  • Storage: Oracle ZFS (via FUSE-ZFS) **
  • RAID-Z with four drives (3x 2TB plus one 1TB drive)

As you can see, while idle the system is drawing 130 Watts constantly at a minimum. This becomes a problem since the server is online for 24×7 and thanks to EZ Kill-A-Watt it costs an estimated $30 a month to run the server. About $0.80 a day in electricity alone.

With today’s green technology, Sandy Bridge new processor steppings (Intel Speedstep) and green hard drives (replacing my old 1TB 7200 RPM drive with quieter, lower-power 2TB hitachi), I hope to reduce my idle power consumption at least 20%. Based on $30 a month total cost to run my old server, this means I would be saving $6+ a month on my electric bill with this new build.

2 responses to “Building a low power Sandy Bridge ESXi + ZFS Storage Array

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