Building a low power Sandy Bridge ESXi + ZFS Storage Array

Results are posted to share with the world. So far parts ordered are:

  • Corsair efficient PSU 430W builder series
  • Intel DQ67SWB3 Motherboard (based on the Q67 chipset with Intel directed I/O Vt-d support)
  • 16GB G.skill unbuffered memory (4 x 4GB 1600Mhz ddr3)
  • 2 x 2TBSamsung 5400 RPM green hard drives
  • 2 x 2TB Hitachi Coolspin green hard drives
  • 1 x 2TBSamsung LP green hard drive (DOA – RMA in process)

My new Sandy Bridge build above will be an improvement over my two year old system in many ways.

  • Newer faster CPU and better at Virtualization
  • Four times more memory
  • Double times the memory speed (667Mhz vs 1333Mhz)
  • More power efficient, quieter hard drives
  • Lower power consumption thanks to SpeedStep
  • Built-in graphics on the CPU = lower power consumption, less PCI-E devices

Why Green hard drives?

Although I used to be a fan of 7200 RPM drives since I started building computers, when using multiple drives in a RAID for the same I/O operation we should see speeds that are acceptable for a file server at home, or in this case an all-in-one ESXi appliance.

Using multiple hard drives in a RAID

If you are familiar with the term “two is better than one” then you know that you can expect to get better ideas by working together with other people. The same applies to technology, be it dual processor servers or in our case multiple hard drives sharing the workload and storage for my digital media, backups and virtual environments.

Error Prevention, Growing Storage Concerns, Redundancy and ZFS

Let’s face it. Your data is important. We are building a system with multiple hard drives and we want to avoid data loss. To have reliable data parity across multiple hard drives you need a RAID system, be it in software or hardware by using a RAID controller such as the LSI SAS3041E-R in my system. However, we want to go a step further and use a Filesystem that has all of the great RAID features, plus enterprise grade error checking and failover. For this I chose Oracle ZFS.

The main perk and feature that is important to me is the growing storage needs. As new technologies and hard drives grow in size, I want to be able to replace my old 2 Terabyte hard drives with newer 3 TB ones. I want to avoid having a system that holds 30 hard drives using a lot of electricity.

By swapping out  my old hard drives in ZFS, one by one and allowing ZFS to heal itself (“resilvering”)  once the last 2TB hard drive is replaced my storage pool will immediately expand. No need to partition or use nifty tricks here its all done by ZFS. If your needs for storage are as big as mine, then you should definitely take a look at ZFS.

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

  1. Pingback: My first post in 5 years. I’m alive and well |

  2. Pingback: Virtualization hypervisor and containers all in one |

Leave a Reply