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Re: Sun Fire X2100 -- nForce4 Ultra desktop chipset

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On Sat, Nov 26, 2005 at 04:40:32AM -0500, Bryan J. Smith wrote:
> On Wed, 2005-11-09 at 14:27 +0100, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> > I'm thinking about ordering a Sun Fire X2100. Has anyone
> > here ran such a beast with Linux?  

I've since found out that the beast runs Debian (and I presume,
RedHat FC4/RHEL4) just fine. I'll try Solaris Express (and something
based on OpenSolaris, eventually) as well, and run a few 
benchmarks. The zfs and the zones are a nice touch.
 
> It's an nForce4 Ultra chipset, not worth the money IMHO.  There are

I've used nForce4 Ultra in my other (home) RAID server, precisely because
it's a good performer, and inexpensive. So is the Sun Fire X2100 box,
I'm not aware of another barebone with this quality for
600 EUR. 

> better 1U options IMHO.  It only has PCIe.  No PCI-X (if you want
> intelligent disk/redundancy).

The system has 2x GBit Ethernet, and in a pinch that PCIe
can take an IB or Myrinet adaptor. The redundancy can be
achieved with a distributed file system, or a AoE SATA
enclosure.
 
> I'm sure there are plenty of vendors/integrators on this list that can
> hook you up with a nForce Professional or Broadcom ServerWorks chipset
> server solution in 1U that is much better, for about the same cost.

I would be very interested in a list of alternatives, in about the
same price range (preferrably, with IPMI). I'm not aware of any.
 
> BTW, NCQ is fairly overrated IMHO.  For single disks, it depends on how

I've since seen benchmarks which don't show more than 10% performance
increase in best case, so NCQ is not that important.

> well your OS flushes buffers.  For multiple disks, you're now using your
> host to target multiple devices, and it would be far better for an
> intelligent host to control that (must like a real SCSI/SAS host does
> for its targets).
> 
> The latest 3Ware 9550SX (PCI-X) and Areca 12xx (PCI-X or PCIe) series
> have on-board intelligence that handles multiple targeting of NCQ SATA
> devices.  If you're really anal about NCQ, then you'll want to look to
> those cards.  Both are supported in Linux.
> 
> > and have you used >250 GB hard drives with the machine?
> 
> Have a pair of WD 320GB drives on this very system (nForce4).  There are
> no issues with supporting them at all.

I've gone with dual Hitachi Deskstar T7250s, which is a reasonable
approximation to an enterprise SATA drive.
 
> > (I've got bitten with Sun hardware lock-in once). 
> 
> These are standards-bsed AMD platforms.  They even run Windows.  Sun
> doesn't advertise that, but they do.
> 
> > Is this hardware or software RAID?
> 
> Software, of course!  It's ATA FRAID (Fake RAID).  100% software driver,
> only 16-bit boot-time BIOS.
> 
> Again, if you want intelligent hardware SATA raid with NCQ that works
> well under Linux, consider the 3Ware 9550SX (PCI-X) or Areca 12xx (PCI-X
> or PCIe).

Linux MD RAID device works adequately. We'll see how zfs compares.

-- 
Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org";>leitl</a>
______________________________________________________________
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820            http://www.leitl.org
8B29F6BE: 099D 78BA 2FD3 B014 B08A  7779 75B0 2443 8B29 F6BE

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