4.5 TB NAS build Part 1

Finally, I got a chance to work on my NAS build, since I’ve been on vacation for all of last week.  The goal I was shooting for was to build at least 4TB of RAID 5 storage, with at least a gigabit network connection.  Since I already have a 2 TB IDE-based NAS built on a Poweredge 2400 platform, and since I have a bunch of PE 2400 sitting around, I decided to go ahead and build another NAS out of one of them.

The Poweredge 2400 has several nice features which make it ideal for customizing in this fashion:

  • Dual processor capable (well, honestly, I have no idea if it helps…but I like it!)
  • Lots of space in the case.
  • 6 – front load drive slots
  • Good airflow, large cooling fan.
  • 5 – 64 bit PCI slots
  • cheap!
  • Can install a DRAC card for remote rebooting
  • 300W power supplies (as opposed to a newer server with 700W or higher)
  • Did I mention Cheap? (I picked up this server for $25)

The biggest drawback the Poweredge 2400 has is that it is HUGE!  I actually put a rack mount kit on mine, and since I have 3 racks in my office, it’s not a big deal for me.  It’s also very heavy.  Very heavy, this thing is built like a tank.  I’d suggest if you decided to get one of these that you just put it in an out of the way location, and don’t move it.

The Poweredge 2400 is set up out of the box as a SCSI server.  If you were lucky enough to get the RAID key (and ram) with your server, then you could build a SCSI RAID 5 system.  Of course, SCSI disks are expensive and still haven’t caught up to the sizes commonly available in SATA, so you wouldn’t be building a very large array with only 6 drive slots available.  I do not have the RAID key for most of my systems, but even if I did, I would still not use it since I really want at least 4 TB of space.

The PE 2400 doesn’t come with Gigabit networking on the motherboard, so I had to do a little research for a card I could use.  I ended up finding the HP NC7170 Dual Gigabit ethernet card on ebay for about $15 each.  I’m sure because of the PCI bus I am probably not getting a full Gigabit out of the card, but in later testing it definitely is faster than the onboard 10/100 port.

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Front of Poweredge 2400

For drives I decided on the Seagate 7200.11 1.5TB SATA 2 drives.  Since this is a SCSI based system with a backplane, I will need to remove the backplane to fit the drives into the bays (the SCSI drives are meant to plug into the backplane, which leaves no room for SATA cables or power were I to leave it, not to mention the incompatibility).  And since I want to do RAID 5, I either need a cheap SATA card that supports 4 drives (if I want to do a software based RAID), or I need a SATA RAID controller that supports 4 drives, RAID 5 AND the PCI form factor.  That’s no small order.  I originally got an Adaptec AAR-2410SA RAID card, but once I tried to get it running I discovered it didn’t support the drives I had purchased.  IIRC it didn’t support anything over 750GB in size, however since I can’t seem to find the reference easily let us just suffice to say it wouldn’t work with my drives.  So I had to find another one.  Enter the 3Ware 9500s-4LP.  This card met all the criteria AND supported my drives, and worked perfectly out of the box.  I don’t like it’s SATA port placement as much, but with luck I won’t be messing with that very often, if at all, so no real reason to complain.  To get power to the drives, I had to get some molex to SATA power converters/extenders from Monoprice.

With 4TB + of data on the box, you need to have a backup device capable of storing that much data.  Short of building another device and mirroring it, not much can back up 4TB of data reliably.  I was originally going to go with some external drives, but then I was able to get an Overland Powerloader (LTO3) tape library capable of backing up 6.8TB uncompressed and 13.6TB compressed.  Since this device is a SCSI device, I have to direct connect it to the server.  To enable this, I purchased a used Adaptec 2940 SCSI card and installed it.  I’m sure a full backup is going to take a really long time via the Ultra160 interface, but at least there will be a backup!

I also managed to get a DRAC II card for the server, in case I want to play with remote management.  If not, well, I have a nifty toy.

Since I removed the SCSI backplane, I still needed a boot drive (since I didn’t want the OS to be on the RAID array).  For that I got a Promise Medley 133 IDE controller card and used an old 20GB western Digital drive for the operating system.  Later I will mirror this drive either to another 20gb one, or I will get a newer IDE drive to take it’s place.  The Promise card also still has another IDE channel, which will allow me to add a DVD reader/burner later (once I find a good deal on the drive rails for the PE 2400…right now $25 a pair…yikes!).

So, if you were to break down the costs specific to the NAS build:

  • Poweredge 2400 server – $25
  • 4 extra drive trays – $10 (came with 1)
  • Screws for the drive trays – $2
  • 4 x Seagate 1.5 TB drives – $400
  • HP NC7170 dual gigabit card – $15
  • Promise Medley 133 IDE controller – $10
  • 3Ware 95002-4LP with SATA cables – $45
  • 2 x Molex to SATA power cables/extenders – $6
  • Western Digital 20 GB drive (free pulled from another machine)

Total of $513.  Not too bad.

Additionally, I put the following upgrades in place:

  • 2 x 1Ghz Pentium 3 slot 1 processors – $25
  • 4 x 512MB PC133 ECC ram – $25
  • Adaptec 2940 SCSI controller – $10
  • DRAC II card – $15
  • Rail Kit – $50

Which then places the total at $638 for the whole system.  Next post will deal with the OS install (did I mention the server has a license of Windows 2000?).

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4 Comments

  1. Posted November 28, 2009 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    [New Post] 4.5 TB NAS build Part 1 – via @twitoaster http://www.philscomments.com/computers/d

  2. Gianni
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Hi Phil I enjoyed this read and the build you got. When are you doing the "NEXT POST WITH THE O'S install"…..hehe you did not get to it yet?
    Also, you mentioned you had a few of these and was wondering if you had 1 for sale I can buy to do the same..

    let me know…

  3. Gianni
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Hi Phil I enjoyed this read and the build you got. When are you doing the "NEXT POST WITH THE O'S install"…..hehe you did not get to it yet?

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