Low power server motherboard - ECC support?

mefizto

Aspiring Daemon

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Greetings all,

since my old backup computer appears to be dying, I would like to build a replacemnt. I have looked at some builds, however mpost of them do not use motherboards supporting ECC. (Please let us not turn this into ECC necessity discussion). In addition to ECC support, I need at least 6 SATA/SAS ports for storage using ZFS, plus one for separate OS drive.

Although I had used amd64 architecture, namely on Supermicro motherboards, my research suggests that ARM based motherboards are more power efficient, and "FreeBSD/arm64 is on the path to becoming a Tier 1 architecture". Thus, I am not opposed to try one.

Any suggestion would be appreciated.

Kindest regards,

M
 

gpw928

Aspiring Daemon

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Hi,

I can't comment on ARM, but... my ZFS server has roughly the spec mentioned above, and I have spent some time thinking about "what next" (ECC, power loss protection, some NVMe).

Please take care with the concept of "ECC support" on AMD CPUs and motherboards. According to oc3d, AMD said this on their Reddit AMA:
ECC is not disabled. It works, but not validated for our consumer client platform.

Validated means run it through server/workstation grade testing. For the first Ryzen processors, focused on the prosumer/gaming market, this feature is enabled and working but not validated by AMD. You should not have issues creating a whitebox homelab or NAS with ECC memory enabled.

yes, if you enable ECC support in the BIOS so check with the MB feature list before you buy.

They have not disabled it. So you might think it should work. Thus it's up to the motherboard maker.

I found this deep dive by HardwareCanucks on the subject pretty chilling. Double bit memory errors were getting ignored on an AMD Ryzen platform where the CPU, motherboard and memory were all "ECC capable". Their conclusion was:
While actual ECC validation will likely never occur on this consumer platform, if public interest in this feature keeps growing we fully expect motherboard manufacturers to step up to the plate and improve their ECC support. However, we strongly suspect that AMD will first have to release an update to their CPU microcode to fully unlock all of the necessary settings. Furthermore, there definitely needs to be some work done at the operating system level to let users know when ECC is enabled and what it is doing, more so on the Windows side than the Linux one.

On the basis of all that I decided that the only way for me to go on the next hardware upgrade is with both CPU and motherboard that have certified ECC support in the vendor's specs (read Xeon, or maybe Celeron).

And... the SSDs will need "power loss protection"... and I really have not looked into what that means for NVMe...

Cheers,
 
OP
M

mefizto

Aspiring Daemon

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Messages: 716

Hi gpw928,

agreed; the solid support for ECC was the reason for selecting Supermicro and Xeon. So, it appears that it is still the preferred system. My main issue now is the number of SATA/SAS ports. Perhaps a board with 2 or so ports on board and an add-on SATA/SAS controller is the answer? Have you made any progress in your research?

Hi client,

I am little confused how is your reply related.

Kindest regards,

M
 

User23

Well-Known Member

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Take a look at the Xeon-D 1500 or D-2100 Boards from Supermicro.
There are some options that may meet your needs.

 

malavon

Well-Known Member

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If you want low-power with ECC, you can also choose a Core i3 processor. Most people don't know these also support ECC memory (on the right motherboard).
 

6502

Active Member

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Messages: 113

ECC + low power are rare combination. Maybe you can buy FreeNAS enclosure and use it for your purpose, like this:


Here is a mainboard, I hope low power:

 
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M

mefizto

Aspiring Daemon

Reaction score: 31
Messages: 716

Greetings gentlemen,

thank you very much for the motherboards and CPU suggestions.

Hi Malavon,

will the support for ECC memory with i3 processor listed in the motherboard specification? I will look.

Kindest regards,

M
 

Phishfry

Beastie's Twin

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Messages: 5,592

For socketed CPU's the Xeon E3-1220L is spectacular. Every generation they got lower TDP.
I use 1220LV3 they were TDP=13W. These are IvyBridge with no video onboard.
The 1240LV5 is probably what I would recommend for LGA1151..
That and C236 or C246 Chipset for ECC support.
Not really powerful but it is not bad:

This is the CPU I use in some rack mounted Lanner routers.
Half the wattage but only one third the performance.

As for Socketed E5-Xeon LGA2011 the lowest TDP I have used is a pair of 2608LV3.
Compared to LGA1151 it has twice the TDP for roughly the same performance.
So nothing worth using on LGA2011 for real low voltage. Lots of PCIe lanes on E5 Xeon though.
 

Phishfry

Beastie's Twin

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The C2750 at 20W TDP was nice. The problem is they had a faulty clock on C2XXX.
Supposedly an errata and fix happened but many motherboards in the channel are not fixed.

There is a revised version of this series CPU called C3XXX. That would be a better choice,
 

Phishfry

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OP
M

mefizto

Aspiring Daemon

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Hi phishfry,

thank you for the detailed review of the different processors. Since as note this will be a backup server, I do not need a powerfull processor. Regarding the 1151 socket motherboard, any that you would recommend?

Kindest regards,

M
 

Phishfry

Beastie's Twin

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The real question is how many PCIe slots you need for your server. Then work back a board requirement.
Remember E3-Xeons only have 20 lanes of PCIe available to all slots..
 

Phishfry

Beastie's Twin

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Opps my bad, make that 16 Lanes of PCIe on the E3 Xeons.
That is so pathetic of Intel.
One video card and you eat up all lanes on your CPU.
That is a sad testament to Intels disregard for I/O on modern CPU's.
 

Phishfry

Beastie's Twin

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I wanted to follow up on my beef. 16 Lanes of PCIe 3.0 from the processor. Also 4 Lanes of PCIe 2.0 from the chipset.

So what manufacturers do is ship boards with 16x slots but only 8x electrically.
That way they can divide the CPU 16x lanes over two or more slots.
Then they use the PCIe 2.0 lanes for another low bandwidth slot.

This is what I have found typically.
It is really a horrible state and shows what true lack of CPU competition looks like.
 

Phishfry

Beastie's Twin

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What you do find on some quality boards is a PLX PCIe bridge chip. This allows the manufacturer to add PCIe lanes.
Problems is the bridge chips add to PCIe latency I have seen with NVMe.
You can only multiplex your PCIe lanes so much as they still have to funnel through your CPU's 16 Lanes eventually.
 

rotor

Member

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Messages: 75

Greetings all,

since my old backup computer appears to be dying, I would like to build a replacemnt. I have looked at some builds, however mpost of them do not use motherboards supporting ECC. (Please let us not turn this into ECC necessity discussion). In addition to ECC support, I need at least 6 SATA/SAS ports for storage using ZFS, plus one for separate OS drive.

Take a look here:

I've got the prior generation of that board (Atom C2000 series) and it runs FreeBSD and ZFS quite nicely for my data server.
 

rotor

Member

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Messages: 75

One general comment that just came to mind...

If you will be using disk encryption, then a CPU that supports the AESNI instructions should be a requirement.

I use FreeBSD's geli to encrypt the removable drive I use for off-site backups, and geli makes good use of the hardware AES instructions in the Atom C2000 series.
 
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