Hardware

Overview

Mainboard
GigaByte GA-MA770T-UD3P
CPU
AMD Athlon II X3 405e, 2300 MHz
Memory
2 x Kingston KVR1066D3E7/2G ECC memory
Video card
Asus256 D2 X EN6200LE TC512/TD/V2 R
Network card
IntelĀ® PRO/1000 GT Desktop Adapter (PWLA8391GT)
System disks
2 x WD1600BEKT, 160 GB, 2.5"
Data disks
4 x WD6400AACS, 640 GB, 3.5"
CD/DVD
LG GH-22LP
PSU
Scythe Kamariki, 450W
Case
Lian Li PC-B10
Mount
Scythe Bay Rafter 2.5 to 5,25

Energy

Since the server is supposed to run 24/7, I wanted to use energy efficient components. The CPU has a TDP of 45W. The data disks are from the "Caviar Green" series. With a reduced rotational speed (WD actually specifies the speed as 5400-7200 but tests suggest that it is 5400 RPM), they run with 5.4W in operation and 2.8W when idle. For the system disks I wanted to have faster spinning disks. Using laptop disks keeps the power consumption low (specified as 2.5/1W in operation/idle).
The video card is passively cooled (and cheap) - no big performance needed here.
I could have used a PSU with 300W but I need to connect 6 SATA disks and I want to have cable management.

The system runs with an actual power consumption of 80W when idle. Exercising the disks with a tool like iozone raises the consumption to 110W. I hoped to have a minimum power consumption of 60W or less. I want to play with some BIOS setups (perhaps reducing the voltage of the CPU) and I want to see if the OS steps down the CPU.

7 Dec 2009: Power management is enabled now but the power consumption is still 80W. Also, reducing the CPU voltage did not bring it down.

15 Dec 2009: Using disks from the RE2-GP series, like the WD7501AYPS, may have been a better solution because they feature TLER. I thought I can enable this feature on my disks too but this is not supported anymore.
More about TLER: http://www.forum-3dcenter.org/vbulletin/archive/index.php/t-439787.html and http://www.hardforum.com/archive/index.php/t-1285254.html and in this thread.

ECC Memory

Several links suggest that ECC memory should be used for a ZFS file server. The specs for the mobo say it supports ECC depending on the CPU. There are no BIOS settings for ECC memory, though. I have to look what level of support is really provided.

Network card

I found a few links discussing problems with the Realtek RTL8111C network chip under OpenSolaris. Therefore, I added an Intel network card, which are well supported.

BIOS setup

The motherboard came with BIOS version F3 installed, which supports my CPU. I disabled the on board NIC and set the 6 SATA ports to AHCI mode.

Assembly

The case is designed for tool-free installation and it went really easy. The only confusing thing is a photo in the installation guide that shows a hard disk slided in the HDD module with the connectors facing backwards. That will not work. The connectors need to face forward.
The case comes with three fans, which produce more than enough air flow for my components. Two fans in the front cool the system disks and the data disks.
I mounted the PSU with its fan facing upwards and I did not use the PSU bracket. Instead, I fixed the PSU with 4 screws.

Installation

Motherboard, CPU, disks, and memory work without problems. Installing OpenSolaris was easy, all hardware components are recognized and supported. I made several tests with the disks using different zpool configurations.

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