[CentOS] [Hardware] Good Server I/O on-the-cheap: ASL Monarch 811x with CentOS 4.2 ...

Bryan J. Smith thebs413 at earthlink.net
Mon Nov 21 04:06:16 UTC 2005


Since good server designs have come up in the past, I wanted to point
out a "low-cost" server option that has good I/O, and the vendor offers
_your_choice_ of not only Fedora Core or Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but
_also_ CentOS _shipped_ with it!


IN-A-NUTSHELL ...

Starting at just over $750, you can get a single Socket-939 Opteron 1xx
(dual-core is an option) system with up to 4GiB of ECC (but non-
registered) DDR SDRAM, up to 4 hot-swap SATA bays (8114 model), one PCI-
X slot (perfect for a 3Ware card, which they _do_ support ;-) and dual
on-board GbE Broadcom NICs -- all in a 1U rackmount form-factor.  The
resulting I/O performance is excellent at the price-point for those that
want a good server I/O well beyond typical "desktop/workstation" but for
around the same price.

The 4 hot-swap drive configuration, with a decent amount of RAM, 3Ware
card with the 4 drives in RAID-10 or 5, and, most importantly, with
CentOS 4.2 shipped runs just a little over $2K.  Not really much more
than an equivalent "self-assembled desktop" you might be able to put
together, while being a heck of a lot better in interconnect
configuration and resulting server performance.

ASL Monarch 8110/8114/8115 (Left Column):  
  http://www.aslab.com/products/storage/monarch.html  


NOW THE TECHNOBABLE I'M INFAMOUS FOR ...

ASL Monarch Series, 811x with ServerWorks HT1000 Chipset

I haven't purchased anything from ASL in years, but back when I was
working in the semiconductor industry, the sysadmin at Transmeta turned
me on to them.  The really know their hardware and Linux compatibility,
and they have been shipping products with 3Ware for years.

They are now shipping their Monarch 811x series of products (not to be
confused with a _separate_ vendor called Monarch Computer Systems ;-)
with the Broadcom ServerWorks HT1000 chipset:  
  http://www.broadcom.com/products/Enterprise-Small-Office/SystemI-O-Chips/HT-1000  

The ServerWorks HT1000 is rarely found without the HT2000, hence why you
typically only find them in dual or quad socket boxen.  And that
combination competes against serverboards with the AMD8131/8132, which
are also typically only found in dual or quad socket boxen.  The number
of channels, traces, etc... is why it's never cost-effective to make a
single processor with an AMD8131.  But in the case of the single chip
HT1000 on its own -- with dual-GbE NICs and a single PCI-X channel,
plusall legacy PC peripherals logic necessary, it _was_ designed to be
standalone.

So if I had to guess from the specs, the mainboard is the SuperMicro
H8SSL-i (although I have not confirmed it):  
http://www.supermicro.com/Aplus/motherboard/Opteron/HT1000/H8SSL-i.cfm  

The H8SSL-i is _not_ available via retail channels, only select OEMs.
So you can't just go out and buy it.

Unless you just want a 2 SATA drive version (the 8110 or 14" shallow
8115), the 8114 offers up to 4 SATA hot-swap bays in a sub-20" deep 1U
rackmount:  
  http://www.aslab.com/products/storage/monarch8114.html  

They seem to be supporting the latest 3Ware Escalade 9550SX, which it
too new to trust IMHO.  But if they feel differently, I'd trust them.
At the same time, it wouldn't surprise me if they'd sell it with a
Escalade 8506 series instead -- which I do trust (especially since with
only 4 drives, I'd probably create a RAID-10 volume), and only default
to the 9550SX because most customers want RAID-5.


-- 
Bryan J. Smith   b.j.smith at ieee.org   http://thebs413.blogspot.com
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