TeraByte File Server Project

  1. Index
  2. Case
  3. Disk Brick
  4. Power
  5. Cooling
  6. Motherboard
  7. Memory
  8. Disk Controller
  9. Drive Cables
  10. Disk Drives

The cost of disk space continues to drop. If you need less then 250GB, you can use inexpensive IDE disks. In most cases, when the need for space passes that point, you have to bite the bullet, and pay for SCSI disks. Typically, SCSI disks cost between two and three times as much per Gigabyte as IDE disks.

This project gives an alternate solution to the problem of large amounts of disk space. It uses inexpensive IDE disks, and readily available PCI IDE disk controllers to build a TeraByte file server. The ultimate goal of this project is a three TeraByte file server, using only 80GB IDE disks.

My first experience with IDE RAID and multiple disks was in June of 1999. I used two Promise Ultra33 controllers and four Western Digital 20GB disks to create an IDE RAID array under Windows NT Server. This solution was less that perfect, as there were a significant number of driver and hardware problems. At that time, I determined that the technology to reliably perform IDE RAID did not yet exist, and I decided to wait for improvements in this area.

My customer for this project had located new technology, and needed some help to get the project moving.

This web page only goes over information on physical configuration, and component selection. For information on the software configuration and benchmarks, you'll have to see the customer's web page, here. I have received information about other IDE RAID implementations. The list of URLs is at the end of this page.

Since the ultimate goal is a three TeraByte file server, we need a huge case for the system. As luck would have it, there are cases available that will work. The best, and most cost-effective, case I've seen for a project like this can be found on the CalPC website. This case has thirty-two exposed half-height bays, and two hidden half-height bays. This is enough for forty-five data disks, a system disk, a CDROM and a floppy.

I located and acquired this chassis for a customer. I also performed much of the hardware integration. Although the pictures make the process appear simple, it is fairly complex, and requires a considerable amount of time and effort.

The project described in this web page was started in May, 2001. The product information in this web page (components to use) is current as of January, 2002. The information in this web page provides the knowledge, and ideas necessary to build a functional TeraByte file server. For more information on current file server offerings, please look here.


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