TeraByte File Server Project - Motherboard
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.
There are many different things that a TeraByte file server could be used for. These applications all seem to fall into the three general categories of High Performance File Server, Archive File Server and Data Intensive Server. The requirements that each of these categories places on the motherboard are discussed separately.
The following table lists a number of motherboards that should be capable of supporting this type of server. For a motherboard to be listed here, it must meet the following requirements:
I listed all the motherboards that I've been able to find that meet the above specifications. If you know of another motherboard that meets them, please send E-mail to email@example.com.
|Motherboard||Chipset||PCI buses||64-bit PCI Slots||32-bit PCI Slots||Onboard Video||AGP||Onboard Network||Onboard IDE||Onboard SCSI||Memory||ECC|
|AOpen DX3R||ServerWorks ServerSet III LE||2||4 5V/33MHz||2 5V||Yes||No||Intel 82559||2 UDMA/33||2 Ultra 160||4 SDRAM||Only|
|ASUS CUR-DLS||ServerWorks ServerSet III LE||2||2 5V/66MHz||5 5V||Yes||No||Intel 82559||2 UDMA/33||2 Ultra 2||4 SDRAM||Only|
|SuperMicro P3TDE6||ServerWorks ServerSet III HE-SL||2||6 (2 3.3V/66MHz, 4 5V/33MHz)||0||No||2X AGP Pro||Intel 82559||2 UDMA/33||2 Ultra 160||4 SDRAM, 2-way interleaved||Only|
|SuperMicro P3TDL3||ServerWorks ServerSet III LE||2||2 3.3V/66MHz||4 5V||No||No||Intel 82559||2 UDMA/33||1 Ultra 160||4 SDRAM||Only|
|SuperMicro P3TDLE||ServerWorks ServerSet III LE||2||2 3.3V/66MHz||4 5V||No||No||Intel 82559||2 UDMA/33||No||4 SDRAM||Only|
|Tyan Thunder HEsl||ServerWorks ServerSet III HE-SL||2||6 66MHz (4 5V/33MHz, 2 3.3V/66MHz)||0||No||2X AGP Pro||Intel 82559||2 DMA/16.6||2 Ultra 160||4 SDRAM||Yes|
|Tyan Thunder HEsl-T||ServerWorks ServerSet III HE-SL||3||6 66MHz (4 5V/33MHz, 2 3.3V/66MHz)||0||No||2X AGP Pro||Intel 82559||2 DMA/16.6||2 Ultra 160||4 SDRAM||Yes|
|Tyan Thunder i860||Intel 860||2||4 66MHz (2 5V, 2 3.3V)||2||Yes||4X AGP Pro||Intel 82559 and Intel ICH2/82562||2 UDMA/100||2 Ultra 160||8 RDRAM||No|
|Tyan Thunder K7||AMD-760MP||1||5 5V/33MHz||0||Yes||AGP Pro 50||2 3Com 3C920||2 UDMA/100||2 Ultra 160||4 DDR SDRAM||Yes|
NOTE: The early Tyan Hesl-T motherboards will not allow the cooler that comes with the Intel Box processor to be used on CPU2. I called Tyan tech support, but they refused to discuss the issue with me. A later purchase of this motherboard has a lower heatsink in use on the NorthBridge.
The following pictures show what I had to do to get the Intel coolers to fit. Fortunately, this is no longer necessary.
|This poor quality closeup (too close) shows the machining done to the heatsink. The area modified is quite far from the center of the chip, and should have virtually no effect on the cooling of the processor.|
|Here, you can see exactly what the interferance problem is. The heatsink on the NorthBridge chip is too long, and gets in the way of the CPU cooler for CPU2. The heatsink actually comes almost up to the CPU socket.|
|This closeup shows how the NorthBridge heatsink now goes under the CPU cooler for CPU2. Also, the cooler on CPU1 actually touches the NorthBridge heatsink.|
NOTE: The Tyan Thunder K7 motherboard is marginal here, due to it's single PCI bus. The theoretical peak transfer over this bus (64-bit/33MHz) is 266 Megabytes per second. This is little more than the maximum that a full-duplex 1 Gigabit Ethernet network interface can transfer (about 100MB/S in each direction). In practice, a larger margin than this usually needs to exist for good performance.
For this configuration, there is little contention for the PCI bus. If there are three or more disk controllers, the 32-bit version will usually work just fine. Often, a single processor will be able to keep up with the load. There is no table of acceptable motherboards for this type of server, as the list would be far too long. The important things to consider are:
The motherboard requirements of this type of system are the same as those of the High Performance File Server, with the added requirements of very high memory bandwidth and compute performance. The best Pentium III motherboard I've found to support this type of server is the SuperMicro P3TDE6. Also, several dual Pentium 4 motherboards should work quite well. If the computation is exceptionally intense, there are even quad Pentium 4 motherboards available that should work well.
If you have any comments or suggestions, please E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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