Coupled with the oddly ambiguous Intel Ark i5-650 entry which notably doesn’t say “No” to ECC support when other CPU’s have an entry for “ECC Memory Supported” that usually states “Yes” or “No“, I decided to take a gamble, and bought one off fleabay.
And lo and behold, the i5-650 does support ECC memory on a compatible motherboard. I did my tests on a Supermicro X8SIL I already had to hand, which incidentally is a great little mATX motherboard with some really good expansion potential – but more on that another time!
So with verification of the ECC support done, it makes the i5-650 a great pick for a low-power consuming home server for the technically minded. Why is that? Simple.. it has these attributes:
- 32nm process and only 73W TDP – so its not power thirsty
- low voltage idle state (0.65V)
- 3.2GHz dual core with hyperthreading, so not a slouch
- Supports VT-x and VT-d so good for virtualization
- Supports the AES-NI instructions for encryption throughput
- Supports ECC
To verify, I checked the output of dmidecode under Centos 6.4, and here’s what it said:
# dmidecode 2.11 SMBIOS 2.6 present. Handle 0x0008, DMI type 5, 24 bytes Memory Controller Information Error Detecting Method: 64-bit ECC Error Correcting Capabilities: Single-bit Error Correcting Supported Interleave: One-way Interleave Current Interleave: One-way Interleave Maximum Memory Module Size: 4096 MB Maximum Total Memory Size: 16384 MB Supported Speeds: Other Supported Memory Types: DIMM SDRAM Memory Module Voltage: 3.3 V Associated Memory Slots: 4 0x0009 0x000A 0x000B 0x000C Enabled Error Correcting Capabilities: Single-bit Error Correcting
The key bit is the bottom two lines. Error Correction is only enabled if the memory controller, motherboard, and memory itself all support ECC.
My own plan is to run a custom Xen environment based on Centos’ newly released support for Xen (yay! no more building custom rpm packages – hopefully a precursor to Redhat re-adopting Xen?). However, the cpu would also make a great basis for a home ESXi lab. Either way, the fact that it supports ECC and also VT-d will open up some options for configuring this next iteration of my home server. I’ve picked up some other goodies to add to the experiment, and will post them another time too.
So how low power a server are we talking? I’ve got a cheap power meter I picked up at Aldi, and I’ve been running some tests with different LGA 1156 cpu’s (i5-750, Xeon x3450, i5-650) on the exact same setup, so I’ll make a post about that next time. But for now, here’s a teaser:
This is measured on the Centos live-DVD desktop, and includes:
- 4x4Gb Kingston ECC memory
- 160Gb Intel X25-M SSD
- Antec case fan on molex connector
- Active network port
- A not-hugely-efficient Antec VP-350 PSU
- Microsoft PS/2 keyboard & USB optical mouse