Cheap home datacentre-quality gear.. Supermicro X9DRH-7F

So I’m looking at hardware prices again, and my wallet is burning holes in my pants (or maybe I just don’t like shopping, and my pants are old and full of holes? sshhh, don’t tell anyone!).

The recent release of AMD’s Threadripper (best. cpu. name. ever.), has me lusting after new hardware, but of course, new TR has super high prices initially, and board availability is patchy so far, which means I’m once again looking at used server-grade gear to satisfy my techno-lust.  And here’s the latest purchases.  Purchases?  That’s not grammatically correct!?  Ok, so here ARE my latest purchases, in a terrible but honest shot of part of my desk – my whole desk is embarassing at the moment.. covered in clutter from a number of side projects, so I’ll spare you the disgust me the shame.

Home Server Overkill

So there’s lots going on in this pic, but lets start with the purchase.  I’m something of a connoisseur of ebay’s search syntax, and once you understand how their string-matching works, its really powerful; but I’m wandering, so I’ll try and make a new post about that another time.  Anyway, what I scored here was $US250-ish for a bundle deal of:

  • Supermicro X9DRH-7F motherboard (dual-LGA2011, 16x DDR3 slots, and onboard LSI 2208 RAID.. more on the LSI bit later)
  • Xeon E5-1620 cpu (quad-core, HT, 3.7GHz)
  • 32GB of DDR3 registered ECC (8x4GB)
  • Supermicro 2U Heatsink

So some of you are thinking “Crazy”, right? And some small part of those people are impressed at the low low price I paid.  As a platform for hardware play, its already got pretty much all the bits to run with, and gives me scope to upgrade and fiddle until its configured “just so”, at which point it will either live under my desk unused until I buy something else and ebay it, or it’ll get pressed into 3 years of service in the cupboard powering my home network.

So going on in the pic above.. firstly the black area is just a 3mm rubber mat, which helps isolate it from errant small balls of solder on my desk (side projects, remember).  I’ve got:

  • a power supply – EVGA Super Nova G2 750W in this case, but the server build will use a 650W P2 instead (for more efficiency and thus lower running costs in the cupboard)
  • a wireless Logitech dongle for keyboard and mouse
  • green and white cable of an old power button scavenged from a computer case before I recycled it (pack-rat?  no no, its just practical.. )
  • VGA because I was flashing IPMI firmware and the remote iKVM doesn’t work when you’re doing that
  • network for the IPMI connection
  • a 120mm fan providing airflow over the heatsink, after I overheated the cpu and it shutdown on me in the first 15 mins of navigating the BIOS

Heath-robinson eh?  But functional, and saves all the faffing around with screws while I do my best to break the board flashing BIOS’s, firmwares, and grounding the static charge my damn slippers are making in this dry dry weather.

Oh yeah, and there’s this..

Onboard LSI 2208 ROC megaraid

Yep, playing with the big dogs now.. onboard LSI (Avago, now part of Broadcom) serious hardware RAID controller.  So serious, they put “MEGA” in the name.

LSI controllers are not a new thing for me (see my old posts about Dell H310 flashing), but oh-so handy if you want to run lots of storage, as each of those ports will take an SF-8087 connector with 4x SATA lanes, which means this board can run 18 SATA devices.  I don’t have 18 SATA devices to run on this board, but it should hopefully give me some flexibility with the drive controllers, and which drives I can pass under the control of a FreeNAS VM, versus being part of the server’s hypervisor.  It also means I don’t need an additional PCIe card for the disk controller.  I’ll make a different blog post about how I’ll be attempting to destroy that capability.

So there we have it – another freaking huge E-ATX motherboard, with some upgrade potential, and a modern UEFI-capable BIOS to give me headaches as I have to learn new stuff rather than just leveraging my old DOS experience.

Upgrade plans?

  • Dual E5-26xx Xeons – I’m fighting between “sensible and cheap” and “omg I can get more power than I need but it’ll be awesome and awesomely expensive all at the same time”
  • Moar RAM – can never have enough of this stuff..  I already have 128GB to fit into it in 8GB DIMMs, and resisting the urge to buy 8x16GB to push that higher
  • Bigger, shinier, heatsinks (because quiet)
  • A case, and drives, and a case for drives.. oh my!

I’m heading to the beach, so come back later when there might be more content!





3 thoughts on “Cheap home datacentre-quality gear.. Supermicro X9DRH-7F

  1. Pingback: oVirt hosted engine with zfs storage - My Wired House

  2. Pingback: Flashing LSI 2208 with IT firmware to use as an HBA - My Wired House

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