Articles – My First DIY 1U Server

My 1U server “adventure”.

This was my first 1U and thus I figured putting up a page to show the
problems I have encountered with the setting up of this 1U to share and for
future references when needed. This article took a while to be written and was
written in a rush due to many reasons but on most part, I got a new job. 🙂

See the time line |
Jump straight to my “Adventure”

 

 

02 Dec 2003

Server downtime with
http://www.ministryofhosting.com
and the sites hosted was unbearable now! I have made up my mind to move the
hosting stuffs all to Singapore at some local datacenter after much discussion
with the partners. Now to juggle between the pros and cons of getting a brand
new “branded” server like the Dell’s 1U servers or to DIY with what I have
currently.

05 Dec 2003

E-Mailed major co locations people asking for quotes for 1U server co
location.

07 Dec 2003

Not all replied…too busy at this time to go through and or do more search
for prices…

20 Dec 2003 – Co-lo confirmed.

The most promising co location quotation received. Will use this company. One
thing less to worry now…

03 Jan 2004 – Hardware confirmed.

After weighing out almost all the pros and cons (and gotten 5 quotations from
5 different people selling 1U servers), decided to build a 1U server casing from
scratch with whatever computer hardware I have. It’ll be a good learning thing
to do anyway and besides, need the experiences and all.

Also set target date for completion 1 Feb 2004.

10 Jan 2004 and 11 Jan 2004

Hardware setup was really enriching. Squeezing (almost) everything from my
Blue Chieftec full tower setup into a 1U was both fun and tiring. Also relieased
that the Matrox Millennium 2mb graphic card I gotten from Sim Lim Square (Weng
Cheong) was faulty. Had to test the PCI risers I gotten too to make sure it
wasn’t the rise giving problems.

Check out the Installation Guide I put together here.

Hardware used:

Asus P4P800

Corsair 4 x 256mb DDR400 (Total 1Gb of RAM)

Matrox Millennium 2mb PCI graphic card

1 x PCI riser

1U Server casing with a 250W PSU

1 x 7200RPM PATA HDD

12 Jan 2004

Went to Weng Cheong and replaced the graphic card. Popped it in, and the
system just boot with display! Problem solved.

19 Jan 2004

Server downtime encountered again! Send out a mail when it was up tellin
everyone to backup. We are moving!

20 Jan 2004

Server downtime encountered yet again! Datacenter in US claims they have send
me a mail saying the IP address of my DNS (NS1 and NS2.ministryofhosting.com)
needs to be updated. I did not received that mail and I cannot since the server
was down. Strictly speaking, the server wasn’t down, just that the IP address
wasn’t pointing to the right server (my servers).

Rushed like crazy to try and evaluate all needs in terms of hardware driver
support and hope to move to the datacenter real soon due to the amount of mails
MOH is getting with 85% asking why server was down.

21 Jan 2004 CNY Eve

Got Redhat 9 installed (again) but the LAN port just refuses to come up! I’ve
done some reading (again) and installed the Kernel Source/gcc etc from add
remove applications in Redhat 9 X Windows

OS crashed and refused to boot. X Windows files were corrupted after I edited
some files. I can only remember editing modules.conf, heck, I thought, reinstall
RH 9 will save me more time.

After installation, try to up the LAN port again as that was the most
important part or else, it’s useless. Tried till 4.02am…gave up and slept…

22 Jan 2004 CNY Day 1

I finally got my 3C2000 aka 3COM gigabit LAN port on the P4P800 up and running.
Check out

this
which in turns will brign you to

this
thread.

26 Jan 2004

IP address, default gateway etc settings received from provider.

29 Jan 2004

Gotten myself a P4P800 WIFI (personal usage as the old P4P800 will be used
for the 1U server) and a 2.6C for the server.

30 Jan 2004 Fri

Been to the datacenter to install the server. Problem of unable to SSH in
using Putty in Windows XP encountered. All configurations ok.

31 Jan 2004 Sat

Went to the datacenter again to try and figure out what’s wrong. Got a friend
to helped remotely and he discovered SSH is possible only from another Linux
machine. Also posted in

Linuxquestions
and

Hardwarezone
seeking help…

1 Feb 2004 Sun

Checking and got another friend to help. He kinda messed up the SSH
configuration file. Had to go again tomorrow to #comment away that line of
coding.

2 Feb 2004 Mon

Uncommented SSH config. Works but same problem, only from Linux SSH.

4 Feb 2004 Wed

Oh my god! I’ve done it! I found

this
that lead to

this
. Updated the drivers and viola! Everything’s up and running! I’ve also
personally dropped David a mail thanking him for the well documented web page.

And now…the rest of the work including migration, configuration and
installation can continue to the last phase.


Installation Guide

The 1U Chassis, 1U Power supply and installation

The Mobo Installation

Risers

CPU, HSF (heat sink fan) and RAMs  installation

Harddisk Drives installation (HDDs)

40mm fans installation (for cooling the hdds)

Cable installation and molex connection

Tidiness means better air flow

Transporting the completed 1U

Remember your own tools and installation CD ROMs

Links

 

The 1U Chassis and PSU

The standard 19″ 1U chassis was a 2nd hand one picked up from a local
(Singapore) forum. Came with a F & C 250W power supply. It has 2 fans, one
intaking air from one end of the PSU and one for the exhaust of the PSU.

 

The 1U PSU

 

Back view of the 250W 1U PSU

The chassis also has 2 mounted blower that intake air from beneath the casing
and into the chassis. Of course, the chassis has air ways to allow intake on the
under side of the chassis. The fans are standard 12V and will be connected to
the PSU’s molex and are rate at 0.30A, kinda noisy but it’s not gonna be in my
room for long…

 

Air intake vents underneath the 1U chassis.

 

Blower

So just how wide is a standard 1U chasis? Simple add the
width of 2 x CD ROM drives and 1 FDD and you get a 1U’s exact width,
plus minus little space for the chassis’s metal in between these
hardware (CD ROMs and FDD) to hold them in place. Now, the first problem
I encountered was fitting the hdd in properly, in the end, the hdd were
simply held to the side’s “cage” with 2 screws.A MSI DVD ROM drive
was added in temporary so as I can do installation of Redhat 9. It’ll
not be added once installation is done.

 

How wide? Just add…

The mobo and installation

The motherboard, Asus P4P800 is a Intel 865PE chipset based motherboard. I
was using this as my main gaming board before deciding using it for the 1U
server. Getting a server based board like those based on the Intel 7501 or 7210
that uses Xeon CPU and/ or ECC RAM support, well the 875P chipset does have
optional support for ECC DDR rams but I have decided there’ll not be use for it,
at least for the time being since it’s going to be a simple web server doing
hosting of websites.

The decision was made after much thought as there was a few options, treat
this as a guide to “DIY-ing a 1U server or get a branded one?” 🙂

1. Getting a brand new “branded” server like the Dell Poweredge 1U 1750 which
is a Xeon based 1U server

Pros: Warranty direct from Dell and extendable

Cons: I just hate ECC rams (they’re expensive!) and branded parts at time
does not take just any parts purchased from Sim Lim if I want to upgrade later.
So it’s money money money.

2. DIY

Pros: Use existing parts like mobo, RAMs etc I already owned. I can control all
aspect pertaining to cost on all parts.

Cons: Not much, cost mostly I guess but if controlled well, no problem.

2.1 DIY

SCSI, RAID on board VGA port?

I was thinking if I were to get a board (Intel or AMD) based and with a VGA
port on board like the Asus P4P800-VM then I can just get a RAID card, be it
SCSI or IDE and add it in later. If I do not, the board must have onboard RAID
controllers for SCSI/SATA/IDE. As the chassis only allow mounting of 1 PCI card
via a PCI riser.

In the end I decided to use my existing P4P800 with a 2.6C (that was bought
newly with a Asus P4P800 WIFI for my gaming needs :)) and use the riser for a
cheap PCI graphic card I can obtain at a low price at shops in Sim Lim Suqare.
I’ll also use a normal PATA (parallel ATA) 7200rpm 40Gb hdd for the time being.

This 1U server’s primary purposes will be a Web server, RAM was from the
beginning set to be at 1Gb at least. DDR400 CL2.5 ones are used, initially, 4
pieces of DDR400 CL2.5 256mb Kingston ones were used. Later it was changed to 2
x 512 CL2.5 DDR400 Twinmos ones. There was slight performance gain from changing
4 piece of ram to make up 1 Gb and 2 piece to make up 1Gb. Web server, so the
more RAM the merrier.

 

The front panel LED wires, that’s the standard FDD in the background and
the MSI DVD ROM drive on the left.

 

Better view of the DVD ROM Drive from the front.


The usual front panel LED connectors.

CPU HSF and RAMs

4 x 256 mb of RAMs

Risers

I mention “risers” briefly above. Think of rises as “extenders” just like
your retractable power cord, there you need electricity some where in your house
but there just isn’t a power socket nearby, you use one of those. Rises does
this too, they enable you to extend your PCI slot to point 90 degrees as 1U are
short to save space and cost thus you need to install your PCI card, in my case
my PCI graphic card, horizontally in order for it to fit into the 1U casing.


The graphic card, a Matrox Millennium 2 mb PCI graphic card.


1U rise with cable is what is being used in my 1U server.

The graphic card seated on the installed riser


How the VGA port is exposed through the PCI slot,

viewed form the back of the 1U chassis


Also note, the vertical orientation of the sound jacks, the blue port is
blocked but installation was fine with the board.

CPU and HSF installation

Installing the CPU is just like well, how you install a CPU. ha! ok then
mounting the HSF, a little different so no big mean feat.


Lift lever, CPU in, HSF, apply thermal paste, HSF over, lock and done! note this
pic shows the 1.5M processor, the actual server uses the following 2.6C
processor, the 1.5M was used during testing.

and, the 2.6C processor:

 

 

Harddisk Drives installation (HDDs)

The harddisk as described above, held down on both sides of the 1U casing
with only 2 screws, one hdd was in the end taken out so make way for a optical
drive.

 

Right…

 

and left…



Initially, the hdd were connect via SATA converters to the P4P800’s onboard
ICH5R SATA controllers but Redhat seems to be having problem dectecting the
drives properly and after Goole-ing around, found some kernel written by some
Linux guru but didn’t dare try it and besides, I trust SCSI hdd more…so the
idea was abandon.40mm fans installation (for cooling the hdds)

As the blowers take in air half wat from the middle of the chassis
(underneath) and to the board and PSU there is nothing blowing on the hdd. 40mm
fans fit nicely into a 1U and into my 1U’s front, taking in from the front vents
and blowing air directly onto the hdd. Gottas say a big thank you to “booest
for these babies. 😀

 

 

Cable installation and molex connection


The orginal Asus PATA IDE cable, folded neatly to allow good air flow later.

Tidiness means better air flow

Air flow is really darn important and especially so in a 1U since everything
is “cramped” into this little 19″ flat “box”.


The PSU wrapped using spiral wrap…

 

Before….messy messy…

 

Note the molex were tied down and tuck to the left of the fans and hdd
to allow air flow.


tidy up those PATA IDE cable by folding them…


Cable tie them! hee hee as this stubborn cable just wouldn’t sit still…ha!

Transporting the completed 1U

Transporting was well, heavy…The 1U was sturdy enough thus I simply carried
it under my armpit, took the lift and took a cab to the datacenter. All went
well, reached the place, signed in, installed it, up the 1U and that’s where
problems started. Read it here.

Installation Done

 

 

Remember your own tools and installation CD ROMs

And yes, datacenters do not provide tools so bring your own, bring your own
screw drivers, flat and cross and I brought my own CD pouch with Redhat CDs and the
P4P800 driver CD, manuals and extra screws for the 1U just in case.

Links

DIY 1U server
(MSI) by Tomshardware

Note: This isn’t really considered a DIY guide since the board came with the
case and PSU installed, all that’s needed is plugging in the CPU, RAMs, HDD and
then the installation of the OS of our choice.

Asus

Intel

Asus P4P800 Product Page

Cooljag

MSI

Redhat

TwinMOS

Ministry of Hosting

Webvisions

– Contributed by etegration

4 April 2004

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