Mini Server Build

Mini Server Build

Every once in awhile we take on a hardware challenge. In this case the goal was to build the smallest, most power efficient mini server to store fully encrypted data within a budget.

Quick Stats:

  • 8TB Fully Encrypted & Compressed ZFS Pool
    • 4x4TB 7200 WD SE in Raid 10
  • Supermicro Embedded Board A1SRi-2758f
    • Fanless 8 Core Xeon Atom c2758
    • AESNI Hardware Encryption Support in Processor
  • 16GB 1600MHZ ECC SO-DIMM Memory
  • Chassis – Fractal Design Node 304 (volume: ~ 1 cubic foot)
  • 400w SeaMicro Fanless PSU
  • 240GB SSD Mirrored Boot Drives
    • 2x240GB Intel 730’s in Raid 1
  • OS/Software – FreeBSD + Samba + NFS Storage
  • 55w idle
    • 64w – All cores spooled 100% and all 6 drives full read I/O
  • Name at Birth: Dixie
  • Total Parts: About $2300
  • Total Labor: ~ 12 Hours (4 Hours R&D, 4 Hours Assembly, 4 Hours OS Setup)

We chose FreeBSD for the OS mainly because it’s absolutely great for data storage. Most of the hardware was chosen with reliability being the primary concern, energy consumption second and performance third.

The server is well built, quiet, stable and performs great. It’s considerably faster than we expected running it’s 8 atom cores with a primary purpose of encryption, decryption and compression.

Running the 3 chassis fans at full speed offers a bit more air flow and likely even more reliability. Of course with the expected ambient noise and wattage increase. Dropping a few watts for fan speed reduction is probably not worth the trade-off of a potential heat issue during a hot day, but even at high speed the chassis fans are barely audible and if you were really picky you could probably put the fans on slow or medium without any perceptible loss in usability.