Microserver Gen 8 = NAS ?

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Microserver Gen 8 = NAS ?

Postposted on Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:50 am

Hi Team,

I am looking to setup a NAS to backup my document and sync to all the cloud services as when needed .

Recently i saw some post about this [url]Microserver Gen 8 http://www8.hp.com/my/en/products/proli ... tab=models[/url] from HP
, will it be a good buy instead of getting a pure Synlog or any NAS machinese ?

ANy idea what else it can achieve ? i saw the chipset of this machine and look like i might able to upgrade it if needed extra power ( i still google around the possibilities).

Any your advice on this ?
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Re: Microserver Gen 8 = NAS ?

Postposted on Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:34 am

How much do you care about the safety of your data? A home built NAS running FreeNAS or OpenFiler can be quite reliable and fast (especially of you configure FreeNAS to use SSDs for filesystem metadata and journaling), but if **** goes south and your data is on the line you don't have anyone to call.

That said, like you I have a cloud backup running as well, so I personally just follow deals sites like slickdeals.net or even Newegg's email blasts and just pick up a cheap tower server when they go on sale. I got a Fujitsu tower for $380 that will become a ZFS based NAS in the coming weeks when stuffed with a few SATA drives and an SSD.
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Re: Microserver Gen 8 = NAS ?

Postposted on Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:19 pm

I just got a Gen 7 Microserver (Proliant N54L) a month or so ago. It is maybe half as powerful as the new Gen 8, but sufficient to run a NAS. I looked at FreeNAS, NAS4Free, and OpenMediaVault (OMV). I did a lot of testing with NAS4Free, but decided to use OMV. I think it was partially because it was Linux based vs. FreeBSD and I was more familiar, and partially because I decided not to use ZFS because of the memory/cpu needs.

The N54L can be picked up for $250 after rebate when it goes on sale at newegg, like it did yesterday. The promo code is still good, and you have to be a newegg email subscriber: EMCXMVN226. The product is here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16859107921.

I decided to run ESXi on it, and then OMV as a VM. This might not be as fast/stable as a bare install, but I wanted to play around with VMs. I put 16MB of memory and 4x3TB drives in it. ESXi boots off of an internal USB port, and the VMs are on the included 250GB drive. I also put a modified BIOS on it. I documented the process on a blog, and I can send links if anyone is interested. There is plenty of information on this on the web already.

I think that it could be faster if it wasn't a VM, but it meets my needs. Of course, now I want a Gen 8 for ESXi. Then I would probably move OMV to bare metal on the N54L. I think the Gen 8 would be better for media serving, specifically transcoding. I haven't verified that the N54L has enough power to do transcoding or not yet.
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Re: Microserver Gen 8 = NAS ?

Postposted on Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:25 pm

For home use? I guess that's ok. The drives are non-hot-swap. You can't do RAID 5 because there's no memory installed on the built-in RAID card. I'm sure you can get an upgrade for it, though:

http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/serv ... index.html

I wouldn't do anything special with this server besides using it as a NAS. I'm guessing you'd put 4 drives in and run them as RAID 1+0 which is fine. There are no redundant power supplies. It doesn't come with an OS on it, does it? So you'd have to include an OS in the cost.

I wouldn't necessarily hold this up as anything special. You could do as well or better just getting a regular HP workstation and a 3rd party RAID card.

If *I* were to spec this out, I'd probably add the RAM to the RAID and then forget about it. I don't see this as being all that useful for video transcoding or anything CPU intensive. And I wouldn't bother trying to update the CPU.

It's a cute box. Use it as a simple NAS and you'll be happy. Don't expect much of it.
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Re: Microserver Gen 8 = NAS ?

Postposted on Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:36 pm

Scrotos wrote:For home use? I guess that's ok. The drives are non-hot-swap. You can't do RAID 5 because there's no memory installed on the built-in RAID card. I'm sure you can get an upgrade for it, though:

http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/serv ... index.html

I wouldn't do anything special with this server besides using it as a NAS. I'm guessing you'd put 4 drives in and run them as RAID 1+0 which is fine. There are no redundant power supplies. It doesn't come with an OS on it, does it? So you'd have to include an OS in the cost.

I wouldn't necessarily hold this up as anything special. You could do as well or better just getting a regular HP workstation and a 3rd party RAID card.

If *I* were to spec this out, I'd probably add the RAM to the RAID and then forget about it. I don't see this as being all that useful for video transcoding or anything CPU intensive. And I wouldn't bother trying to update the CPU.

It's a cute box. Use it as a simple NAS and you'll be happy. Don't expect much of it.


I think I would agree with most of this. I have software Raid 5 via OMV on the Gen 7, so definitely not using hardware raid. My thinking was that if there was a hardware failure, I could move the drives and be able to recreate the raid easily on Linux. Transcoding is maybe doable on the N54L. I would assume that it would work fine on the Gen 8. For the N54L, hot swap is enabled via the bios mod here http://terfmop.co.uk/blog/2013/07/31/hp-proliant-n54l-bios-modification-guide-allow-hot-plug-sata-and-5th-sata-port/. The mod just enables options that were already in bios, but seem to have been disabled to neuter the microserver.

The "special" thing about this would be the compactness. There is always the DIY arguement. I love to DIY, but I couldn't approach the price and size of the N54L @ $250. It is quiet, has low power draw, has support for a Remote Access Card (KVM over IP), and has an internal USB port. I could certainly build something similar, but not at that price or size.
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Re: Microserver Gen 8 = NAS ?

Postposted on Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:41 pm

Yeah, if it's a desktop scenario, go fer it. I'm building a home backup/NAS that will be sitting in my basement so I can actually go with a full DL320s and not worry about size or sound. That thing is older and doesn't do as much RAM, but far more robust on the management, redundant power supplies, and if the machine croaks I can migrate the RAID to any other SmartArray controller and it should work.

For his use, though, I wonder if it'd be better to get a dedicated NAS box from http://www.synology.com/ or http://www.readynas.com/ or http://www.qnap.com/index.html or http://www.buffalotech.com/products/network-storage or http://www.seagate.com/external-hard-dr ... k-storage/ etc.

I'm all for DIY and I'm certainly a fan of HP server and business desktop products, but I wonder if he just wants a place to dump files or if he really wants to run a dedicated server that does cloud synching and other stuff like transcoding video (I can't think of any other usage scenario for swapping out the CPU).

I don't have any experience with the B-series of HP RAID cards but I can only hope they aren't too crap. Hrm, a little digging:

http://community.spiceworks.com/topic/2 ... experience
http://www.tricksguide.com/enable-b120i ... erver.html
https://access.redhat.com/site/articles/118133 (not supported in RHEL, maybe an issue with BSD-based NAS solutions?)

From the SpiceWorks thread, the HP rep there had this to say:

B120i:
• RAID 0,1,10 standard. Upgradeable to RAID 5 via 512MB cache.
• Supports up to 4 or 6 (depending on server) SATA drives only.
This uses the host processors cycles to run.
• Used as the base controller on almost all the e series Gen8 servers


Bold emphasis mine. So the RAID, even if you slap on some cache, is still just software RAID using the host CPU. Which I guess is fine but it's basically just a SATA controller.
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Re: Microserver Gen 8 = NAS ?

Postposted on Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:07 pm

Scrotos wrote:Bold emphasis mine. So the RAID, even if you slap on some cache, is still just software RAID using the host CPU. Which I guess is fine but it's basically just a SATA controller.


This is a more general question, but why do people still care about hardware vs. software raid on a dedicated SAN/NAS anyway?

I'm asking because I don't really deal with DAS, and none of the 6-figure SAN/NASs I've deployed recently use hardware raid controllers. They just attach the disks to a SAS backplane/port mulitplier and handle all raid calculations and other IO work in software. I can see CPU usage might be an issue back when one was rocking a single core, sub Ghz CPU that had to handle an application workload as well, but for modern storage whatever little $11 RISC CPU they slap on a raid controller is going to get its teeth kicked in by the idle cycles of a single core on a modern Core iCPU whose only job is to handle storage and other IO considerations.
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Re: Microserver Gen 8 = NAS ?

Postposted on Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:56 am

http://techreport.com/news/25223/the-fi ... ost=752072

You never went back and replied to either me or Spunjji so I'm curious as to what your responses would be.

Moving on, though, just because you have a low-MHZ ASIC doesn't mean that it performs its task poorly compared to a current CPU. The first iPod had some dumpy little DSP in there for MP3 decoding while at the time people were trying to get their 200 MHz Pentium MMXs to playback stuff smoothly. Or look at the example of DVD playback; some embedded stuff in a player versus a "powerful" desktop computer that couldn't always play stuff without dropped frames. It's been many years since this has been a consumer-facing issue so it's kind of out of mind; I guess HD video decoding is the latest in low-power DSP versus powerful general CPU.

Why do I bring this up? The RAID ASIC is closer to the action, so to speak, so it's losing less performance potential by having to jump through the IO system to the CPU to execute code. And for parity operations like RAID 5 and RAID 6, hardware RAID is going to outperform software RAID because of this. It's very case-dependent, though, and in some applications it might not be an issue at all or the performance delta might be small enough that you won't care.

One of the recent rants about RAID "facts" had this to say:

Software RAID has advanced significantly in the last few years (as of 2012). Hardware RAID still has the three key vulnerabilities it has always had: First, it is expensive. Second, if your RAID card fails, your RAID volume fails; it is a single point of failure. Third, if your RAID card fails, you must find an exact replacement for that card to recover your data.


If you care about data, the RAID card is the least of your expense. The server itself is probably as expensive if not more and the storage disks in an enterprise setting will QUICKLY outpace the cost of a RAID card. I'm putting together a new storage system for my workplace and the P812 RAID card cost about $400 with 1 GB of flash-backed write cache. The 12 x 3 TB SAS drives will run me about $5,000, maybe closer to $6,000.
You yourself said you were looking at SANs in the $120k range so in this instance, who gives a crap about an "expensive" RAID controller? It's not a concern.

I'm in the HP ecosystem. For quite some time now, any SmartArray RAID can read arrays created by any other SmartArray controller. If my controller dies, I can either put in a different controller and plut it into the SAS backplane in the server or migrate the drives to another server entirely and the array will still work. And to the last point, no, you don't need the exact same card in the HP ecosystem.

These are the main red flags that people seem to throw up when talking about hardware versus software RAID. The latest one is that software RAID lets you use SSD drives for caching. Well, current generation HP controllers support SmartCache which does the same thing. Oh, and I guess software RAID is supposed to be easy to "grow" if need be. I know at least the HP RAID controllers can expand arrays in the same way. I think Adaptec can as well.

You are using $120k SANs with SAS backplanes and SATA drives? Really? I mean it's not a huge issue, but why didn't you use SAS drives instead (I'm going by your news item comment for that info) as that'd give you dual path for handling requests and a more sophisticated manner of handling error conditions? I'd be interested in the 4 products quoted to see what you actually bought and were looking into buying.

Relevant links:

HP SmartCache: http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/serv ... index.html
RAID "facts": http://augmentedtrader.wordpress.com/20 ... ings-raid/
Adaptec whitepaper on hardware/software RAID, from 2006: http://www.adaptec.com/nr/rdonlyres/14b ... aid_10.pdf
Linux hardware/software RAID benchmarking, from 2008: http://www.linux.com/news/hardware/serv ... tware-raid

I didn't really look much farther for recent benchmarking. My own very limited performance testing showed that hardware and windows software RAID (mirroring only) performed pretty close to each other. However, that's just a 2-drive mirror. Spindle speed had a far bigger impact on performance than hardware versus software in that limited test. For an enterprise NAS that's a glorified Synology (commodity drives, custom OS/disk management, custom hardware enclosure) I can see why you'd use a software solution.

However, in your particular case, I don't know that you'd get many of the benefits of portability if your SAN failed. Are you gonna move the drives into a different server and have it just work? If the storage pool is over a few different NAS boxes in the SAN and one NAS fails, what's the recovery like? I don't have any experience with a SAN, just DAS and NAS, so I actually don't know the answers to these questions; they aren't rhetorical.
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Re: Microserver Gen 8 = NAS ?

Postposted on Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:08 am

Scrotos wrote:http://techreport.com/news/25223/the-first-3d-v-nand-product-is-a-sata-ssd-for-servers?post=752072

You never went back and replied to either me or Spunjji so I'm curious as to what your responses would be.

Moving on, though, just because you have a low-MHZ ASIC doesn't mean that it performs its task poorly compared to a current CPU. The first iPod had some dumpy little DSP in there for MP3 decoding while at the time people were trying to get their 200 MHz Pentium MMXs to playback stuff smoothly. Or look at the example of DVD playback; some embedded stuff in a player versus a "powerful" desktop computer that couldn't always play stuff without dropped frames. It's been many years since this has been a consumer-facing issue so it's kind of out of mind; I guess HD video decoding is the latest in low-power DSP versus powerful general CPU.

Why do I bring this up? The RAID ASIC is closer to the action, so to speak, so it's losing less performance potential by having to jump through the IO system to the CPU to execute code. And for parity operations like RAID 5 and RAID 6, hardware RAID is going to outperform software RAID because of this. It's very case-dependent, though, and in some applications it might not be an issue at all or the performance delta might be small enough that you won't care.

One of the recent rants about RAID "facts" had this to say:

Software RAID has advanced significantly in the last few years (as of 2012). Hardware RAID still has the three key vulnerabilities it has always had: First, it is expensive. Second, if your RAID card fails, your RAID volume fails; it is a single point of failure. Third, if your RAID card fails, you must find an exact replacement for that card to recover your data.


If you care about data, the RAID card is the least of your expense. The server itself is probably as expensive if not more and the storage disks in an enterprise setting will QUICKLY outpace the cost of a RAID card. I'm putting together a new storage system for my workplace and the P812 RAID card cost about $400 with 1 GB of flash-backed write cache. The 12 x 3 TB SAS drives will run me about $5,000, maybe closer to $6,000.
You yourself said you were looking at SANs in the $120k range so in this instance, who gives a crap about an "expensive" RAID controller? It's not a concern.

I'm in the HP ecosystem. For quite some time now, any SmartArray RAID can read arrays created by any other SmartArray controller. If my controller dies, I can either put in a different controller and plut it into the SAS backplane in the server or migrate the drives to another server entirely and the array will still work. And to the last point, no, you don't need the exact same card in the HP ecosystem.

These are the main red flags that people seem to throw up when talking about hardware versus software RAID. The latest one is that software RAID lets you use SSD drives for caching. Well, current generation HP controllers support SmartCache which does the same thing. Oh, and I guess software RAID is supposed to be easy to "grow" if need be. I know at least the HP RAID controllers can expand arrays in the same way. I think Adaptec can as well.

You are using $120k SANs with SAS backplanes and SATA drives? Really? I mean it's not a huge issue, but why didn't you use SAS drives instead (I'm going by your news item comment for that info) as that'd give you dual path for handling requests and a more sophisticated manner of handling error conditions? I'd be interested in the 4 products quoted to see what you actually bought and were looking into buying.

Relevant links:

HP SmartCache: http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/serv ... index.html
RAID "facts": http://augmentedtrader.wordpress.com/20 ... ings-raid/
Adaptec whitepaper on hardware/software RAID, from 2006: http://www.adaptec.com/nr/rdonlyres/14b ... aid_10.pdf
Linux hardware/software RAID benchmarking, from 2008: http://www.linux.com/news/hardware/serv ... tware-raid

I didn't really look much farther for recent benchmarking. My own very limited performance testing showed that hardware and windows software RAID (mirroring only) performed pretty close to each other. However, that's just a 2-drive mirror. Spindle speed had a far bigger impact on performance than hardware versus software in that limited test. For an enterprise NAS that's a glorified Synology (commodity drives, custom OS/disk management, custom hardware enclosure) I can see why you'd use a software solution.

However, in your particular case, I don't know that you'd get many of the benefits of portability if your SAN failed. Are you gonna move the drives into a different server and have it just work? If the storage pool is over a few different NAS boxes in the SAN and one NAS fails, what's the recovery like? I don't have any experience with a SAN, just DAS and NAS, so I actually don't know the answers to these questions; they aren't rhetorical.


Hi Team ,

Thank for all the feedback but after shopping around IT mall @Kuala Lumpur , the HP reseller only sell the ML310e GEN8 which are already in Xenon E3-1220 ...with price tage at RM 2888. They dont carry any pentium or celebron version.
i will rather stay back to NAS instead with this price ranges
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