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Intel based Server under 50w at idle with multiple Hdd's

    Question

  • I wanted to build a new server for my RTM copy of WHS. I was looking around at different options.

    After seeing some people having issues with AMD based boards i decided to spend a little more money and go with an intel M/B and CPU combo. my first though was that the power would suffer but i wasnt sure.

     

    anyway here is what i ended up with.

    All standard off the shelf parts

     

    Gigabyte GA 945GCMX-S2

    Intel DualCore E2140 CPU

    1GB DDR2 Ram (generic)

    standard Fdd

    Generic Case 

    300W Power supply (Changed to Antec Eathwatts EA-380 PS)

    DVD reader

    Maxtor Sata 320GB Hdd

    Maxtor Pata 200GB Hdd

     

    With this config i have managed to get the wattage used when idle down to under 50W at idle

    .

    all i did was enable turn off hdd's and Balanced Power and performance under power scheme.

    This got me to 56W at idle. The last step i did was to slow the FSB from 200Mhz down to 160Mhz, this slows the idle speed of the CPU from 1.2Ghz down to 960Mhz.When i did this the power at idle has dropped to 50W exacltly. Dropping the FSB to 140 dropped the wattage another watt to 49W.

    I have since speed the CPU back up to 160Mhz FSB. At this speed the Machine seems to run fine on all tasks ive asked it to do,

     

    I have since found out that the new version of the same CPU has a 4w lower idle mode. ( ah well )

    I am trying to find a CPU benchmark to run on the machine to find out how much the drop in bus speed effects the CPU.

     

    I was gonna get a high efficiency Power supply as well but im not sure the extra money spent would be worth it.

     

    Edit: got the new power supply, this shaved another 4 watts off the idle. down to 46W with a 160M FSB ATM so its all good.

     

    Anyway Just thought i would let people know what is achievable on a modest budget.

     

    Peter Rogers

     

    Sunday, September 02, 2007 2:22 PM

Answers

  • Yeah i thought about it.

     

    i disconnected the Fdd and didnt notice any difference. I was tempted to disconnect the DVD as well but since im still playing a little atm the dvd drive is handy. plus when i remove the DVD ill probably add another Hdd as i have a couple of spare Pata hdd's around and this board only has the one Pata bus.

     

    Also what are peoples thoughts on adding a small 3rd hdd mainly to help the duplication. I currently have a spare 40gb Sata drive that i could add until i can free up a bigger drive but im wondering if its worth the issue . I have about 15gb of Duplicated shares atm but thats only gonna climb.

     

    If people are interested i have tried a few different configs of this server checking the power usage. I could post the spreadsheet if people are interested.

     

    Sunday, September 02, 2007 2:39 PM

All replies

  • You could trim a little by removing the fdd and DVD drives I think it's great to see more and more people considering power issues. Regardless on your POV on green issues lower power bills = more cash in pocket for new toys!

     

    Gordon

    Sunday, September 02, 2007 2:32 PM
  • Yeah i thought about it.

     

    i disconnected the Fdd and didnt notice any difference. I was tempted to disconnect the DVD as well but since im still playing a little atm the dvd drive is handy. plus when i remove the DVD ill probably add another Hdd as i have a couple of spare Pata hdd's around and this board only has the one Pata bus.

     

    Also what are peoples thoughts on adding a small 3rd hdd mainly to help the duplication. I currently have a spare 40gb Sata drive that i could add until i can free up a bigger drive but im wondering if its worth the issue . I have about 15gb of Duplicated shares atm but thats only gonna climb.

     

    If people are interested i have tried a few different configs of this server checking the power usage. I could post the spreadsheet if people are interested.

     

    Sunday, September 02, 2007 2:39 PM
  • I'd like to see the data you have on power consumption. Please post the spread sheet data....
    Sunday, September 02, 2007 10:54 PM
  •  Scorpia21 wrote:

    Also what are peoples thoughts on adding a small 3rd hdd mainly to help the duplication. I currently have a spare 40gb Sata drive that i could add until i can free up a bigger drive but im wondering if its worth the issue . I have about 15gb of Duplicated shares atm but thats only gonna climb.

     

    Because of the way that WHS does the storage balancing, I would recommend a minimum of 3 physical drives in all permanent installs. With only 2 drives, you will eventually run out of working space on the primary drive and\or be crippled when you have a drive failure. With 3 similarly sized drives and plenty of free space, you should be able to keep on running even if you need to wait days to replace or return a failed drive.

    Thursday, September 06, 2007 12:15 AM
  • Thanks for the info.

     

    I think i will try and add one of my spare hdd's to the box. Might try and remove the DVD before hand and see what happens.

     

    Also if anyone is interested here is a link to some different config's i have tried and the Wattage used.

     

     

    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pM5H8KzHvhvnvEHIR8L0kXw

     

    Thank again

     

    Peter

    Thursday, September 06, 2007 7:17 AM
  • This is good stuff. One other thing that occurred to me that I would be interested in. You don't mention if your 1GB is one DIMM or 2x512. I'd be curious if there was a difference in either the configuration (1x1gb vs 2x512) and\or dropping to 1x512mb. I know I have seen a pretty substantial drop in the standby time on my laptop after going from 1x512 to 2x512.

    Thursday, September 06, 2007 1:11 PM
  • its a single 1GB stick. i dont have any 512 DDR2 memory i could test with sorry.

     

    Im still trying to find a CPU/Memory benchmark to see how much performance i loose when underlocking the cpu.

     

    I might also start adding some other PC configs onto the spreadsheet just for a comparison.

     

    Peter

     

    Thursday, September 06, 2007 1:20 PM
  • Scorpia21,

    Evening, if power is a concern, utilsing three 2.5" notebook drives would give a noticable saving.

    Also, two sticks of memory, while using a little more power, allows a two core to operate more efficiently.

     

    Colin

     

    Thursday, September 06, 2007 6:08 PM
  •  ColinWH wrote:

    Scorpia21,

    Evening, if power is a concern, utilsing three 2.5" notebook drives would give a noticable saving.

    Also, two sticks of memory, while using a little more power, allows a two core to operate more efficiently.

     

    Colin

     

     

    This is where you have to decide what green you want to save, the green in the environment, or the green in your wallet.  I just did a quick check on both the Western Digital website and the website of a couple of parts suppliers.  The WD SE (3.5" desktop) drives idle at 8.4 watts; the WD GP (Green Power) drives idle at 4 watts, and the WD Scorpio drives (2.5" drives for notebooks) idle at just 2.0 watts.  However, a 250Gb WD SE drive goes for about $70, and a 250Gb WD Scorpio drive goes for about $200.  (I can't find a price on a WD GP, but I somehow doubt it will be less than $70.)  That's $130 difference.  If you get three drives, the 2.5" drives will cost you almost $400 more than the 3.5" drives and will save you 6.4 watts.  All other things being equal, I could build two servers with 3.5" drives for the cost of one server with 2.5" drives.  I'll have to dig up my electric bill to see how much 6.4 watts will cost me over a year, but I somehow don't think it will add up to $400.

     

     

    Monday, September 10, 2007 9:33 PM
  • Keep in mind, I've rarely seen the hard drives in my whs "idle".

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007 12:41 AM
  •  PMSNet wrote:

    Keep in mind, I've rarely seen the hard drives in my whs "idle".

     

    i have read many reports of people saying that. All i can say is that i currently have my hdd's set to a 3 min sleep time and the Power used seems to drop about 3-5 mins after i stop using it to the figures shown. once it has dropped it seems to stay that way for long periods ( 30min+) although i havnt sat there and watched it.

     

    As for buying 2.5" drives. yes that would drop the power usage. but this server isnt about how low can i go with the power. Im sure if i really tried i could get alot lower.

     

    I was just surprised it got to such a low figure with the basic hardware i bought/ used. so i thought others might be interested. plus it gave me an excuse to test my new power meter Smile

     

    I am likely to add another HDD very soon. read as soon as i can afford it.

    Also if i could get a USB flash disk to boot the Install CD i would remove the DVD reader and use the IDE port there.

     

    peter

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007 12:43 PM
  •  jkcarroll wrote:

    I'll have to dig up my electric bill to see how much 6.4 watts will cost me over a year, but I somehow don't think it will add up to $400.

     

    That's about 56kw hours which here in Texas will run you about $9/year.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2007 1:10 PM
  • Just a small update, i have just changed the power supply to one of the 80% efficient ones from ANTEC. the earthwatts EA-380.

     

    this has saved me another 4 watts, so im down to 46W for the PC most of the time.

     

    considering i needed the sata ports this power supply gave me im happy

     

    Not to bad an investment for $70AUS. over the life of the power supply i think it should save me the difference to buying a generic power supply.

     

    I have updated the spreadsheet as well as a small update on the first post.

     

    Peter

     

     

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007 12:33 PM
  • How are you measuring power consumption?  Did you account for chipset power?   Are you using a Kill-A-Watt type device? 

     

     

    These $70 ITX boards+CPU would be nice WHS systems: http://www.logicsupply.com/products/d201gly  TDP for both is only 31w!  Just add a PCI SATA card, HDs, and 1GB RAM.... you are looking at less than 50w idle as well.  Under full load, you are looking at under 100w easy.   

    Thursday, September 20, 2007 8:39 PM
  • DuckieHo,

     

    yes i am using one of the Kill-a-watt type devices to measure the wattage. so it is taking the whole PC into account.

     

    the lowest numbers are when the pc has been idle for a few mins and at least one of the hdd's seems to spins down.

    And yes i know i could easily make the wattage less with more spcialised equipment but i didnt buy the parts for there low power usage alone.  They are just off the shelf parts that are easy to get.. I was just surprised that i got it to 50w. When if you look at the spreadsheet the original spec of the PC had the idle at around 80w ish.

     

    im still trying to work out the best way to measure "full load"  under WHS as i dont want to load Direect X onto the server and most of the benchmark software wants to run 3d type stuff.

     

    I cant see which of the m/b you are thinking about on the website as the link doesnt seem to work.
    Thursday, September 20, 2007 9:51 PM
  • Try running Orthos to stress both your cores, Northbridge, and memory.  http://sp2004.fre3.com/beta/beta2.htm

    I'm not sure off the top of my head of any non-DX video stress test.  However, since you are using onboard video, power consumption should not be that high and well within margin of error.

    For servers, AMD probably would have been a better choice.  They have historically required less power when idle.  My top pic for processor for home server would be the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ EE-SFF.  It has a TDP of only 35w.
    Thursday, September 20, 2007 10:44 PM
  • Duckieho,

     

    ill have a look at orthos when i get home tonight, but it still doesnt stress the hdd's as well.

     

    Also i looked at the AMD as im normally a AMD fan, but with the few people that have had driver issues with AMD based boards around here and with the boards that were available local with the right features i ended up going intel due to the known stability of the server drivers ( im not saying AMD is unstable) and local availability of the equipment.

     

    Also the TDP of 35w doesnt tell you anything about the idle wattage of the processor. I looked around and couldnt find ANY of the low power versions of the AMD chips locally anyway.

     

    If i had my processor choice over again i would still go with the intel but would go the 2160 instead of the 2140 as the idle power of both is identical but it has a higher multiplier so the normal speed is higher. as well i would have paid more attention to the stepping as the newer stepping is 4w lower at idle than the processor i have got (8w).

     

    As for benchmark, most of the overall system benchmark programs include a direct x portion to test the video card.

     

    Peter

     

    Friday, September 21, 2007 2:57 AM
  •  

    Run HDTach or HDTune to stress your HDs.... or run a defrag app on them.  Do this simultaneously with Orthos and you should get a good picture of max system power consumption. 

     

    There are optical drive benchmarks as well.  I believe Nero 7 has one.  Running it will stress that component as well.

    Friday, September 21, 2007 4:05 AM
  • This is quite an interesting thread.

    At the moment I have an old Asus board and intel processor with 6 discs. My server is balancing storage ALL the time (somethign I hoep to solve when I reinstall soon with faster SATA interfaces).

    My power supply has a wattage display on it and it's usually running at about 120 W. When it's idle it goes down to about 100W.

    TBH (I expect some flaming here) I'm not that bothered about my electricity bill or green issues but the room where my server is gets very hot. The other day I was having to shut my cats in there for the day and I tunred the server off the night befopre and through the day as it would heat the room up too much.

    Because of this I want to get the power consumption down.

    You went for an intel board, I normally stick with Intel but have read abotu the AMB cool and quite technology. I assume that this enables the processor to go to sleep as it were to stop usign so much power. Does intel do a similar system?

    Thanks for the post.


    Friday, September 21, 2007 7:31 AM
  • yes the intel core2 chips have what is an enhanced version of speedstep . think they call it eist. basicly its intels version of AMD's quiet and cool.

     

    Both of these technoligies allow the cpu to basicly run slower when its not in use and by running slower use less power. of cause that is a very simple version of what they do.

     

    but also remember that the CPU is just one part of the powe that is being used in your PC. If you are running multiple HDD's then each of then will probably be drawing between 5-10w of power.

     

    As i found out even chaning the power supply can make a big difference. Add to this if your running a 3d video card, multiple ram sticks, lots of hdd's etc they all add up.

     

    But if you look at the spreadsheet i linked earlier the P4 3ghz i had was one of the first desktop chips to get speedstep. there are lots of different Pentium 4 3Ghz CPU's from intel and only the last version got speedstep. so if your running anything earlier then its probably running at full speed all the time useing lots of power.

    Even with the version i had changing to a modern CPU saved me quite a bit of power.

     

    If you want some recommendations on how to save some power im sure if you post some more details on your current system we might be able to see what is using the power.

    Friday, September 21, 2007 9:58 AM
  • Thanks again for the post and for the reply.

    I think at the moment the main culprits ar ethe CPU which is fairly old so won't have speedstep and the HDDs - as I said I have 6 and the they seem to all be being used all the time.

    You mentioned that the HDDs on your system go to sleep - obviously this will save me a lot of power. I assume this is just a setting in the normal windows power control panel.

    As far as I can remember my system comprises the following:

    MB (obviously - will be replacing soon)
    old CPU, will be replacing
    1 stick of ram. I was going to be getting 2 to replace this as you get better performance with 2 sticks. I assume 2 sticks of ram won't increase power usage a lot? when the cpu slows down does the memory slow down and use less power too?
    1 GB NIC - will hoepfully be replaced with on board GB NIC
    2 SATA PCI cards 1 of these will be replaced with on board SATA. THe other will be replaced with a PCI-E SATA RAID card.

    I think that's about it.

    Thanks again.
    Friday, September 21, 2007 10:07 AM
  • i would think that the 6 hdd's probably draw as much if not more than your cpu. my guess 40w+ ish even at idle if not set to spindown.

     

    are they small hdd's / can they be replaced with a large 750/1tb unit at all, otherwise make sure they are set to spindown in the power settings in control panel.

     

    if you intend to plug a monitor in to the server at least every now and then i suggest you get a motherboard with onboard video.

     

    The 2 sticks of memory will use more power than 1 all the time. i dont believe that they slow down when the cpu goes into sleep mode.( could be wrong on that.) but having said that it wont be a big difference.

     

    let us know what cpu/m/b you decide on. Also check the efficency of the power supply you have.

     

    peter

     

    Friday, September 21, 2007 2:03 PM
  • Just so you know, SATA bus has nothing to do with better performing hard drives.  Hard drive performance is determined by firmware, data density, platter count, spindle speed, and cache size.  Currently, SATA offers absolutely no performance benefit over IDE 133.  The fastest commercial desktop HD (Barracuda 7200.11) only recently broke the 100Mb/s sustained transfer rate.
    Friday, September 21, 2007 11:05 PM
  • having said that i was under the belief that if you have 2 hdd's of the same type with data fransfer happening between them sata drives would be better as each sata drive has its own channel where there can be 2 drives on the older Pata channels with each drive fighting for the right to use the bus.

    With the older Pata drives only able to handle one request at a time ( NCQ fixes this i think) the though put could easily be less than what the drives are capable of.

     

    Also you will generally find that the newer drives are faster than the older ones because of upgrades made. and as most sata drives are of a newer design then most Pata drives the sata drives would generally be faster. ut as stated above its not due to the fact that they have a sata connection.

     

    Anyway thats my general understanding of it.

     

    PS. Pata = Parallel ATA or IDE 133 type drive.

     

    Peter

    Saturday, September 22, 2007 4:02 AM
  • You mention that there is a new version of the cpu you have used with a lower power idle state. Does this have the same chip number? If not what would be the chip number?

    I've not been able to find much information about which chips use how much power.

    I think I'll get the same CPU - its only £40 or something from Dabs.

    The clock speed isn't that high but it's dual core which is more important for server application isn't it.

    1GB of Ram should help as well.

    Giles.
    Monday, September 24, 2007 2:41 PM
  • Giles,

     

    the CPU has the same model number but is a newer revision (stepping.)

     

    a quick link i found is http://www.gadget-madness.net/devices/99

     

    My CPU is a "l2" stepping the new CPU's are "m0" stepping.

     

    As for how to tell them apart thats a bit harder. If you can look at the product code on the box there should be a product code. Mine is BX80557E2140SLA3J

     

    the first bit i think you can ignore, the E2140 is the CPU model. and the SLA3J says that this E2140 is L2 stepping, the M0 CPu's have a different SL*** number for each CPU, just to make it harder the E2160 is a different SL*** number as well.

    If you do a search on the internet you should be able to find the SL codes for each CPU and what stepping it is.

     

    Also as i said. I i could by the CPU over i would try and get the M0 stepping and also get the faster E2160 CPU.

     

    Hope this helps

     

    Peter

     

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007 12:39 PM
  •  Scorpia21 wrote:

    My CPU is a "l2" stepping the new CPU's are "m0" stepping.

     

    As for how to tell them apart thats a bit harder. If you can look at the product code on the box there should be a product code. Mine is BX80557E2140SLA3J

     

    the first bit i think you can ignore, the E2140 is the CPU model. and the SLA3J says that this E2140 is L2 stepping, the M0 CPu's have a different SL*** number for each CPU, just to make it harder the E2160 is a different SL*** number as well.

    If you do a search on the internet you should be able to find the SL codes for each CPU and what stepping it is.

     

    Also as i said. I i could by the CPU over i would try and get the M0 stepping and also get the faster E2160 CPU.

    Hi there. Intel has a webpage dedicated to processor spec numbers. Please check http://processorfinder.intel.com and you can see what the new M0 CPUs' spec numbers are. There are E21xx and E4xxx M0 parts, and some of them (like the E2180 and E4500) are only M0.

     

    I have a suggestion for the thread author: try using http://cpu.rightmark.org with that build, and lower the CPU voltage as far as you can. Most likely, you'll end up somewhere around 50W on a fully loaded PC, and 40-ish when idling. Drop me a line if you need any help with that.

     

    Also, how did you manage to underclock your FSB? BIOS? I was under the impression you could only go up, not down...oh, well, you always have something new to learn... hehe

     

    Oh! I almost forgot! That lowered FSB probably means you can also drop the voltage on the MCH (chipset) without compromising performance and stability. Also, lower speed RAM (which you can always set through the BIOS) sometimes can shave off a couple of Watts, especially if you manage to also lower its voltage (though I really don't think below 1.8v is selectable on ANY board...). I know, it's starting to get really weird really fast Stick out tongue Sorry.

     

    Anyway, congrats on your rig. Very interesting power specs.

     

    Cheers.

     

    Miguel

     

     

    P.S.: As for HDDs, try the new 250GB Seagate 1-platter ones: very thin, good performance, low noise and VERY cool; or 2.5'' notebook drives, as they now have SATA variants up to 200GB.

    Sunday, October 07, 2007 2:26 PM
  •  

    Another thing to possibly trim a few more watts is to go into the bios and turn off all the ports you don't use like the serial port, lpt port, fdd controller. Also, if you can't disable everything there then in the device manager in windows you can disable a few more resources you do not currently use. I also run all my head-less computers with no video card and no other drives other than the HDs.

     

    Glad to see someone else cares about saving power. I've always been reluctant to not make P4 computers servers and  have stayed with running P3s and P2s for many years now. I still use a P3 as a WHS server today. I'm not sure what wattage I am running at but I'm sure its near the 50 to 60 watt window. If I ever did upgrade it would be to a core 2 duo CPU.

     

    Here is a link I use as a baseline when selecting CPUs based on wattage. Keep in mind these values are max and do not take into account speed stepping.

     

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CPU_power_dissipation

    Thursday, October 18, 2007 11:53 AM
  • I'm taking a chance here that you might be helpful.  this concern is outside this thread, but i'm desperate to find where to get help.

     

    i havae a P4 laptop that uses 75 watts running W2K.  Something is wrong, because i have records that show this laptop runs W2K at 40 watts.  I have reduced the processes running without any affect.  I have run virus dection looking for a power virus, no luck.

     

    where do I go to find the bug?

     

    TIA, pjl

     

    Saturday, February 09, 2008 2:27 AM
  • i screwed up the contact info somehow.  please email me at pjl@comcast.net if you can help, TIA, pjl

     

    Saturday, February 09, 2008 2:32 AM
  •  Paul Lady wrote:
    i havae a P4 laptop that uses 75 watts running W2K.  Something is wrong, because i have records that show this laptop runs W2K at 40 watts.  I have reduced the processes running without any affect.  I have run virus dection looking for a power virus, no luck.

     

    Well, that post is indeed a little bit off the thread topic. However, since it still covers the "power consumption" topic, I'm guessing it won't be too bad to answer it.

     

    So, that laptop is Netburst-based. Which means we're talking about a constantly running fan (at least one, that is... lol). Factors that can increase the probability of high energy requirements are:

     

    1) excessive dust/lint/whatever on the ventilation holes and/or fans - solution: disassemble the notebook, clean everything, if possible also change the thermal paste on the CPU (it has expired it's useful life looong ago);

     

    2) bad dedicated GPU configuration, which is drawing too much power - solution: besides cleaning everything (carefull with the thermal sticks, they are harder to replace), make sure you configure everything right via software (choose the "Max battery" setting on the GPU's driver software), and you can also try manually setting lower speeds for the GPU using NVTuner, ATITool, or other such software;

     

    3) Internal HDD constantly spinning - try setting its AAM state to "low power", and make it spin down when not needed (if you're running a mostly idle server, 2-min idle spin down should be good)

     

    3) use of several 2,5'' external HDD enclosures drawing ALL it's power from the USB bus, which means that 75W in this case wouldn't be just because the laptop - solution: not a very good one, because if you really need the external storage, you can only send the power requirements to an external self-powered USB hub, not really lowering the total...

     

    Since you're talking about W2K, I don't know it this applies, but I know Windows XP (and variants) suffers from a known bug with the USB bus, which basically doesn't let the CPU enter low-power states. I don't know if W2K has this issue, you can try checking this; also, I don't know if mobile Netburst-based CPUs are actually capable of being affected by this issue or not, so I'm a little lost here.

     

    Hope this helps.

     

    Cheers.

     

    Miguel

     

     

    P.S.: To the thread author: any news on the rig? [EDIT] Oh, forget that, I was confusing this thread with a different forum... lol But I remembered something: you can probably go even lower with something like a 90W or 120W PicoPSU and external power brick. You might have to do some math, though, power is rather scarce with those PSUs. But efficiency is through the roof (up to 95%, if memory serves me right), EXTREMELY small (can you say 20-pin power connector? It's about three times taller than that, the other measures are about the same) and NO fan (so another couple of Watts off just from that one) [/EDIT]

    Sunday, February 10, 2008 3:11 PM