Yamato on its way

Today I ordered the new box, that, as I said, is called Yamato. I’ll get on the reason for this particular name in a little :)

I got the money available with a short term loan; thanks to everybody who has (and might) chip in, in order (up to now) Raimund, Anton, Federico, William, Jürgen, Jim and Marcel, if I didn’t have at least some availability it wouldn’t have been possible for me to place the order.

So, what are the specs of the famous “expensive” computer? (at least for US standards) Two Opteron 2350 (Barcelona), Tyan Thunder n3600B motherboard, 16 GB of registered RAM, cheap-o-graphics X1550 video card (there is an embedded XGI but afaict it does not support dual DVI which is a requirement for me — the only one basically), a chassis, the cheapest black DVD burner, and a decent Active PFC PSU.

My original plan included a 3Ware hardware RAID card and 3x500GB Seagate HDs, which costed around €700 by themselves. But then, I can consider that in the future. As for why not using software RAID, well, I’ve been told to not rely on that at all. Actually, the motherboard I have should support “firwmare-based” RAID5, but even that. Who knows, at any rate I can consider the rest in the future, when I got a job to pay for that, rather than having to ask.

New disks or not, the idea for Yamato was for me to use the system installed in Enterprise as a basis, and going on with that, that’s why the name. The USS Yamato was, in Star Trek TNG, the twin sister starship of the flagship USS Enterprise, Galaxy class. The new box would have had a system cloned from Enterprise; in this case it will have the same system as I’ll be using the same disks.

The only thing will have to reconfigure the kernel from scratch as the only thing to remain the same will be the architecture (but the one I have now is just an UP kernel), the network card that is still Marvell, and the two cards that I’ll be importing from Enterprise (WiFi and Sound), and of course changing all the references to “enterprise”.

I hope my wire transfer will be received by Friday (SEPA transfer), so that the order can be shipped on Monday. I didn’t get the express shipment, as it would have costed €100 more alone, and I’m relying on standard UPS taking from three to four days usually. If I’m lucky, by the 22nd I’ll have the package here, and in the night Yamato should be up. It would be perfect because I’ll probably be in the hospital starting the 25th, and if Yamato is already up and running, I can coordinate its work from there too.

But my development work is not entirely stopped, so more posts will follow about topics I hinted at in the past weeks.

17 thoughts on “Yamato on its way

  1. On the RAID… You are right to not rely on the “firmware” RAID, but I’m not sure why you aren’t using software kernel/md(p) RAID… unless of course you are going to be dual booting it or something, in which case hardware RAID is indeed best.But for a Linux-only device, particularly a multi-core/CPU where the overhead isn’t likely to be an issue, Linux kernel/md RAID is IMO perhaps the best option. It’s certainly the most compatible, since one is then no longer dependent on being able to find a compatible proprietary hardware RAID card or firmware RAID mobo, and most firmware RAID mobos offer the JBOD (just a bunch of disks) configuration option as well. With kernel/md(p) RAID, if the controller or mobo dies, just plug the drives into any standard compatible interface and go. Well, if you’ve compiled only your specific SATA/PATA drivers in, you’ll need to recompile the kernel with the new ones, but that’s sure better than having to hunt down a compatible mobo or hardware RAID card when it’s no longer being manufactured!There’s also the flexibility of being able to run multiple RAID levels on the same hardware, with kernel/md(p) RAID. I’m running my main system as (four spindle) RAID-6 for dual redundancy, but have stuff like the Gentoo tree on RAID-0, since it’s effectively just a local Internet cache anyway and needs no redundancy. Swap is also 4-way striped, using the kernel’s native same-priority swap striping ability, all on the same four disks.So even where cost wasn’t a consideration, I’d still tend to favor kernel/md(p) RAID over hardware RAID, and DEFINITELY over firmware RAID, which effectively has most of the negatives of software RAID AND hardware RAID combined, without the positives of either!


  2. The USS Yamato was completely destroyed by a kind of alien virus… I hope your computer will be more lucky :)


  3. Wow, that is a heck of a computer. I wouldn’t worry too much about the hardware raid. Linux software raid has always worked pretty well for me.I’d love to see a post about how well the X1550 works. I’m looking for a dual-DVI card for my computer at work. Ever since I had a Radeon 9700Pro which locked up constantly with fglrx, I’ve stopped buying ATI. And nVidia’s drivers gave me horrible AA text rendering performance. I’ve got an i915 in my computer now, but it’s only analog.I hope the new machine works out well for you.


  4. Are you sure your job wouldn’t be better filled up with a couple of cheap machines, connected through the GIG Eth ?Tyan has not exactly written itself in golden colours with me in the past and board you selected surely haven’t come cheap.Fastest, not_yet_existing Phenom will run you somewhere around what you paid for 2350 and simple non ECC non registered RAM is much faster nowadays.It’s not foolproof, but with quality components ( MoBo, PSU, RAM) and occassional RAM test, you shouldn’t have any problems.Gig Eth between the boards might be bottleneck otherwise, but not in your case as you have many tasks without intensive interCPU traffic.Hell, it might even give you some redundancy. If node A is in need of check or testing, node B can take over its load too.IIWY, I would strongly reconsider.


  5. Problem is, I need to take a compromise with other factors, like having space for them, and being able to keep their temperature in check.I don’t have space anymore for more than one box, which is why I’m not using Farragut, nor Prakesh, nor Klothos anymore. To make room for Yamato, the whole Enterprise will have to get out of the office, too.I was planning on building a make-shift “machine room” but the only place I have to put it is our storage area, and to do that I’d have to cable it down, change the door, put on some AC (and I don’t even have AC for my _house_) as the summer is hot, and so on.


  6. Wisely done, whole thing can be comparable or smaller than your existing setup.You can get decent microATX Phenom boards, or screamer minit-ITX boards, h**l you can even stack two or more regular boards with just a little bit of ingenuity.And you can power whole thing from single decent 1KW PSU…True, it involeves a little bit of DIY, but it surely is worth the effort.You are talking about substantial money here…


  7. Two more things:Although AMD has been hard at work trumpeting Optys as a server AND workstation worthy solution, reality is a bit different.Since a big part of AMD’s pie comes from low end where competition is especially fierce, AMD can’t afford to keep its low end artificially week.If some new fuctionality or speed bin shows up, it MIGHT see the light of day on expensive Opterons, but once Intel makes his move AMD usually ends offering it practically for free on low end.Secondly, don’t count too much on “high end” Tyan’s stuff. I’ve been burned with them more than once and both times I’ve got a feeling I would be much better served with some elcheapo board.Their support might take care if it is something that hurt some big customer running server farm.If the bug hurts you on some workstation related functionality, you could be dissapointed and since you are microscopic customer, they won’t care.Many of my dual Opty boards (S2885) had problems on highest HT settings, some of them I couldn’t upgrade to DC optys and all of them had faulty AGP port ( bug on AMD’s HT–AGP tunnel. Bug is fixable, AMD released fix, but Tyan remained silent and did not integrate it).Once again – be careful. I have a feeling you don’t exactly piss money, so this experience might hurt…


  8. One more thing- this is the las I promise ;o)If you decide to go Phenom way, you should know that there are some problems with Gig Eth driver for Realtek chips.It manifests itself so that your machine I/O subsystem fails and remounts practically everything as read-only. It’s some kind of kernel safety mechanism and it is triggered after you copy ( read or write IIRC) some quantity of data. With me it was over 4G, somewhat over RAM quantity in my machine.Workaround is to have MTO on eths unner 3+ Kbyte. I have MTU 2048 and it works fine.Funny thing is, i have seen this bug with Phenom on couple of different 9850s i tried and on ALL board I tried them in ( MSI, Gigabyte ).With X2 6000+ in the same board bug never happens…Just so you know if for some reason your life depends on jumbo frames, which are crummy on Realtek as it is ( only 7200 )…


  9. I like the continuity between the computer names. Suggestion for when Yamoto dies: Bismarck. (Yamoto was the largest Japanese battleship in WWII, Bismarck the largest German).


  10. I don’t understand why you went with Opterons… 1 Intel Quad Core 2 Duo is a much better choice.Unless in Italy they cost too much, which I highly doubt it.


  11. If you decide to buy a hw raid if the future, don’t buy the 3ware’s controller (9650se is the one you’ve looked at). I’ve played with it and I don’t like it (its processor is weak and raid5 is not handled very well). Look at the areca controllers, they have better cpu and look faster (unfortunately, I haven’t tested one, yet :( )…Good luck with the new machine… I wish you to regain your health to 100pts


  12. I did. Both – Tupperware and Areca.Areca flies – I have ARC1160 ( PCI-X card with 16 SATA channels).Nowadays something from ARC-12xx series might be a better choice ( PCIe interface instead of PCI-X)


  13. Just as I expected, DFI has launched ideal board for Phenom:DFI LANparty DK 790FX-M2RS, 790FXCheck the price for it on geizhals:http://geizhals.at/a324625….Very cheap for such board, which can support 140W CPUs and more than likely anything on 45nm…YOu can probably get 3 such boards for what you have paid for that old Tyan…


  14. This is fresh from ECS Elite:Elitegroup A790GXM-A, 790GXhttp://geizhals.at/eu/a3585…790GX chipset, SB750, two LANs, six SATA ports, two PCIe, 128MB of GDDR2 sideport memory, built in cool graphic card etc etc.Only €136 with VAT inclusive.I know ECS had a bad reputation, but I’ve got to try this one…


  15. What they don’t tell you is that RAID won’t protect you from corruption due to power-failure.If you want a RAID-card, get one with a battery-backed cache. If you want the flexibility of md-RAID, get a reliable UPS. IMO the second option is faster and more reliable too.


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