Sunday, August 31, 2014

Retiring From Active Duty

I have a small file server at home, pieced together from old PC parts I have gathered over the years. This weekend, it underwent a significant upgrade: the old Pentium 4 based system was being replaced by an, only slightly newer, processor architecture. The upgrade hardly worth a performance analysis given the age and role of the system in question, but I felt it worth sharing a couple of pictures at the very least! The first picture I have is barely related to the upgrade itself, but I thought it was worth sharing. While digging around in my garage for all the necessary parts, I happened to find 4 Intel CPUs of the same socket type (LGA 775); of course, the one I was after was the last one I found!
From left to right: Pentium E2180 , two Core 2 Duo E6400s and one Core Duo E6550.

Anyway, back on topic, here's the system prior to the upgrade:
  • Asus P4C800-E Deluxe
  • Intel Pentium 4 - I forgot to check the model number before I shut down the server, but it was a single-core chip with HyperThreading, running at 2.4GHz.
  • 2x 1GB DDR-333 memory.
  • 3Dfx Voodoo 3 graphics card.
  • 2x (mismatched - i.e. not the same model drive) 500GB HDDs in RAID 1 (for the OS).
  • 2x 1TB HDDs in RAID 1 (for data storage).
While it might not have been the most efficient or elegant file server implementation, it didn't cost me anything extra to build other than my own time, and I enjoy recycling old components in this manner. For those of you who aren't hardware aficionados, it's worth pointing out that this motherboard and processor are over ten years old; I think I bought them back in 2003, while still at university. Not only that, the Voodoo 3 graphics card is even older; the card was announced by 3dfx back in 1999... Oh, and it's the PCI version! So, the upgrade simply stripped out and replaced the core of the system; the motherboard, CPU and memory, everything else is the same. The "new" components are:
  • Asus P5N-T Deluxe
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6550
  • 4x 1GB DDR2-553 memory.
Swapping the components out was a bit fiddly given the size of the case, but I made things simple for myself by installing the CPU, cooler and RAM while the motherboard while outside the case:

And here is the 10-year old veteran:

Whenever I build machines, I have a tendency to stick Asus motherboards at the heart of them, as the below picture from my garage can attest. Now, Asus components consistently get good reviews, but I do confess to having an affinity for the company and it's great to be able to continue to use a product of theirs that's as old as this one is!
I love Asus!

One final point about the upgrade that is worth mentioning: I had made the decision previously to use software RAID for my server as opposed to using the motherboard's RAID facilities. This meant that once I switched the upgraded server following the upgrade, I found that the Fedora installation booted without issue; recognising the RAID sets I had defined - neat!