FreeNAS Hardware Specs
June 22, 2009 1:07 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to make a dedicated FreeNAS box. Looking for hardware suggestions.

I am comfortable with assembling my own hardware, but I'm a little unsure of the kind of hardware I need. It's easy enough to get the top of the top hardware, but I figure I don't need the best of everything for a FreeNAS box, just something that can handle on-the-fly disk encryption/decryption, RAID, and the fileserving.

I would like guidelines as well as hardware reccomendations. Something like "get at least a dual core processor with xx Ghz" works just as well as "get the AMD Athlon xxxx."

For the hardware, I could use help with mobo, ram, and CPU. Basically, I want the minimum hardware specs to get the job done well (read: I'm cheap), but I need room for many large/fast SATA drives. I want to do RAID with FreeNAS, but i'm not sure if I need hardware RAID support on the mobo...

More info here.

As always, thanks!
posted by tdreyer to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have successfully run a FreeNAS machine off of a 400MHz Celeron with 64 megs of RAM. To do hardcore RAID/encryption you'll probably need heavier-hitting hardware, but the base system will run on just about anything.

How big do you expect your array to be? What RAID level do you want to use? will you be using the hardware array you mention in your ubuntuforums post? What kind of thouroughput do you need?

Right now I have a 3x640GB RAID-5 running on a very low end conroe celeron machine with windows server 2008. Usually, Its rather peppy, but streaming 720p video gets choppy from it when copying large files onto the array, and that with no encryption.

If you are not going to use a beefy hardware RAID card, and don't need to push huge amounts of data while doing huge uploads, I would recommend a mid-range processor (6000 or 7000 range core2 duo/8000 or 9000 series AMD Phenom), and a good amount of RAM (2-4 GB).

If you are going to use a hardware RAID card, make sure FreeBSD (the underpinnings of FreeNAS) supports it: you can check out the Hardware Notes for FreeBSD 7.2 (which is what FreeNAS 0.7 will be using) for the details on which RAID cards are supported.

You will also definitely want to get some sort of discrete network card, especially if you want to push a lot of data, as some motherboard NICs (especially on cheap mobos) are kind of flaky. I recommend the Intel PRO/1000 for this (its about 27 bucks on newegg).
posted by grandsham at 6:23 PM on June 22, 2009

Free NAS uses software RAID, right? You should choose that. You don't want your raid married to some hardware card (that's probably doing most of the heavy lifting in the CPU anyway) that will go bad some day. Linux software raid is pretty much portable- you can take the drives and stick them in any machine and turn the array back on. With a "hardware" card, probably not, unless you can find a compatible card.

I had a software raid running on a Pentium III 1000 with 512mb of ram, and it's fine. I "upgraded" to a machine with a P4 1.4 and 128mb of ram. And it's also fine. 1080i video never has an issue, whether @ 100MB or 1000Mb. I just threw a promise SATA adapter (not raid, just a 4 port adapter) in there and off it flew.

Best bet is to use whatever you've got laying around, and then check for bottlenecks after that.
posted by gjc at 6:37 PM on June 22, 2009

I wanted a NAS box that actually looks like a NAS, so I went with a Mini-ITX board. Specifically, the Intel Atom 330, which is a dual-core 1.6ghz board (4 cores if you could HPT). D945GCLF2.

Low power and all that. For SATA ports I picked a Supermicro sata-mv8, or the sat2-mv8, as it is supported in OpenSolaris. (I'm going for ZFS, which is indeed very cool). The onboard SATA is no good if you want hot-swap.

For case, maybe I will use:

And for the actual HDDs: (I wanted 5 bays, for Raidz)

And the last 5.25 (half) bay, I thought I would put in:
posted by lundman at 7:04 PM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh I forgot to mention, the whole Intel Board, cpu and all, is ~$70. The memory was $20, The SATA card $50.
posted by lundman at 7:05 PM on June 22, 2009

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