Feburary 22, 2016
Having had a home NAS for a number of years I have learnt a few things and am ready for an upgrade. With my upgrade I want to address a few deficiencies with my current NAS.
- Samba is single threaded and CPU limited
- Virtual machines are slower than even the cheapest cloud VM instance on AWS, Rackspace, Azure etc...
- Dual core CPUs don't run many virtual machines well
- Plex loves CPU, especially when transcoding
- Current case only has 3x3.5" HDD bays
- Non-ECC memory support
To solve these issues it is obvious I need a bigger case and a more powerful CPU. These requirements almost seem incompatible with the objectives of a home NAS:
- Low power
Intel now has a platform which solves many of these problems. The Xeon D platform is miniITX friendly and sips power. As a system on a chip, the Xeon D has the south bridge integrated onto the CPU die for maximum power savings. A Xeon D-1520/D-1540 has a TDP of 45 W whereas a Xeon E3-1230v5 has a TDP of 85 W plus 6 W for the chipset.
The next step is to choose a suitable case. There are now many miniITX cases available thanks to a trend to build the smallest PC with the most powerful gaming specs. Many of these cases are optimised to be fitted with 2.5" HDDs/SSDs and are not suitable for a file server where the price point is still is favour of 3.5" HDDs. I chose the Fractal Design Node 304 for its compact size, limited depth, and ability to hold 6 x 3.5" HDDs (4 with a graphics card longer than 160 mm). This is plenty to expand my ZFS array for many years of storage requirements.
The Node 304 having a large volume for miniITX (19 litres) with it's positive pressure push-pull cooling arrangement will keep the case cool enough to passively the system at idle, a requirement when streaming a movie in the living room. To support the quiet requirement I have chosen the passively cooled Silverstone Nightjar 80 plus platinum ATX PSU. The low power Xeon SoC will barely draw enough power to require active cooling keeping the system whisper quiet.
Stay tuned for the complete component listing and the build...