I’m proud to announce that I’ve got Solaris 10 up and running pretty smoothly on my new AMD-based system. I had some annoying compatibility issues with the first system I tried, so I switched to the ASUS M2NPV-VM motherboard with an AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+ CPU. This board has much better support in Solaris 10 out of the box. The onboard GPU (nVidia GeForce 6150) is recognized immediately as is the onboard ethernet. So much nicer to work with…
There are some other things that I really like about this board. It’s got four USB ports and Firewire on the back. There are also headers for two more USB and one more firewire port on the motherboard. DVI out it also nice. Check out the expansion options below…
Another thing that works really well for my project is that there are 2 IDE connectors and 4 SATA connectors. I plugged the boot drive and the DVD-ROM drive into the IDE port (as master/slave on one cable). Four SATA ports is the bare minimum for what I want to accomplish, but it will suffice for the next year or so. If I run out of room quicker than that, I’ll add a PCI board or something.
A couple other cool extras that come with this Asus board…
- Firewire bracket (for the rear openings in a standard case)
- HDTV video out bracket with component outputs (the 6150 is capable of 1080i)
- extra IDE cables and a SATA cable
So next up is the physical build process and then Solaris installation. ZFS setup is so easy, it almost doesn’t deserve a post. I’ll see if I can do some rough benchmarks for fun though.
The new parts are on order now. I ran into some issues with the previous gear, particularly with the Intel integrated graphics adapter and the onboard LAN. I decided to go with an AMD setup because it’s been reported to work with Solaris 10. I chose the Asus M2NPV-VM motherboard, which even has an entry on the official HCL, even if there are scant details available there. I expect the video and the LAN to be recognized on install so I’ll be disappointed if that doesn’t work out.
The one departure I took was to save $20 and go with GeIL memory rather than the Corsair XMS sticks I was looking at. I’ve been buying Corsair for a couple of years now, but the good reviews on newegg.com convinced me to try the GeIL. The ones I picked come with racing orange heat spreaders, so they have to be fast, right? It’s still DDR2 800 (PC2-6400) RAM and should run at 4-4-4-12 if I push the voltage to 2.1. One of the things I like about Asus boards is the easy tweaking for things like this.
The main reason that I went with this setup was to really try and push the cheapest build possible to get close to 1TB of raw storage. The M2NPV-VM has 2 IDE ports and 4 SATA ports. I’ve got four 250GB SATA drives for storage and a 120GB IDE drive for the boot volume. I’ve also got a spare 250GB IDE drive (in an external enclosure at the moment) so I could potentially hook up 1.25TB of raw storage. That should yield 1TB in a RAIDZ pool (with single parity). So here’s where I am with the gear right now…
- $84 – Asus M2NPV-VM motherboard
- $95 – AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+
- -$10 – combo discount on CPU/MB
- $84 -GeIL 2x512MB DDR2 800 RAM
- $70 – Antec SmartPower 2.0 SP-500 ATX12V 500W Power Supply
- -$30 – rebate on PSU
- $260 – 4x250GB SATA drives
- $15 – shipping
- Free – spare tower case, PS2 keyboard, mouse, SATA cables, Arctic Silver, IDE boot drive, etc.
So $568 total (assuming I can still drive a calculator) for 1000GB of storage. Maybe 1.2TB if I throw in the other drive (I already have a 500GB external – do I really need another one?). I would’ve been closer to $500 if I’d gone with something like the Celeron D or the Athlon 64 (non X2) and a slightly cheaper motherboard (w/ slower, cheaper RAM) but I figured the extra dough will save me some hassle when I’m all through with this. Considering that’s only $100 more than the external 1TB drives, I think I’m doing pretty well.
I think I’ll post some pics this time when I build the server. I always like seeing other people’s builds so I thought I could share mine with the world. In particular, I want to show some pics of the power supply (I know, I know – super geeky) because I really like the modular cable design on this unit.