Trying to build a farming server enclosure - Need some help

Hello!

Been plotting chia for 2-3 months, and I find it very fun! Atm Im sitting on 200TB, but my end goal is to be more in the 3-5 PiB range.

I have no experience with servers or Linux. So my current plan is to use windows as a farming OS.

My current build are Fractal 7 XL filled with harddrives. But with 200-300 drives Ill guess that would be a bad solution ;p.

The most important thing for me is to have a quiet server that dont give crazy amounts of heat since Im planning to have it inside my home :).

I have been using some weeks to read up on how to build a server storage unit. From my understanding the normal ones make a lot of noise with the server PSUs. So I want to build a server with normal computer parts to reduce the noise level.

I have been looking at this one:

https://www.inter-tech.de/en/products/ipc/storage-cases/4u-4424

Questions server:

  1. Is there any other products that would meet my needs better?
  2. Im not to worried about the price, but if I could get the same product for a better price that would be great. Any tips?

For the server enclosure Im cosnidering this:

https://www.apc.com/shop/us/en/products/APC-NetShelter-SX-42U-Server-Rack-Enclosure-600mm-x-1070mm-w-Sides-Black/P-AR3100

Questions enclosure:
3. The depth of the Inter-Tech are 688mm and the depth of the NetShelter are 1070 mm. Is it necessary to have this much space behind the server?
4. The perfect enclosure for me would be around 850mm deep, are those hard to find?

  1. Are there anything I would need to know before starting my server journey? :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance! :slight_smile:

That looks like a nice quality 4u chassis. I have 2 questions/concerns:

  • Does it come with backplane to connect drives and what interface it has? (sas2, sas3, or it is expected you wire up and power up all drives yourself???)
  • A consumer-grade PSU may not be able to support all 24 drives reliably, especially during startup. It all depends on the backplane

For the enclosure, the best deal is to buy a used rack from craigslist for $200-300. One of those huge decommissioned telco racks (hp, dell).

You will end up with a lot of noise anyway, because the system needs to be protected by a servers-grade rack mounted UPS and it makes some noise. Also to expand your farm you will need rack mounted JBODs wit 24 to 45 bays. And they do A LOT of noise. Even the hdds themselves will create a constant hum (once you have a 100 of them it adds up)

if you are going to run a server it is much, much cheaper to buy a second hand server (like the del l rx720xd or the hp counterpart). Only if you can put it in a place where it bothers no one (these things make a lot of noise :slight_smile: )

  1. Yes, It comes with: S-ATA/SAS-Backplane + SFF-8087 (max. 12Gbit/s)

I was thinking a 1000W Corsair HX PSU, but will it be a problem with the backplane that follows the chassis?

My plan is that 1x chassis with 24x drives would be one computer with one cpu, memory, psu and the normal parts in one PC.

From my understanding I will need to buy a SAS card for the PCI-e port to plug inn all the hot-swappable harddisks. I will need 6x SAS connectors.

Molex connectors will give the HDDs power through the backplane.

Should it work with a normal PSU or isnt it worth a try? ;p

Thats my problem, I cant put it in a place where sound would be any problem.

I can do some sound, but the server PSU sound are too much.

I currently have 8x GPUs farming, and the sound and heat from them are ok.

The server PSU doesn’t make that much noise compared to industrial chassis fans. Moreover, most servers come with 2x hot/swappable psu with way overprovisioned capacity. So normal load is going to be 20-40% of the nominal capacity, therefore they may even not need to engage fans.

I personally built my farm server in a 4u chassis with 12 bays using all consumer-grade parts. It has a rudimentary backplane that merely serves as a PDU (I had to wire up SATA to each hdd individually). The PSU is a 850w Corsair. The HDDs start spinning all at once when you power it up, so it spikes ~500w from the wall for entire system. Then it stabilizes to ~150-200w.

Also I had to replace internal chassis fans with noctua industrial fans, since the hdd temps were a bit too high.

If I knew how much hassle it was to begin with, I’d go buy a used supermicro server on ebay (2u with 12 bays or 4u with 36 bays) instead. It already comes with hardware optimized for 24/7 operation, staggered spin-up, industrial hot-swappable fans, redundant PSUs, and a motherboard/cpu with lots of pcie lanes, ability to expand RAM…

One other thing to consider is adequate airflow for the entire rack. It will produce quite a lot of heat (of course not as much as GPUs), so you need some sort of temperature-controlled fan with an exhaust duct. Even the fan alone would produce quite uncomfortable noise, so the whole setup is not suitable for a living space.
A garage/barn/shop or a dedicated room would be more appropriate.

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Ok thanks!

So ordering something like this: 4U 24 Bay LFF SAS3 Storage X10QBi Server Xeon 48 Cores 256GB 4x PCI-E 3.0 x16 | eBay

Thats my best bet for start making a farm?

Find the server thing kinda scary since I know so little about it ;p.

That thing is going to make a lot of noise :slight_smile:
One thing you must understand about servers, is that they need to force fresh air through the whole chassis as the CPU’s do not have a dedicated fan, only a heatsink and these things need cooling.

4 massive xeon CPUs will eat 600w alone. And it has 4 PSU 1650w each. Very power hungry.

If you merely want to use the system as a farmer (not plotter), then search for a single socket configuration with a low TDP cpu.

If you want it to double as a plotter, then search for a 512GB DDR4 and a high core count, possibly dual-cpu (but again, there will be power consumption overhead when it is idling).

As for the noise, the 4u or 2u would be your best bets (caveat: depends on configuration of particular system)

@whosrdaddy @rfc2324

Ok, thanks again.

But the setup I linked in my first post are “useless” for my needs?

Fint it easier to just build a regular PC, then I know what parts to use ;p.

Edit:

What are the pros/cons with my first setup? :slight_smile:

https://www.inter-tech.de/en/products/ipc/storage-cases/4u-4424

and

https://www.apc.com/shop/us/en/products/APC-NetShelter-SX-42U-Server-Rack-Enclosure-600mm-x-1070mm-w-Sides-Black/P-AR3100

Your original setup is going to work out fine with a few caveats:

  • PSU may struggle with 24 drives, so you may need to buy a 1000-1200W unit
  • Buying new rack is expensive
  • Some other parts (e.g. cpu cooler) may not fit into 4u chassis

A fun project to scratch an itch for system-building, if you don’t mind the cost. It is similar to buying a new customized car vs an old diesel Mercedes

nothing is wrong with the item you linked but as already mentioned by rfc2324, there may be some challenges. The biggest factor will be money, the name of the game is trying to keep the tco as low as possible (ultimately, the initial+running cost/TB will determine the profitability of your farm) . Cheap second hand servers will just do that. I run 3 8th gen hp servers (36 disks in total and this setup consumes less than 500W)

@whosrdaddy @rfc2324

Ok thanks alot again!

How come I will need 1000-1200W on 24 drives? Dont the drives use 10W each or something? :slight_smile:

Ill buy 1000W power supplyes if thats what I need lol ;p.

Rather have a more costfull farm that is more silent/less warm if the normal PSU and noctua fans help me with it :).

Whats the ideal temprature on HDDs when running a farming machine? :slight_smile:

About 40C or lower. 50C+ will degrade drive health and may result in premature failure

Surprised no one has suggested one of these NetApp DS4246 Disk Array Shelf W/ 24x SAS SATA Trays 2x IOM6 Expansion array | eBay

NetApp-DS4246-Disk-Array-Shelf-W-24x-SAS-SATA-Trays-2x-IOM6-Expansion-array

Make sure it has two power supplies (if there’s only one the fans will run at full speed), caddies and at least one IOM6 module. This can be connected back to a normal PC via a SAS HBA using one cable.

I’m not sure how loud they are though, if your search YouTube for Digital Spaceport he has a lot of videos you may find useful. I’m pretty sure you can change the fans for quieter versions.

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As far for the server cabinet you can find these on many sites at a good price. Better than $1500.00


enclosure, 42u, black | eBay

You can also look for server racks locally on craigslist or facebook marketplace. When companies are wanting to get rid of them they basically give them away because they are expensive to ship.

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Nice!

Found a APC-NetShelter-SX-42U-Server for 200$ ish. So thinking about picking that up later this week :slight_smile:

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Ok thanks!

Bought some new fans a rearanged my Fractal 7XL, so now the harddrives is around 35 C :).