Low Power Core i5-650 Server
As I posted previously, the new Clarkdale based chips (or Intel’s 2010 Core line-up) are quite nice chips. Speed wise, they are similar in performance to the venerable Core 2 Quad Q6600 (often faster) yet come equipped with integrated graphics and a much refined process (32nm on the CPU core for the i3/i5′s and 65nm for the Q6600). The net result is that the power consumption is particularly great on the new chips.
My experiment with the Core i3-530 got me interested in the Core i5-650. With a Fry’s deal of $199 for the i5-650 and Gigabyte H55M-UD2H motherboard, I bought one just for fun. After plugging it into the 850w Coolermaster power supply (only one available) I noticed that I could build a really nice server setup with the ability to connect over 40 SATA drives, and have 3 gigabit NICs that would consume 70w at idle (on the 850w CPU), without drives.
Here’s a quick picture of a 70w mini-server with 40+ SATA ports (and for those interested, 36 of those are SAS ports also):
In addition, for approximately $200 (HP SAS Expander and SFF-8088 cable) plus the cost of an enclosure/ power supply, an additional 32 ports (net 28 because four will be used to connect the expander) can be used with this setup. Using an inexpensive motherboard with no CPU and no RAM plus the HP SAS expander will only add 11-12w of power draw atop that of the drives in the additional enclosure. This is surely a powerful combination albeit one that uses very little power.
With a good raid controller, raid 5, raid 6, and etc are no problem over a ton of drives making a great NAS solution. With Windows Home Server V2 “Vail” coming soon, the i5-650 is a 64-bit chip and there is onboard expandability for 8GB of ram if desired.
Here’s the base build with an Intel X25-V (instead of the X18-M) and no add-in cards: