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Powering PC Perspective

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Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: General
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The Hardware and Software Behind PC Perspective

Coming from the background of Amdmb.com and Amdforums.com websites, I have come to have a better understanding of what you need in a server to power a popular website.  Over the past four years, we have gone through seven server upgrades or additions to keep up with the pace of traffic and the power necessary to publish the articles and forums that you read.  With that previous knowledge, and the benefit of already being grounded in the hardware community, I was able to put a server together that would be able power PC Perspective for, in our estimate, over a year.  (This does not include the forums.) 


Besides learning from our past, we also learned from the community.  Nearly every editor I have talked to in my years tells me they read as much of the other site's content as possible.  Of course, we all know of Anandtech, and Anand has significantly more options and choices to make in his server upgrade path.  In short, his site requires a lot more power than ours, and thus what components he would choose, I pay attention to.  :)


For PC Perspective, I knew that having a single server would be sufficient for our projected 6 month growth, especially if we chose components that were powerful and scalable enough.


Processor: 2 x Opteron 248



The Opteron 248 processor was chosen because of its exceptional performance in database systems and in web server applications according to this article's benchmarks.   Our options included the Athlon XP processors in a dual-processor format; the same configuration that we are using to power that Amdmb and AmdForums websites, but again, I wanted to future-proof this new setup. 


Once our processors were chosen, the rest of the configuration just fell into place. 


Motherboard: Tyan Thunder K8S AMD 8131/8111



With such good luck in all of our previous machines using Tyan server boards, continuing the tradition seemed logical.  Tyan's name in the server board market is as good as any, and we were able to take our pick from a few different Opteron boards with features to suit our needs. 


The K8S offers similar features as the previous Thunder models, including on-board graphics, legacy and 64-bit PCI slots, SCSI controller, two Ethernet ports and numerous memory slots.  This board also has the option for Zero Channel RAID shoud the need arise in the future for a more robust storage solution.  


Memory: 4 GB Corsair DDR 3200 (4 x 1 GB modules)



For memory, our main goal was to include enough that the database could exist in physical memory easily.  4 GB seemed like a moderate enough amount, so we tapped our friends at Corsair Memory to help us out, and they did so.  We split the memory up so that each processor had access to 2 GB of memory each. 


Storage: 1 x 36 GB Seagate 15K RPM SCSI and 1 x 80 GB Seagate IDE



For our hard drives on the server, we choose to go with a dual disk setup -- one for the operating system and databases and one for backup purposes.  These drives were supplied to us from the folks at Seagate for use in our previous server generation, and we simply reused them.


Software: RedHat Fedora x86-64 Core 1



For our operating system, I had no intention of moving away from the Red Hat operating system that had been so kind to us over the past two years.  However, their pricing system has changed dramatically and because of that I was at first looking elsewhere.  That is, until Warren, our resident admin, informed me of the Fedora project that was basically an extension of the original RedHat ideas and run by RedHat employees.  In addition, it had support for the AMD64 architecture and its 64-bit extensions, which is something I was definitely looking for.


Conclusion


So there you have it, a quick look at the most recent server upgrade and addition at the Amdmb and PC Perspective colocation facility, hosted at EICOMM.  If you are looking for hosting solutions, give them a try, they have been very good to us and their service is top notch.


Finally, I'd like to thank the following companies for their donations to the server that is bringing you the new PC Perspective.






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