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MicroServer N36L/N40L/N54L - 6 Drive Edition

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What parity check speeds do you all get in the N36L? The drives precleared at 70-80MB/s but the preclear is only running at 25MB/s.

 

Is there something wrong somewhere?

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I write to the array around that speed. (25mb/s)

 

Chipset limitations i guess

Now the parity has built, I get the same, initially its 112MB/s but falls off a cliff to around 25MB/s as you said.

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Hey there, last post is 2 years old. I want to know: is this machine still a quick win for driving 6 disks? I already have this unit at my home and was thinking of converting it to unraid. Anyone still with this unit? Did you happen to get faster than 25mb ?  Thanks !

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Hi, this box is designed for 5 drives, I have a 6th cache drive installed by using the esata port on the back and phishing the cable back in the case, connected to a 500 gig 2.5 drive i just have laying inside.

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Hi, yes. Still got 2 of them running. If you need to load them with lots of data, simply start without parity disk and then rebuild parity once you're done with the transfers.

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Glad to see people are still using these. I got one years ago and I wish I had picked up a second one back in 2013. Then I could have replaced one of my unRAID setups using the oldest hardware. I also use four external enclosures with mine. And has been working great for many years.

Edited by aaronwt

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16 hours ago, aaronwt said:

Glad to see people are still using these. I got one years ago and I wish I had picked up a second one back in 2013. Then I could have replaced one of my unRAID setups using the oldest hardware. I also use four external enclosures with mine. And has been working great for many years.

If you want mine please PM me. I don't use it any more. It has the hard drives and also one spare as a potential swap out if one failed.

 

I did have unraid on it but upgraded this to windows. You could easily stick unraid back on it again.

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19 hours ago, aaronwt said:

Glad to see people are still using these. I got one years ago and I wish I had picked up a second one back in 2013. Then I could have replaced one of my unRAID setups using the oldest hardware. I also use four external enclosures with mine. And has been working great for many years.

I also have one to give away (out of 3). London, UK. PM me if you're near.

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Hi guys. I thought I'd share my experience with this little gem. I have been running one (N40L) 24/7 since 2012. Amazing little box. Other than the occasional OS update, its uptime has been an amazing 100%. The original HDDs when setup are still in use. Those are four WD 3TB (1 red for parity and 3 greens); one 2TB Seagate Green I had from a prior build; and, one 2.5" 1 TB WD Blue used as a cache drive. My 11 TB array has now less than 10% free space. I guess it is time for an upgrade. So I started with buying HDD. (Good enough offers so I couldn't resist). I now have 6x WD My Book (4x 10 TB and 2x 8 TB). They all are WD Whites and are now pre-cleared.

 

The main use for my shoebox is to serve - without transcoding, though if I found a 1050 that'd fit, I will squeeze it in to assist with - a few kodi boxes using the Emby docker. (Although I have started looking into Jellyfin). 

Other dockers used are Sickchill, Deluge VPN and Let's Encrypt for connecting two remote kodi boxes. The server has 8 GB of RAM and only less than half is used. So I am considering giving the server more to do and adding nextcloud and OpenVPN but I don't know whether the CPU has enough stamina. I might have reached the limit of this box.

 

What do you think? Are you guys getting more out of them? Should I consider building from scratch, in which case, the Ryzen 5 2600 looks appealing (I saw one for 100 euros new yesterday) even if I currently have no use for VMs...

 

Voila, my 2cents using this box. Comments are welcome, especially if you use it differently or have found a more recent replacement.

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Hi All,

 

For anyone struggling with then sensors on the N54L (this probably applies to the N36/40L as well), specifically with lm_sensors and the Dynamix System Temp plugin, and the temperatures not displaying correctly and/or settings appearing to 'clear' after applying them, add the following bus command to your /etc/sensors.d/sensors.conf file* - 

bus "i2c-1" "SMBus PIIX4 adapter port 2 at 0b00"

Unfortunately errors aren't forwarded to the WebUI on the plugin and for a Unraid newbie, it took me a few days to realise that there is an issue (or bug) with the w83795 driver and lm_sensors/Dynamix System Temp plugin on the N54L where the generated sensors.conf isn't entirely correct causing 'Undeclared bus id referenced' and 'sensors_init: Can't parse bus name' errors.

Loading the k10temp driver on it's own for the CPU temperature works A-OK; loading the w83795 driver (sensor ID - w83795adg-i2c-1-2f) causes it all to fall over.

 

I still get a few errors (eg - w83795adg-i2c-1-2f: No such subfeature known) running sensors -s with the lines 65 and 66 around setting the minimum and maximum for the inl4 sensor/value on the w83795adg-* driver but it doesn't appear to affect anything within Unraid/Dashboard.

 

Hopefully this helps someone; apologies if this is common knowledge but Googling didn't seem to give me a direct answer.

 

* Might be worth copying the contents to /boot/config/plugins/dynamix.system.temp/sensors.conf file as well.

 

Edit - Just to add, my entire sensors.conf file is below in case anyone wants to do a copy 'n' paste, although it's worth noting that i'm not entirely sure temp5 is the correct sensor for the motherboard temperature on the N54L - 

# Set N54L Bus
bus "i2c-1" "SMBus PIIX4 adapter port 2 at 0b00"

# K10 Sensor for CPU
chip "k10temp-pci-00c3"
label "temp1" "CPU Temp"

# W83795 Sensors for MB + Fan PWM
chip "w83795adg-i2c-1-2f"
label "temp5" "MB Temp"
chip "w83795adg-i2c-1-2f"
label "fan1" "Array Fan"

 

Edited by Visibleman

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I just picked up a couple of N40L Proliant Micro servers off ebay. To replace the PCs I built, a long time ago, that I use with my unRAID1a and unRAID 2 servers.

I installed the modded BiOS from 2013 and it was installed in just a few seconds.

I thought I might see some difference between my N54L and the N40L microservers. But so far they seem to be working just as well. I'm using two parity drives in my N54L and two in one of the N40L micro servers. It's working great so far and is using a little less power than the N54L.

 

53TB unRAID1a--53TB unRAID2--76TB unRAID3

Edited by aaronwt

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This is barely related but I am getting a bit desperate. I am trying to find a caddy for my N54L and they seem to be non-existent on the net, not ebay or anywhere else. Does anyone know of a places that sells the cold swap caddies that will fit a G7 microserver? Suggestions welcome and really appreciated!

Update: correction, I can't find them for anything less than highway robbery

Edited by gaikokujinkyofusho
new info

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Im looking to switch from a custome built AMD A10 to a N54L microserver - I am just using file serving - is it still a good basic choice? 

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I'm actively looking at moving my NAS to unraid from Windows 8.

 

Disks will be:

3 x WD red 3tb (1 as parity)

2 x 1.5tb

1x Sandisk 240gb SSD as cache (to be purchased).

 

I have an N36L which I've owned since new, as far as I can remember I've newer upgraded the BIOS - certainly never flashed it. 

 

My two initial questions are:-

 

1- Will the N36L "as is" allow me to add a sixth hard disk or do I need to do something in the BIOS to allow this (I'm aware of what to do physically i.e. place a second disk into the ODD bay - split the molex power and run an esata cable from  the back of the server.)

2. I'm sure I've read somewhere that the additional disks will only run at half sata speed - unless something other fix is applied.  Can anyone help with pointing me in the right direction this and is any speed drop off significant?

 

I'll be using the server for sabnzb, sonarr, radarr. I've recently changed my Plex server from the N36L to a separate  PC which serves content from the NAS (mainly because the N36L lacks the power for transcoding).

 

Hope you can advise.

 

Thanks

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1 hour ago, Malcolm said:

 

1- Will the N36L "as is" allow me to add a sixth hard disk or do I need to do something in the BIOS to allow this (I'm aware of what to do physically i.e. place a second disk into the ODD bay - split the molex power and run an esata cable from  the back of the server.)

2. I'm sure I've read somewhere that the additional disks will only run at half sata speed - unless something other fix is applied.  Can anyone help with pointing me in the right direction this and is any speed drop off signif

1. As is

2. Can't remember but I posted detailed instructions a long time ago. Can't find my original post but it's quoted in full here: 

 

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Just a follow up to my original post of 11 December....concerning the use of the eSATA connection at the back of the server to allow me to add a 6th disk - where I'm having problems in getting it to work.

 

I've tried 2 eSATA to SATA cables from the same vendor but had no luck for a variety of different connection options (see below).

a. eSATA to SATA in N36L using an internal hard disk.
b. eSATA to SATA in my desktop machine – using the same hard disk as in a above. The motherboard is an asrock H67M-ITX.
c. eSATA from a WD external disk (3.5" powered) to SATA on the motherboard of my desktop machine.

In all cases I have not been able to see the disk either in the operating system (currently Win 10) or the BIOS – which works when connected SATA > SATA in my both machines.

I'm a bit stumped given that I've tried 2 different cables. I've read that what I'm trying to achieve is possible and assumed that this type of cable would have done the trick.

 

On looking through this thread there are multiple instances of people running 6 disks - and in fact the first post shows an image of the eSATA port being used -the only thing I can see different from what I have done is that the picture on the first page looks like it is a normal SATA > SATA cable with an adaptor - whereas what I have got is a single cable cable with the two different connectors at each end.

Edited by Malcolm

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Malcolm, did you update the BIOS?

 

The below is from my original post, 8 years ago. I've updated the links. The servers are currently in storage but have been used until recently. Hope this helps!

 

On 1/24/2012 at 1:56 PM, jens said:

 

I have two MicroServers running unRAID. Both have been extended to run 6 drives. A third system is currently in use as ESXi server and may become another unRAID next year. Here is some information that maybe useful for other MicroServer owners.

 

A. BIOS Update: This is required for adding a 5th and 6th hard drive. I have been using the 'Russian' BIOS mod for a while, but all my systems run a version supplied by TheBay now. I have documented the process and required settings in a PDF document [1]

 

B. Hardware mods: I have been using the Nexus DoubleTwin [2] to mount 2 drives in the Optical Drive Bay (ODB) [3] [4]. Cables required are (i) a power splitter / Y cable from Molex to 2x SATA power; (ii) an internal SATA cable, approx 50cm long; and (iii) an external eSATA to internal SATA cable, approx. 50cm long. The 5th drive is connected using (ii), routing the cable from the motherboard to the ODB. See the silver cable in pictures [4] [5] [6]. For the 6th drive, cable (iii) is routed from the back of the case through an opening above the PCI extensions slots [7]. You can easily bend the metal on the clamp that holds down extension cards with a pair of pliers. Temps can go up a bit during parity checks, but are OK otherwise. Replacing the ODB cover with a perforated cover might be a good idea.

 

C. Wake-On LAN: This has to be enabled in the BIOS (see [1]). The current unRAID releases have a bug in their shutdown scripts causing the network interface to be in the "up" state on powerdown. However, at least on the HP, this prevents WOL to work when the system is powered off (as compared to a WOL from S3/Sleep, which is not supported by the MicroServer BIOS). To fix, this I have added the lines below to my go file:

 

# Fix Wake on LAN mv /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1 /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1.bak sed 's/|| \/sbin\/ifconfig/\&\& \/sbin\/ifconfig/' < /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1.bak > /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1 chmod 755 /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1

 

For reference, a copy of my go file can be found here [8]. There's some additional stuff in there that requires extra packages, so please adapt before use.

 

D. Auto Poweroff: I have been using a modified version of the auto_s3_sleep.sh script from this forum, with an added powerDownInsteadOfSleep option [9]. Assuming that this script is located in the bin folder of your unRAID flash share, the following lines in the go script [8] will activate it:

 

# Wait for disks to spindown and no network activity /boot/bin/auto_s3_sleep.sh &

 

E. Misc enhancements: I have added very thin patches of felt to the drive holders to reduce vibrations and noise.

 

F. Experience: The system is stable with the latest unRAID beta (b14), except that NFS on user shares (NOT disk shares) is totally buggy.

 

Hope this helps some of you guys!

 

[1] http://s3.jens-thiel.de/HP/HP%20Proliant%20Microserver%20-%20Flash%20Modified%20BIOS.pdf

[2] http://www.aquatuning.co.uk/product_info.php/info/p6594_Nexus-Double-Twin-HDD-decoupling.html

[3] http://s3.jens-thiel.de/HP/IMAG0127.jpg

[4] http://s3.jens-thiel.de/HP/IMAG0126.jpg

[5] http://s3.jens-thiel.de/HP/IMAG0133.jpg

[6] http://s3.jens-thiel.de/HP/IMAG0134.jpg

[7] http://s3.jens-thiel.de/HP/IMAG0135.jpg

[8] http://s3.jens-thiel.de/HP/go.txt

[9] http://s3.jens-thiel.de/HP/auto_s3_sleep.sh.txt

Edited by jens
Updated URLs

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Posted (edited)

Hi! Tonight I managed to dig out my N40L from storage. It was tucked away due to work/moving/life... around 2013/2014 and haven't really needed it until now. Great to see that it still seems worthy of keeping and updating. I will only need is as more or less raw storage of media files as i run my Plex Server on the Mac.

 

I obviously had the idea to expand to 6+1 drive since I found both a Nexus DoubleTwin and a PCI-e 2 port SATA adapter (any good?) and a eSATA to SATA cable. Went by the local store and picked up a Molex to 2 SATA and a couple SATA cables so all I'm missing now is some bigger drives and a cache SSD.

 

I followed the upgrade guide since it was running unRAID 5.0 RC8a. Installed 6.8.3 and WOW unRAID really have become so much more user friendly now. Watched some videos and the Docker function seems really nice too.

 

I mounted the disks after upgrading and started parity, unfortunately I forgot to run "New Permissions" before I started the parity build but I hope it won't be a problem doing it after?! Sort of funny to see what media I was collecting in 2012/13. Some of it is worth keeping but also a lot of junk...

 

Reading a lot tonight I've stumbled upon some questions/thoughts that I can't seem to find answers to.

- Is it possible to run larger drives now, say 6-12TB, if I run the modded BIOS?

- Haven't found a good tutorial (yet) on how to flash the BIOS and most important WHERE to get it? @jens' links unfortunately didn't work. Found some other sites on the web but would like to get first hand experience from this forum.

EDIT: - One more question, anyone managed to do the BIOS-mod with a Mac? All I find is the .exe Windows versions...

 

Learning to use unRAID and Linux system the first time was a somewhat bumpy curve but I hope it'll bee easier this time. Feels good to be back... ;)

 

Edited by kim_sv

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Ok so I flashed the BIOS, following the instructions here https://www.nathanielperez.us/blog/hp-proliant-n40l-bios-modification-guide

It was easy enough, I borrowed a friends PC. I tried it with TheBay BIOS from AVForums first but it didn't work, but probably it was me who did something wrong.

 

Now the question is, how large capacity drives can this N40L handle? I'm placing an order but I don't want to buy the wrong ones. 😃

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, kim_sv said:

 ...

Now the question is, how large capacity drives can this N40L handle? I'm placing an order but I don't want to buy the wrong ones. 😃

No limitation! -- for at least another decade :)

 

(Since you mentioned that you'd be running 6 newer (ie, faster) array drives,) The SATA controller in the N40L (and 36L + 54L) has a maximum (combined) throughput limitation of ~650 MB/sec. With 4 array drives on the built-in SATAs (and 2 on the add-in), that would limit your "parallel" operations (parity-check, rebuild, Turbo-write) to 160 MB/sec, but many/most newer drives are capable of 200-250 MB/sec max (130-150 min). To maximize your array performance, you'd want to be very selective in your choice of add-in SATA card.

 

The one you linked is based on the SiI3132, which is a notable under-performer (80MB/sec max for each of 2 drives [150-170 total])--scratch that one. Better would be any Asmedia ASM1061-based 2-port card; 170MB/sec each of 2 drives. At least that would preserve the 160 limitation imposed by the built-in.

 

[Note: these configs don't utilize the N40L's eSata, so it would stay available for a backup/import-export external drive.]

 

Edited by UhClem
brain-fart

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, UhClem said:

No limitation! -- for at least another decade :)

 

(Since you mentioned that you'd be running 6 newer (ie, faster) array drives,) The SATA controller in the N40L (and 36L + 54L) has a maximum (combined) throughput limitation of ~650 MB/sec. With 4 array drives on the built-in SATAs (and 2 on the add-in), that would limit your "parallel" operations (parity-check, rebuild, Turbo-write) to 160 MB/sec, but many/most newer drives are capable of 200-250 MB/sec max (130-150 min). To maximize your array performance, you'd want to be very selective in your choice of add-in SATA card.

 

The one you linked is based on the SiI3132, which is a notable under-performer (80MB/sec max for each of 2 drives [150-170 total])--scratch that one. Better would be any Asmedia ASM1061-based 2-port card; 170MB/sec each of 2 drives. At least that would preserve the 160 limitation imposed by the built-in.

 

[Note: these configs don't utilize the N40L's eSata, so it would stay available for a backup/import-export external drive.]

 

Thank you for you in depth reply! Much appreciated! 

 

I can't even remember where I got the card from. It was probably something I picked up without really reading up on the specs. Good arguments and I will definitely look for another card. 

 

What you say about the SATA controller in the N40L, does that mean that the 5th SATA port on the motherboard shouldn't be used either to preserve speed?

I'd like to run 6x3,5" drives and 1x2,5" SSD as a cache. My plan was to run the 2x3,5" in the ODD bay with the 5th Internal SATA and one of the ports on the PCIe card. The other port to run the SSD cache, or run it of the eSATA. 

 

Is there a 4 port PCIe card that could work instead? If that is better for speed in any way?

 

Edit: is there any problem to build it up and start using it with the equipment I already have (PCIE card, eSATA to SATA) and upgrade it when I tracked down the new stuff? Can unRAID handle disks being moved between SATA ports?

Edited by kim_sv
Extra question

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, kim_sv said:

What you say about the SATA controller in the N40L, does that mean that the 5th SATA port on the motherboard shouldn't be used either to preserve speed?

Sort of ... it shouldn't be used for one of the six array drives, since that would further divide the 650-700. But, it could/should be used for the cache drive; then it could only (slightly) impact mover operations, and only if TurboWrite was enabled. The (2-port?) add-in card would connect array drives 5 and 6. A "full-spec" PCIe x1 Gen2 card (e.g. ASM1061-based) , giving ~350 MB/sec, would not lower the "ceiling" of ~160 (for 4) on the mobo SATA.

 

21 hours ago, kim_sv said:

Is there a 4 port PCIe card that could work instead? If that is better for speed in any way?

The only improvement would be that the cache SSD could operate at full (SataIII [~550]) speed, but that is moot, since, as your cache, it is inherently limited by your 1GbE network (on input) and your array (on output). Very little bang for the extra bucks, since you'd need a PCIe >=x2 card to handle >2 drives, and not lower the "ceiling".

 

Here's a neat idea, if you really want to eliminate the speed bottleneck:

(Assuming that your x16 slot is available,) Get a UNRAID-friendly LSI-based card (typically PCIe x8, at >= Gen2), and connect the built-in 4-bay Sata backplane to it. Note that the thick cable/connector (left of Sata-5), which connects that backplane to the mobo, is actually a Mini-SAS 8087. And can instead be connected to (one of the connections on) an add-in LSI card. That completely eliminates the bottleneck for SATA 1-4. "But, wait, there's more ..." Then you put a standard SAS-to-SATA breakout cable into the now-empty mobo connector and use 3 (of the 4) SATAs for drives 5 and 6, and your cache SSD. That gives you full SataIII for the SSD (FWIW) and you've still got SATA-5 and the eSata, plus "breakout #4", to play with for whatever. "But, wait ...." If you get a 4i4e card, you can (later) add 4+ more drives externally, and still no bottleneck! (Pretty neat, huh?) [Important, LSI card must have low-profile bracket.]

21 hours ago, kim_sv said:

is there any problem to build it up and start using it with the equipment I already have (PCIE card, eSATA to SATA) and upgrade it when I tracked down the new stuff? Can unRAID handle disks being moved between SATA ports?

I don't use UNRAID, so I can't be certain about the re-config issue. Once you've cleared that, I strongly encourage you to start with what you've already got. Not only will it give you time to think it all through, and find exactly the pieces that will serve you best, but it will give you an opportunity to assess your N40L's performance with current version of UNRAID. Then you can extrapolate from that initial CPU/throughput ratio to be sure that the CPU won't become a new/unexpected bottleneck if/when the throughput increases from 650 to 1000 (2-port card) or 1300+ (LSI).

 

 

Edited by UhClem

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Wow! Thank you for your detailed response, and from someone who doesn't use unraid?! 😅

 

I will definitely look into what you are saying! I'll see if reorganizing drives would be a problem first, I find it unlikely. The evaluate the performance. I don't see myself having those needs but you'll never know.. I'm moving files from some of the disks I'm going to use now and also preclearing. Tidious but feels better to have it done. :)

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