Intel Socket 1200 & Xeon W Series Processors for new build (Plex, iGPU transcoding)


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Posted (edited)

After spending the last couple of days exhaustively reading posts and documentation on all things Unraid, I think I'm getting ready to pull the trigger on my first Unraid build. 

My use case here would be Plex (with GPU transcoding), media storage, Homebridge, Pihole, and who knows what else I'll discover and tinker with - maybe chia storage.  It also needs to be quiet.  I don't have a dedicated server closet - this all just sits on a rack in my office closet.

This thread specifically took up quite a bit of my time yesterday and I was fully on board with an E-2278G(or E-2288G), but they seem to be all but impossible to find at the moment.  

Now, after a few more hours of research, I think I've landed on the Xeon W series of processors - specifically the W-1290p.  I would like to start collecting 4K HDR 10 bit files and be able to transcode them.  According to Plex, you need a 17000 passmark score to transcode 4K HDR content.  The E2288G barely eeks that out at 17923.  The W-1290p has a bit more breathing room there with a score of 23550. With the 2288G, if I'm transcoding 4K, the server doesn't have a ton of cycles left over for much else.  Additionally, the W-1290p seems to be infinitely easier to find at the moment as well.

 

So, with all that said, here's my build thus far:

  • Intel Xeon W-1290p Processor
  • ASRock Rack W480D4U - I chose this over the Supermicro counterpart X12SCZ-TLN4F due to cost & having more SATA ports - though the Supermicro board does have 10 gig ethernet built in.  Both have IPMI capabilities.
  • 32GB ECC (I hear ECC isn't super needed with Unraid, so I'm not super sure here)
  • Silverstone CS381 case (I hear this case runs hot, but according to Backblaze, as long as the drives are operating within their designed temp ranges, they have found no correlation between drive failures and temps).  I'd certainly monitor temps and make airflow adjustments as necessary.
  • For storage, I'll start with the on board SATA ports and will add an additional SAS/SATA controller as I expand if needed.
  • 10Gbe via a Mellanox Connectx-3 card (not sure if i'll go copper or sfp+ yet - I hear copper has 1-2ms more latency compared to sfp+)

 

Is there anything glaring that I'm missing here or not thinking about?  I appreciate any input!  This could easily be in the Hardware section as well, but my primary concerns are around my CPU and motherboard choice.

Edited by Tydell
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Posted (edited)

Huh, I'm seeing that the W-1290p is pretty much identical to the 10900k, but with ECC support.  If ECC isn't super important for Unraid/ZFS, maybe a 10900k would make more sense.

After doing some reading though, there seem to be a lot of folks on both sides of the fence.  Ultimately, the data I have isn't super critical and anything that is critical is backed up elsewhere.

Edited by Tydell
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I'm now leaning more towards ECC.  ECC isn't crazy expensive, so I should probably just do it.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure I suppose.  So that said, I guess I'm now leaning towards the Supermicro X12SCZ-TLN4F for the 10 gig ethernet & ECC support..  Although it has fewer SATA ports, I'd ultimately have more room to expand with an additional SATA/SAS controller and still have a port left over for more expansion (additional storage or a GPU).  ASRock Rack does make mention of a 10Gbe variant of the W480D4U in the manual called W480D4U-2L2T, but a search of the internet shows that model doesn't exist (yet) since it only exists in that manual.

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If you do Chia/Burst storage do not make it part of the Parity Protected Array.  If do and a Parity operation occurs your reading of Chia/Burst HDD will come to a standstill and the Parity Check will take forever. 

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19 hours ago, Paul_Ber said:

If you do Chia/Burst storage do not make it part of the Parity Protected Array.  If do and a Parity operation occurs your reading of Chia/Burst HDD will come to a standstill and the Parity Check will take forever. 

Good to know, thank you!  

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On 6/1/2021 at 5:25 AM, Tydell said:

After spending the last couple of days exhaustively reading posts and documentation on all things Unraid, I think I'm getting ready to pull the trigger on my first Unraid build.

If you've never been exposed to the world of NAS in general it would be a common advice to spend more than "a couple of days" here and maybe on other unraid-related forums.

If you have older systems/parts laying around, it would also make sense to put together a basic Unraid testing rig paired with a couple of small HDDs, where you can get the hands-on experience.

I understand that If you got the funds it's really tempting to jump into the SuperMicro/Xeon/ECC/Hot-swap-drive trays/SAS/10Gig Lan/IPMI camp...

For an experienced power user that's the way to go.

But for a novice?

Do you really need all that horsepower/complexity unless you can fully utilize the capabilities?

That's for you to decide...

btw, I wouldn't go with a "hot" case.

There's little you can do to increase airflow in the consumer grade, small form factor, air-flow restrictive design.

You've linked the Blackblaze report where they state that "there is not a correlation between operating temperature and failure rates" when they operate within their designed temp ranges.

Their tested operating temps range?

21 - 31 Avg. Temp (C)

Please also read the comments section under that report.

Very telling...

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Posted (edited)
On 6/1/2021 at 5:55 AM, Tydell said:

Huh, I'm seeing that the W-1290p is pretty much identical to the 10900k, but with ECC support.  If ECC isn't super important for Unraid/ZFS, maybe a 10900k would make more sense.

 

I am using unraid since April 2010 with various HW-platforms and never used ECC.

At this timeframe i had one (horrible) RAM-outage and thats it - my data was not affected.

In general, i use my unraid server only for plex with HW-transcoding without VMs - so i dont need ECC...

But my next system will be based on a DDR5 platform and this new RAM-type has integrated ECC.

Edited by Zonediver
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I mean, I'd call myself an unraid novice, sure, but I'm certainly not a novice to this sort of hardware - just not used to applying it for personal use.  I've been in this space professionally for something like 15 years now.

 

I did end up up going away from a smaller case and skipped ahead a couple levels and picked up a supermicro 846 4u chassis (24 hot swap bays) with a full sized atx motherboard (w480 creator) with the w-1290p.  RAM is ECC - I figured this may be a "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" sort of situation.  I was originally looking for a Rosewill 4u chassis, but those are hard to come by, so I did the next logical thing and just got a supermicro chassis with the sas/sata backplane already in there.  It would have cost more to outfit the rosewill chassis with a few hot swap cages than it cost for the supermicro chassis.

 

And plex 4k transcoding unfortunately requires quite the beefy CPU, so here we are.  Would it have been more prudent to start with a simpler, less beefy setup?  Probably, but I wouldn't have been able to test my primary use case.

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2 hours ago, Tydell said:

And plex 4k transcoding unfortunately requires quite the beefy CPU, so here we are.  Would it have been more prudent to start with a simpler, less beefy setup?  Probably, but I wouldn't have been able to test my primary use case.

In case if you don't need to stream beyond your own network..

Have you considered a simple $50 transcoding box running on the client's end (TV)?

Such a box flashed with Libreelec or Coreelec would be a simple, cost-effective and energy-efficient way to play 4K material.

The media transcoding chipsets built into those devices are purposefully designed for that specific task.

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5 hours ago, Lolight said:

In case if you don't need to stream beyond your own network..

Have you considered a simple $50 transcoding box running on the client's end (TV)?

Such a box flashed with Libreelec or Coreelec would be a simple, cost-effective and energy-efficient way to play 4K material.

The media transcoding chipsets built into those devices are purposefully designed for that specific task.

 

I'm not familiar with the boxes you're talking about.  Are we talking something like a pi running one of those distros? or is this a different device?  I wasn't aware that the cpu on the pi could handle something like that.

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Posted (edited)

I'm only familiar with devices based on the Amlogic chipsets: S905x, S905X3 and S922X

There are tons of different chinese boxes based on those chipsets.

e.g. https://www.tomtop.com/p-v7095eu-32g.html

There are also normally more expensve but of a more consistent quality Odroid branded devices featuring the above-mentioned chipsets.

e.g. Odroid C4 and Odroid N2:

https://www.hardkernel.com/shop/odroid-c4/

https://www.hardkernel.com/shop/odroid-n2-with-2gbyte-ram-2/

Even the cheapest chinese Amlogic boxes (there're some exceptions) work very well as transcoding devices when flashed with Coreelec, the Amlogic specialist distro.

https://coreelec.org/

Edited by Lolight
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21 hours ago, Tydell said:

And plex 4k transcoding unfortunately requires quite the beefy CPU, so here we are.  

Considering current situation where disk space is much cheaper than a beefy CPU,

My strategy is having a 1080p version for every 4K media. Plex handles them well: You have a "Play version" option.

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  • 2 months later...
On 6/7/2021 at 1:36 AM, Tydell said:

And plex 4k transcoding unfortunately requires quite the beefy CPU, so here we are.  Would it have been more prudent to start with a simpler, less beefy setup?  Probably, but I wouldn't have been able to test my primary use case.

 

I've been looking to do a similar build using the same Asrock W480 Creator MB with the W-1290P. Aren't you able to use the built-in iGPU to transcode 4K content? That's one of the reasons I've been looking at this CPU along with the ECC support.

 

Also, I'd be looking to passthrough some PCIe devices to a Windows VM. Are you able to share the W480 Creator IOMMU groupings? Overall, how happy are you with the build?

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Yep, I was able to use the igpu to transcode 4k content - it does the job just fine!

 

I'm also currently passing a GPU I had laying around through to a VM for ethereum mining and it works great as well.  I used the ACS Override setting to break up my IOMMU groups so all the devices have their own IOMMU group.  I believe I had to do that in order to get the GPU to pass through to the VM.

 

Overall, very happy with the build.

  • Thanks 1
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10 minutes ago, Tydell said:

Yep, I was able to use the igpu to transcode 4k content - it does the job just fine!

 

I'm also currently passing a GPU I had laying around through to a VM for ethereum mining and it works great as well.  I used the ACS Override setting to break up my IOMMU groups so all the devices have their own IOMMU group.  I believe I had to do that in order to get the GPU to pass through to the VM.

 

Overall, very happy with the build.

 

Sounds like our use cases are very similar, so glad to hear you're happy with the build. Are you passing through just the one GPU or possibly a 2nd? I'd be looking to pass through two 3080s for some mining myself.

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The whole system has one nvidia gpu that's passed through to a vm and then the igpu that isn't passed through, per se, but is set up to be used in the plex docker container.

 

The only thing I wish I had now was an ipmi port.  That would make this whole build just about perfect.  A couple other notes: some of the PCIE slots on this motherboard share lanes with the sata controller, so if you use some of the PCIE ports, it'll disable some of your onboard sata.  Of note though, I used a SAS expander in my last PCIE slot that only pulls power from the PCIE slot - it doesn't use any actual data.  That particular port did not disable the corresponding sata ports.  If I think of any other gotchas, i'll post them here.

  • Thanks 1
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4 minutes ago, Tydell said:

The whole system has one nvidia gpu that's passed through to a vm and then the igpu that isn't passed through, per se, but is set up to be used in the plex docker container.

 

The only thing I wish I had now was an ipmi port.  That would make this whole build just about perfect.  A couple other notes: some of the PCIE slots on this motherboard share lanes with the sata controller, so if you use some of the PCIE ports, it'll disable some of your onboard sata.  Of note though, I used a SAS expander in my last PCIE slot that only pulls power from the PCIE slot - it doesn't use any actual data.  That particular port did not disable the corresponding sata ports.  If I think of any other gotchas, i'll post them here.

 

Good info, thanks. Any issues with the AQUANTIA 10Gbps NIC with unRAID?

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