[I'm posting this query separately on the freebsd-current and
freebsd-stable mailing lists, so as not to cross the streams. If you
subscribe to both and see it both places, no need to reply to both.]
We are about to spec and buy a new central mail server at LavaNet,
and we want to be sure that the motherboard/CPU combo we buy runs well
both with FreeBSD 4.6/4.7 (at the time we install it) and also down the
road when we upgrade to what's now -CURRENT, probably around 5.1.
This server will initially be in a non-redundant configuration
(because of the difficulty of virtualizing mailspool access) so our
major concerns are stability, stability, disk I/O performance, and
stability. We'd like to have console video, IDE (for CD-ROM), SCSI,
and at least 2 100BaseT LAN ports integrated on the motherboard because
of our experience that this improves reliability. The Intel Ethernet
chipsets and the Adaptec SCSI chipset are pluses, because they've given
us good performance under both BSD/OS and FreeBSD. Disk storage will
be external RAID, probably 10Krpm SCSI drives striped as RAID 1+0, on
an Ultra-160 SCSI bus back to the main server. Eventually we might
migrate to serving or mounting files via NFS, which would make GigE a
plus. CPU performance is not a concern because disk I/O dominates
performance on most mail servers; we'll probably put 1.8GHz CPUs into
it due to price.
We've settled on a dual P4-Xeon board on grounds of wide support and
expected stability. (No Intel-AMD holy wars please; we may try out
dual Athlon MP boards like the Tyan K7 on a different server.)
The Tyan "Thunder" i7500 *tentatively* looks like a good candidate to
us. It meets all the above criteria, uses the Adaptec 7899 onboard
2-channel Ultra-160 SCSI controller (equivalent to 39160), has an Intel
82550 (10/100) and 82544GC (10/100/1000) LAN port, takes up to 6 slots
of ECC PC2100/PC1600 DDR RAM, and has multiple 64-bit/133 MHz PCI-X
slots for expansion. It uses the AMI BIOS and Intel E7500 chipset.
If anybody is using these boards and is either unhappy or happy with
their FreeBSD compatibility, I'd very much like to hear. Otherwise, if
you have a favorite P4-Xeon high-integration server board that meets
the above criteria and you know it works with both 4.x and -CURRENT,
we'll happily take recommendations.
If anyone wants to also recommend us a favorite rackmount server
integrator, that wouldn't hurt. We're aware of FreeBSDSystems, ASA
Computers, IXsystems, Arista IPC, and California Digital (formerly VA
Linux) and have bought from the last few. We're particularly looking
for one who can provide a system with dual power supplies fed from two
separate power cords, similar to what you find on a high-end router or
switch; we're thinking a 4U system for ease of adding any expansion
cards we might need down the road. We'll install the OS, etc. but if
we can take the assembly time off our hands that would be nice.
Thanks in advance for any answers,
Clifton Royston -- LavaNet Systems Architect -- [EMAIL PROTECTED]
"What do we need to make our world come alive?
What does it take to make us sing?
While we're waiting for the next one to arrive..." - Sisters of Mercy
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