The Best Hardware to Use?

Added by Frederick Littlefield about 4 years ago

I am new to Solaris. I have played with it for a few months, but I am really just a beginner.

I have set Open Indiana and Solaris 11 on a Virual Box, VM setup, and have noticed that Solaris seems to work better with some hardware than others. I am going to build a Home Server with Open Indiana or Solaris 11. What I t to know is what is the best hardware, that is affordable for a home system? Is AMD better than Intel? What kind of motherboard should I look for?

Brand and model suggestions are OK, but really what I want to know is what to look for when buying hardware for Open Indiana/Solaris? Do I need ECC memory for my server, or will standard memory work fine? Which Chip Sets work better? Anything else that would be helpfull? This is a learning project, so I don't want it to be a failure.

I went on e-bay and looked for some Spark powered hardware, but really these are either too old or too expensive for a Home Server, correct me if I am wrong. I want SATA drives in the Box not SCSI, because of Price.

I am looking to put 5 to 8 1TB disks for RAID-Z2 in the box so I will need either need lots of SATA ports or a SATA card or two.

Replies (6)

RE: The Best Hardware to Use? - Added by Handojo Handojo about 4 years ago

5 to 8 Disk, then you definitely need higher end models of mainboards.

These are Desktop Mainboards, but you can use it because it is much more stable than "ordinary" desktop mainboards :

Intel :


And these are Server Mainboards, which is supposed to have been undergo server testing :

These tyan mainboards are supposed pricier, as they are 2 sockets. You need server case for this

For Memory, do you need ECC RAMs? For me, if ECC is $ 10 more expensive, I would still go for ECC

What I did not know is :
- How stable each mainboard compared to another for 24x7 operation ?
The only thing I knew is : the less hot your mainboard and processor, the more stable ( Hardware wise )

- Can High End Desktop Mainboard perform as stable, or more stable compared to server mainboards ?

Sorry for not having a through information, but this is what I have.

Hope it helps

RE: The Best Hardware to Use? - Added by Frederick Littlefield about 4 years ago

Thanks for the Info. I will look into them to see if they will meet my needs and budget.

As far as the Hard Drives are concerned, can't I use two 4 port SATA controllers? Will Solaris have drivers for them?

I have a server case if I need to use it, but is all that processing power necessary of a 2 socket board, for a Home System? With processing power comes power usage. This will be a 24/7 server if I get it to work like I want.

RE: The Best Hardware to Use? - Added by Frederick Littlefield about 4 years ago

After Reading the above comments I found this Blog entry on the subject that was most helpfull.

RE: The Best Hardware to Use? - Added by Guenther Alka about 4 years ago

i have started a wiki-thread about suggested hardware at
please read and help to keep it up to date


RE: The Best Hardware to Use? - Added by Dean Calver about 4 years ago

If this project is for a SAN/NAS alike (a separate file server on your network), then you don't need that much CPU power for 4-8 drives.

For this setup, you've pretty much got the entire machine for ZFS and sharing, and PC CPUs even a few years old are (older Atoms not so, though newer ones are getting better)

ZFS RAID, compression, de-dup can add up, expensive CPU wise but its nicely threaded so dual, HT or quad cores are used well.
Even a 5 year old dual core system as a dedicated NAS has enough CPU performance for most uses.
I have a 8TB (4 * 2TB) system using an old Rackage 2P opteron server and its the CPUs are fairly idle.

With 4-8 spindles, and a GbE net expect around 80 - 100MiB/s

Some reasons you might want more machine performance,
Have lots of user,
Heavy ZFS compression (gzip -9)
De-dup (this eats memory and probably worth leaving off for lower performing machines)
Want to run more on it (in particular video encoders)

GbE speeds

RE: The Best Hardware to Use? - Added by Robin Axelsson about 4 years ago

I believe that both AMD and Intel works fine with Illumos. There may be some problems with some Realtek network controllers but at least mine work fine (at least with OSOL b34 and later). Look for example at MSI-790FX-GD70 or Gigabyte GA-790FXTA-UD5 which I know works with OSOL/OI and look at the components on them. Any motherboard with the same components (such as Network, Audio, OnBoard SATA, FireWire, ....) should work. Otherwise check the OpenSolaris HCL and/or use the compatibility check tool on existing hardware. When it comes to GPU some work better than others but if the hardware specific driver doesn't work then you can always resort to VESA or vgatext which is a fallback driver that should work with most GPUs out there. Something that I think is important when it comes to hardware is to use a HBA that is stable in OSOL/OI as the filesystem/ZFS pool is the heart of the system. If you want stability it is recommended to use hardware that is supported by Solaris native drivers. HBAs based on LSI RAID controllers and the Intel IOP333/343 controllers are the best choice as they are supported by OpenSolaris native drivers. I don't know much about all of Intel's controllers but the IOP333/343 are older chips which are usually found in older HBAs (such as the LSI MegaRAID SAS 84016E 16-port HBA that sports one IOP333 and two 1068e chips) that can be found on eBay etc. LSI's controller chips are found in most server grade HBAs by OEM vendors such as Intel, Dell, HP, IBM, Fujitsu-Siemens, Tyan, Supermicro etc. When it comes to OSOL/OI, more expensive controllers that support hardware RAID are superfluous for their purpose. The simpler the controller the better, and make sure that it is run in IT-mode, or Intitiator-Target mode which means that all hardware RAID functionality is totally disabled. This is usually done by flashing the controller with IT firmware. Therefore only HBAs using LSI's 1064/1068e/x (SAS/SATA 3.0 Gb/s) or 2004/2008/2016e (SAS/SATA 6Gb/s) are of interest. However, if you find a good deal on a 1078e or 2108e controller then it will work just fine. The "e" implies that the chip is for PCIe controllers and the "x" implies it is for PCI-X. In other circumstances the "e" may denote that the HBA uses external ports in contrast to "i" which may denote an HBA that sports internal ports. Here is a shorter list of PCIe based HBAs that sport the LSI controller circuits:

LSI-SAS 9211-4i
LSI-SAS 9211-8i
LSI-SAS 9201-16i

Cisco LSI 1064E SAS

Dell PERC 5i/6i


Fujisu-Siemens S26361-F3257-L8
Fujisu-Siemens S26361-F3257-L4

(you can also check out LSI's SAS 9200 series cards if you want SAS/SATA6.0)
Dell Perc 5e
Dell Perc 6e (can they be flashed to IT?)
Fujitsu-Siemens S26361-F3554-L8 (SAS/SATA 6.0)
Fujitsu-Siemens S26361-F3890-L13 (SAS/SATA 3.0)
HP SC08Ge (exactly the same card as the LSI SAS3801E-R but rebranded)

External & Internal (combo)
HP SC44Ge (same card as the LSI SAS3442E-R but rebranded)

A more thorough list of Fujitsu-Siemens cards (most of them are based on LSI hardware) can be found here:

Supermicro has a few cheaper LSI cards too;

it might be worth checking them out too. A problem with some of Supermicro's cards is that the components are on the opposite side of a standard PCIe card and the bracket is not correctly aligned. They are pin-compatible with PCIe ports but they don't fit the slot unless you make some adjustments. Thes cards are called UIO cards and have a slightly different form-factor than standard PCIe cards. Usually changing the bracket to a PCIe bracket will do given that there is room for the component side of the card in the computer.

Go through the list and choose the cheapest card that suit your needs (in terms of # of ports and speed; 3 or 6 Gb/s).