We interrupt reguarly scheduled MODFEST for a special project! - DodgeIntrepid.Net Forums - Dodge Intrepid, Concorde, 300m and Eagle Vision chat
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-24-2011, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
Intrepid Pro
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Arlington Texas
Posts: 2,823
Feedback: 1 / 100%
                     
We interrupt reguarly scheduled MODFEST for a special project!

MODFEST may be cancelled this summer.....why you ask?

Well, its that time...it's been five years since the last computer lab was built at the school I work for. As the System Admin, its my job to design and build a new one. Every five years our non profit school gets a nice grant to build a new lab.

Now since its not guaranteed that we get a grant, the design life needs to be 7 years. So this time, the formula is the same....computers about 2x-3x as powerful as they need to be at the present, Gigabit everywhere and a good stash of spare parts. (enough to totally rebuild one machine)

Its gonna be pretty crazy for a school with 60 students....2500 feet of Cat6 cable, a nice 48 port Cisco switch, 13 new PCs, a new server, HDTV in every classroom (giant monitor for TeacherTube, Bill Nye and Wikipedia!), tons of new software and the elimination of ALL our old, nasty, unreliable networking equipment that I've gotten tired of bringing back from the brink.

3 servers are going to be virtualized into one, saving over 400W of power and allowing all servers to have battery backup.

Designing a computer that can last 5-7 years is a challenge. We did OK last time...the machines aren't bad even today but they are starting to have a few hardware failures due to age and the less than ideal A/C in the computer room. (its HOT in there some days.)

So what did we put in the lab computers back in 2006?
Athlon 64 3500+ (Socket 939, Venice core)
Corsair Value Select 1GB DDR 3200
250GB WD Caviar SE16 SATA HDD
Geforce 7600 GS 256MB (fanless!)
Gigabyte nForce 4 SLI motherboard (thanks to a sale, the SLI version as $15 less...go figure)
NEC 16x DVD-RW drive
Floppy drive (once we introduced flash sticks, these became "dust drives" :p )
350W Power supply
17" 1280x1024 LCD with DVI interface. (Our less visually able students and teachers love the sharp text)
Windows XP Pro x86
Mid tower ATX case

Server:
2x AMD Opteron 248 CPUs
Crucial 4GB DDR 3200, registered, ECC
2X WD Raptor 150GB in RAID1, replaced under warranty with 150GB VelociRaptor after both drives failed within a one week period
Geforce 7600 GS 256MB (fanless) (2 displays on the server has been neat)
Asus nForce 2200 Professional motherboard
650W Power supply
16x DVD reader, 16x DVD-RW
Floppy drive (ESSENTIAL for loading the RAID driver during OS install)
Multi card reader
Windows Server 2003 R2 x86 (needed legacy program support...another thing we do away with in 2011!)
Full tower case

Now the new lab is up in the air....but its gonna be something along these lines:
AMD "Bulldozer" or Intel i5 2xxx "SandyBridge" CPU (depends on if AMD delivers the CPU in time for our build.)
8GB DDR 3 RAM
1TB WD Caviar Black HDD (64MB cache, 5 yr warranty, reasonably priced, its my pet drive)
Some sort of lower midrange GPU...Geforce 440 or equivalent from AMD/ATI
520W 80 Plus Gold certified PSU (Expensive as hell but saves about a half a space heater's worth of heat and will pay for itself in 4 years)
BD-ROM/DVD-RW combo drive (right now our apps are on DVD...in less than 5 yrs, they will probably be on BD-ROM)
20" widescreen LCD, HDMI interface. (looking at Asus and Acer)
Microsoft keyboard, Logitech mouse. (we went through IntelliMouse Explorers left and right with kids clicking like they were Hulk, they haven't found a way to kill an MX-510/518 yet)
Same Sony MDR-150 headsets....unless they have steel armored cables, any headphone will eventually succumb to the munchkins!
Mid tower ATX case
Multi card reader

Server....
Same case, the good old Lian-Li PC70 (it looks good, runs cool, fits BIG motherboards, its not obsolete yet!)
2X AMD Opteron, 8 core (cheap, good virtualization performance)
8GB DDR3 ECC registered RAM
3x HDDs in RAID 5 with hardware controller for OS, investigating SAS vs SATA from a price/performance perspective.
2X WD Caviar Black 2TB in RAID1 for user file storage
850W 80 Plus Gold certified PSU
BD-ROM/DVD-RW combo drive
Fedora 14 Linux or LFS with SE Linux kernel and Windows Server 2008 R2 running in KVM
Basic GPU, probably same as the workstation for simplicity's sake. (hey, I like my 1080P framebuffer console!)

Network infrastructure as it stands today:
Linksys WRT54-GS router with HyperWRT firmware
24 port 3com unmanaged Gigabit switch
Numerous fanout switches of questionable pedigree (no Airlink crap though!)
Cat5e cabling in the ceiling, some cat5. (cat5e can go GbE over short lengths)
Custom firewall, content filter and caching system made from Linux and a used Rackable Systems server, offline due to unknown failure.

In other words, our network sucks but when you're non profit, you build what you can....we quickly expanded beyond our original network and its now a Frankenstein monster. This time we have put aside some extra cash for some REAL networking hardware.

New Network as proposed:
Cisco router (this will serve firewall duties as well)
Cisco 48 port gigabit switch, no PoE (we don't need it)
Content filter/cache becomes a VM on the server, old Rackable box retired
Cat6 cabling and patch panels from end to end....GbE EVERYWHERE.
Two 802.11g access points
No fanout switches in the classrooms that kids can step on, kick or otherwise bring offline

2004 300M Special...257K miles. Original powertrain!
hardwareguy is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-24-2011, 08:57 PM
Intrepid Pro
 
rknapp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Metro Detroit
Posts: 2,258
Feedback: 0 / 0%
                     
Damn, those computers will be faster than mine... though my GPU is still a bit better. 'Course, mine has been around since... 2007? I think... sounds like you'll be busy, especially with replacing the network hardware.
rknapp is offline  
post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-25-2011, 12:57 AM Thread Starter
Intrepid Pro
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Arlington Texas
Posts: 2,823
Feedback: 1 / 100%
                     
Yeah they were fast as hell for school computers....essentially gaming rigs with a downsized GPU. They're starting to show their age though on some apps.

When most of your reading curriculum relies on computers, uptime is king and speed is almost as important....each class has a 30 minute lab period, there's no time to wait for the computer.
hardwareguy is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-25-2011, 10:27 AM
Intrepid Pro
 
SPAD3's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Indy
Posts: 1,268
Feedback: 16 / 90%
                     
Ugh to have the ability to do that.... drools. Congrats should be an interesting build, pics to come?
SPAD3 is offline  
post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-25-2011, 11:10 AM
1st Gen FTW - It's AutoMedic!

 
cdmccul's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Garrison, ND
Posts: 15,449
Feedback: 18 / 100%
                     
Sounds like a fun project!

Looking back at your previous re-power projects, how did you go about the task of building a system on the hope that you would be replaced in 5 years, but built for 7? What were your results each time? Why do you think you succeeded or failed with each re-power? Why do you think the system you are spec'ing out now will last 7 years if needed?

(Asking to spur conversation and help you look back, NOT saying you don't know what you're doing)
cdmccul is offline  
post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-25-2011, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
Intrepid Pro
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Arlington Texas
Posts: 2,823
Feedback: 1 / 100%
                     
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdmccul View Post
Sounds like a fun project!

Looking back at your previous re-power projects, how did you go about the task of building a system on the hope that you would be replaced in 5 years, but built for 7? What were your results each time? Why do you think you succeeded or failed with each re-power? Why do you think the system you are spec'ing out now will last 7 years if needed?

(Asking to spur conversation and help you look back, NOT saying you don't know what you're doing)
Its tricky but it involves a good bit of looking back 5-7 years at typical system requirements of educational software and comparing that to the requirements of today's software. You see how many times the requirements multiplied and you make a rough projection. You always add a bit of safety factor for out of the blue things like new video codecs or the adoption of slick 3D graphics in educational software. Right now the 3D is pretty tame, nothing an old 7600 cant handle....but if we had gone with integrated video back then, we'd be hurting badly right now.

The server is always vastly overpowered from the start, but if it ever becomes slow, it degrades the entire system so we put an extra $1000 in there for the dual CPU board, extra CPU and extra RAM. Its paid off nicely, DB queries are snappy which means our networked curriculum loads quickly saving valuable class time. Our entire DB fits in RAM...it hauls! The question is, how much longer will it last and will it continue to be quick as we load additional programs onto it? The answer is probably 2 years or so...much less if I did virtualization which would eat RAM.

We have several reading programs, one in which a video recorded teacher reads a word to the student. This helps with dyslexia, which is what our school specializes in. If the machine gets laggy, the speaker's lips become un-synced with their voice; this causes confusion with some students that are just learning to sound out words. When this happens, it almost always generates a support call. Having fast 2D video (yes, 2D) and a fast CPU eliminates most of this....when it occurs, its usually a software issue.

When looking at raw performance, I think we did great designing for 5 years. Designing for 7 involved us potentially going on ebay and snagging some Athlon 64 X2s and bumping each rig to 3GB RAM.....this possibility was designed in when I specced out the machines. The teacher computer has an X2 and 4GB RAM....great for working with pictures.

Reliability has been good, but not flawless. Our main issue has been with electrolytic capacitors on mainboards. After 4 years, these started to fail. Our new motherboards will use polymer caps to avoid this issue. I've repaired 4 main boards and replaced 3. If they call me in quickly, I can fix it before the board gets ruined by excessive ripple current. (ripple is fluctuations in DC power)

Power supplies have been good, only 2 have failed and only one during my 3 year warranty period. In fact, that was the only warranty part I had to change.

The issue with the current supplies is one of efficiency.... 70% on average makes for a hot lab. New ones at the projected loads will be upwards of 90%. These too will have polymer caps in the highest stress areas. (the two PSUs that died had capacitor faults on the output filtering (low voltage side)

The last build before me was unable to make it 5 years without serious problems. The machines had grossly inadequate cooling and ran Windows 98. I WAS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THESE! They were not maintained well either, which was why I started getting paid...they realized the teacher in charge of computer stuff at the time wasn't actually as good as he said and that I wasnt gonna be a willing volunteer when I started making money on PCs. (paying customers first!) As an emergency measure, in 2004 we acquired some Dell Optiplex GX150s....these had P-III 933MHz CPUs and Windows 2000 and got us along until we got new PCs in 2006. They were free too. We still have one of them soldiering along in a classroom running Ubuntu for internet access.

2004 300M Special...257K miles. Original powertrain!
hardwareguy is offline  
post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-02-2011, 02:19 AM Thread Starter
Intrepid Pro
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Arlington Texas
Posts: 2,823
Feedback: 1 / 100%
                     
Update!

Just dropped $6500 on hardware today.

What does $6500 get you? A fast, bullet proof network!

Parts list:
Cisco Catalyst 2960 48 port Gigabit Ethernet switch (with LAN Base IOS)
Cisco 2911 Integrated Services Router
Ethernet WAN interface card for said router
3000 feet of Plenum rated Cat6 UTP cable
A 48 port patch panel
A bunch of keystone jacks, wall plates, patch cables and other miscellaneous hardware for the network and classroom A/V
Some essential tools (a new punchdown tool, etc)
A bunch of fans for old but still serviceable PCs
A new power supply for an old but still serviceable PC

2004 300M Special...257K miles. Original powertrain!
hardwareguy is offline  
post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-02-2011, 02:32 AM
Intrepid Modder
 
stratastic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: sycamore, IL
Posts: 758
Feedback: 0 / 0%
                     
That sounds like a good time. I remember when I was in school we had to redo the whole buildings network.
stratastic is offline  
post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-14-2011, 02:17 AM Thread Starter
Intrepid Pro
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Arlington Texas
Posts: 2,823
Feedback: 1 / 100%
                     
Smile Pics!

The network is wired. The server is built. The first workstation is built and under test.

Here are some pics of the last month's progress!

Everything is bigger in Texas....especially the numbers on the thermometer. This was in mid June. The drought is awful.


Fanout switch for the outbuilding....a small Cisco 8 + 2 uplink managed Gigabit unit. Uplinks are trunked for speed and reliability. Normally the uplink is 2Gbps, we can lose one link and still stay up at 1Gbps. (ie, nobody but the me, the sysadmin will ever notice!)


Redneck worklight! This is my friend running the outbuilding uplink and the outbuilding TV coaxial cable.


My friend helping with demolition!


Old PCs in their holding area while the lab is rewired


Our LaserJet 4si.....it just had a maintenance kit and will continue on! (as will the SmartUPS 1500 after a change of batteries)


Cable....LOTS of cable. We emptied 3 such boxes.


Itty bitty patch panels....these were replaced with a top rack 48 port panel. (Yeah, the pic sucks...cell phone)


TV/Monitor wiring


Some server parts


Our new server! 2x AMD Opteron 6128, 16GB RAM




We reused the old server chassis....but not before it was gutted and very thoroughly cleaned


Someone turned off the air.....not cool. This was after an HOUR of the A/C running!


DON'T TURN OFF MY AIR DAMNIT!


More pics to come!

2004 300M Special...257K miles. Original powertrain!
hardwareguy is offline  
post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-15-2011, 01:24 AM
1st Gen FTW - It's AutoMedic!

 
cdmccul's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Garrison, ND
Posts: 15,449
Feedback: 18 / 100%
                     
In that last picture - I have been running into a similar BSOD on an XP-Pro powered Dell Dimension 4600.. sure enough - re-arrange the PC in the closet, and get some cool air to it, and suddenly it works better.
cdmccul is offline  
post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-16-2011, 05:35 PM
Intrepid Pro
 
Duds's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Ohio
Posts: 22,212
Feedback: 12 / 100%
                     
I like the hillbilly work light!
Duds is offline  
post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-17-2011, 03:12 AM Thread Starter
Intrepid Pro
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Arlington Texas
Posts: 2,823
Feedback: 1 / 100%
                     
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdmccul View Post
In that last picture - I have been running into a similar BSOD on an XP-Pro powered Dell Dimension 4600.. sure enough - re-arrange the PC in the closet, and get some cool air to it, and suddenly it works better.
The secondary error code I have suggests the SATA port is dropping out....which means either the HDD or the mainboard is terribly overheating. It hit nearly 100F in the lab and that machine was left on and one of it's chassis fans had failed. The poor old server was still chugging along....it has a surplus of fans for such abuses. The new one has twice the airflow.

The redneck work light is AMAZING!
hardwareguy is offline  
post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-17-2011, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
Intrepid Pro
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Arlington Texas
Posts: 2,823
Feedback: 1 / 100%
                     
New workstation specs:

Intel Core i5 2500 (3.3GHz, 3.7 Turbo, 6MB cache, SandyBridge core)
Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3-B3 Motherboard (Intel Z68 chipset, part of their overbuilt Ultra Durable series)
8GB Corsair DDR-3 1600 RAM (2x 4GB, CAS 8)
1TB WD Caviar Black, 64MB cache
AMD Radeon 6570 1GB, fanless
HP BD-ROM/DVD-RW combo drive
560W Seasonic X series 80+ Gold certified PSU (exceeds Energy Star 4.0 requirements!)
MS Digital Media 3000 keyboard
MS Intellimouse Explorer 3.0 (yes...the GOOD version with the clicky wheel back by popular demand!)
AFT XM5U card reader (reads everything...even Micro SD without adapters!)
Windows 7 Pro x64
Samsung 20" LCD, 1600x900 resolution, DVI input.

2004 300M Special...257K miles. Original powertrain!
hardwareguy is offline  
post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-20-2011, 01:15 AM Thread Starter
Intrepid Pro
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Arlington Texas
Posts: 2,823
Feedback: 1 / 100%
                     
This should keep me busy for a while.....

hardwareguy is offline  
post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-20-2011, 01:18 AM
1st Gen FTW - It's AutoMedic!

 
cdmccul's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Garrison, ND
Posts: 15,449
Feedback: 18 / 100%
                     
"may contain awesome."
cdmccul is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the DodgeIntrepid.Net Forums - Dodge Intrepid, Concorde, 300m and Eagle Vision chat forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

Member names may only be composed of alpha-numeric characters. (A-Z and 0-9)

!!ATTENTION ADVERTISERS!! If you intend on advertising anything on this forum, whatsoever, you are required to first contact us here . Additionaly, we do NOT allow BUSINESS NAMES unless you are an Authorized Vendor. If you own a business, and want to do sales on this site via posting or private message, you will need to follow the rules. Shops, Stores, Distributors, Group Buys without being authorized will see your account terminated.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Linear Mode Linear Mode
Rate This Thread:



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome