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Old Personal Computer Hardware SERVERS

  • Processors
    • The Elements
      • Number of Cores
        • How many physical CPU inside the processor
      • Number of Threads
        • How many virtual CPU working. This is shown in the Task Manager.
        • This terms of threads originated from Intel since they developed the ‘Hyper Threading Techonology’ which delivers two threads per physical core.
        • NOTE These are Hardware Threads, not software threads used in programming languages
      • CPU Speed
        • How fast it takes to execute instruction
        • Is important for single running applications
        • Not important for server as they have many applications. Even then, a single Server applications normally use parallel programming.
      • The Cache
        • Enables the CPU to retrieve recently used information quickly
        • In most cases, the more the cache, the fastar the CPU.
      • The Front Side bus (FSB)
        • Connection between CPU and Northbridge
        • Intel doesn’t use FSB, but uses DMI instead
          • Unit in GT/s
      • The System Memory
    • For server, it is good to use XEON due to:
      • It’s reliability, low heat and power consumption.
      • It is meant to run 24 hours.
    • Contrary to popular belief Xeon is not MORE powerful than conventional processor. It’s main advantage is reliability, e.g. It has some other improved reliability features such as ECC memory

  • Operating Systems
    • Windows
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 (July 2009)
    • Windows Server 2008 (February 2008)
    • Windows Server 2003 (April 2003)

  

  • Network Cards (NIC – Network Interface Card)
    • The first thing to check is the number of ports
    • Typically it’s either single or dual port
      • Meaning how many Ethernet cables can go in
    • The next thing to check is it’s connection
      • If it say PCIe only that means it is PCIe x1 and compatible with all PCIe slots (X1,X4,X8,X16)
    • Another thing to check is it’s bandwidth, they are:
      • Ethernet or 10BASE-X
        • Only supports up to 100Mbps or 1.25MBps
        • Old Technology
      • Fast Ethernet or 100BASE-X
        • Support up to 100Mbps or 12.5MBps
        • Old Technology
      • Gigabit Ethernet or 1 GbE
        • Supports up to 1000bps or 1Gbps = 125MBps
        • Backward compatible
        • Can use same CAT5 Cables and connect to 10/100 hardwares
          • However, it causes the new equipment to be slower
        • 1GBe Ethernet has 5 Varieties in physical layer standards which are
Name Medium Specified distance
1000BASE‑CX Twinaxial cabling 25 meters
1000BASE‑SX Multi-mode fiber 220 to 550 meters dependent on fiber diameter and bandwidth[2]
1000BASE‑LX Multi-mode fiber 550 meters[3]
1000BASE‑LX Single-mode fiber 5 km[3]
1000BASE‑LX10 Single-mode fiber using 1,310 nm wavelength 10 km
1000BASE‑ZX Single-mode fiber at 1,550 nm wavelength ~ 70 km
1000BASE‑BX10 Single-mode fiber, over single-strand fiber: 1,490 nm downstream 1,310 nm upstream 10 km
1000BASE‑T Twisted-pair cabling (Cat‑5, Cat‑5e, Cat‑6, or Cat‑7) 100 meters
1000BASE‑TX Twisted-pair cabling (Cat‑6, Cat‑7) 100 meters

  

    • TOE (TCP Offload Engine)
      • New Network cards especially the 1GbE types have TOE (TCP offload engine). What this does is that it has a processor which processes various TCP protocols such as the 3-way handshake which is supposedly to be done by the processor.
      • The purpose is to free up processor speed

  



  • Hard Disk
    • Interface
      • Hard disk commonly interfaces with the PC using a serial bus interface.
      • The most common interfaces:
        • SATA
          • Cheaper because it does not use a built in processor for controlling head position unlike SAS
        • SAS (Also known as SCSI)
          • Faster and more reliable
      • Some Hard disks have SED feature (Self Encrypting Device). This is for security purpose
    • Hot plug
      • A property of a hard disk which can plugged out when the server is running. This avoids server downtime when a hard disk change is required (due to faulty hard drive and etc). Hot plug hardwares cost more
    • RAID
      • Raid stands for (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks). The advantages of RAID
        • High Data Reliability and Availability
        • Ease of combining hard disk space
        • Improve Speed
      • Raid Controllers
        • When RAID is selected, a RAID controller needs to be installed. For dell, this is called the PERC (PowerEdge Raid Controller).
        • Types of RAID Controllers:
          • Software RAID Controller
          • Hardware RAID Controller
      • RAID Numbers:
        • 0 (Stripping)
          • 2 Hard disks mirrors each other not for redundancy.
            • It Doubles data transfer rate, theoretically, but in real life the gains are around 10%
            • Improves Performance
          • Minimum 2 Drives
        • 1 (Mirroring)
          • 2 Hard disks mirrors each other
          • Advantage
            • Highest Reliability
          • Disadvantage
            • Size is limited by the drive with smallest size
          • Minimum 2 Drives
        • 2 (Bit Level Stripping with Hamming Code parity drives)
          • Improve data integrity and reliability
          • Obsolete
          • Minimum 3 Drives
        • 3 (Byte Level Stripping with dedicated parity drive)
          • Hardly Used
          • Minimum 3 Drives
          • Same advantage
        • 4 (Block Level Stripping)
          • Hardly Used
          • Minimum 3 Drives
        • 5 (Block level stripping with distributed party)
          • Commonly Used
          • Advantages
            • Provides Redundancy up to one hard disk failure
            • Increase Disk Size to (DriveSize x (Number of Drives – 1))
          • Disadvantage
            • If more than 1 hard disk fail, ALL data are LOST
          • Minimum 3 Drives
        • 6 (Block level stripping with double distributed parity)
          • Needs at least 4 drives
          • Tolerates up to two failures
          • Minimum 4 Drives
        • 10 (Mirroring without parity and block level stripping)
          • Is a combination of RAID 1 and RAID 0
            • Works in Spans
              • Each span will mirror one another (Like Raid 1)
            • The upper span works like RAID 0
          • Advantage
            • Speed and Reliability Combined
          • Disadvantage
            • Less disk space compared to RAID 5

  • Motherboard / Chipset
  • DTE/DCE
    • DTE – Data Terminal Equipment, Ends a communication line (The processing node)
    • DCE – Data Communications Equipment, in the middle of communication line (The bridge)
  • PCI Slots (Peripheral Component Interconnect)
    • Conventional PCI
      • 1991
      • 33/66 MHz
      • 6 types of slots
        • 3.3V 32 Bit
        • 5V 32bit
        • 3.3V 64 Bit
        • 5V 64 bit
        • Universal 32 bit
        • Universal 64 bit
      • 32 bit PCI slots can be used in 64 bit slots

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    • PCI-X
      • 1999
      • 66/133 Mhz
      • 3.3V 64 Bit
      • Faster than Conventional PCI
      • Conventional PCI cards can be used on PCI-X slots
      • Supports Multi Drop
    • PCI Express / PCIe
      • 2002
      • Formerly known as 3GIO
      • Have 4 types of slots
        • X1, X4, X8, X16
      • The smaller slots can fit in larger slots. That is why some hardware just specify itself as PCIe which means it is PCIe x1 and can fit in all slots
    • A typical motherboard will have these slots

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  • Server Rack
    • The most common server rack is the 19” rack. It is specified in EIA , CEA and IEC standards
    • Typical rack servers are around 17 to 18”. The racks are mounted by a slide

  • Ethernet
    • Is a physical layer LAN technology which is defined in the IEEE standards. LAN is a network limited by geography
    • The standards
      • IEEE 802.3 (Also called Wired Ethernet or Simply referred to as Ethernet)
      • IEEE 802.11 (Commonly referred to as Wifi)
      • IEEE 802.16 (Commonly referred to as Wimax
  • RAM (Random Access Memory)
    • What is RAM?
      • RAM is a type of Computer Storage. The word random-access means that data can be read anytime without going through a sequential process.
      • However, today this has become a name only, modern DRAMs use burst mode reading which is sequential in nature but fast. SRAM however, still works in a RANDOM access way
    • RAM are Volatile
      • When power is lost, data is lost in the RAM.
    • Static (SRAM) vs Dynamic (DRAM)
      • SRAM is faster and more expensive. It is often used as cache memory for the CPU
        • Don’t need to know much about this other than when buying a CPU.
      • DRAM is slower and typically used as computer memory.
        • DRAM is the most common RAM Type.
        • DRAM Formats (these are just how the memory is designed)
          • SIMM (Single Inline Memory Module)
            • Old Technology
            • 32Bit
          • RIMM (Rambus inline Memory Module)
            • Old Technology between SIMM and DIMM
          • DIMM (Dual Inline Memory Module)
            • MOST COMMON FORMAT
            • Typically around 4-5 Inches length
            • Replacement Technology for SIMM
            • 64Bit
            • Twice more Pins than a SIMM, Faster than SIMM
            • The number of Pins in DIMM is determined by the specification type (e.g. DDR2, DDR3, SDRAM)
              • SDRAMs (The old type) -168 PINS
              • DDR1 (OR DDR SDRAM) -184 PINS
              • DDR3 and DDR2 -240 PINS
          • SO-DIMM (Small outline dual in-line memory module)
            • Used is system with limited space such as Laptops
            • Typically 2.5-3 Inches Length
            • Number of Pins
              • DDR2 – 200 Pins
              • DDR3 – 204 Pins
              • DDR4 – 256 Pins
        • DRAM Asynchronous vs Synchronous
          • Asynchronous DRAM
            • Not suitable for high speed systems
          • Synchronous DRAM
            • Since it’s synchronous, it waits for Clock Signal. This is why Speed is rated in MHz rather than in Nano seconds
            • Common types of DIMM
              • SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory)
                • First Generation, Slower than DDR
                • Write 1 Words per clock cycle
              • DDR SDRAM [MOST COMMON TYPE WHEN OPENING ON A LAPOP OR DESKTOP]
                • DDR Stands for Double Data Rate
                • Unlike SDRAM, it write 2 words per clock cycle
                • Evolution of DDR SDRAM
                  • DDR1 (Also just called DDR SDRAM)
                  • DDR2
                  • DDR3
                • DDR(X)’s are not backward or forward compatible with each other, meaning if a mother board supports DDR1 it will not Support DDR2 and Vice Versa
                • DDR Standard is set by JEDEC
                • On a Memory, a typical annotation would be
                  • DDRx-yyyy – x is the DDR version, yyyy is the data rate of the memory measured in MT/s (Mega Transfer Per Second).
                    • This is essentially the Clock Speed which is usually advertised.
                  • PCx-yyyy – x is the DDR Version, yyyy is the peak transfer rate measured in MB/s. MB/s = MT/s x 8
                    • For example, PC2-6400 means it is a DDR2 Ram with Speed of 6400/8 = 800 MHz
    • Brands
      • Good Ones
        • Crucial
        • Corsair
        • Kingston
        • G Skill
      • Bad Ones
    • RAM Clock Speed
      • Should generally choose the highest  RAM Speed supported by the mother board
      • One should not use RAM of different speeds as this causes instability
    • Number of PINS
      • This is important when purchasing a RAM as the number of PINS need to match the motherboard
      • Typically the following rules apply:
        • SDRAMs (The old type) have 168 PINS
        • DDR1 (OR DDR SDRAM) has 184 PINS
        • DDR3 and DDR2 has 240 PINS
    • Single or Pair?
      • Pair is better as it allows Dual Channel
      • 2x2 GB RAM is better than 1x4GB RAM
  • Power Supply Unit (PSU)
    • A computer PSU’s job is to convert mains AC to low-voltage regulated DC power
    • Specification Standards
      • ATX
        • Most Common
      • BTX
    • Number of Pins
      • The number of Pins required would depend on the motherboard
      • 24 Pins
    • Connectors
      • Typical Power supplies have several connectors, and this is usually standard
      • P1 - PC Main Power Connector
        • This goes to the Motherboard
        • Has either 20 or 24 Pins
          • Power supply with 24 Pin connector can be used on motherboard with 20 pin connector
          • Some 20 pin connectors have an additional 4 pin connector (referred to as 20+4), which can be put side by side to create a 24 pin connector
      • 4 Pin Peripheral Power Connector
        • Goes to various disk drives
        • Black wire is ground
        • Yellow is 12v, Red is 5v
        • Can be any label
      • Serial ATA Power Connectors
        • Used for Hard drives and Optical Drives
        • 15 pins inside
        • Can be of any label (P2 to p15)
      • Floppy Power Connector
        • For floppy drives
        • Is a small connector with a protrusion on the pin between red and black
        • 4 pins – yellow(12v), black (ground), black (ground), red (5v)
        • Can be of any label (p2 – p15)
      • ATX 4-Pin Power supply connector
        • Used to provide 12VDC to the processor voltage regulator, which is on the mother board.

        • Can be of Any label (p2 – p15), typically p2
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