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small terminal server configuration

the server should be cheap and will run

Win2k
Terminal Services max. 5 Users (4 Users all the time)
MSDE (5 User SQL Server)
file sharing
printer queue


no big deal and no server hardware for a small office, but what would be better?:

- 2 GHz P4, 512 L2, Rambus

or

- dual PIII 1,x Ghz (no Xeon)


both configs will base on simple IDE config. IDE RAID 1 is very slow with these BIOS based RAIDs.

Is 512 MB RAM enough?

Thanks for some opinion based on _experience_!!!
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franka
Asked:
franka
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1 Solution
 
st_steveCommented:
I'd go with P4 config, since you wouldn't need a dual-processor board. A bit relectant on the IDE RAID though. Remember, RAID 1 doesn't improve performance and overhead is high (50%). It's also just the fact of the technology that IDE drives are much slower than SCSI. 512MB RAM is more than enough for your configuration.

The "usual" solution is to mirror Windows 2000 boot volume (can't put boot volume on RAID 5) and RAID5 the data volume.
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st_steveCommented:
If you're not doing RAID1 because the config will be slow, just do a FULL backup of your server everynight (including System State data).

I've got Windows 2000 server at home, Celeron 500, 128MB RAM, proxy, 2 RAID1 volumes, 1 RAID5 volume, no terminal server but runs great, a little slow though :D

I've got a few clients with Windows 2000 terminal server running, way lower than your config (PII 400, 256MB RAM, 3 users, database application on terminal server). No one complains about the response of the server. (Of course they complain about the database software :) but that's another story.

I'm not sure how "reliable" Rambus is, haven't had a whole lot of "experience" with it.
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frankaAuthor Commented:
do you mean software RAIDs?

Btw: I don't share your opinion that IDE is noticeably slower as long as you don't need more than 2 hard disks.
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st_steveCommented:
Yes, my server is running on software RAID.

My IDE opinion: Yes, it's just an "opinion" of being slow. If a computer takes 3 minutes to boot up Windows, that's SLOW in my opinion. If Windows takes 15 seconds to launch a program, yes it's slow.
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pjknibbsCommented:
st_steve: You must have a REALLY crap set of IDE drives if it takes you 3 minutes to launch Windows and 15 seconds to launch a program. On my machine at home, which has a 20Gb and a 13Gb drive--hardly particularly modern technology, you'll note--Windows boots in around 20 seconds and most applications start up in less than 5.
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st_steveCommented:
I'm not saying MY computer needs 15 seconds to launch a program. I stated it as an example what makes me think "a machine is slow".

At home, Windows 2000 server takes about 1 minute to start up and applications take about 5 seconds tops.



Anyway, did I help you make a decision or do you need more info?
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jmiller47Commented:
That should suffice.

I would defintely go with the P4 and possibly 1GB or RAM if possible. The dual-processor will probably not do you much good. If your applications require MSDE, the processes will not be split up between processors anyways. SQL Server does, MSDE does not.

RAID - RAID 0 will increase speed, but not offer redundancy. RAID 1 will offer redundancy, but suffer in the speed department. It's really a choice you need to decide upon.

Otherwise, performance should be fine for that many clients. I would think that if you cannot order the full 1GB of memory, make sure that you can later and try to in the future.

I hope this helps.
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frankaAuthor Commented:
@jmiller "SQL Server does, MSDE does not."

MS says: MSDE scales up to 2 CPUs! And terminal services do very well.

@st_stve

your advices sound like "home experience only"....
how do I get raid 1 on the win2k boot volume?




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st_steveCommented:
Well, I've been giving you examples from my setup at home. I've had my own fair share of "experiences" but who am I to talk at this place where all the "experts" converge? But I'll say this: I may not know as much as a lot of people herek, but I do have some grey matter. Have a look: http://sithu.com/CV.htm

Anyway, this question isn't about ME, it's about Windows 2000.

I think you've already got all the answers you needed. "jmiller47" and I both advice you on single P4 instead of dual PIII, but the final decision is yours.

To get RAID
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st_steveCommented:
Well, I've been giving you examples from my setup at home. I've had my own fair share of "experiences" but who am I to talk at this place where all the "experts" converge? But I'll say this: I may not know as much as a lot of people herek, but I do have some grey matter. Have a look: http://sithu.com/CV.htm

Let me know if you no longer value my "home experience". Anyway, this question isn't about ME, it's about Windows 2000.

I think you've already got all the answers you needed. "jmiller47" and I both advice you on single P4 instead of dual PIII, but the final decision is yours.

To get RAID 1 on Win2k Boot volume:

Install Win2k as normal.
Convert the disk to Dynamic Disk in Disk Management.
Install another physical disk.
Convert second disk to dynamic disk and have free space as large as the win2k boot volume.
Right-click on Win2k boot volume and select "Add Mirror".
You'll see the message "Resynching" (Regenerating if you're doing a RAID 5).
Go about your task as normal, the length of resynching process depends on the size of your mirror volume.

Remember 50% overhead.
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frankaAuthor Commented:
I appreciate both inputs!!

But I cannot agree with some points:

A full backup every night is no substitute for a redundant RAID config.

You recommend P4 but without reasons.

I will give away the point happily, but will wait for some additional input.


BTW: A well designed RAID1 has NO 50% overhead, because the two diskdrives can write an read in parallel. So the read performance actually can increase!!! But I know that in practice it doesn't work with Software RAID on the same IDE channel or on those cheap promise controllers. Tom's Hardware guide made some nice tests but only RAID0 afaik.





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st_steveCommented:
We're talking about different "overheads" here. I'm not talking about performance overhead, I'm talking about "hard disk space overhead". You use 2 physical HDDs, but you effectively have the total disk space of onle ONE HDD. Herein lies the 50% overhead.

Yes, you can read from one HDD and write to the other HDD if the HDDs are on separate controllers, but the "write" must be synced back to the first HDD anyway. What's the performance gain? The Sync process will take away CPU time and the performance gain from reading from and writing to separate disks.

Recommendations for P4:

P4 would have newer core technology I think it would be using 0.13 micron technology? Maybe it was still 0.18, I'm not sure. Search on Intel site for more info.

Your setup is a rather small one (almost a SOHO), so if you're willing to fork out the dollars for dual processor system baord, knock yourself out. Single processor boards are cheaper, and to go dual processor board, you will need 2 CPUs? Otherwise, what's the point of having a dual processor board with just one CPU?? A P4 board will also pave the way for future upgrades. PIII is an 'old' technology now. Processor speeds double every 18 months, I'm sure you're aware of this. Basically, it's either:

P4 processor with a cheaper single processor board

OR

2 x PIII processors (cheaper maybe?) with a more expensive dual-processor board

Your choice.

I'm not sure why you're so "worried" about the performance about your RAID devices. Are you going to be running a mega database application that many users constantly access? In that case, you might have to consider a serious server hardware (SCSI with hardware RAID controllers), instead of getting by with IDE hard drives and software RAIDing.

I'm not worried about the points system. I've been registered since 1999 and I've only 12,000 points. I've seen people's IDs with 700,000 points!

I'm not competing with anyone, I'm here to help people during my free time. Points only come as a bonus and appreciation of my help and my time.
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frankaAuthor Commented:
ok, overhead may be misleading, but I would say RAID 1 has 100% overhead... depends on the point of view ;-)

RAID1: The RAID doesn't need to write and read at once and "sync", but it can write to both HDs at once (therefor same write performance), and read _interleaved_ from both at once, so there is a perfomance gain up to 100% while reading.

I'm agreeing to the rest of your comment!



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st_steveCommented:
I'll let you ponder over the comments and give you some time to think.
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jmiller47Commented:
You are correct! MSDE does use SMP up to 2 processors for both the Office 2000 and VS 6.0 versions. I was under the strict impression that it did not! I apologize for that incorrect information.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/nhp/Default.asp?contentid=28000409

RAID:
Software RAID is ALWAYS a bad idea!
SCSI RAID is the best especially if you have MANY users. You only have 5 so even though you have multiple reads and writes, your IDE RAID should suffice in your situation. If you can do SCSI, please do. Those drives and controllers seem to hold up better. They are built for mission-critical machines. If not, you'll still be fine with the IDE RAID.
IDE RAID seems to work well. Make sure that you are going with RAID 1 since you seem to be needing some form of redundancy. RAID 1+0 is better, but most IDE RAID cards do not handle that.

Although P4 technology may be better (And it is) If you are using 2 processors and your software supports SMP (which it does) then 2 single processes can be spit up between the two processors. It may not be twice as fast, but may give you a noticeable boost. I have never used SQL Server or MSDE in a single processor environment, ony dual processor. That is only my educated guess from all the inforamtion I have gathered..
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