A couple of months ago we shared with you the CPUs that are going into our new server farm. We've actually started physically installing the machines (hence the brief outage over the weekend) so it's time to share another piece of the server puzzle.

The final configuration we decided on was 12 machines. This is a significant reduction of the number of systems we have installed (currently nearly 30) but the performance per box is much higher, allowing for consolidation through virtualization.

We are building two private clouds: a lighter cloud of 8 machines for our application serving needs (including some redundancy in the cloud), and a 4 machine DB cloud to handle the heavier IO. We'll dive into our infrastructure design in the later, full article but for now let's talk about memory.

The application server cloud is light on memory. Each system in this cloud has 12GB of memory (6 x 2 DDR3-1333 DIMMs). The DB server cloud on the other hand has 48GB of memory per box (12 x 4GB DDR3-1333 DIMMs).

Kingston was nice enough to supply the memory for our project with. The 96 sticks of memory were broken down into 48 x KVR1333D3D4R9S/4GI and 48 x KVR1333D3D8R9S/2GI. If you want to see what 288GB of memory looks like, check out the gallery below.

Note that for all of the components we selected for this project, we decided upon the components first and then petitioned the manufacturers second. The stipulation was that the AnandTech server farm would be a publicly visible test bed. Any failures of the hardware are public failures and would obviously reflect poorly on the manufacturer. For CPUs and memory it's not so big of a deal - physical failures there are fairly rare, but for SSDs this provided an interesting challenge. More on that in our next installment.

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  • vrusso87 - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Agreed, camera reviews strike me as feature-creep. There's competition between professional and consumer content already, let's leave photo/video out of it.

    I'd like to see more 'learning' resources. Not so basic as the difference between bits and bytes, you'd become a help forum. Something that would make all those CPU/GPU architecture diagrams decipherable, however, would be fantastic. I expect everyone would learn a lot from those, professionals included.
  • jonup - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    I've always wondered, what you do with the old hardware. I mean not only from the upgrades but also from the reviews. I'll pay for postage just to help you out with the floorspace. ;p
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    Our old server equipment is either kept around as spares in case of catastrophic failure, used for new projects or if we have no use for it, it's donated to schools or various nonprofits.

    As far as review hardware goes, it follows the same path. First pick is always staff for use in AT related projects. Then our volunteer staff, then what can be donated (some has to be destroyed/sent back to the OEM) is given to schools or nonprofits.

    Take care,
  • jonup - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

  • FunBunny2 - Sunday, October 31, 2010 - link

    And the proper way to handle it, say I.
  • Spivonious - Thursday, October 28, 2010 - link

    Have you guys looked into moving to Microsoft's Azure platform? It seems like a more cost-efficient solution for hosting than running your own server farm.
  • doobydoo - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    It may sound like a stupid question, but what on earth are you doing with the servers that requires so much hardware?
  • jtleon - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - link

    LOL, not so stupid a question, try looking at your CPU meter in task manager, as those Flash ads are animated on your screen - Now imagine delivering that Flash content to 1,000,000 of you simultaneously. Thus the need for serious hardware! Talk about useless carbon footprint!
  • maxusa - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    This is a representative example of the contemporary societal transformation when integrity is considered outdated, unpopular concept that is being gradually replaced by perceived flexibility i.e., the purported ability to think "outside the box," a fresh concept. This flexibility often goes much farther that the old-fashioned uncool integrity to pass the point of compromising or "bending" one's principles. At first latently accepted and then vocally supported by the community, this becomes a new norm. I cannot help thinking about this while reading numerous remarks here about getting off the high horse, not caring, and outright agreeing with a blatant case of vendor racketeering, to which the owner openly admits on his own website. Reciprocity is bliss, is it not? It takes a decent portion of ignorance to dismiss that when an organization with substantial influence in the IT enthusiast community "requests" tangible property from an IT vendor whose product/services may be subject to inadvertent "independent and objective" evaluation, this constitutes quite simply extortion. You can attempt to call this transparency, turn it inside out, claim precedent (i.e., always done it in the past), or plead to good intent, or even subsequent donation (after property's useful life, yeah indeed), it does not change the fact that you traded your own and organization's integrity for 288GB and, maybe, even less if you look closer. High marks on flexibility, on the other hand. It is admired by many more these days.
  • whatthehey - Friday, October 29, 2010 - link

    Typical Internet overreaction, as is customary, from some of the people--and let's not even get into the "gee look how smart I am because I use big words" stuff. Take your post for instance. Is it "vendor racketeering" or "simply extortion"?

    Racketeering: Traditionally, obtaining or extorting money illegally or carrying on illegal business activities, usually by Organized Crime . A pattern of illegal activity carried out as part of an enterprise that is owned or controlled by those who are engaged in the illegal activity.

    Extortion: The obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.

    Those both come from http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/, incidentally. So in the one case you're accusing Kingston of illegally gaining money by agreeing to Anand's request for memory to be used in his servers; on the other, you're accusing Anand of blackmailing Kingston into giving memory to him at the threat of... what? Giving them bad reviews?

    As I read it, Anand came up with a spec for the new servers, approached Kingston (in this case), and said, "We're doing some new servers and we'd like to give you the opportunity to donate the memory, for which you will get public mention. If we experience failures or have problems because of the memory, we'll also let our readership know. Would you be interested in participating?" Tell me, where is the harm in that? Where is the extortion or racketeering? And put away your stupid thesaurus and buzz word dropping, please!

    If AnandTech starts publishing ultra-positive Kingston reviews (hmm... their last Kingston SSD article wasn't particularly glowing), or if they start slamming the competition without reason, then we can start to worry. I suppose for you it doesn't matter, because Anand traded his website's integrity for 288GB of RAM. But then, they traded their integrity for the hardware they review, for the previous Athlon MP CPUs (and presumably motherboards, RAM, etc.) in an older server setup, for the Xeon processors they've used, for advertisements that appear on the site.... Do we really need to start going down that route?

    I've seen AT post good and bad reviews of AMD, Intel, NVIDIA, ATI (before AMD), VIA, etc. I've seen Anand praise SSDs, rip on some models, come back and show how updated firmware fixes issues, admit mistakes, etc. For every accusation of being a sellout, I've seen dozens if not hundreds of articles that indicate the contrary. So go back to your legal studies and stop acting like a holier than thou lawyer--or crawl back into your basement and feel sorry that no one is willing to ship you 288GB of memory I suppose. Either way, your "intellectual" post lacks any shred of substance and is merely yet another Internet rant. As is my response. Pathetic, really, but it's a slow Friday morning in the datacenter for me! LOL

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