Most energy efficient (home) setup

Joe Greco jgreco at
Wed Feb 22 21:48:42 UTC 2012

> Right now my always on server is a VIA artigo 1100 pico-itx system 
> (replacing the G4 system) and my "router/firewall/modem" is still the el 
> cheapo DSL modem (which runs busybox by the way). I have an upgraded 
> workstation that's "sometimes on", it has a mini itx form factor (AMD 
> phenom2 CPU). I use debian on all systems.
> I haven't measured it but I think if the set up would use 30 watts 
> continuously (only taking the always on systems into account) it'd be a 
> lot. Of course it'll spike when I fire up the workstation.
> It's not extremely energy efficient but compared to some setups I read 
> about it is. The next step would be to migrate to a plugcomputer or 
> something similar (
> Any suggestions and ideas appreciated of course. :-)

You want truly energy efficient but not too resource limited like the 
Pogoplug and stuff like that?  Look to Apple's Mac mini.

The current Mac mini "Server" model sports an i7 2.0GHz quad-core CPU
and up to 16GB RAM (see OWC for that, IIRC).  Two drives, up to 750GB
each, or SSD's if you prefer.

12 frickin' watts when idle.  Or thereabouts.  Think about 40 watts
when running full tilt, maybe a bit more.

In the more-realistically-server-grade department, we've built some
really nice Supermicro based E3-1230's, 16-32GB, 6x GigE, RAID, six- 
to eight 2.5" SSD's and Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drives, idle around
60 watts and peak around 100.  We've virtualized loads of older boxes 
onto some of those with good-to-great success.  Two of those can replace 
what took a rackful of machines a decade ago.

Quite frankly, I think most of the "little server" stuff is a bit
questionable.  We picked up a ProLiant Microserver N36L a while back
for NAS use, but quite frankly I'm un-blown-away by its 35 watt baseline
performance, when for 45 watts I can get an E3-1230 with 16GB of RAM,
run ESXi, and run stuff alongside a NAS VM.  (The 60 watt figure is for
a more loaded-up-with-stuff box)

Which brings me to the point:  for energy efficient home use, you might
want to consider a slightly larger/more expensive machine and 
virtualization.  It doesn't have to be an ESXi host.  It seems like you
can run two or three other servers on a Mac mini Server with stuff like
VMware Fusion without stressing things too much, and that might put you
in the 20-30 watt range for a flexible setup.  You also don't have to
buy a MMS; the lower end Mac mini's are also plenty powerful, can be
upgraded similarly, but lack OS X Server and the quad core CPU.

... JG
Joe Greco - Network Services - Milwaukee, WI -
"We call it the 'one bite at the apple' rule. Give me one chance [and] then I
won't contact you again." - Direct Marketing Ass'n position on e-mail spam(CNN)
With 24 million small businesses in the US alone, that's way too many apples.

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