I recently retired one of the hot and noisy OCMS servers, and experienced a good savings in power and heat. Even though server parts are tough and designed to last a long while, I started wondering just how fast they really are.
I ran several disk benchmarks on one of the older servers, which run a Pentium 4 with Hyper-Threading and has a 3DM 8000 PCI-X (not PCI Express) hardware RAID card in RAID 1. I was extremely surprised to find that the write performance was as low as 1MB a second, and maxed out at around 11MB/sec. This is abysmal for a hard drive from 20 years ago, much less a recent drive, even if it is RAID 1.
After a little research, it appears that the write cache of the array was disabled, and after enabling it the drive performed closer to normal. The drive’s read and write speed hovered between 40 and 55MB/second… not bad, but still nowhere close to today’s fast 750GB and 1TB drives. I have two 500GB Western Digital Blue desktop drives in RAID 0 on my main rig that can push out 250MB/second throughput, which is about the same as a good SSD (if you don’t factor the access time).
I’m still doing some testing on the processing power of these machines. It would be extremely interesting if a low-powered Atom board was faster than one of these old servers, which cost over $1500 at the time. I bought a low-powered motherboard for my custom firewall appliance, and it is more than powerful enough, and only consumes around 30 watts at full load, even with two hard drives. If this is the case, then it will be tempting to replace all of the servers with low-powered devices.