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Introduction

is a tech testbed/personal website. I have written a couple of articles on PC technology and parts which you may find helpful and I will be adding to these. Drop me a message on the contact page if you have any 'constructive' suggestions.

So the articles have not been expanded in quite a while. This is partially due to a lack of exciting new hardware technology, and by that I mean with the speed of today's processors, SSD's and graphics cards there is no need to tweak the system to acheive maximum performance. Simply put: buy any cpu that you can afford, buy the matching motherboard chipset (as differences in chipsets now come down only to southbridge differences or PCIe lanes), buy the most expensive GPU you can wither from AMD or Nvidia, get any SSD and install Windows 7 or 8. That will give you a PC that is more than fast enough for pretty much anything you could need, and if you need a little more for no cost, engage the auto overclocking software that comes bundled with whatever kit you bought.

This may sound a little dull but things are much simpler and more locked down than they used to be when Intel and AMD had different chipsets with memory controllers that differed dramatically in speed and lowering the memory latencies could give you a big boost in your benches. These days the best bet is keep it cool and ramp up the multi, becauses they have even locked down the base clock on the Intel chips and since the Phenom II it has really been a multiplier game for high clockspeeds. Even on the CPU cooler side it seems every heatsink has heatpipes and takes up half your case and chances are you don't even need it because the stock heatsink has heatpipes and is probably good enough for a decent OC anyway!

Rant over...

New plan. How about some articles on building your own virtualized environment with whatever you have lying around, a few notes on web hosting tecgnology and some interesting things about Silverlight and RIA services? Plus I intend to publish a little Silverlight image viewer app that should help showcase digital artwork without hosting it directly on the website or giving it away to third parties.

Hosting

This site is hosted on a private SOHO broadband internet connection, and is shared with other servers and workstations. It is therefore may suffer from lag and throughput issues from time to time (online gaming and VOIP take their toll). The ADSL upload on the internet connection is the limitation on what content I can host here, disk I/O, memory and processing power are not a problem. You may notice a lack of my photography posted due to this and also the highly optimized master page images which keep upload traffic to a minimum.

A new server cupboard has meant a few upgrades to the infrastructure including UPS battery backup for all of the key networking equipment and I took the oppurtunity to improve the chasis for the core networking and storage server. The iSCSI host now has improved cooling and network connectivity. Primary hosting of this site has been moved to that core server although SMTP and SQL still run on the original server with a small reconfig to check for SQL connectivity and fail back safely just in case.

Server hosting this web site.

Some major updates to the server as of March 2012 include switching to an Intel 1155 platform and 32GB of PC3-16000 memory. Recently the CPU was switched to a SandyBridge i7-2500K from the original i7-2700K which now lives in the workstation. The Lian-Li PC-C33 and it's silent 80mm fans, sound absorbtion, aluminum chasis amd the new improved 140mm fan still keep things cool and silent. The Radeon 5770 had it's heatsink and fan removed and replaced with a huge silent heatsink.

  • Intel i7-2500K
  • Asus P8Z68-V LX
  • 32GB (4 x 8GB) Corsair PC3-16000 RAM
  • 90GB Corsiar Force GT SSD
  • 4 x WD Red 3TB RAID10/RAID5
  • Ati Radeon 5770 1GB
  • Asus Xonar Essence STX

As a multi function server the new system has plenty of resources for Hyper-V, Asus Xonar STX and Radeon 5770 for stereo and surround audio for the HTPC role plus 6TB of storage for file storage. In fact the server is only partial host for the site now, running the VM as the primary in a failover pair with a dedicated SAN courtesy of Microsoft's iSCSI and an old Core2 system I had lying about.

The low noise and low power is necessary for 24/7 operation and although many of the parts are a bit overkill for a HTPC the Lian-Li case keeps things quiet and cool. The limiting factor is the low upload rate of the broadband connection (1000k). These asynchronous connections are far more suited to downloading data, rather than uploading to clients, however the optimizations made to my site and the highly compressed jpeg's and use of single pixel wide .gif gradients make the most of the bandwidth. QoS is also enable to reserve bandwidth for the server.