New monitor and other updates

The Dell UltraSharp U2410 monitor has been replaced with an Acer XB271HU monitor. This is a 27″ WQHD IPS monitor with a 4ms response time and 165GHz refresh rate. So it is a nice upgrade to the current one. Slightly larger but the display is really beautiful, sharp and bright. The IPS panel will still provide for good color accuracy while the better response time and refresh rate would allow for better gaming.

Two issues with the monitor are the availability of only one DisplayPort and one HDMI which is very little and that the Windows machine with the NVIDIA GTX970 would need to connect via DisplayPort for G-SYNC to work. So the rest of the machines would need to connect via a single HDMI. To connect the Mac and server, I have gotten a cheap HDMI switch from Challenger which actually works quite well (I was initially worried about the resolution issue since it is 2560×1440, WQHD). The ATEN KVM will still be used as a keyboard and USB switch. This means that switching machines would be more troublesome with more buttons to press but it is definitely far cheaper than getting another KVM that supports HDMI at that kind of resolution. And I typically only switch between the Mac and the Windows anyway.

G-SYNC appears to be working as advertised as the NVIDIA control panel shows it as been enabled. When running games, it does appear to be smoother, lag is reduced but the impact is probably not that big. I noticed a bigger difference in the brightness and clarity more than the smoothness.

The external eSATA units have had their contents copied over to the new internal expanded ZFS pool. The units held on despite some initial issues with the hardware. They have been decommissioned and the internal ZFS pool is the main storage unit now.

The operating system for the server has been updated to 16.04 LTS so it is good for another couple of years. Everything is back online after the hardware changes.

So everything is now good for another year 🙂

System updates

Another year has almost passed and as with most years with leave to clear, this is a period where I update the systems.

The Mac Pro has been developing random shutdowns and is now retired. And its drives removed for other uses.

The server has the most changes, all the internal drives have been upgraded to 6TB drives with the addition of 5 Toshiba 6TB drives. This will provide enough space to house all the data and allow for the retirement of the external eSATA units. The drives on the eSATA units are very very old, some of them are at the 7 year mark. And zfs scrubs are showing lots of checksum errors and there has been one or two data corruptions. The system drive which was a 256GB M.2 has been replaced with the Crucial 1TB SSD from the Mac Pro. The graphics adapter has been changed to Asus NVIDIA GeForce GT 730 which provides for more modern connectors like HDMI and DisplayPort in anticipation of a new monitor. The memory has also been upgraded via 4 x 16GB DDR4 Corsair LPX 3200MHz modules to give a total of 64GB of memory.

The initial idea was to supplement the existing 32GB of memory with another 32GB but the differences in the voltages of the old and new modules meant that this was not possible. Kind of sad.

The disks were replaced one by one, each time physically replacing a single disk and then using zpool replace to bring the pool from degraded to online status before the next replacement is done. This took a very very long time since each replacement took about 5 hours. This is probably a dangerous operation since there is no extra drive during this process and true enough one file had an error which could not be recovered. But since a full backup was done prior to the replacement, the file was restored and then the resilvering done again. This time it well fine.

Once all the drives have been replaced, the next step was to grow the pool to the new size and this was based on instructions at http://blog.ociru.net/2013/09/25/let-your-zfs-extend which worked well. I had a problem with the export which I finally traced to the fact that NFS was still using the pool. Once NFS was stopped, the export worked fine.

The grow operation worked as advertised and the capacity has been doubled. The next step would be to copy all the data on the external eSATA units to the new expanded internal pool. This will probably take a very very long time and I hope that the old disk will hold till the copy is done.

I got a Henge dock for my Macbook Pro Retina 13″ so that it can serve as the Mac Pro replacement and that has been working out very well.

The Windows machine has received a modest upgrade in the form of an additional 16GB of memory bringing its total memory to 24GB.

bonnie++ output for server

The server ZFS pool IO is rather good as shown in the bonnie++ output below:

Version  1.97       ------Sequential Output------ --Sequential Input- --Random-
Concurrency   1     -Per Chr- --Block-- -Rewrite- -Per Chr- --Block-- --Seeks--
Machine        Size K/sec %CP K/sec %CP K/sec %CP K/sec %CP K/sec %CP  /sec %CP
alpha           63G   190  99 529837  74 203121  50   614  97 401102  46 122.7   9
Latency             84706us   24888us     714ms   81362us     851ms     349ms
Version  1.97       ------Sequential Create------ --------Random Create--------
alpha               -Create-- --Read--- -Delete-- -Create-- --Read--- -Delete--
              files  /sec %CP  /sec %CP  /sec %CP  /sec %CP  /sec %CP  /sec %CP
                 16 29949  93 +++++ +++ 21367  71 23405  94 +++++ +++ 27838  90
Latency             14028us     250us   19509us   27425us      30us      97us