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Looking for recommendations on modestly priced ARM powered server board


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Good day everyone.

I'm looking for your recommendations on a not too expensive ARMs powered board.

- Preferably 16 or more cores (big.LITTLE mix is fine) - Cortex-A53/A55 or better.

- 16GB of RAM or higher

- NMVe support

- Support for mounting several boards on U1 shallow spaces (depth of 25cm [10 inches] or less)

- Support for booting Armbian and CentOS/Fedora


Main purpose - system development (Linux, Java, Scala, Go, RUST), Kubernetes, database and overall platform tinkering.

The Bamboo Systems - PANDA B1000N looks really nice, but I'm not sure it is in the modestly priced range - unless thinking that paying upfront for the board will save me $$$ on the electricity bill.


Any comments and suggestions are welcomed.




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This is interesting.  I wonder how many people here dabble in such server level boards.  My perception is not many, but I have no idea to be honest and could be completely wrong (what else is new, lol).


Did you see NicoD's review of the 32-core 3.3Ghz ARM Server?  To my knowledge, this is one of very few (recent, anyway) discussions which are anywhere close to what you are talking about.  That board becoming now one of Armbian build servers (working toward native compilation) since it was generously donated by WorksOnARM.  I have no idea what such a thing might cost, but I imagine not cheap.


Also, Armbian support?  I dunno, man...


My feeling is that those of us who are interested in such "homelab" type server tinkering are probably doing so on one (or more) of regular Armbian Supported boards.  In fact, I started a thread somewhat recently to discuss exactly such usage.


Fun fact:  Server tinkering was one of original reasons Armbian project was started by Igor (see "BalCCon2K17 conference presentation" video near bottom), because he wanted to run some services on one of these small, low power boards at home (a Cubietruck, in fact).  ;)

Edited by TRS-80
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Yes, I saw NicoD's review - very interesting.

Really cool presentation by Igor.


@Igor @NicoD do you guys know what make and model the donated ARMs server is?

I'm really interested on these type pf boards because of my line of work. Squeezing efficiency (instructions/watt) is turning into a big deal. Data centers are trying to reduce costs and energy efficient servers are becoming a big part of it. Designing and building scalable and highly available systems for telecommunications, makes up a good part of the projects I'm constantly involved in and most of the work loads can be architecture agnostic so ARM server are good candidates (this is why I mentioned the PANDA B1000N) MIPS will eventually catch-up and hopefully become a bit more mainstream and give people more choices.

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IMHO full-fledged servers have a drawback - they are only effective when the load is close to the maximum (0.9) around the clock. Currently, minicluster systems that have the lowest energy costs are optimal (due to the possibility of completely disabling modules). If there is no load, the modules can be turned off completely automatically. The disadvantage of such systems is that it takes some time to activate the module when the load increases. An example of such a system is server R1 R2.




the beauty of these solutions is that you can (as a developer) take a minimal configuration for a minimal cost, consisting of several modules, to debug the technology of your program. And already production work is performed on a flexibly configurable (by the number of modules) real production set (one server + several or all acceptable modules, or several servers, etc.). another plus is fantastic resistance to failures and equipment failure. This is an analog of the human neural system. Failure of one module does not significantly reduce the overall performance and the task of the failed module can be easily transferred to other healthy ones. All modules are the same and the execution is easily parallelized. It is easy to organize separate (fully hardware-independent) containers.

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17 hours ago, SIGSEGV said:

do you guys know what make and model the donated ARMs server is?


The exact model and configuration is unknown to me. I think its Ampere 32C with 128GB memory. If you need more power, you can get up to dual 80C configuration.

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I agree with everything @balbes150 said!  :thumbup:


I know lanefu is also running some cluster on several inexpensive devices running Armbian.  He has been busy but he told me he has plans to appear at some point in my homelab thread and describe his setup.  And I plan on getting into similar thing perhaps.  However I'll save that discussion for the other thread.


What's relevant here is the comparison of $ / {computing_metric} on a cluster of inexpensive SBCs vs one of these commercial server quality boards.  In fact this thought was already occurring to me back when I first watched NicoD video I linked to above.[0]  I imagine the server boards are going to end up costing more in $ / {computing_metric}, however I would also expect the trade-off being they are more reliable (per individual unit), better hardware, etc.  Whereas the "SBC cluster" is attempting to achieve reliability by way of numerous nodes + some software.  Which is, in a sense, a comparison reminiscent of differing evolutionary and biological strategies as balbes150 already touched on.  Which makes it all the more interesting, IMO.




If and when you do ever get one of these, I think a lot of us here would be very interested in your experiences, as I suspect many here opt instead for the cheaper "cluster" strategy.  As that approach also probably goes hand in hand with buying many different boards either just for curiosity sake and/or development that many people around here tend to do.


[0] But I didn't want to "steal their thunder" by bringing this topic up in a thread / video / discussion where a sponsor so graciously donated such a nice piece of hardware.  But I guess here, we are OK.  ;)

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Sorry, I forgot to answer in my previous post.  Can't include following quote if I edit it now:


On 12/11/2020 at 4:31 AM, SIGSEGV said:

do you guys know what make and model the donated ARMs server is?


NicoD does some research and does pretty much nail it down in the video.  But I think it's his best educated guess.  I guess he will have to answer exactly how confident he is in the exact model number, etc.


Alternatively, I suppose you could reach out to WorksOnArm and ask them, especially if you are in the market for such a thing.  That doesn't mean you have to end up buying from them, necessarily.  However at least it would let them know their name is getting out there somewhat as a result of their donation...

Edited by TRS-80
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