You have seen the announcements from HP saying their MediaSmart Server is going the way of the DoDo. No doubt you share my feelings of sorrow and abandonment once again by a major corporation; my guess would be because of the fiasco with Vail and the Drive Extender issue. In it's place, HP wants you to buy a new Drobo.
Oh well, life goes on in the world of computing. No more digressing, time to focus on the subject at hand.
Part 2: More Performance and a New Operating System
So, you performed the Celeron to the Pentium Dual core upgrade to squeeze a little more life out of your MSS and you want to know what else can be done extend the life of that neat little black box. Maybe you are considering a software upgrade to Windows Home Server 2011 or something else more powerful.
Are you asking:
- Can I squeeze out a little more performance out of my 485 /7 dual core platform?
- Is it possible to efficiently run a new operating system on my MSS.?
- Can I expand the memory for said new operating system?
All of the above questions can be answered with a yes with good results, read on!
First, some background,
The EX485/7 MSS came provisioned from HP with an Intel Celeron single core processor with 2GB of memory and the original Microsoft Windows Home Server operating system. HP released a number of enhancements to their own added software, including a 3.0 version upgrade.
WHS runs well on a standard EX485/7 system with an interface that looks and feels like Windows XP. HP did a good job combining the operating system with comparable hardware to produce a stable and useful platform.
The new Windows Home Sever 2011 is a major OS upgrade with a new interface (that looks and feel like Windows 7 ) and new features. So far, the only down side of WHS2011 is the loss of Drive Extender, but that's a whole other story we won't go into here.
Even though the EX485/7 platform was a great improvement over the orignal EX470 series, the Celeron processor was underpowered for intensive applications. Multitasking the platform while video or audio streaming really caused it to bog down; many complained about dropping video frames, audio skips, and application hangs. HP fixed most of these issues when they released the 495 by dropping the Celeron for the more powerful dual core E5200 processor.
My prior article explains how you can bring your EX480 series up to par with the 495 platform. Ok, history lesson completed, onward to what you came here for.
What are the options?
Obviously, if you are reading this you are a MediaSmart Server user that wants the most from your platform. I assume you have upgraded your processor to a dual-core and are looking for more speed and a newer operating system.
First, let me emphasize that if you are considering Windows Home Server 2011 on a 4GB Celeron based EX485/7 forget it. The platform will be a total pig. It will work, but the performance will not be anything close to Windows Home Sever 3.0 and you are sure to be disappointed.
Now the good stuff.
Well, what's next? When I wrote my original article I did some testing with expanding the system memory from the standard 2GB to 4GB on pre WHS 3.0. The results were less than spectacular.
First, the cost for a single 4GB DDR2 PC6400 CAS 6 memory was anything but cheap. Second, the CPU overhead required to manage the extra single channel memory actually created a decrease in actual performance. Third, WHS 3.0 did not require or effectively use the extra memory. Finally, WHS is a server OS, it does not require memory for console users processes because, for the most part, there are no direct users - just remote ones.
Based on these facts, a memory upgrade was not worthwhile at the time.
What has changed since we looked at this before?
For starters, DDR2 memory has gotten cheaper and faster resulting in a performance increase (more on this later). WHS 3.0 was then, and WHS 2011 is now. WHS 3.0 ran just fine on 2GB and did not need more. WHS2011 needs more memory to run efficiently and perform correctly; the Microsoft engineers have optimized the memory mapping to take advantage of memory over 2GB.
WHS2011 is now OS of choice for newer NAS systems. Other operating systems, such as Small Business server 2011, won't run with a memory size less than 4GB. It's amazing how time changes the game.
Continued on Page 2>>