Homelab re-organization project

Homelab Jul 05, 2019

Over the next few posts I will be going in more detail into what I have been doing lately to re-organize my homelab. My purpose for the re-organization is to set the software up the "right" way, reduce clutter, and equally importantly, to reduce power consumption.

Posts in this series

  1. My Basic OPNsense Configuration
  2. Installing two PERC H200s
  3. Installing Noctua 40mm fans in my router

For a project I have been working on the past few months I needed to run my development server (The Intel SR1600URHSR) full-time. This is alongside the Dell R510 that's running as my 24/7 server, and of course my main work machine. It has been working great, with the exception of energy cost.

The way things work where I live is that there are effectively tiers. Once you used a certain amount of electricity, you enter the next tier, which comes with an increase in cost-per-kWh. Unfortunately with my entire lab effectively running non-stop, it apparently pushed my household a few tiers up, and last month my energy consumption was double the usual, and the bill was more than triple what it usually is. And that's without us having turned on the A/C even. Needless to say, something had to change.

This is, unfortunately, one of the downsides of the older hardware I have combined with the tiered system. Running this hardware is fine, but have too many of them sucking up power at the same time and you're going to feel it at the end of the month.

At the "height" of my homelab, it (excluding my desktop) was using about 450W. This is, needless to say, quite high. Not as high as some might have, but combined with the tiered pricing system here and not-all-that-cheap cost of electricity, I have to reduce this, ideally substantialy so. Otherwise I lose the benefit of cost by running these things and home, and it would make a good argument to switch to  a cloud-based solution or co-location, but both of those choices remove my ability to tinker and learn with physical hardware.

Consolidation

I was already planning several changes and upgrades, this recent realization just pushed me to start with them sooner, rather than later. I'd still like to keep using servers as I love learning with them and they serve an actual purpose for me, too, but I could no longer justify running multiple of these generation's servers at the same time. So my goal became to move all my currently running tools and systems onto one machine, and stop using the other altogether.

The Intel server only has three hot-swappable drive bays, but a total of 12 RAM slots, and currently has two Intel Xeon L5640s installed. The Dell R510 has 12 hot-swappable hard drive bays and space for two 2.5" internal drives, with a total of 8 RAM slots, and currently has two L5630s installed.

Since I mostly only have 4GB RAM sticks and so would benefit from having more slots, it makes sense to me to migrate everything to the Dell, max out its ram with the hardware I currently have, and probably also swap the CPUs as the L5640s are 6-core 2.26Ghz CPUs, whereas the L5630s are 4-core 2.13Ghz. Originally I went with the L5630 because it was not usually doing CPU intensive tasks and they have a TDP of 40 Watts, with the L5640 having a TDP of 60 Watts. I think the slight increase in power consumption will still be outweighed by the big reduction of only running one server.

What next

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, my plan is to post several articles on individual changes I'll be making. This way you don't have to wade through one tediously long post, and it should also be easier to find information that's hopefully relevant or otherwise useful to you.

Thank you.