Home » RIP Khazad Mk IV, 1/2001 – 1/14/2006

RIP Khazad Mk IV, 1/2001 – 1/14/2006

Yes, it’s true. Khazad-dum (Mark IV) is dead. Some sort of hardware failure. I have a suspicion it’s motherboard damage, possibly brought on a by an ailing power supply. At least, that’s what killed the last one.

The short version of the story is that I found some unrelated trouble with one of the new disks while trying to perform a backup this morning. In diagnosing this further, I encountered a number of increasingly serious symptoms, including extra beeps on reboot and system lockups while running a memory test. In honor of the roughly 5 year service of the Mark IV khazad-dum, I’ll recount a brief history of its predecessors, and pose a few questions about its successor.

Mark I, 9/1995 – 10/1996

  • P54C 100 MHz
  • Shuttle Mainboard
  • 32MB RAM
  • 250MB 0.25″ tape drive
  • 2GB Disk (later updated to 8GB)

The Mark I was top of the line when it was built. It was also my workstation. I hope the Mark V will be top of the line when it comes online.

Mark II, 10/1996 –

  • P5 150 MHz
  • 32MB RAM
  • 250MB 0.25″ tape drive
  • 8GB Disk

The Mark II sported a faster CPU and larger disk. It performed both server and workstation duties.

Mark III, 12/1998 – 1/2001

  • P5 150 MHz
  • 64MB RAM (later upgraded to 128MB)
  • 12GB Disk (later upgraded to 20GB)
  • 2GB Jaz Disk

The Mark III replaced outdated (and far too small) tapes with a 2GB Jaz drive for backups. It was supposed to be a 350 MHz Pentium II with 128MB, but I took that for my workstation and salvaged most of the parts from the Mark II, including the CPU and Mainboard to build the Mark III. Thus, the Mark III was the first model to be a dedicated server.

Mark IV, 1/2001 – 1/14/2006

  • Duron 700 MHz (Socket A)
  • 128MB RAM (later upgraded to 640MB)
  • GigaByte ZA-X7? Mainboard
  • 30 GB Disk (updated to dual 120GB disks, and later dual 200 GB disks).

The Mark IV was the first incarnation to use a second hard disk as its backup. The Jaz disks proved invaluable as random-access backup devices, but they were still too small and slow to contain the vast amounts of data that modern systems tend to acquire.

The Mark V

One might wonder exactly where I’m hosting the web site now. Everything is currently living on some parts that used to be in Jennifer’s workstation, Vega. I was planning on putting them in my gaming rig, since they are better by far than what I am currently using. However, this more immediate need is served pretty well by the parts I scavenged. They will continue to run the site until I can select and acquire more appropriate hardware. The current specs: Athlon XP 2200+ / 333 FSB, MSI NF7 Mainboard, 250GB disks, 1GB dual channel RAM.

I’ve been sifting through some motherboards and pre-packaged systems for about a week now and I’m a little uncertain. It looks to me like we are at a crossroads, in terms of the expansion slot technology, and I don’t really want to select a board that is too heavily loaded with slots that turn out to be the losing type. So, I am researching which of the available technologies seem to be the most widely adopted and what the trends are. In the meantime, I’ve come to another short list of desirable features:

  • 64-bit processor
  • Dual core processor
  • Expandability to more than 4GB of RAM
  • RAID 1 or RAID 5, 300GB or better capacity
  • Multiple ethernet ports
  • Firewire (for backup disks)

I don’t strictly need a 64-bit processor unless the mainboard can take more than 4GB of RAM. I don’t need the dual core, but it would make the system run more smoothly when SpamAssassin or several other processes (gatekeeper, webalizer, etc.) are running. The RAID will handle failures between backups, and I think that’s essential. The dual (or more) ethernet ports are needed for khazad’s firewall duties. Finally, USB 2.0 is just too slow in general. Firewire is faster. Ideally, I’d like to use Firewire 800, but I’ll settle for 400. I’d like to have some room for more cards in the future. Most boards are offering either PCI or PCI-X, and one or two PCIe slots. My gut says that PCIe will be the winner, but right now finding cards (other than video adapters) for PCIe is nearly futile.

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