ZFS-based NAS (also: FreeNAS video)

Hey guys,

I was wondering, when will you release the FreeNAS video you hinted at in INBOX.EXE 0035?

I am currently thinking about building myself a custom NAS / Fileserver using either FreeNAS, NAS4Free or even plain FreeBSD. I was planing on using the Fractal Design Node 304 as an enclosure and 6 2TB drives in RAIDZ2 (12TB total / 8TB useable). That was the easy part. Now on to my question(s):

When I first read about ZFS, I immediately wanted to use it, mainly for its error correction capabilities. For the same reason I was thinking about getting ECC memory for my new box. It is however a real pain to find proper parts that support ECC - especially in a Mini-ITX form factor.

So I was wondering: What is your opinion on ECC memory? Is it worth it? Are you using ECC memory in your NAS / fileserver? Can ZFS even prevent corruption if bits get flipped in memory, which in my understanding ZFS uses heavily internally?

And if you could, please recommend some Mini-ITX parts that are "ECC enabled".

Thanks a lot in advance,



You really do need ECC on ZFS. If errors occur in the memory it would be considered correct data when you scrub in ZFS. However, I honestly believe you would be safe stress testing the system you build without ECC. (CPU and RAM stress test) Once you know its stable running on a 100 percent load its not likely to go bad overtime running as a server. So for home media ECC free you should be fine.

Thank you for your answer.

Once you know its stable running on a 100 percent load its not likely to go bad overtime running as a server.

What makes you say that? I had at least 2 cases of memory going bad over time, when initially the system(s) had passed several days of stress testing without any issues. This is the only reason I even considered using ECC in the first place.

Also I found some parts (e.g. Supermicro X9SPV-M4)  that would satisfy my needs (Mini-ITX, ECC support, 6 SATA ports, GbE), but its rather expensive... thus the question if you guys had a, maybe slightly less expensive, recommendation.

Well from my experience at least. That is why I said likely. IDK about you but I've never had ram go bad on me however I've always used a UPS on each computer I have. Which plays a big role if you do your homework and read up on it.

Does it have to be MITX? if not get gigabyte ud3 MB with some ECC. It haves esxi pass through capabilities. the 8320 is dirt cheap! under clock/volt and you win! disable cores if you want! You can have a homeserver and a esxi test lab.

If it wasn't for the Mini-ITX requirement, I would have already bought this:

The Mini-ITX requirement is there because I life in a rather small place and have nowhere to hide the Server. So there is the factor of integrating with the rest of the living room, preferably with my HiFi equipment, while still being able to house 6 3.5 inch drives. I very much like the Node 304 for the very fact that it looks great and can do everything I want, well, except that it only supports Mini-ITX. I could be convinced to drop the Node 304, only if someone pointed out a proper (µ)ATX case which matches the living room criteria - so far I haven't found one.

I don't plan on using virtualization on the machine, so ESXI passthrough is not required. When it comes to the UD3, there are actually three different UD3 boards (for AM3+) available at the moment: GA-970A-UD3, GA-990FXA-UD3, GA-990XA-UD3. Can you please clarify, which one you meant and maybe give a link stating that they actually support ECC memory. A quick google search only gave me links that stated that it would not be supported for 9xx chipsets - also GigaByte does not advertise ECC support for these boards.

I am also not to sure about the 8320 and its power consumption. How low can these go with undervolting/-clocking and possibly disabling cores? I am not sure it can match eith the embedded Supermicro offering from my previous post or the E3-1230L V3. This might be a deal breaker in the long run, considering the machine will run 24/7/365 and energy prices are ever increasing (currently a KWH goes for around ~0.26 € here in Germany). So a 10W difference would already come up to 24*7*365*0,26€*0,01KW = 159 € / year (assuming prices don't rise any further, which they will unfortunately).

Hmm, maybe the embedded solution is not all that bad, considering a lifetime of 3 years minimum. But then maybe there is another solution which requires less (or comparable) energy. I just don't know.

have you built this yet or have you seen the Node 804?