Welcome to Mr Nicol Thomson

Welcome to Mr Nicol Thomson who joined us recently as a technician. Nicol has been working in the school casually since 2014 on a number of Lab Designs, technical support and the development of the Laddie unit you can see below. Stuart our head of systems said, “Nicol is an excellent addition to the school’s technical team and I am sure that his experience and knowledge will prove a great asset“.

We all welcome Nicol and wish him well in his new role.

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Lab PC upgrade

The School has started the tender process for replacement of our Lab PCs. The new PCs will have a similar form-factor to the current PCs but will have faster more power efficient CPUs, more memory, quieter cooling and twin HDDs for simpler dual boot configuration. We will be replacing the current displays with LED back-lit HD (1920×1080) screens and some of the PCs will have dual displays.

The current timetable will see the new PCs deployed in January.

Shuttle SH61R4 H61 PC base unit

Base unit for the new CS Lab PCs - Shuttle SH61R4 H61

The components specified in the tender are as follows:

  • Shuttle SH61R4 base-unit.
  • Intel Core i5, 3450S, 2.80GHZ, 65W CPU.
  • 8GB DDR3 1333MHz memory.
  • Dual 250GB HDD, 5400RPM, energy efficient.
  • 21” – 24”, 1920 x 1080, LED backlit, DVI, energy efficient display.

Storage Server Protype

Our storage server prototype build is now complete and we have moved on to configuration, tuning and testing. After some delays in sourcing components the build is now complete and everything appears to be working. The server will run BSD with ZFS. The chassis holds 24 3.5″ HDDs in hot-swap bays. These are connected to an Adaptec raid controller via a 4U SAS II expander back-plane. The RAID configuration consists of 4 RAID6 volumes over which a set of ZFS filesystems will be striped. This will give us a raw storage capacity of 16TB. A SSD is used for ZFS optimisation.

Our tuning techniques and performance results will appear here soon. If everything goes to plan we will be using 4 servers configured in this way to host user home directories and research data for the School.

Chassis for storage server prototype

The SuperMicro chassis for our storage server prototpe has arrived. The chassis is a SuperMicro SC846E16-R1200 providing dual 1200W PSUs, 24 hot-swap 3.5″ drive bays and a 4U SAS2 expander backplane. We will be putting 1TB 7200RPM disks in the prototype but it is good to know that the chassis allows us to opt for faster disks if required.