On the SUN communityONE video they show a demo of openSolaris running on pretty beefy hardware, and the test I did in a VM (virtualbox) was definitely a hog resource-wise. My questions are regarding the CPU and RAM "requirements" of a simple openSolaris fileserver/NAS running zfs raid z1 or z2 with 5 or 6 disks and sharing via samba/cifs.


  1. Would using a low end intel (1.8 c2d) make a difference vs a more powerful one? What about a celeron?

  2. I heard ZFS uses lots of RAM for caching. What kind of performance difference, if any, could I expect for going from 4 to 6 GB, or from 6 to 8 GB ?

1 Answer 1

  1. You definitely want a 64bit capable CPU. Raw speed is less of an issue, more cores helps. A CPU/chipset with ECC RAM support is also a good idea if you care about your data, which limits you to Phenoms and a motherboard that supports ECC RAM, or a Xeon.
  2. It depends if your working set fits into memory, and what else is running on the server at the same time. I'd load up on as much RAM as the motherboard would fit/I could afford.

Also check out the Solaris Hardware Compatibility List for specific parts. If you go Intel, the onboard SATA controller has 6 SATA ports, which should be just enough, but for more or if you go AMD, a SAS controller (they can also do SATA) based on the LSI 1068E is the way to go.

  • I will definitely be going intel and have some spare motherboards from the oso hcl with 6-8 onboard sata slots picked out for these builds. This would be strictly a file server (nothing running on the server, at this point), probably 2 TB in size, so there's no way the working set will fit in memory. Let's say a common 20-50 GB have to be pulled down to several workstations over the course of a day; is this a use case where having 6 GB of RAM is really no better than 8 GB, or does every bit help? Commented Nov 10, 2009 at 16:20
  • Every bit helps - ZFS's adaptive replacement cache (ARC) will use as much as possible using the available RAM. See solarisinternals.com/wiki/index.php/ZFS_Best_Practices_Guide for the details. If the working set doesn't change too much from day to day you might want to consider a cheap MLC flash drive as extra ARC (L2ARC) for higher performance.
    – TRS-80
    Commented Nov 11, 2009 at 6:16

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