Finding the right hardware

These two load balancer boxes would obviously have to have hardware that is well supported and solid under Linux.  They didn't necessarily have to be the most powerful boxes in the world; they just had to be robust enough to handle thousands upon thousands of simultaneous compares that would be executed upon deciding what server to redirect visitors to.  An important capability would be the presence of at least two network cards in each box, one for incoming traffic and one for outgoing traffic to our SMC switch that connects the rest of the web servers and database boxes.  At the same time we wanted these machines to be relatively low profile, in 1U cases, so the amount of rack space lost to them would be minimal.  There was no need for these machines to be in a 4 or 5U chassis.


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For their experience in building just these types of systems, we turned to PogoLinux to help us with building our first Linux based servers for AnandTech.  Pogo actually had the perfect bare bones system: their WebWare 1100 line.  A slightly modified WebWare 1100 configuration was what Pogo supplied us with, using an Intel i815 EAL motherboard, a Pentium III 866, 256MB of PC133 SDRAM, two NICs and an IBM IDE drive all mounted in a very low profile 1U chassis was ideal for our load balancer system. 


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The requirements for a motherboard in a 1U chassis are a bit different than in other, larger cases.  The biggest issue is that your memory slots must be at a 45-degree angle, because there isn't enough room for them to remain upright.  This unfortunately kept us from using any Socket-A platforms, however in the future we will definitely see some 1U capable Socket-A motherboards.

For the software configuration we turned to the man behind the project, Wensong Zhang, the current maintainer of the Linux Virtual Server Project website.  Wensong proved to be a guru of the software setup and worked with us in structuring the load balancers to work properly with our hardware setup.  We'd like to take this time to thank him for his incredible work and show our appreciation for what he has done for us.  Thanks Wensong.

A Better Alternative DDR Athlons as servers?
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