It has been a while since I have been able to post about any kind of research I am doing. Right now I am figuring out just exactly how I want to build my new rack mounted PfSense firewall to replace my USG-pro-4.  I want this machine to be fast enough to eventually handle a 10GE port and pass traffic at wire speed.  This isn’t as much of a challenge as many think as I am not going to be using Snort but Suricata for IPS.  Given enough high-speed cores I should be able to achieve the speeds I am looking for.  On top of that i am looking to build a new primary server.  It is going to replace the R610 and the R410 and combine them into one chassis.  It will have a large storage capacity with room for me to grow into.  The final piece of the puzzle will be the replacement of the FreeNAS Dell R310 with another custom rackmount server.  This machine will have an even more massive storage capacity to act as a backup target for the primary server, my one remote FreeNAS machine that replicates to the R310 and other purposes.  The main server will keep it’s Crashplan Pro cloud backup as well.  For full details about the current rack layout click here.

I have some basic requirements here:

  1. Update my server technology to something more recent.
  2. I want to at least, to maintain my current level of performance while saving a total of 15% power across the entire rack
  3. Maintain the same power draw while increasing performance
  4. I am going to custom build the firewall, primary server, and storage server.
  5. The primary CPU vendor is going to be AMD.
  6. The order of the builds will be the new PfSense firewall, primary server, and the storage server.

I have seen some serious drop in performance on Intel with the Spectre patches.  AMD is largely immune to most of these issues.  Ryzen does support ECC ram.  AMD has their Epyc 3000 series out which I would love to use but availability is problematic at this time.  The reason I want to go custom build is flexibility.  Dells are everywhere but I am running into serious restrictions in terms of drives, and in some cases, what operating system I can use on the hardware.  Getting the r310 working with 32 gigs of ram was a highly convoluted process that took tons of research.

The primary server will have 8 cores.  This will give me equivalent performance of my current R610(vs 12) while saving at least 30W of power.  The modern CPU will have more than enough performance gains over the current Intel based setup.  I will start with 32 gigs of ram for this server.  The primary storage devices will be 3.5” HDD’s while the boot array will be SSDs.  This machine will replace the R610 and the R410.

The storage server will have at least 4 cores and will be based upon FreeNAS.  This machine will start with 32 gigs of ram with the ability to go up to 64 gigs or more.  It will have the same connectivity layout as the current storage server(R310).