Crazy idea about a « some kind of » server


#1

Hi,

So I know I haven’t a big contributor until now but as I stated in the beginning, I try to restrain myself and talk only if I have something new to add or to ask.

And I’m really not a pitcher. So if somebody can help me about that along the way, I would be really ecstatic about it.

Maybe first how the idea have emerge in my mind. I’m an among other things an IT guy. As a lot of IT guys, and especially in #infosec community, we love to have our hands on our hardware. Like the servers for example or routers and things like that. We don’t like too much the datacenter and cloud concept. Only to a certain level.
More and more than I read about the DD project or the egpu case ideas or even the phone idea, the more and more one idea in particular is emerging in my mind. People wants to have more processing power. It goes from how to tweak the V about his cpu, how to run real application or real OS on a hypothetical phone, how to add graphical processing power to the V,…
And of course, all those ideas are great, but all together we are just talking about improving with addendum the V in a way.
What if, we could launch a new big project like the V is? To really expand its possibilities ?

We could have for the same amount of money or even a bit less than the highest configurations of the V, a rackmount server which could extend without limits the V capabilities because every major processing problem would be handle by it.

I know about the money problem because I’m building from time to time some on my free time. And since the @Team have managed to do some R&D on the tablet about the cooling, I’m sure that we can optimise a lot of things in this area.

So the idea is to have, like the V, a computer which would be preferably not a desktop, which would be as the V composed with components that we can find on the market and not specifically designed for our item, no bloatware, really simple. More efficient in its way and upgradable. Plus we would have develop an open source software to really interact and do what’s continuum is supposed to do but for real this time.

It would need to be not bigger than the network rackmount cabinet format because it should not be as big as a big gaming desktop that you can see in all those YouTube channel like jayz2cents or Linus tech tips and really not as big as the dell servers or the 4U servers that I build.
So it should be smaller and a network case is really not that big, easy to upgrade to some point, energy efficient, remotely manageable and capable of using graphic cards.

We can discussed about the form of this item of course, the rackmount idea is just a bit of « cliche » that we all use in IT when we want an centralized solution.

The advantage from the eve-tech point of view:

  • it is still a computer of some sort
  • it is independent so the buyers don’t need to buy the V with it, we can imagine that to an aid for other tablets, phones, computers, laptops, even servers.
  • the R&D used on the V could be used on the casing for that.
  • it’s in the new branch of gaming in datacenter like shadowpc this French company where you can play remotely for 30 euros/months.
  • it’s a new challenge to show the world that the « server » market can have also new ideas.

Of course I know some of you will tell me that’s a niche. But a tablet like what I bought from V at +1800 euros with accessories is also a niche. And a lot of possibilities and new product could come from this « aid ». Actually a lot of problems that we see about the different projects could be reset by that.

The DD or egpu box … it has been repeatedly stated that it should stay on the desk. So the thing won’t move, which could totally be at the same place then this « aid ». And in the end, a lot of people would want this egpu slot to have extra processing power. This aid could easily help for that.
You want more processing power ? No problem, send the image you want to filter to the aid or the movie clip and you have in real time the process going through with the specialized open source app.
You want more processing power to game a triple AAA ont our external monitor? No problem the aid can do that like the steam box or other box do that already but are specifically design for that.

The phone project… you want to launch your code editing software and compile some new lines for your soft ? No prob you do that though the app from the aid.
You want to play a demanding video game but on your phone which support touch like civilization or something else ? No problem too
You want to edit your movie clip by switching two scenes or add some filters, you can do that too.

Well you get the idea.
I guess it won’t be a popular idea but I think it could really revolutionize the world of grid computing and decetrenlized processing if we can find some great ideas about the box, what to put inside and that it could be used with any devices or a lot of them at least and not be closed source.

The idea is to have a bigger box than the steam box or the Zotac box, something you could but in a cabinet, to have some gpu processing, cpu processing and efficiency in cooling and a system to remotely access it through secure channel.
If steam have done it for a far more specialized concept I’m sure we can find a way to make a modular box with news ideas on how to assemble pieces.

Maybe we would need some R&D like if we would like multi cpu and not using Xeon, try to find a way to make two cpu co exist together. But it could be a great project in my mind… and alain i know I m not a great pitcher.

Let me know what you think.


#2

what about a portable egpu?


#3
Didn't want to take up much room

There are a lot of things here that are, well, open ended. And I’m not trying to be condescending, just looking for a more direct explanation of your proposal.

First, I’m not really sure what kind of thing you’re describing? Physically I mean, is it a rack mount? Is it just something slim that can be easily hidden/put away? You kept mentioning it should be like a rack mount, but not exactly, and I’m having a lot of trouble even picturing what this device would even look like.

Second, what kind of physical connection would be used for this? eGPU boxes are nice because they use the very common Thunderbolt 3 connection. This protocol works well for so many things, including graphics cards, because it uses PCIe lanes. The downside is it’s not a direction connection (some encoding, decoding, and conversion have to happen, so it’s not as fast), and it only uses 4 PCIe lanes (with a max on a modern motherboard being 16 for each slot).

That said, Thunderbolt has it’s limitations, and isn’t a substitute for PCIe connections to a motherboard. There are also some cable-length limitations (which could potentially be overcome by fiber-optic cables). Whatever connection you plan to use for this, Thuderbolt is probably the fastest reasonable transfer rate you’re going to get.

Also, if the device were to have more than just graphics (i.e. extra RAM, processors, SSDs/HDDs), there isn’t a long-distance connection in the world that can make the two devices work well together - not to mention the fact that there are hard limits imposed on a device from the processor and motherboard as to how much RAM and how many PCIe lanes it can handle, and that limit is pretty low in most laptops and tablets.

There is absolutely no way in hell that Eve can figure out how to make their own Xeon (which does support multi-CPU configurations) and it be cost effective. If you pay attention to the current processor market you’ll quickly realize that a small startup trying to compete with Intel would be a bit like Liberia trying to go to war with the US - it just won’t work. Processors are extremely complicated, and that’s a serious understatement. Even taking pre-made processors and trying to “fine a way to make [them] co exist together” if they’re not already designed to do so would essentially require re-engineering the firmware for the processor. Processors are something that should really be left alone except for the big boys.

Third, is this something individuals would buy and keep in a closet? Is it something eve should set up a datacenter for and start making their own cloud computing business?

I don’t really understand what the use case for this product is. It’s a computational box that does processing things… Is it a separate computer? Is it a server? Is it an external processing node? How exactly is data transmitted? Entirely through the app, through the internet, local network, Thunderbolt? What exactly is this thing that you described?


#4

I think i understand what you’re describing, and if it’s what I’m thinking of, I’d be highly interested too!

Over the past several years, I’ve been trying to get my video collection digitized, which has involved trying different hardware and software. I ended up using Plex on an old PC for a while, but this isn’t working very well any longer.
Recently, I’ve been looking into what it would cost for actual server hardware to run Plex, so that I wouldn’t have to deal with all the other maintenance of Windows just to run Plex, and also so that i wouldn’t have to put wear-and-tear onto a more expensive computer.

It would be nice to find a NAS/server box I could throw Plex onto, and use with my other devices. I realize there are many out there already, but it would be cool to design one, and I definitely agree with the “advantages from Eve-Tech’s point of view” that you listed above.

I think this would be a cool mini-project.


#5

https://pcpartpicker.com/list/gm6GsJ

Just kind of a markup, but for all new parts it’d make a good, low power server that’s definitely not under-powered. Keep an eye on surplus auctions and computer sales and you can probably grab something similar for less than half the price.


#6

The idea is nice, but actually this is no hardware problem, at least if I understood the main idea correctly. The main problem would be about software. I assume you mean that this device can be stored anywhere in the house and is connected just via network like a personal data center.

All desktop software uses the resources of the computer it is running on. It does not know about that thing in the closet. If you have an image and want to process 100 hardcore filters in Photoshop, how could that problem be transformed into something that could be sent to another computer doing the actual work? And the result being sent back and understood by the software? Every software would need to be optimized to work like this. Smartphone apps often do this, for example to analyze voice input.

You see, there is no way Eve could pull that off. Assuming that software problem would be solved you could use any hardware and wouldn’t need anything specifically built.

The only way for more processing power at the moment is an eGPU because a lot of software can load things off to a fast GPU.


#7

I have some answers to all of that but I need more time to give you littérature and examples about it but yeah I totally get your point. I will try in the following days to build the idea to show the perspective better.


#9

So let me refine the idea. Sorry in advance to the long post I will be writing but to fight back the skepticism of my idea, I need a lot of arguments and use case and to show you the convergence of a lot of tech companies and concepts.

First here is the project christine from Razer which is a modular PC.

I know it’s an old project from 2014 but maybe with the progress of technology we have better chance to bypass the potential problem.
What we know about Razer?

  • It would be overpriced
  • It would be closed source

What we can assume ?
That it was already possible from a technological point of view in 2014 because if not, Razer would not have presented at the CES. So the link between the different part would have been capable of making it work without any lags or bottleneck that we could anticipate from this kind of setup. So it seems to be possible to have some kind of a minimalistic main board and to be capable to link efficiently the different parts like the socket +cpu or the RAM socket or the GPU socket or the sata link. And so we can assume that it was/is possible to relink the pci lanes and the other links of a main board without soldering them.

Second, with the 4.3.4 release of QTS which is the Qnap OS, it has been integrated that you can now install GPU into your Nas and have a gaphical processing passthrough to the virtualization station.
It means that like other project, it tends to have a centralized power processing station at your home or your business to process heavy duty tasks in place of your laptop or small computer that you could have.

Third, the shadow-tech project which is working and growing day after day.


Don’t focus your attention on the case. It’s just an option to be sure for shadow-tech to know that your hardware like mouse, gamepads, … are compatible for their app.
The real system is the following: they have datacenter in every country where they sell this service. It’s a service. So they lend you some processing power of their server cases and you pay a subscription to have access to a virtual pc to be able to do whatever you want with it, like playing triple A games, watching netflix, do some word precessing, image processing or video editing even.
Most probably, they have the kind of setup that you have been able to see to one of the experiment of Linus tech tips. So one or two xeon cpu with 16 cores each and so 32 threads and a graphic card by virtualpc.


I don’t think they have one case by users, that would be totally unefficient from an economical point of view from my point of view of course. But they promise you 8 threads of a xeon processor which is actually the number of threads of xeon e3 which are “only” 350 dollars plus of course the graphic cards and 12G of RAM (which seems to indicate to me that it’s clearly only a part of the total amount of RAM of the whole case).
The project is really working and you access your virtual pc through their App. I didn’t try it but I only see good reviews about it and from my little knowledge about it, I think they are using some kind of NX software
https://www.nomachine.com/
Because Nomachine are basing their capabilities of rendering on your graphic capabilities too. It’s not a simple RDP, it’s also link to some graphical libraries which will use your GPU.
And you don’t need their small optional case to connect to your virtual pc. You can do it from your macbook air and going to play a call of duty triple AAA games as easy as your download bandwith permits it.

The steam box http://store.steampowered.com/hardware which I don’t need to explain I’m sure.
the zotac box oriented steam:
https://www.zotac.com/us/product/mini_pcs/nen-steam-machine#spec

Plus the other points previously stated that obviously a lot of people here want to have their hands of the processing power and not delegate that to a cloud service or anything like that.

  • the idea of the phone which would be capable of running windows application
  • the egpu which would be required to extra graphical processing power.

To me it seems a lot of points of convergence. The need to have mobility, but also processing power, to delegate heavy duty task to other apparels, the need of modularity, the need to be able to continue your work where ever you are.

A lot of us wouldn’t want to pay a subscription. Plus of use from what I’ve read on the forums don’t live in countries with Fiber to the home like india…

The idea is to combine all those things, and no it wouldn’t be that ocmplicated I think.

For the software part.

  • We know that in windows server, there is the remote app system. Which is a system where you can print to your remote screen like your laptop, any app you want. Let’s say you want to remotely work on your photoshop project which is on your virtual aid, you simply double-click to your shortcut to make the connection and to print to the screen the app in question.
  • there is an approximate same system in qubesOS, which is not for remote purposes but which is called appVM and you basically print to the screen the app you want and not the entire VM. It’s more complicated than that but I’m simplifying the idea.
  • we know that something like shadow pc is working with minimum a 15Mb/s connection

I don’t know you, but for me, with my small paranoia and line of work, the pay a subscription to that would be a security nightmare.

For the hardware part:
The simplest idea would be :

  • to try come up with a modular design but based on a rackmount network form. So smaller than the server case usually are in depth but the same 19" in width.
  • It would be max 2U-3U but most preferably 2U.
  • It would be a very high ventilated case, not like those closed metallic case.
  • It would be a modular case like the RAZER project so that the consumer don’t have to open the case to change the content but could detach parts of it and reattach new ones.
  • For the moment, the simplest thing to do is to based that on a xeon E3

And if you follow from time to time the infosec community on twitter for example you would see often cabinet server setup from all over the world from people on their personal home. The same goes if you are a fan of ubiquiti network products.

For your smartphone argument about voice etc,… Well happy to disagree with you on the fact that, the idea of this phone is still going on after more than 900 messages and there is still the idea to make windows application run like it would be on a desktop. So of course we don’t speak about make it intervene an aid in a processing task but more to processing the task directly in the aid and stream the screen from the aid.
So yes, it would not be as a processing power unit directly but you would load your app from the aid directly to your tablet screen for example. And it would be easier for the user because if you need to do that all by yourself, and I know from experience in this field, it would take you days or weeks if you are not familiar with all this and need to do some research about it.
Zotac is selling little computer to play triple AAA games for people who actually don’t want to build or buy a new computers.
NAS tech companies are selling those overpriced storage unit but which can now VM virtualization and they are growing each years.
And I could go on and on with examples but the point is that it’s not available for an average consumer even if a lot of them/us would need actually those kind of units.
I know a lot of independent photographs or independent sound engineers who don’t want to buy and A computer And a laptop but would totally be grateful to buy some kind of an “aid” to continue to work on their laptop or tablet.

And yes it would be not something completely new, as you said, it could be achieved by other equipment, but the V was not a revolutionary idea either from several point of view.
The goal here would be to simplify the process of the user and to not have the need to build a new computer, to have less costly than a real big enterprise grade server, less costly to have a big gaming computer of 2500 euros, something very different from a NAS and very different from a desktop computer.
I think it’s technological achievable like that.
I will obviously refine the idea over time but in my opinion it’s something several previously stated tech companies missed


#10

You can remote desktop not just from win server, and it works with reasonable cellphone bandwidth internet, heck i had to run some stuff once, that could not wait from a vacation during a storm from hills with crappy edge connection (soo painfull, lowest resolution, tiny window, lag as hell) but got the job done…

Resources sharing would be a nice future for the PC market to evolve into, but as you said, the market tries to push it to be offered as a service as that way money can be generated.
Without some other stimulation for the market to go for that technology to be available for a home setup at large, this will always be a hack thing, because reason: why would the market go for it?
The consumer would need just 1 high end device that is pumped up (large retention cycle), with the other devices be thin clients = minimal margin.

For next gen technology to enable convenient resources sharing, the CPU manufacturers would need to design with that in mind (instruction set optimized to co-execute, step-execute over network, using memory on a different machine, …) and OS manufacturers - imagine you set your main machine to act as a mainframe and share resources to devices x, y users m, n, setting thresholds, etc., all within minutes in a neat wizard.

There is nothing at the moment for Eve to do on this field, you can use any HW you want for your server/mainframe and developing SW solutions is out of scope for them.


#11

@gkmess I run FreeNAS with Emby on top of it. I have 3 storage arrays (8 spinning, 2 SSD, 2 thumb drives for OS). The heavy lifting is done by the spinning drives running ZFS in 4 pairs. It works great for me. I can access it remotely, store and organize all my movies (no more discs to put in drives!) and TV Shows. I highly recommend it, but it does have a bit of a learning curve, especially when trying to do SMB shares on the local network. I used a purpose built box for this, as old hardware just wouldn’t cut it. The problem is mainly cost, when storing large amounts of data, the drives get expensive. I already had to get a dedicate SAS card with SAS->SATA breakout cables to attach 8 drives. But now I’m in a situation where I’m almost full and upgrading either requires buying 8 new (larger) drives and systematically rebuilding the array or buying another SAS card and case to make a new array. The management problem can get pretty complicated.

If you’re really set on doing something like this, my recommendation is to do it “right” from the start and get hardware that has the potential to scale. So a rackmount case with a SAS backplane that can do 10+ drives. I ended up building a rack out of purchased rails and wood to save $$, it cost me maybe $200 for 24 U of space and everything but a plywood shell to wrap it in (haven’t enclosed it yet).

I’m not sure how big the market would be for another NAS or NAS-like device, especially given the potential complexity of something like that.


#12

@Tomas_Ulicny
I know all that.
To give some perspective to what I work on at home… I run for example a kvm server on i7-6700k, a proxmox server on a ryzen 7 1800x, some xen server on old r710, qnap nas with visualization capabilities, and some others on second hand xeon e5 CPU and some others.
And all that for personal usage. So yeah I know all that.

To counter-balance a little bit what you are saying, I’m not talking about a big market share. But was the tablet from Eve such a big market perspective? It’s more a niche product. I can at least say 5 others competitives products that could have be good to from a consumer or a market point of view.
What we wanted here, or maybe I’m mistaking, it was something slightly different but not a lot different, just some little bits. So of course it would be a niche product too.
Why are we using console to play in place of real pc? it’s closed system too, less efficient and powerfull than a PC. Yes it’s easier for the market to sell, easier for the consumer to use; it would be the same thing here.
Did you see the AV15 ? the one that for example, linus tech tips have offered to ijustine? This thing is sold 2k US dollars. I’m sure we can do better than that and especially because it wouldn’t be another NAS product since it would be a power unit not a storage unit.
The consumer is most of the time of unable to see what’s on the market because there is simple too much. It’s the same case than for the V, if I’ve got wind of it, it was only by accident, a video from linus tech tips about it. and the ijustine example is the perfect one to illustrate the problem.
You could think that there is nothing for Eve-tech to do something about it, but I could argue the same thing about the tablet or the phone, there was nothing from a market point of view to work with neither. Still they succeed it. You can convince it yourself there was but actually there wasn’t, there are way too much tablet’s manufacturers, way too much phone 's manufacturers, way too much dock’s manufacturers, should I continue?
And the idea is not to find a wonderful new product never imagined before, it’s to renew the “genre”.
So I still think that it would be a good thing to renew the small server kind.

@thegreatco Yeah but the idea is not to do another NAS product but more of a power station than a storage station. It’s sometimes better to separate power station fo the storage unit. If you start mixing everything together, you end up with monsters. Like for example it’s not such a good idea to mix up a big storage unit while doing at the same time big VM’s for game rendering to connect a steam link to it for example and plex and others things. But of course it’s a good setup you have.
just one little advice, in place of SMB which is known to be very bad, maybe it’s better to use NFS since every OS have their integrated client now.
But I would be curious to have some pictures of your setup nevertheless :slight_smile:


#13

I wasn’t really referencing your idea, I was more referencing @gkmess’s post about digitizing and storing their video collection. I think there is a market for remote rendering, just don’t know how big it is.

just one little advice, in place of SMB which is known to be very bad, maybe it’s better to use NFS since every OS have their integrated client now.

NFS does great on small files in terms of R/W performance, however SMB and NFS are more or less equal on large files (NFS is a hair faster). SMB has a wider range of products that support it compared to NFS. Since I’m dealing mostly with files in the 1GB+ range and FreeNAS is a bit of a pain with Windows + NFS, there really isn’t a benefit to NFS, so I chose SMB.

Like for example it’s not such a good idea to mix up a big storage unit while doing at the same time big VM’s for game rendering to connect a steam link to it for example and plex and others things.

Barring the fact that I’m running FreeNAS (a headless FreeBSD derivative), my setup could definitely handling streaming video on top of doing headless rendering for a video game if I added a GPU to do the rendering (and maybe upgraded from the base i3 :laughing:). The heavy storage array does just that, heavy storage. I have a pair of mirrored SSDs that could more than handle the load of game rendering thrown at them. If I were building the system to do that, I wouldn’t have chosen FreeNAS, I would probably have done Windows Server. I would also have something more than the lowest end processor. The key is to not overlap on hardware requirements.

  1. File sharing
    • Heavy disk(10-100 MB/s) and light CPU, no GPU, moderate network (~100-500 Mbps)
  2. Video streaming
    • Light disk (5-10MB/s), light CPU, no GPU, light network (~60 Mbps)
  3. Game rendering
    • Light disk, moderate CPU (50%), heavy GPU, moderate network (~100-500 Mbps)

While there might be some network contention, there is unlikely to be much contention elsewhere. Most games are still (unfortunately) single threaded, so there shouldn’t be a lot of contention there.

If I were building this machine today, with the plan to do remote rendering, heavy storage, video streaming, it would look something like

  • 4-6U rackmount case
  • 8-12 Core processor (maybe a Xeon or Threadripper)
  • 64 GB RAM
  • GTX 1080 TI
  • 12-16 drive SAS backplane (some sort of RAID)
  • Mirrored NVMe drives
  • Dual (teamed) NICs or Fiber to the switch
  • Redundant PSUs

There is no reason this setup couldn’t handle everything I described, but I’d never build something to do remote gaming, I have a desktop for that. I will almost always own a desktop to do the heavy computational stuff, I occasionally remote into it to do things, but for the most part the V can handle my away from desk coding and compiling tasks. Though, running tests tends to kill my battery.

But I would be curious to have some pictures of your setup nevertheless

When I finally finish it, I’ll be happy to share it. Until then, its a bit of a mess :smiley:.


#14

Hmm, you are right we would get into an argument because i disagree that the home server market is similar in volume to the 2 in 1 market and too i disagree that there was no space for improvement for a surface clone - because Eve targeted price and a no-fan design to name 2 prominent advantages their concept targeted to deliver better when compared to a surface.

Maybe you could be more specific as what the product is you think about?
A server, just with removed enterprise tech (redundant psus, remote maintenance, hardware protection modules, ecc, high reliability components, …) and designed for home use = convenience (ports, dimensions, appearance, quiet cooling) ?

What would Eve develop - the case and the motherboard?

I still think it is too niche to payback dev costs, especially considering we are talking about a hack solution, till the concept will not become mainstream - till there will not be OS/software to do this multi platform and convenient, folks that build such a solution for their home rather use cheap old enterprise servers than purchasing an out of the box only HW solution which may be more expensive and less reliable not being enterprise grade and coming from a small company.

Do you remember, 15 years ago, all these home-theater-boxes with a pc inside that were sold by a bunch of companies, none of the companies did break through as it still was a hack solution, running XP, no remote control but wireless kybd and mouse, it was loud…

Bottom line is: the technology is not yet there to build a product.


#15

Do you remember, 15 years ago, all these home-theater-boxes with a pc inside that were sold by a bunch of companies, none of the companies did break through as it still was a hack solution, running XP, no remote control but wireless kybd and mouse, it was loud…

I ran Windows Media Center (MCE) for years. I installed Media Center PCs in quite a few homes (I used to do home AV solutions), and there were several remotes to choose from. A lot of the universal remote companies also added support for MCE to their remotes. I loved it. It worked great, even sprung for a cablecard tuner so I could get encrypted tv AND 4 streams at once. Admittedly they were loud, but so were all computers back then, so we routinely hid them either in special TV stands or in dedicated AV closets.

MCE was great…then Microsoft killed it. So I had no choice but to find something new, and that something ended up being FreeNAS and Emby.


#16

I will answer to some of the previous points but for the moments, because of the faulty design in cpu I need to work more.

Food for thought for those who again say that there are no market for it… again another company does it or at least go in that direction.