Time to upgrade the network

That feeling when you have to give your router the, “it’s not you, it’s me” speech…

The problem

I’m outgrowing the existing router I’m using for my home lab (more closely related to a home-based data center) and would like to make a transition over to PFSense. My existing router runs a proprietary OS (Ubiquiti EdgeOS) and, while it’s overkill for a standard home environment, I’m beginning to see the limitations (both in the feature sense and hardware sense). There’s even some chatter about the OS going EOL. With all those things taken into consideration, it only seems appropriate to make the shift to a different setup.

The proposal

PFSense on a custom built, 1U server
I’ve kicked around plenty of ideas on what sort of hardware I should put together for the build. There are some nice boxes out there that are about the size of a switch. Some of them run on ARM architectures while others are full fledged Xeon platforms, like the Hyve Zeus. Ultimately, I wanted something with some scalability (if need be) and that matched some of the spare hardware I had sitting around.

The solution

I finally landed on the purchase of a Huawei RH1288 V3 server. This is a 1U server sporting a dual Xeon 2011-3 socket board (supporting v3 and v4 E5-2600 family Xeons) and 16 DIMMS for memory. In addition, it come with redundant power supplies, all while boasting lower power consumption. While this is overkill, by a long shot, if gives me plenty of scalability and an opportunity to repurpose the box, should I want to use it for something else at a later date.

For the build out, I’ll be using a spare Intel E5-2650L V3 for 1 of the sockets and just 2 spare sticks of 16GB ECC DDR4 RAM. If the desire struck, I have enough surplus parts to populate both sockets and all the DIMMS. However, even the planned installation will be obnoxiously over the top for the intended use. I chose to use the E5-2650L V3 as it houses 24 threads at base clock of 1.80GHz and a turbo clock of 2.50GHz, all while sipping power at a modest TDP of 65 watts.

What’s next?

In addition to upgrading the router, I have couple of 32 port, 10GB Arista switches I want to incorporate into the lab. This will give me 72 ports at 10GB and each of my servers (as well as gaming rig that’s mounted in the cabinet) sport multiple 10GB NICs. Once online, that’ll give me the opportunity to run at 10GB transfer speeds across infrastructure.

This post is day 1 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge for 2022. Visit https://100daystooffload.com to get more info, or to get involved.

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