April 6th, 2011:

Atom D510 Servers as Route Reflectors

We’re provisioning a pair of our Atom D510 dedicated servers to be used as OpenBSD BGP route reflectors within our network core. Over the last month we’ve been testing this setup with great success on a spare D510, so we went ahead and ordered a pair to dedicated to the task. In the pictures you can see the inside of the D510 case with a couple changes from its stock config:

  • A 2-port Intel PCIe Gigabit Ethernet adapter. We needed at least three Ethernet ports: one for management and two for diverse links into network core for redundancy.
  • There is no hard drive: the boot device is the blue 4GB USB flash drive.
  • A high-speed 15,000 RPM fan at the front air vent for airflow in an otherwise fanless case. Initial testing shows a 10 degree reduction in reported temperature. The fan is quite loud but moves a significant amount of air. We opted for a powerful fan so we wouldn’t need to add baffles. (It might even be too much fan!)

Inside view of the D510 (with add-ons)

As a service provider we believe in the products we sell and utilize them in our own operations – we “eat our own dogfood” as the saying goes. These servers running OpenBSD fill the role as dedicated route reflectors (a CPU heavy role) perfectly at a fraction of the cost of a name-brand solution. As a customer, you could use this type of setup as a router for a cluster of dedicated servers or combine it with colocation.

Rear view of the D510 (with PCIe Ethernet card)

These customizations can be ordered options on our dedicated server offering. The additional fan is something we’re trying on ourselves first, after which we plan to offer them to our existing dedicated server customers as an option at no cost. The fan will also become standard equipment. We’re also testing a slightly lower RPM fan (10k vs. 15k) in the interest of noise reduction.