Reddit user acquires decommissioned Netflix cache server, finds 36 hard drives inside

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,576   +174
Staff member
Background: With more than 223 million subscribers, it should come as no surprise that Netflix is responsible for a large chunk of daily Internet traffic. To help keep the service operating smoothly, Netflix utilizes a content delivery network known as Open Connect that consists of an array of local servers containing copies of video content.

Storing content in close geographical proximity to viewers helps to ensure speedy delivery but with so many subscribers and so much content, it's requires loads of storage. Netflix supplies plenty of documentation about Open Connect but doesn't provide a ton of information about the hardware powering the servers. That's where Reddit comes in.

A user that works for a large ISP recently had the opportunity to acquire a decommissioned Netflix Open Connect server from circa 2013 and couldn't say no. The Reddit user, PoisonWaffle3, knew Netflix had wiped the serve clean, that they ran FreeBSD and contained lots of storage drives but that's about it.

Removing three screws and taking the top panel off revealed a "pretty standard" Supermicro motherboard, a single Intel Xeon E5 2650L v2 processor (10 cores / 20 threads), 64GB of DDR3 RAM, a whopping 36 Western Digital (formerly HGST) hard drives (7200 RPM, 8TB each), six 500GB Micron SSDs, a quad-port 10-gigabit Ethernet NIC, four LSI SAS9211-8I controllers and a pair of 750 watt power supplies.

Related reading: Against All Odds: How Netflix Made It

The new owner said the rig is a little on the loud side but aims to swap out the four standard case fans for models from Noctua to help cut down on noise. In total, the system boasts 262TB of raw storage. Early testing has revealed just one bad drive.

PoisonWaffle3 was open to suggestions on what to do with the rig and even said a second machine is available, which could come in handy for spare parts. How would you use a rig with this much storage? Suggestions floated on Reddit include a Plex media server or a mining rig for Chia, a storage-based cryptocurrency.

Image credit: PoisonWaffle3

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Kam7r

Posts: 169   +340
It sport the same cpu I use in my personnal game server, and there may be a typo , since I have this cpu , it's a 8/16 not a 10/20 :p

edit : sorry didn't realized the "L" at the end
 

m4a4

Posts: 3,179   +4,265
TechSpot Elite
The title is a bit confusing: if I buy a decommissioned server I expect to find also hard drives inside it !!!
Not really. Depends on what it is advertised as. If a used server is listed as no storage included, I expect no harddrives. If it's advertised as "as is", maybe it does.
Can't expect that of used servers, especially if they've had sensitive data.
 

takaozo

Posts: 516   +814
You need 2 to 3 people to lift that thing up when it's stacked.
Looks like a 4HU case, those units mount in lower section of rack. And usually I mount those myself. But not all data centers have jack's :)
[HEADING=2]Lifting trolleys[/HEADING]
Lift_Drive90P_SE_Serverlyft_20180319-875x1024.jpg
 

Vanderlinde

Posts: 211   +132
Jeez, I wonder what state those HDDs are in. I mean, years of constantly working 24/7 had to take some kind of toll on them.

Enterprise or industrial hard drives are build for that. Consumer HDD's cant be really used 24/7 but they are designed for 8 hours a day of usage.
 

AdamNovagen

Posts: 11   +15
Nothing like sending your electric bill through the stratosphere.
Honestly, the most it could use would be 750W if it's the usual redundant failover PSU configuration. Even my gaming computer with the good ol' 1080Ti in it typically runs about 550W under full load. It really wouldn't be that bad on power, all things considered, and if you used a NAS OS with a good spin up/down configuration you could keep that power usage quite a bit lower.