Quanta Winterfell FreeNAS Server

I recently acquired what is known as a Quanta Winterfell Open Compute blade.  Quanta seems to make a number of OEM solutions for large companies.  In this case, Open Compute is a standard for designing no-frills high-density server systems, utilized at least by Facebook.  So what I have here could have been processing my posts, likes, etc.

Quanta Winterfell with “cover” off

The no-frills means you get a very basic chassis, which doesn’t technically even have a front, or completely enclose the entire system!  Strange looking, but when it’s sitting in a datacenter by itself, who is going to care as long as it is doing its job.

The blade itself takes a 12V input (actually 12.5V nominal) from a large space connector.  Since I didn’t have the mating part, for now I just jammed some large-gauge wire into the spades and used one of my Agilent System DC power supplies, so I could also monitor current consumption.

Horrible connection for testing (don’t try this at home).
With 2GB RAM, it idles around 50W.

The barebones blade was $90 (free shipping), which included the heatsinks and a 10Gb SFP+ NIC.  The NIC alone runs about $50, so it wasn’t a bad deal overall.

All that was left to add was a CPU, RAM, and a video card.  The system can output the console over a built-in serial port and I believe serial over LAN, but for ease of bringup I opted for the video card for now.

I wanted to see if FreeNAS would boot, so I plugged a bootable USB key into a hidden USB port (there are only 2 total), and used the other port for a keyboard.  By default the hidden USB port is disabled, so after enabling this in the BIOS it booted right up!

FreeNAS boots.

It is actually very quiet too, at least when not heavily loaded.  The fans are large, so there isn’t any of that loud datacenter whirring sound you would attribute to that environment.

Next steps:

  • Replace Agilent supply with HP server supply (modify connector)
  • Add more RAM
  • Test external SAS card and hard drive shelf
  • Get 10Gb adapter up
  • Investigate headless boot (remove video card)
  • Order second CPU

2 thoughts on “Quanta Winterfell FreeNAS Server”

  1. How is your quanta winterfell computer running?
    Could one be built running windows 8-10?
    How well would it run photoshop?

  2. I have put these on the shelf and moved to using Dell R620 hardware. They ran fine, but they are current-limited so the higher-end CPUs will cause them to shutdown if you push them to the limits. You could run Windows, but there will be missing drivers for some of the hardware because it’s server-class hardware. If you get Windows Server it would work better. I can’t comment specifically on it running Photoshop, but if you drop in a video card it would run just as well as any other hardware with the same CPU/video card running Photoshop.

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