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Website Hosting Updates!

Over the past few weeks, the host I’ve been with for over 3 years, OVH, announced a rather large price increase of 20% because of Brexit – the current universal excuse to squeeze the customer for more cash. This change has sent the price of my dedicated server solution with them to over £45 a month. Doing some napkin-calculation gave me £18 a month in extra power to run a small server locally. So I’ve decided to bring the hosting solution back to my local network & run from my domestic internet link, which at 200Mbit/s DL & 20Mbit/s UL should be plenty fast enough to handle the modest levels of traffic I usually get.

Obviously, some hardware was required for this, so I obtained this beauty cheap on eBay:

HP MicroServer Gen 8
HP Proliant MicroServer Gen 8

This is a Gen 8 HP Proliant Microserver, very small & quiet, perfect for the job. This came with 4GB of RAM installed from the factory, and a Celeron G1610T running at 2.3GHz. Both are a little limited, so some upgrades will be made to the system.

Disk Bays
Disk Bays

4 SATA drive bays are located behind the magnetically-locked front door, there’s a 250GB boot disk in here along with a pair of 500GB disks in RAID1 to handle the website files & databases. For my online file hosting site, the server has a backend NFS link direct to Volantis – my 28TB storage server. This arrangement keeps the large file storage side of things off the web server disks & on a NAS, where it should be.

Extra RAM
Extra RAM

First thing is a RAM upgrade to the full supported capacity of 16GB. This being a Proliant server machine, doesn’t take anything of a standard flavour, it’s requirements are DDR3-10600E or DDR3-12800E (the E in here being ECC). This memory is both eye-wateringly expensive & difficult to find anywhere in stock. It’s much cheaper & easier to find the ECC Registered variety, but alas this isn’t compatible.

Over the past 48 hours or so, I’ve been migrating everything over to the new baby server, with a couple of associated teething problems, but everything seems to have gone well so far. The remaining job to get everything running as it should is an external mail relay – sending any kind of email from a dynamic IP / domestic ISP usually gets it spam binned by the big providers instantly, regardless of it actually being spam or not – more to come on that setup & configuring postfix to use an external SMTP relay server soon!

If anyone does find something weird going on with the blog, do let me know via the contact page or comments!

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Virgin Media Superhub 2 Teardown

I recently got the latest upgrade from Virgin Media, 200Mbit DL / 20Mbit UL, and to get this I was informed I’d have to buy their latest hardware, since my existing CPE wouldn’t be able to handle the extra 5Mbit/s upload speed. (My bullshit detector went off pretty hard at that point, as the SuperHub 2 hardware is definitely capable of working fine with 20Mbit/s upload rates). Instead of having to return the old router, I was asked to simply recycle it, so of course the recycling gets done in my pretty unique way!

Mainboard
Mainboard

The casing of these units is held together by a single screw & a metric fuckton of plastic clips, disassembly is somewhat hindered by the radio antennas being positioned all over both sides of the casing. Once the side is off, the mainboard is visible. The DOCSIS frontend is lower left, centre is the Intel PUMA 5 Cable Modem SoC with it’s RAM just to the lower right. The right side of the board is taken up by both of the WiFi radio frontends, the 5GHz band being covered by a Mini PCIe card.

Atheros Gigabit Switch
Atheros Gigabit Switch

The 4 gigabit Ethernet ports on the back are serviced by an Atheros AR8327 Managed Layer 3 switch IC, which seems to be a pretty powerful device:

The AR8327 is the latest in high performance small network switching. It is ultra low power, has extensive routing and data management functions and includes hardware NAT functionality (AR8327N). The AR8327/AR8327N is a highly integrated seven-port Gigabit Ethernet switch with a fully non-blocking switch fabric, a high-performance lookup unit supporting 2048 MAC addresses, and a four-traffic  class Quality of Service (QoS) engine. The AR8327 has the flexibility to support various networking applications. The AR8327/AR8327N is designed for cost-sensitive switch applications in wireless AP routers, home gateways, and xDSL/cable modem platforms.

Unfortunately most of the features of this router are locked out by VM’s extremely restrictive firmware. With any of their devices, sticking the VM supplied unit into modem mode & using a proper router after is definitely advised!

Intel Puma 5 CM CPU
Intel Puma 5 CM CPU

The cable modem side of things is taken care of by the Intel PUMA 5 DNCE2530GU SoC. This appears to communicate with the rest of the system via the Ethernet switch & PCI Express for the 5GHz radio.

Atheros WiFi SoC
Atheros WiFi SoC

The 2.4GHz radio functionality is supplied by an Atheros AR9344 SoC, it’s RAM is to the left. This is probably handling all the router functions of this unit, but I can’t be certain.

Atheros LAN PHY
Atheros LAN PHY

A separate Ethernet PHY is located between the SoC & the switch IC.

 

5GHz Radio Card
5GHz Radio Card

The 5GHz band is served by a totally separate radio module, in Mini PCIe format, although it’s a bit wider than standard. This module will probably be kept for reuse in another application.

Power Supplies
Power Supplies

All down the edge of the board are the multiple DC-DC converters to generate the required voltage rails.

MaxLinear MXL261 Frontend
MaxLinear MXL261 Frontend

The DOCSIS frontend is handled by a MaxLinar MXL261 Tuner/Demodulator. More on this IC in my decapping post 🙂

The Unknown One
The Unknown One

I’ve honestly no idea what on earth this Maxim component is doing. It’s clearly connected via an impedance matched pair, and that track above the IC looks like an antenna, but nothing I search for brings up a workable part number.

2.4GHz Frontend
2.4GHz Frontend

The RF switching & TX amplifiers are under a shield, these PA chips are SiGe parts.

Atheros 5GHz Radio
Atheros 5GHz Radio

Pretty much the same for the 5GHz radio, but with 3 radio channels.

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Behringer DEQ2496 Mastering Processor

Bootscreen
Bootscreen

I was recently given this unit, along with another Behringer sound processor to repair, as the units were both displaying booting problems. This first one is a rather swish Mastering Processor, which has many features I’ll leave to Behringer to explain 😉

Input Board & Relays
Input Board & Relays

All the inputs are on the back of this 19″ rackmount bit of kit, nothing much on this PCB other than the connectors & a couple of switching relays.

Main Processor PCB
Main Processor PCB

All the magic is done on the main processor PCB, which is host to 3 Analog Devices DSP processors:

ADSP-BF531 BlackFin DSP. This one is probably handling most of the audio processing, as it’s the most powerful DSP onboard at 600Mhz. There’s a ROM on board above this for the firmware & a single RAM chip. On the right are a pair of ADSP-21065  DSP processors at a lower clock rate of 66MHz. To the left is some glue logic to interface the user controls & dot-matrix LCD.

PSU Module
PSU Module

The PSU in this unit is a pretty standard looking SMPS, with some extra noise filtering & shielding. The main transformer is underneath the mu-metal shield in the centre of the board.