A little explanation on the story of Ultron.

When I finally moved over from a SD media collection to HD in 2014/2015 I required a device that could support hardware transcoding with Emby. Up until this point Emby used to run on the primary Qnap. Only direct play was available as even though the system had a fairly good Xeon processor it was not up to the task of transcoding. I also wanted a machine that I could hand off rendering/encoding to, run VMs and also host game servers.

One day I came across a good article on techspot about building a fairly cheap and powerful server using ES processors and older second hand equipment. See here

Being fully inspired I went off to find two cheap(ish) Xeons, in this case 2 x Intel Xeon 2658 v3 2.2Ghz 12 Cores. I found a twin pair on eBay for £450, a steal really as the retail units were many times that price, well into five figures! I settled upon a server grade motherboard, that being a Asrock EP2C612D16 as the Asus version had all kinds of issues with ES CPUs apparently. The Asrock board featured an IMPI port (this would become very important), support for 128Gb of RAM and lots of PCIE slots for future expansion. Also purchased were 4 x 8Gb ECC DDR4 RAM chips, Corsair HX 1200i PSU, a 240Gb SSD as a C drive , a 500Gb SSD for storage and finally a case capable of supporting the motherboard which is an SSI sized board. The Thermaltake Core x9 was chosen for this reason and because it had more than ample space for future upgrades. It was also stackable as the possibility of another similar system being built in the future.

The operating system of choice was initially going to be Windows Server however upon some research I decided upon Windows 10 Pro. This was due to having better support for running games. This would change in October 2019.

I assembled my new, stupidly powerful machine, installed Emby and a few other select programs/games. Now it turns out that Windows had a particular problem with the two built in Intel NICs where they would simply just turn off requiring a complete reboot of the machine. I work at sea so resetting wouldn't have been an easy task thousands of miles from home. Lucky due the IMPI implementation I could simply log in to my network via VPN, login to the servers IMPI and reboot. This would have nothing more than a slight annoyance if it was weekly occurrence however the sodding thing needed reset almost every day at one stage! The short term solution was to buy another PCIE NIC card until Microsoft got their shit together....they never did!

It's now October 2019, I stumbled across a video on Linus Tech Tips regarding unRAID and virtual machines. I did a little bit more research and realised this is the OS for me! unRAID runs on a USB stick so I used a spare 8gb USB drive I found lying around in my drawer. To get the system ready the 500Gb SSD would become the cache drive with the 240Gb SSD becoming the VM storage location. Three additional Seagate Green 1Tb drives were donated to the project by my adoring other half, one to be used as a parity drive with two for storage. Sayonara Windows!

unRAID was the key to using the machines full potential. Utilizing dockers I was able to take all the services off the primary Qnap (Radarr, Medusa etc) and run them on my new dual Xeon beast! I now have various VMs setup for gaming servers, running cracked software on, rendering etc all using Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection... butterly smooth on an Cat6 1Gbe network! This enabled me to remove pretty much all the locally installed programs on my main PC (called Optimus) and run them in the VMs keeping Optimus free for gaming unclogged with programs. If I'm ever running any dodgy software it's all done in a VM, if the VM goes bad it gets deleted and replaced with a backup image. Easy 👍

GPU pass though to VMs has become a breeze these days as has running OSX VMs thanks to Spaceinvader Ones 'Macinabox' docker.

Ultron will be upgraded in December 2020 with spare 6Tb WD Reds, two will be parity drives and another two will be storage.

Original 2018 Spec

Windows 10 OS

2 x Intel Xeon 2658 v3 2.2Ghz 12 Cores

Asrock EP2C612D16 motherboard

4 x 8Gb ECC DDR4 RAM chips

Corsair HX 1200i PSU

240Gb SSD Primary

240Gb SSD Secondary

3 x ST1000DM010 Seagate Green Drives, one for parity with two as storage.

2019/2020 Spec


2 x Intel Xeon 2658 v3 2.2Ghz 12 Cores

Asrock EP2C612D16 motherboard

8 x 16Gb ECC DDR4 RAM chips

Corsair HX 1200i PSU

4 x WD60EFRX Red Drives, two as parity, two for storage

3 x ST1000DM010 Seagate Green Drives all for storage

1x Zotac GTX 1060 6Gb gpu for transcoding

2 x Asus GTX 970s 4gb gpu's for Virtual Machines

1 x Asus GTX 1060ti