Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cisco MARS 20 upgrade

I'm not sure where can you find performance evaluations for MARS models, but our MARS 20 definitely had issues with managing 100+ switches and our main ASA cluster and FWSM logs. Since it's EOL soon, we don't want to buy a bigger one. But it's just a PC, so we looked into upgrade possibilities.

The MARS 20 has a SuperMicro P4SCT mainboard and 1GB of RAM, so our options are:
  • A new CPU, possibly with Hyperthreading. Problem is, the kernel is not SMP compatible, and I don't really want to compile a new one.
  • More RAM. That's always good, the maximum supported is 4GB DDR-400 in 4 sticks of 1GB.
  • A new HDD. Our old one is, well, old (40k+ hours), so I decided to replace it with a 160GB standard IDE Western Digital drive.
In the end, we opted to upgrade the RAM and replace the HDD.

The RAM upgrade was no problem at all, and I used a RescueCD USB stick to 'dd' the MARS OS between drives. The new drive is a good 2 times faster, and the new memory usage stats are eye-candy:

[root@voyager bin]# free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:          3772       3764          7        210         98       2141
-/+ buffers/cache:       1523       2248
Swap:         1027        851        175

Overall, the responsiveness of the system is way better in the web interface, and cron tasks are much faster.

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