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Intel’s NUC as a Home Server

Intel's Next Unit of Computing, with its power sipping 17W mobile Ivy Bridge processor housed inside a small 4" x 4" form factor, is quite the ideal candidate as a 24/7 small server to take advantage of your unmetered home broadband connection.

After years of stop-start progress, we are finally living in a glorious age where home broadband, especially of the fibre variety, is becoming more prevalent with decent download and upload throughput speeds. Implication being more ambitious network activity can now be carried out, including proper HD media streaming, speedy remote access to your work/play file repositories and low latency communications/gaming, all happening at the same time.

Therefore it is not uncommon nowadays to find homeowners runnning servers at home huming along in one corner next to their networking equipment, in one form or another, as an extension of their digital lifestyle for automation and monitoring of pre-assigned tasks. No longer are servers found only inside expensive datacentres under the watchful eyes of security guards in an sterile, arctic winter environment.

Two of the main pre-requisites for any household appliances are low power consumption and heat/noise level emissions, both of which the sub-20W NUC will excel in, other than the most important fact that it is basically an x86 PC that can run Windows/Linux/OSX natively without compromise. After all, we all need a comfortable amount of compute power for applications to be responsive, without putting a glaring hole in the monthly energy bills or spoiling the tranquility of the home environment. With four-usable CPU threads and up to 16GB of DDR3-1600 memory augmented by an SSD, the NUC is fully capable of running file/web/game servers to serve dozens if not hundreds of concurrent users, better than some of the aging, power hungry machines in the traditional datacentres even. I dare say that if we cluster a handful of NUCs together in a properly configured Linux/Nginx/PHP/MySQL/Memcached setup, they can run a high traffic site like VR-Zone.com.

In Singapore, the three main residential ISPs (SingTel, StarHub and M1) are joined by a host of other smaller players like MyRepublic, ViewQuest and Super Internet, all of which offer a plethora of unlimited service plans and packages for the different usage tiers. Some of these services have port filtering (blocks) turned on for common TCP applications like HTTP, FTP and SMTP, rendering them impractical if you are doing that sort of hosting. Static IP (as opposed to the usual dynamic IP) options are also available from some of these providers, so you can have a somewhat permanent presence on the internet and access your home network without the need for Dynamic DNS.

Some of the other essential items in such a setup include a capable home gateway router, such as the Asus RT-AC66U which can provide near wire-speed WAN-LAN routing and handle an abusive amount of simultaneous connections, and a Gigabit/Thunderbolt NAS for dedicated storage of files.

VR-Zone is a leading online technology news publication reporting on bleeding edge trends in PC and mobile gadgets, with in-depth reviews and commentaries.

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