Having recently upgraded my home lab’s storage I decided it was also time to upgrade my aging hosts which date back to 2007. They’ve done well to survive and still be useful(ish) five years later but they’re maxed out at 8GB RAM and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do anything with that. I briefly considered adding SSDs as host cache but that doesn’t address some of their other shortcomings such as no support for Fault Tolerance, VMDirectPath or any type of KVM functionality.
A quick look around the blogosphere revealed a few common options;
- The Baby Dragon II, (with a minor change via Chris Wahl)
- The HP Microserver range
- The HP ML110 G7 range
The problem for me was that these solutions all maxed out at 16 or 32GB RAM per host, a limitation of the single socket Xeon’s architecture. That’s a lot of memory for a home lab server today but to ensure that this server can last five years I really wanted more scalability. I wasn’t too fussed about noise as I use my cellar for my lab, and power consumption was a secondary concern. The server features of the Supermicro boards appeal to me (and many Supermicro motherboards are compatible with vSphere) so I browsed their range looking for the one that best met my requirements. My final parts list ended up as;
- CPU: 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2603, 1.8GHz, 4 cores, 80W (£157 each at Lambdatek)
- Heatsink: Supermicro SNK-P0048AP4 (£28 at Lambdatek)
- Motherboard: Supermico X9DRL-3F, dual CPU socket, up to 256GB RAM, onboard SAS & SATA, IPMI/KVM, dual Gb NICs (£330 at Lambdatek)
- RAM: 64GB (8*8GB) Samsung 240 pin DDR3 non-ECC UDIMM, 10600 PC3 (£300 at scan.co.uk)
- Case: Lian-Li PC-A05NB (£65 at Scan.co.uk)
- Power supply: Silverstone Strider Plus 600W (£85 at Scan.co.uk)
The total cost comes to around £1150. I’m branding mine the vHydra after the mythical multi-headed dragon!
Note: In the US this is significantly cheaper, coming in at $1450, or about £900.
For the money I get a powerful server that can replace all three of my current 8GB hosts and more than match their performance while consuming less power and space, plus Continue reading Home labs – a scalable vSphere whitebox