As part of my life as a professional software developer, I spend far too much time building up and tearing down systems. I had used a couple of HP G7 Microserver but while good (and cheap!), they lacked the power some applications required. I decided to finally bite the bullet and build a VM box to complement my workstation. [VMware ESXi 5.1]. Basic requirements for this box were:
- Performance – Need to be able to execute a number of VM’s concurrently with reasonable throughput
- Storage I – Reasonable amount of general disk to support multiple VM’s
- Storage II – Fast disk to support databases. Using Oracle 11g & 12c and these products eat machines
- Support for IOMMU. Not needed immediately but useful to have
- Room for expansion
- Not too expensive – Bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string’ this
- Reliable. This kit earns its living. Not a toy.
Motherboard / CPU
One interesting feature of ESXi that I found out about early on was that if a VM needs N cores and N-1 are available, that VM will not run at all until N are available. This struck me as a bit odd as it could lead to situations where considerable resources were available but a VM would not execute. I had always presumed that a system of ‘virtual’ CPU’s would exist as per Oracle VM VirtualBox.
The cheapest solution here is to obtain a CPU with as many cores as possible. Due to price constraints, a Xeon based system was ruled out. The best solution I could see was an AMD FX-8 series device. In my case, I picked up an AMD FX8350, for what I considered a reasonable price for a lot of processor.
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode, black)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1
1 x PCI
The maximum supported by the hypervisor is 32GB so that seemed a sensible amount to aim for. I’ve never experienced an issue with Crucial since I started using them so a quick check with the Crucial Memory Advisor and a search on Amazon came up with:
I wasn’t too concerned about performance but needed something reliable. The kit was the cheapest supported Crucial kit I could find on Amazon. Prices are fluctuating rapidly so be careful. I’ve noticed that I can always get Crucial memory cheaper from 3rd party sites as opposed to buying it direct. Odd but true.