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ESXi box for certificate/study purposes

Well, the AOpen P4 box just can't cut it anymore. I booted it up after network connectivity was lost, and suddenly ESX doesn't see any hard disks. Lovely.

Time for something reliable - won't be able to learn much on something that is made by AOpen. Or run more than 3-4 VMs on 2GB of RAM.

If I want to use thin provisioning, I need to upgrade the NIC to a proper Intel pcie gig nic. While I may be able to get away with that, I'm still stuck with 1 core and 2GB of ram...with a max of 8GB! Not that much anymore, not when you can have 25 VMs running on a single quad core with 16GB....

I'd like to be able to run at least a dozen Windows Server VMs at a time, and that means a bunch of RAM is needed. In my experience with ESX, it's the RAM that gets sucked up first, and the CPU:RAM ratio is usually 1:3, or more.

So, it makes sense to me that the Core i7 architecture is a good starting point.
- has RAM capabilities up to 24GB
- LGA1366 socket, relatively new, could have 8 core CPUs compatible in future
- LGA1366 is the same socket for the new Xeon 5500s, which are excellent for VMs
- Bloomfield CPUs are supposedly very good on energy bills
- lots of PCIe slots, should I want to set up storage controllers or nics

Well, that pretty much settles it, unless I can get two Core2Quad systems for the same price. Even then, at that point we're into double the amount of PSUs, cases, HDDs, etc. I'll post more on this later.


Here's pretty much what I've decided on:

# Asus P6T SE
# Core i7 920 2.66/8MB
# Scythe Mugen 2 HSF
# Corsair XMS3 (6x2GB)
# Seasonic S12II 500w
# Intel PCIe gig nic (Here's the one I'll need)

Seems the Gig nic is going to be the hardest to source (after that Supermicro X8SAX board, of course). ESXi 4.0 only supports a bare few nics at this time, and the Intel CT series is one of them.

Same issue we had with the quad nics we got - first ones in Canada, and VMWare didn't support them! Dan, the genius that he is, recompiled the VMWare drivers with the new driver info and got that working - a week or two later they released drivers for the card.


CPU: i7 920 2.66/8MB Bloomfield
RAM: G.Skill 6x2GB
MB: Asus P6T SE
HSF: Scythe Ninja rev.B
HDD: WD Caviar Black 1TB
NIC: Intel Pro CT gigabit

And some AS5 for the HSF. I'm running out after doing the ESX servers at work!

I'm also picking up a Dell 2708 - $50US+ shipping...not bad! Cheaper than one off NCIX, that's for sure.


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