What processor for a home VMware server?

Looking at building an ESXi 5.1 server at home. I was originally going
to build an i7-based system but now I’m wondering if I should look at
the Xeon E3 instead. What makes more sense? Right now thinking about
the E3 1245v2 CPU with the Asus P8B board.


Does this washcloth smell like chloroform?

On Sun, 02 Dec 2012 04:48:11 +0000, Joseph Marton wrote:

Joe,
[color=blue]

Looking at building an ESXi 5.1 server at home. I was originally going
to build an i7-based system but now I’m wondering if I should look at
the Xeon E3 instead. What makes more sense? Right now thinking about
the E3 1245v2 CPU with the Asus P8B board.[/color]

I found the following quite an interesting read :

http://www.vexperienced.co.uk/2012/10/22/home-lab-a-scalable-vsphere-
whitebox/#more-3068

Cheers
Hans

Joe,

I just picked up a Dell 2950 Dual quad core Server…using SAS
drives…very quick…It can hold 32 GB of ram and you can get extra 146GB
drives relatively cheap…I paid 250 for a box with 12 GB of ram and 2
146GB drives…drives…I’ll be adding more ram and drives but this is
great as a start

[color=blue][color=green][color=darkred]

[/color][/color]
Looking at building an ESXi 5.1 server at home. I was originally going
to build an i7‑based system but now I’m wondering if I should look at
the Xeon E3 instead. What makes more sense? Right now thinking about
the E3 1245v2 CPU with the Asus P8B board.[/color]

Paul

Hans van den Heuvel wrote:
[color=blue]

http://www.vexperienced.co.uk/2012/10/22/home-lab-a-scalable-vsphere-
whitebox/#more-3068[/color]

That’s a decent box, quite a bit more than I was hoping to spend. It
made me think, perhaps I should look into the Xeon E5 line? I only
want to do a single CPU though so the 2603 which he used isn’t much
horsepower at 4 cores, no HT, and only 1.8GHz. Looking at the rest of
the family the price goes up quickly, and pretty much there are no
affordable E5 processor at 2GHz or greater (with or without HT).

So for me looks like it’s going to be a decision between the i7 and the
E3. Unless I go with some sort of “Extreme Edition” of the i7 that’s
ridiculously priced, both are capable of a max 32GB (I’d prefer 64GB
but I’m just gonna forgo that).

BTW, if I go E3, the E3-1245V2 (3.4GHz, quad-core, HT, 8M cache) runs
about $260. This is an Ivy Bridge CPU.

If I go i7, the i7-3770K (3.5GHz, quad-core, HT, 8M cache) runs about
$230. This is also an Ivy Bridge CPU.

This particular E3 seems to add vPro, Intel VT-d, Trusted Execution,
Demand Based Switching, Fast Memory Acces, and Flex Memory Access.

I doubt I will need vPro or Trusted Execution. Are the power saving
features or the memory access features something I’ll really benefit
from in a virtualization host? Is it worth losing some clock speed and
an extra $30?


Does this washcloth smell like chloroform?

Paul Lamontagne wrote:
[color=blue]

I just picked up a Dell 2950 Dual quad core Server…using SAS
drives…very quick…It can hold 32 GB of ram and you can get extra
146GB drives relatively cheap…I paid 250 for a box with 12 GB of
ram and 2 146GB drives…drives…I’ll be adding more ram and
drives but this is great as a start[/color]

Wow that’s cheaper, cheaper than what I’d build, where did you find it?


Does this washcloth smell like chloroform?

Joseph Marton wrote:
[color=blue]

Looking at building an ESXi 5.1 server at home. I was originally
going to build an i7-based system but now I’m wondering if I should
look at the Xeon E3 instead. What makes more sense? Right now
thinking about the E3 1245v2 CPU with the Asus P8B board.[/color]

There is a difference between a box designed as a server,
workstation, and a desktop, regardless how it may ultimate be used.

The Xeon is Intel’s processor for servers and workstations. These days
there is very little difference in cost between a Xeon and an
equivalent desktop processor so I would go with the Xeon.

Of course you’ll need an appropriate motherboard. Here too there are
important differences between server boards and desktop boards. Server
boards, even entry level ones that support a single processor,
generally can accommodate a larger RAM capacity, use ECC RAM, can
accommodate a larger IO and PCI bandwidth, provide on-board SCSI/SAS,
and are designed to run 24 x 7. Workstation boards are similar but
usually include or can accommodate high performance graphics which
aren’t needed on a server.

If you’re building your own, I would look at some of the Intel entry
level motherboards. If such a system does not fall within your budget,
I would look for a used server, perhaps on eBay. They are usually very
cost effective.

One other point, VMware products generally experience fewer issues if
run on approved hardware so if you have the option I would go that
route.

HTH


Kevin Boyle - Knowledge Partner
If you find this post helpful and are using the web interface,
show your appreciation and click on the star below…

KBOYLE wrote:
[color=blue]

The Xeon is Intel’s processor for servers and workstations. These days
there is very little difference in cost between a Xeon and an
equivalent desktop processor so I would go with the Xeon.[/color]

Take a look at the detailed comparison I gave of two CPUs I’m looking
at, one an i7, the other a Xeon E3. Only $30 separates the two, but
the two CPUs also look very similar spec-wise. It’s tough trying to
see what the Xeon does better that I’ll actually take advantage of in
exchange for losing some clock speed vs the i7.
[color=blue]

Of course you’ll need an appropriate motherboard. Here too there are
important differences between server boards and desktop boards. Server
boards, even entry level ones that support a single processor,
generally can accommodate a larger RAM capacity, use ECC RAM, can
accommodate a larger IO and PCI bandwidth, provide on-board SCSI/SAS,
and are designed to run 24 x 7. Workstation boards are similar but
usually include or can accommodate high performance graphics which
aren’t needed on a server.[/color]

Generally speaking I’d say you are correct. However in this case the
max RAM supported is just 32GB either way. IO & Bandwidth look very
similar as well at least with the CPU specs. I haven’t checked ECC
capabilities so that could be one slight advantage. And as to 24x7,
well, my current “server” is an old HP/Compaq dc5000 with a P4 CPU.
It’s been running 24x7 for many years though I’ve replaced the CPU when
I discovered the L2 cache had failed. My i7-based desktop is nearly 4
years old now and also runs 24x7. I’ve lost one processor in it as
well, but I’m pretty sure that was a result of a power supply fan
failure I experienced earlier this year.
[color=blue]

One other point, VMware products generally experience fewer issues if
run on approved hardware so if you have the option I would go that
route.[/color]

That’s my biggest concern. If I go a true workstation/entry-level
server board and Xeon CPU, even if it’s the E3, I’m guessing I’ll run a
lesser risk of issues with ESXi than with a desktop board and the i7.
Of course if I go with an actual used server there’s even less risk as
I can at that point check VMware hardware compatibility list. Still,
for the combined cost savings I get with both CPU & motherboard, I’m
still tempted to try the i7 route.

BTW, here are the specs on the two CPus. You can see they are honestly
very similar to each other.

Intel Xeon E3-1245V2
http://ark.intel.com/products/65729

Intel Core i7-3770K
http://ark.intel.com/products/65523

If I could afford a decent Xeon E5 then there’d be no question I’d just
go that route. But since a decent E5 is over $400 alone (thinking the
2620) that’s not gonna happen. Almost seems like, then, it’s a flip of
the coin going with an i7 or an E3.


Does this washcloth smell like chloroform?

Hi
The Xeon supports a few more features, eg ECC memory, VT-d, Intel
trusted execution, extra pci express configurations. So depending on
the Motherboard options a Xeon would support more features I would
guess extra SAS cards, pci express SSD or SSD cache.

My money would be on the Xeon…


Cheers Malcolm °¿° (Linux Counter #276890)
openSUSE 12.2 (x86_64) Kernel 3.4.11-2.16-desktop
up 5 days 4:22, 3 users, load average: 0.12, 0.08, 0.06
CPU Intel i5 CPU M520@2.40GHz | Intel Arrandale GPU

Joseph Marton wrote:
[color=blue]

KBOYLE wrote:
[color=green]

The Xeon is Intel’s processor for servers and workstations. These
days there is very little difference in cost between a Xeon and an
equivalent desktop processor so I would go with the Xeon.[/color]

Take a look at the detailed comparison I gave of two CPUs I’m looking
at, one an i7, the other a Xeon E3. Only $30 separates the two, but
the two CPUs also look very similar spec-wise. It’s tough trying to
see what the Xeon does better that I’ll actually take advantage of in
exchange for losing some clock speed vs the i7.[/color]

It’s a common fallacy that a faster processor will produce a better
system. For example, take a 2 GHz and a 1.8 GHz processor. The
difference in speed is about ten percent. Often the cost of the faster
processor greatly exceeds ten percent of the cost of the slower
processor. Considering that most of the time a systems runs nowhere
near a hundred percent processor utilisation, all the faster processor
will do is provide a little extra headroom. It certainly doesn’t mean
that your system will run ten percent faster.

[color=blue][color=green]

Of course you’ll need an appropriate motherboard. Here too there are
important differences between server boards and desktop boards.
Server boards, even entry level ones that support a single
processor, generally can accommodate a larger RAM capacity, use ECC
RAM, can accommodate a larger IO and PCI bandwidth, provide
on-board SCSI/SAS, and are designed to run 24 x 7. Workstation
boards are similar but usually include or can accommodate high
performance graphics which aren’t needed on a server.[/color]

Generally speaking I’d say you are correct. However in this case the
max RAM supported is just 32GB either way. IO & Bandwidth look very
similar as well at least with the CPU specs. I haven’t checked ECC
capabilities so that could be one slight advantage.[/color]

Again, you’re focusing on the processor. You should be looking at an
optimal system design where there are few bottlenecks. Servers are
usually constrained by IO bandwidth and RAM limitations. Your processor
won’t be properly utilised if you can’t get the data into RAM and from
RAM to the processor quickly enough. Real server motherboards are
designed to minimise these bottlenecks. Server motherboards are
typically designed to use Xeon processors.

Servers, in general, place pretty heavy demands on disk IO and network
IO. Running a server OS on a laptop or desktop may be okay tor a demo
but, in a real world scenario, it would be very easy to swamp the PCI
bus thereby creating a bottleneck. Server motherboards have additional
PCI busses to provide additional capacity and to reduce risk of the PCI
bus becoming a bottleneck.

In virtual environments, RAM is a precious resource. Even if your
virtual servers are lightly loaded, the amount of RAM the host can
accommodate will often determine the number of VM’s you can run. 32 GB
may seem like a lot, and perhaps it is initially. If you expect to
continue using this platform for many years, I would suggest you may
want a motherboard that supports a larger capacity.

[color=blue]

And as to 24x7,
well, my current “server” is an old HP/Compaq dc5000 with a P4 CPU.
It’s been running 24x7 for many years though I’ve replaced the CPU
when I discovered the L2 cache had failed. My i7-based desktop is
nearly 4 years old now and also runs 24x7. I’ve lost one processor
in it as well, but I’m pretty sure that was a result of a power
supply fan failure I experienced earlier this year.[/color]

When designing a server, reliability and data integrity are usually key
objectives. Yes, you can use a desktop computer and it may not fail or
a failure may not affect a critical component but the risk is
greater. Server motherboards often have additional safeguards that may
not be widely publicised, like error checking on the PCI bus, to ensure
corrupted data is not written to the hard drive. Most of the time these
things are not issues on desktop systems.

[color=blue][color=green]

One other point, VMware products generally experience fewer issues
if run on approved hardware so if you have the option I would go
that route.[/color]

That’s my biggest concern. If I go a true workstation/entry-level
server board and Xeon CPU, even if it’s the E3, I’m guessing I’ll run
a lesser risk of issues with ESXi than with a desktop board and the
i7. Of course if I go with an actual used server there’s even less
risk as I can at that point check VMware hardware compatibility list.
Still, for the combined cost savings I get with both CPU &
motherboard, I’m still tempted to try the i7 route.[/color]

I would suggest you verify what OS’s are supported on any motherboard
you are considering. Manufacturers will usually specify if a particular
motherboard supports SLES, VMware, etc. They often specify the specific
releases that are supported. Again, use this information to reduce the
risk and minimise issues.

[color=blue]

BTW, here are the specs on the two CPus. You can see they are
honestly very similar to each other.

Intel Xeon E3-1245V2
http://ark.intel.com/products/65729

Intel Core i7-3770K
http://ark.intel.com/products/65523

If I could afford a decent Xeon E5 then there’d be no question I’d
just go that route. But since a decent E5 is over $400 alone
(thinking the 2620) that’s not gonna happen. Almost seems like,
then, it’s a flip of the coin going with an i7 or an E3.[/color]

IMO, comparing processor specs is of no consequence and while cost is
always an issue, determining the appropriate system configuration based
on the cost of the processor is not the way to do it.

If you can design and build your own server, if it falls within your
budget, and if you understand the tradeoffs, I say “go for it”!
Otherwise, you may be better off looking at a previously used
(refurbished) Tier 1 server. Many of these units no longer provide the
capacity needed by a large enterprise but may be more than adequate for
what you need.


Kevin Boyle - Knowledge Partner
If you find this post helpful and are using the web interface,
show your appreciation and click on the star below…

On 02/12/2012 04:48, Joseph Marton wrote:
[color=blue]

Looking at building an ESXi 5.1 server at home. I was originally going
to build an i7-based system but now I’m wondering if I should look at
the Xeon E3 instead. What makes more sense? Right now thinking about
the E3 1245v2 CPU with the Asus P8B board.[/color]

What do you want to do with it?

Yes I know you want to virtualise servers but what I mean is how heavily
is it going to be used? If you just want a server you can throw VMs at
but you’re not overly bothered about performance than a cheap option is
to buy a HP N40L Microserver which has an AMD Turion II CPU.

In the UK you can get one for ~£250 and then claim £100 cashback! You
could then max it out with 16GB RAM (specs say 8GB max but it’ll take 16GB).

HTH.

Simon
Novell/SUSE/NetIQ Knowledge Partner


Do you work with Novell technologies at a university, college or school?
If so, your campus could benefit from joining the Novell Technology
Transfer Partner (TTP) program. See novell.com/ttp for more details.

On 12/2/2012 9:23 AM, Paul Lamontagne wrote:[color=blue]

Joe,

I just picked up a Dell 2950 Dual quad core Server…using SAS
drives…very quick…It can hold 32 GB of ram and you can get extra 146GB
drives relatively cheap…I paid 250 for a box with 12 GB of ram and 2
146GB drives…drives…I’ll be adding more ram and drives but this is
great as a start

[/color]

One thing that surprised me is how much less power the newer generation
machines use. I have some 2950s at a location (dual CPU, 8 Gb, RAID 5 w/
4-146 Gb drives, dual power supply) and I added an R720 (dual CPU, RAID
10 (4-15k RPM drives), 48 Gb, dual power supplies and the R710 draws
about 60% of what the 2950s do.

On 02/12/2012 10:13, Hans van den Heuvel wrote

Well, there’s a blast from the past :slight_smile:
How you doing old fella? :slight_smile:

Michael

“I’ve got the key to the gates of paradise, but I’ve got too many legs!”

ebay …
[color=blue][color=green][color=darkred]

[/color][/color]
Paul Lamontagne wrote:
[color=green]
I just picked up a Dell 2950 Dual quad core Server…using SAS
drives…very quick…It can hold 32 GB of ram and you can get extra
146GB drives relatively cheap…I paid 250 for a box with 12 GB of
ram and 2 146GB drives…drives…I’ll be adding more ram and
drives but this is great as a start[/color]

Wow that’s cheaper, cheaper than what I’d build, where did you find it?[/color]

Paul

[color=blue][color=green][color=darkred]

[/color][/color]
On 12/2/2012 9:23 AM, Paul Lamontagne wrote:[color=green]
Joe,

I just picked up a Dell 2950 Dual quad core Server…using SAS
drives…very quick…It can hold 32 GB of ram and you can get extra[/color]
146GB[color=green]
drives relatively cheap…I paid 250 for a box with 12 GB of ram and 2
146GB drives…drives…I’ll be adding more ram and drives but this is
great as a start

[/color]

One thing that surprised me is how much less power the newer generation
machines use. I have some 2950s at a location (dual CPU, 8 Gb, RAID 5 w/

4‑146 Gb drives, dual power supply) and I added an R720 (dual CPU, RAID[/color]
[color=blue]
10 (4‑15k RPM drives), 48 Gb, dual power supplies and the R710 draws
about 60% of what the 2950s do.[/color]

Interesting, but for my 1 2950 I think i can live with the power
consumption

Paul

On Mon, 03 Dec 2012 17:59:11 +0000, MichaelC wrote:
[color=blue][color=green]

On 02/12/2012 10:13, Hans van den Heuvel wrote[/color]
Well, there’s a blast from the past :slight_smile: How you doing old fella? :slight_smile:

Michael[/color]

Dude, talking about blasts …
Wow, that has been a long time indeed.

Still entertaining myself here doing similar type of stuff still, so I’m
doing okay I think. At least for the most part though, lol.

What about you and what you up to these days ?

Cheers
Hans

I think that depends mostly on the guests, you want to run.
If you have only typical server guests, which generally do not need
much processor power in a home environment I would not invest much into
processor speed, but more into the number of cores. The number of cores
is of course a question of the number of guests you want to run
simultaneously. If you want to use your servers as terminal servers
then horse power and processor speed is an issue. So all in all if it
is a virtual environment I would prefer processors and motherboards,
which allow addition of a second processor at a later time over single
processor solutions, so if using a Xeon I’d take an E5 with maybe less
speed or an old E5000.

W. Prindl

Joseph Marton wrote:
[color=blue]

Looking at building an ESXi 5.1 server at home. I was originally
going to build an i7-based system but now I’m wondering if I should
look at the Xeon E3 instead. What makes more sense? Right now
thinking about the E3 1245v2 CPU with the Asus P8B board.[/color]

Hans[color=blue]

Dude, talking about blasts …
Wow, that has been a long time indeed.[/color]

Just a bit - it’s 7 since I was in RDG…!
[color=blue]

Still entertaining myself here doing similar type of stuff still, so I’m
doing okay I think. At least for the most part though, lol.[/color]

Good, good - sounds like you’re there for the long haul then
[color=blue]

What about you and what you up to these days ?[/color]

Left my old job at the end of October - now doing some consulting.
Current project is some process improvement work, absolutely loving work
for the first time in years Got married a couple of years back & we had
a little boy last year, so that side of my life’s changed quite
considerably since the old days too :smiley:

Michael

“I’ve got the key to the gates of paradise, but I’ve got too many legs!”

Joseph Marton wrote:
[color=blue]

Looking at building an ESXi 5.1 server at home. I was originally
going to build an i7-based system but now I’m wondering if I should
look at the Xeon E3 instead. What makes more sense? Right now
thinking about the E3 1245v2 CPU with the Asus P8B board.[/color]

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I was starting to lean toward the
Xeon E3 setup but found it hard to pony up the extra money for a server
board, especially with the particular recommendation I got from Mr.
Wilson for an MSI board at only $65.

In the end I went with the MSI Z77A-G41 mATX board and Intel Core i7
3770 (non-K). I didn’t realize that the non-K version actually
includes additional virtualization features making it almost identical
to the E3 1245v2, and also the exact same price. The only problem I
had was that for some reason ESXi wouldn’t detect the Realtek onboard
8111E NIC even though stuff I read said it was supported. I tried both
5.0 and 5.1 with no luck. Instead of fighting it further I just went
out and bought an Intel gig NIC for $30. When adding that to the
motherboard price I still saved easily over $100 vs purchasing a server
class motherboard.

We’ll see how this desktop setup winds up working. For now, though,
I’m happy as I have ESXi 5.1 running along with a few VMs: OES2 (inc.
GW 2012), Data Sync, and a certain file sharing solution we’re working
on.


Does this washcloth smell like chloroform?

On Fri, 07 Dec 2012 21:40:51 +0000, Joseph Marton wrote:
[color=blue]

In the end I went with the MSI Z77A-G41 mATX board and Intel Core i7
3770 (non-K). I didn’t realize that the non-K version actually includes
additional virtualization features making it almost identical to the E3
1245v2, and also the exact same price.[/color]

That’s good to know - I’m planning to build a virtualization server
myself (for KVM, though) and am probably going to get a Shuttle miniature
case/mobo from Newegg for it - but the processor was up in the air. If
it’ll take the non-K, that’s what I’ll get if it’ll fit the socket.

The shuttle case is nice because it’s small, but the mobo included takes
up to 32 GB of RAM - I figure I can build the system out for about $1K.

Jim


Jim Henderson, CNA6, CDE, CNI, LPIC-1, CLA10, CLP10
Novell Knowledge Partner

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Had a friend price out a box for me for the same purpose (KVM server):

EVGA GeForce GTX 650 01G-P4-2650-KR Video Card
Item #:N82E16814130827
Return Policy: VGA Standard Return Policy $109.99

NVIDIA Gift PC Game Assassin’s Creed 3
Item #:N82E16800999298
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy $0.00

Western Digital Red 2TB 3.5 SATA 6.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Item #:N82E16822236343
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy $149.99
$129.99

OCZ Fatal1ty 750W Modular Gaming Power Supply compatible with Intel
Sandy Bridge Core i3 i5 i7 and AMD Phenom
Item #:N82E16817341041
Return Policy: Iron Egg Guarantee Return Policy $119.99
$99.99

G.SKILL Ripjaws Z Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
(PC3 12800) Desktop Memory
Item #:N82E16820231507
Return Policy: Iron Egg Guarantee Return Policy $144.99

AMD FX-8350 4.0GHz (4.2GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ Eight-Core Desktop Processor
Item #:N82E16819113284
Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy $219.99

COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Advanced RC-932-KKN5-GP Steel Computer Case
Item #:N82E16811119160
Return Policy: Iron Egg Guarantee Return Policy $159.99
$139.99

GIGABYTE GA-970A-D3 ATX AMD Motherboard
Item #:N82E16813128521
Return Policy: Iron Egg Guarantee Return Policy $99.99

OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-240G 2.5 MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
Item #:N82E16820227727
Return Policy: Limited Replacement Only Return Policy $199.99
$179.99

If I find money I may get a smaller case and a bigger SSD, but we’ll see.

So for a little system, $1,124.92

Good luck.
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