I decided to strip my lab down and start over in order to test additional VMware products such as VCD (vCloud Director) along with the all the MGMT features such as vCO, Chargeback, etc. Based on this I purchased an additional host. I bought the CPU/MB used off of Hardforum.com. In case you are interested, HardOCP.com and Hardforum.com are great sites dedicated to real world testing of the latest consumer PC hardware. Their forums are much more indepth, however, and there is a great group of people that post in their Virtualization and Network forums. Some work for big name VAR’s and some actually work for EMC, Cisco, and VMware, so you can actually get some great info or ask a technical question and 99% of the time, you’ll get assistance or the answer you need.
This system will be dedicated to the MGMT infrastructure, ie AD/DNS/vCenter, vMA, etc. The plan is to run a dedicated two node ESXi 5 U1 cluster for this purpose. It will also accomodate a couple of EMC UberVSA’s as well as I had a few WD640GB Black drives laying around from previous PC builds.
On to the build itself.
Motherboard: Supermicro X8SI6-F SKT1156. Simply awesome MB. Dedicated IPMI network which is a must, and 2 additional Intel GB nics. This board also includes an LSI 9211-8i controller on the motherboard! If you factor in the cost of the Mainboard and a standalone card, it’s an extremely good deal for this board. I picked it up used for $200 which I think is a steal. I know, I know, why did you settle for a SKT1156 MB when there are newer C202 and C204 chipsets out there? I just couldn’t pass up the onboard 6GB SAS controller, with this board. It’s simply a great deal and it will suit my needs well.
CPU: Intel Lynnfield 3440: I chose the 3440 for hyperthreading and luckily it came with the board along with the low profile heatsink. This added an additional $150.
Memory: Kingston 8GB DDR3 1066 RDIMM 4Rx8 (Quantity 4) This board supports 32GB of Registered DDR3 ECC. You have to be very careful with memory selection on this board as it only supports x8 memory in SR/DR/QR. To support 32GB of memory, you only populate Memory slots A & B in QuadRank configuration. This is the only way to achieve 32GB memory support. Keep this in mind if you consider this board. I paid $250 for this memory at Newegg, which I didn’t think was a bad deal for this type of memory.
Chasis: CSI-813MTQ-350C This is a 1u chasis that I purchased off of ebay for a steal. I only paid $90 for this chasis. The regular price was $200! Although, not necessary, I like to match up supported chasis and motherboard for Supermicro products. I have been burned in the past and you really have to pay attention to the supported chasis. I love the front panel conntector that displays HD, Network, and power activity LED’s and everything fits well with proper cooling support.
I/O Cards: Dell Silicom 6PT Gbe Controller. This card contains 3 Dual Pt Intel 1Gbe Controllers to make a total of 6 ports on a single card! If you want cheap, high capacity, ESXi support out of the box Gb Controllers, this is the one. I paid $119 off of ebay! It fits snug in my riser card. This makes a total of 8 Intel 1Gbe Interfaces and 1 Realtek IPMI port. Excellent port capacity for your vSphere needs and I don’t think you can get a better deal. Dual PT Intels are going for $100 alone!
Storage: 4 x 640GB Western Digital Black. I will have these setup in a RAID10 array on the LSI card connected to a SAS to 4pt SATA break out cable to the SAS/SATA backplane.
I just finished building this system recently, however, I ordered the incorrect memory. I chose x4 memory which is not supported. Thankfully Newegg is taking it back and I’m waiting for the correct x8 memory to come in. In my next update i’ll supply some PIC’s and show the nested cluster within vSphere.
This is a great build for the price. Yes, you can buy the newer boards and latest Sandy Bridge revision CPU’s but this is a great deal especially with that controller, and it does exactly what I need it to do with solid performance. Of course, you don’t have to have IPMI or even go the server hardware route. You can get by with a Desktop board, and 2600k CPU , and non-ECC memory very easily. I do it because I love the feature set and I really like to test the Virtualization products on server class hardware, after all, that’s what it will be running on in Production.