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Thread: What processor for a home VMware server?

  1. #1
    Joseph Marton NNTP User

    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?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    320

    Re: What processor for a home VMware server?

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

    Joe,

    > 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.


    I found the following quite an interesting read :

    http://www.vexperienced.co.uk/2012/1...lable-vsphere-
    whitebox/#more-3068

    Cheers
    Hans

  3. Re: What processor for a home VMware server?

    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


    >>>

    > 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.


    Paul


  4. #4
    Joseph Marton NNTP User

    Re: What processor for a home VMware server?

    Hans van den Heuvel wrote:

    > http://www.vexperienced.co.uk/2012/1...lable-vsphere-
    > whitebox/#more-3068


    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?

  5. #5
    Joseph Marton NNTP User

    Re: What processor for a home VMware server?

    Paul Lamontagne wrote:

    > 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


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

    --
    Does this washcloth smell like chloroform?

  6. #6
    KBOYLE NNTP User

    Re: What processor for a home VMware server?

    Joseph Marton wrote:

    > 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.


    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...

  7. #7
    Joseph Marton NNTP User

    Re: What processor for a home VMware server?

    KBOYLE wrote:

    > 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.


    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.

    > 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.


    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.

    > 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.


    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?

  8. #8
    malcolmlewis NNTP User

    Re: What processor for a home VMware server?

    On Sun 02 Dec 2012 07:19:54 PM CST, Joseph Marton wrote:

    KBOYLE wrote:

    > 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.


    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.

    > 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.


    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.

    > 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.


    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.

    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


  9. #9
    KBOYLE NNTP User

    Re: What processor for a home VMware server?

    Joseph Marton wrote:

    > KBOYLE wrote:
    >
    > > 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.

    >
    > 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.


    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.



    > > 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.

    >
    > 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.


    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.


    > 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.


    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.



    > > 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.

    >
    > 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.


    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.


    >
    > 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.


    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...

  10. #10
    Simon Flood NNTP User

    Re: What processor for a home VMware server?

    On 02/12/2012 04:48, Joseph Marton wrote:

    > 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.


    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

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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