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Windows 7: Good Mobo for server WITHOUT load of onboard junk


11 Apr 2011   #1

W7 X-64 RTM,SUSE 11.1, XP PRO SP3 as a VM, VMware ESXi
 
 
Good Mobo for server WITHOUT load of onboard junk

Hi there

Having played with vmware's Hypervisor ESXi and got a "rubbish" hardware server working -- mainly as a POC (Proof of Concept) I want to go further and build a PROPER server obviously as cheap as possible.

I'd like to start with a MOBO that has MINIMAL onboard rubbish -- don't need SOUND / LAN or even a VIDEO card onboard - although Video on a server isn't a big issue.

I do want at least 4 slots for memory -- most Mobos I've seens come with only 2 slots which give me 8GB RAM at the most (2 * 4 GB modules) plus at least 3 or 4 PCI slots. I really would like to have as much as 32 GB RAM potentially available -- not initially but upgradeable.

Ideally Mobo should be based on the INTEL chipset and possibly support for DUAL CPU's -- although initially I'd start with only one (a QUAD processor).

Need enough PCI slots -- at least enough for 2 NIC's, NAS and RAID storage controllers.

Mobo should be also capable of "PCI Passthrough" allowing for example a PCI soundcard to be attached to a Virtual machine running on the server.

Cheers
jimbo

My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

11 Apr 2011   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

You will want onboard video, else you end up putting a video card into the box and using up a slot. As far as LAN goes, if you can find an Intel board, or one with the right Broadcom NIC's, the onboard NIC may also work just fine with ESXi. Then you can combine them with stand alone NIC's to have dedicated NIC's for everything. 1 for management, 1 for VM's, 1 or 2 for ISCSI uplinks to a SAN, etc.

I'm not sure you will benefit from a dual CPU setup. Almost without question, you are going to run out of I/O bandwidth to the hard drives on a commodity motherboard or memory before you need the second CPU. Plus, if you buy 1 CPU today and 2 years later want to buy a second CPU, you may find it hard to find or expensive to purchase (since supply will be low a few years down the road).

If you can swing it, your best bet would be to put together a storage device to house your datastores. In a home environment, where fibre channel is cost prohibitive, you will be almost exclusively running ISCSI. There are some free Linux distros out there which are well known for setting this stuff up easily. FreeNAS is one of them, and OpenFiler (the one I use) is another. With this box running the datastores, it's unnecessary to really put any significant drive storage space on the ESXi box at all. By having the data residing on the SAN, you have the ability to connect multiple ESXi hosts and see the shared data.

This might be getting more involved than you want at this point. Because if you did SAN based datastores, I would recommend 2 isolated switches and 2 isolated ISCSI connections with Round Robin load balancing between them so you don't lose access to your SAN if a switch, or network card were to fail.

For whitebox setups, check out
http://www.vm-help.com/esx40i/esx40_whitebox_HCL.php
http://ultimatewhitebox.com/


And here is a nice build suggestion using non workstation type ports and more server based, thus increasing RAM options and such. of course, price will go up accordingly.
http://www.unproductivitydefined.com...-whitebox.html
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Apr 2011   #3

W7 X-64 RTM,SUSE 11.1, XP PRO SP3 as a VM, VMware ESXi
 
 

Hi there
Great stuff
Thanks for the info -- The storage route seems fine -- also onboard video is usually more than sufficient these days -- especially if you aren't a gamer.

I've learned the hard way that whatever storage you have its NEVER enough so the NAS type idea seems great plus the Linux server info.

I'm already playing around with FreeNAS great suggestion.

PCI passthru is important -- I will need to stream video as well as sound -- home environments tend to use more of these types of apps than "Commercial" installations.

I can say even on the rubbish hardware I was using running the Virtual W2K3 server on the ESXi system was almost as good as running it natively on it's own box. Windows 7 X-64 is also running great on this box.

Using the Vsphere client console however when you are physically LOGGED ON to the virtual machine isn't the best experience -- there must be some way of improving the Video response even on an internal home LAN.

My router is newish allowing a decent full 1GB thruput so I'm not sure why the video is sluggish. Might be because I'm using a Wireless 54 (g) type connection for this.

For Data transfer / other stuff its brilliant.

It's also great not to have a box running a HOST Windows or LINUX system up in order to start / stop / control Virtual machines.

Cheers

jimbo
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


13 Apr 2011   #4

Micro$oft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jimbo45 View Post
Hi there

Having played with vmware's Hypervisor ESXi and got a "rubbish" hardware server working -- mainly as a POC (Proof of Concept) I want to go further and build a PROPER server obviously as cheap as possible.

I'd like to start with a MOBO that has MINIMAL onboard rubbish -- don't need SOUND / LAN or even a VIDEO card onboard - although Video on a server isn't a big issue.

I do want at least 4 slots for memory -- most Mobos I've seens come with only 2 slots which give me 8GB RAM at the most (2 * 4 GB modules) plus at least 3 or 4 PCI slots. I really would like to have as much as 32 GB RAM potentially available -- not initially but upgradeable.

Ideally Mobo should be based on the INTEL chipset and possibly support for DUAL CPU's -- although initially I'd start with only one (a QUAD processor).

Need enough PCI slots -- at least enough for 2 NIC's, NAS and RAID storage controllers.

Mobo should be also capable of "PCI Passthrough" allowing for example a PCI soundcard to be attached to a Virtual machine running on the server.

Cheers
jimbo
Personally, I would leave all the media (audio, video, NIC etc...) stuff in there, make sure the case is (rather) silent, and throw (not litterally) behind the TV.... you now have a server box with wireless keyboard and/or mouse (hell..seen as its on the network, get a mouse app for your iPod Touch, iPad or iPhone.. (unknown if mouse apps exist for Windows phones and/or android))

This way, You have (un)intentionally killed a second bird with your stone. -_0
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Good Mobo for server WITHOUT load of onboard junk




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