I am looking for some advice on the right processor to choose for building my own ESXi server, this server's purpose will not to be to run mutiple VM's at the same time but more to allow me to run multiple operating systems. However there will be occassions where I may need to run for example a server operating system and a client operating system. As the ESXi server is for mainly personal development use, the budget I have is limited which is where the right processor model to get the best value for money is giving me some serious headscratching.
I have decided that I am going to use a Intel Core i7 processor for the ESXi server, I know it is not on the HCL for ESX but many people have used it with no problems, I dont want to go down down the route of using a non-hypervisor based solution as this to me wastes so much resources and certainly from my experience has a major effect on the performance of the VM guests. Therefore I have been looking at the 920 and 860 models of the i7 family, both of which are priced around the same level but choosing a 860 reduces the overall build price as it uses the cheaper P55 chipset based motherboards rather then the X58 chipset based motherboards. On par the 860 only ever decreases performance wise (in numerous tests I have read on the internet) by at the most 5% (however it beats the 920 when writing to memory....). The key difference is that the 860 model only uses a dual channel memory controller rather then a triple channel memory controller.
My question is what sort of performance gains can I expect to see using triple channel memory over dual channel memory on a ESXi based system, is it significant or only a real factor if I am putting the ESXi host server under strain by running enough operating systems to utilise all of the physcial RAM I have?
Hello, and welcome
To be brutally honest, CPU is rarely a limiting factor for ESXi. Almost always the bottleneck is physical disk, followed by lack of physical RAM (making the disk issue worse of course). Any quad-core CPU will probably be absolutely fine, just make sure the board has enough RAM capacity to support whatever level of concurrency you need. Allow 2GB for ESXi and add up the amount of RAM needed by guests running concurently.
In my experience once and ESXi server is in, more and more uses are found for it over time so allow for plenty of headroom!
FWIW a common home-lab setup is based around HP's ML115 G5 quad-core with 8GB RAM, booting from internal USB flash (have a look through the articles on http://www.techhead.co.uk).
Please award points to any useful answer.
Thanks for the greetings, even more thanks for the information. I am going to that a look at the Core 2 Quad range of Intel Processors to see if these are a more suitable choice, many thanks for the tips on where the bottlenecks for ESXi servers usally occur.
Following the advice given, I have decided to go for a high-end desktop configuration with the ability to OC the Q6600 CPU as the G0 model of this CPU has some excellent OC potential, which is something I have always wanted to look at. HW configuration as follows (ESXi Whitebox HCL confirmed):
ASUS P5Q Deluxe
CIT 550w Gold 12cm Silent PSU
Artic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev 2.0
Geil GX24GB8500C5UDC DDR2 1066 4096MB x 2 (Kits of 2)
Zalman Z7 Plus ATX Mid Tower Case
ASUS HD 4350 PCI-E 1GB DDR (remember this is a ESXi whitebox so GPU not a key area).
Intel Pro 1000 GT PCI Card
Samsung 8GB MLC SSD SATA (for the ESXi install)
WD Caviar Blue 500GB SATA 11 16MB Cache x 2
HL DT-ST DVD RAM GH22NP20