From the Quad-core “Extreme” desktop processors, to 64bit Operating Systems that are almost ready for prime-time, the options are limitless.
I recently ‘came into’ some hardware and decided to build a server workstation around it.
The ‘found’ hardware was 16G of Registered, ECC memory in a 4×4 configuration. (From a client for whom I upgraded to 4×8 who told me to…and I quote…”Keep it, I’ve got no use for it.” – Why thank you, don’t mind if I do.)
First step was to put a motherboard under it. Most people know that Registered, Fully buffered, ECC memory won’t work in any motherboard. Requires server hardware. So I go to my favorite computer shop, Affinity Computer Technologies (Sterling, Virginia area) and I ask Bill what I I should buy.
- Must take the memory I have on hand.
- 2x PCIe x16 slots (for the dual/dual-port video cards I run)
- at least 1x PCI-X slot for the Emulex LP9802-DC.
What he comes up with, after about 15 minutes of careful research (he’s that good) is a Supermicro X7DAL-E+ motherboard. (Link – pictured above)
This board rocks. Dual Xeon, supports up to 24G of RAM, and meets the rest of my requirements.
Next buy was the processors, because i certainly don’t have Xeon processors lying around. (Well, point of fact, I do, but not THOSE Xeon processors) I opted for a pair of Quad-Core 2.0Ghz processors. They weren’t the best processors I could buy, but they were in my price range.
Thanks to the boys at Affinity, the whole thing was had for under $1,250.
And I bought a new case, the Antec 300, because I the case i was running wasn’t fully ATX compliant, and required that I choose between having a CD-Rom and the second processor. (Not gonna happen) Antec makes some pretty decent looking / sized cases for under $100.
No hard-drives please. I’m booting from SAN.
First thing I have to say is that when I first installed Win7 on my old workstation, I learns is that powerpath does NOT work correctly at all on Windows 7.
Second thing I learn is that Windows2008-R2 64Bit almost perfectly emulates Windows7 when you put it in desktop mode and enable all the bells/whistles.
Third thing I learn is that 8CPU cores 16G’s of ram, and 2 1Gbyte video cards makes World of Warcraft SCREAM. 😉 Even when there are four VM’s running in the background. 🙂 Yes, I’m *THAT* nerd. 🙂
But the best part of it was the migration. Now as I’ve said in the past I’ve been running the boot-from-san for some time (most recently with the Win2k8R2/Powerpath up and running), so of course the Emulex drivers were already a part of the operating system. So this is how it went:
1. Build new system.
2. Shut down old system.
3. Move Video/Emulex cards to new system
4. Connect and Power On.
5. Reboot twice as motherboard/CPU specific drivers are loaded.
Total migration time – about 45 minutes, including hardware swap.
Now *THIS* is the reason I strongly support and encourage boot-from-san in a datacenter. Not only does it make it amazingly easy to protect your data. (SnapView, MirrorView, etc) but you have the option of upgrading hardware and keeping your disks/OS in-tact.
So when the G3 HP’s go out of fashion, you shut it down, make a simple zoning/masking change, and power the new box on.
if it’s linux, you don’t even need a reboot most of the time… (however your ifconfig settings will need to be updated – they’ll get hashed when the MAC of the network card is changed.
This is what I do for fun. 😉