14 May 2011

My Lab and Home Equipment

I’ve been getting quite a lot of emails asking what equipment I’m running in my home lab. Rather than having to reply to each and every email with the full inventory, I thought it would be a better idea to just post it on here.

Now, my home lab is nothing special. In comparison to the toys that some people have the pleasure of playing with in their labs, and I’m not mentioning any names (hmmm, Mike Laverick), my little environment is very cheap and simple, but it does the job well enough for me, so I can’t really justify any upgrades. Not at the moment anyhow.

Let’s start with the stuff you’re probably most interested in, the servers:

For VMware vSphere, I have two whitebox servers, each with the following configuration:

  1. AMD FX-8320E 8-Core FX Series CPU
  2. Asus M5A78L-M/USB3 Socket AM3+ Motherboard (Micro-ATX)
  3. 2x CORSAIR CML16GX3M2A1600C9 (32GB Dual Channel DDR3)
  4. 350W BeQuiet PURE L8 BN221 Power Supply
  5. Gigabyte GZ-MA02 Case (Micro-ATX)
  6. 1X Intel PRO/1000 GT Dual Port Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
  7. No local disk drives. Boot ESXi 5.5 from a USB stick

In addition, I also use two of the following specification machines in a two node "compute" cluster when testing vCD or vCAC deployments

  1. HP Proliant ML110 G5
  2. Intel Xeon 3065 @ 2.3GHz (FT is unfortunately not supported)
  3. 8GB RAM
  4. 1x Onboard Broadcom NC105i Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
  5. 1X Intel PRO/1000 GT Dual Port Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
  6. No Internal Hard Disk Drive
  7. Boot ESXi 5.5 from a USB Stick installed internally on the motherboard.

 For shared storage, I have a Synology DS1512+, populated with 4 1x TB disks in RAID10. This configuration provides more than enough storage capacity for my requirements. In addition, the Synology DS1512+ also has support for VAAI.

Network Equipment:

The hosts are all connected via a 3COM (HP) Baseline 2924, 24-port gigabit managed switch.

Now I would advise that this is a non-production, test environment only. There’s not much resilience in there. I simply do not have any more space for any more server and network equipment. Besides, I costs a small fortune to power these things 24x7 anyway.

So that covers the servers. My “desktop” PC on the other hand is entirely another matter. Seeing as I really only buy a new PC every 5 or 6 years, and seeing that I’ll be using this machine predominantly in my spare time to run graphics intensive applications such as Flight Simulators, I really went all out on this one in terms of performance, power and stability:

  • Cooler Master CM Stacker 830 Full Tower Case
  • Antec TPQ-1200OC TruePower Quattro OC 1200W Modular Power Supply (PSU)
  • ASUS Rampage III Extreme X58 Motherboard
  • Intel i7 950 CPU (surprisingly the slowest component in the box)
  • 12GB RAM: 6X Corsair Memory Dominator GT 2GB DDR3 1866 Triple Channel Modules
  • 1X Samsung 840 PRO 128GB SATA III SSD (Operating System Install)
  • 1X 64GB OCZ Vertex 2 SATA II 2.5" SSDs (Flight Simulator installs)
  • 1TB Seagate SATA II drive for applications and data storage
  • 1x Onboard Gigabit Ethernet Port
  • M-Audio Revolution 5.1 Sound Card (PCI)
  • XFX ATI Radeon HD 5970 Black Edition 2GB Graphics Card

Just a quick note on the case: I cannot stress enough just how large this case is. IT IS HUGE! I caught myself starring in amazement at the thing for about 20 minutes when it arrived. If you ever think about getting one of these cases or a similar one of that matter, make sure you have enough space to park this thing NEXT to your desk, because it’s not going anywhere else!

Just a quick note on the graphics card: The graphics card is the main reason for my decision to purchase the CM Stacker Case. I needed to get a case that would provide sufficient space for the card to actually fit into. The graphics card is a massive13 inches long and believe me when I say that it just about fits the case with maybe an inch or so to spare at most.

For stability reasons, this card also demands a certified power supply that is capable of a bare minimum 600W. As I have plans to install a second card and maybe even a third card in a cross-fire configuration later on, I thought it would be best if I make sure that I buy one power supply now that will provide sufficient stable power for future upgrades.


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