8 Replies Latest reply on Mar 18, 2009 3:15 PM by bdgowda

    Need Recomendation on MotherBoard/CPUs for Lab Virtulization Server



      I would like to build a server to host Windows Server 2008 (64 Bit) and Hyper-V in a lab environment for staging testing and learning of multiple Microsot technologies (including both 32 bit Windows and 64 bit Windows VMs). This would not be a production server and trying to keep a blanace on cost but also ensure functionality. Seems that I need  Dual Quad Core CPUs and as much RAM as possible. The only Dual CPU Intel Motherboard I see that can take 64 Gig of RAM is the S5400SF. Looks like it has 16 banks of Ram that can hold up to 4 gig each.



      What is the best CPU to place 2 of in this board from a price performance standpoint? Also curious if any other boards might be recomended for this task? I am not concerned about the footprint - happy to mount in a desktop or tower server case.



      I might consider one of the 32 gig max RAM boards as well. Any recomendations?







        • 1. Re: Need Recomendation on MotherBoard/CPUs for Lab Virtulization Server
          Christopher Peters



          Sorry about the delay in response.  I do not have access to performance and cost data on Hyper-V specifically but let me give you some thoughts that I think can help guide you.


          In the S5400SF board, you can use our 1st gen (Xeon 5300) or 2nd gen (Xeon 5400) quad-core processors.  The Xeon 5400 series processors use intel’s 45nm manufacturing technology to boost performance over the 5300 series deliver lower idle CPU power for better perf/watt and come at similar price points.  These Xeon 5400 series parts are very popular within the industry.


          The S5400SF board supports quad-core processors that run either 1333MHz or 1600MHz FSB.  The 1600MHz FSB is really designed for high performance computing environments so if your server is going to run virtualization, I think you could be OK with the 1333MHz. 


          On power level you have 3 options within the quad-core 1333MHz Xeon 5400 series: a few 50W, several 80W and a few 120W processors.  80W are the most popular. 50W were designed for power constrained environments.  At the bottom of this post is a picture of Xeon 5400 1333MHz cpus with the list prices from Intel and published integer (specint_rate).  These prices are in 1,000 unit quantities that we publish to our OEM so you would have to do your own research on pricing available to you and decide. 


          On memory size … up until recently the 4GB DIMMs have been at a hefty price premium over the 2GB.  If you can get the 4GB at a reasonable $/GB ratio similar to 2GB, I would go with the 4GB and 64GB RAM as it will give you more headroom to test in your development environment.


          Like you mentioned, other 2 socket boards (S5000PAL or S5000PSL) support 32GB memory due to 8 slots of FBD memory. These boards also use the 1333MHz FSB processors


          The other option is to evaluate a 4 socket server that uses Xeon 7300 series processors available from OEMs like Dell, HP, IBM, Sun and others.  These servers come with up to 32 slots of memory so you could get 128GB memory with 4GB DIMM and populate only 2 processors.


          My final thought on this subject is that I hear of many customers buying higher end processors and populating more memory and I/O when doing virtualization (vs single app / single server deployments) because of the headroom and capability the richer configurations provide enabling more virtual machine deployment per server, higher performance and better capex.  Not a very scientific assessment :-).


          Let me know what you choose and why - I’m curious.




          • 2. Re: Need Recomendation on MotherBoard/CPUs for Lab Virtulization Server
            Javed Lodhi




            Looking up boards supporting 32 or

            64GB of RAM and talking about Dual/Quad core Xeons to support virtualization

            using Hyper-V is understandable but here are a few things I feel you must

            specify and I will be adding a couple of considerations that you must keep in

            mind before finalizing your server.



            Since you will be setting up a test

            bud for trying different flavours of Microsoft operating systems,


            1. what is your total budget for this server?

            2. how many virtual machines will you be hosting at max

            3. what are the flavours of Microsoft OS you will be
                   running i.e. Windows Server 2003/8, Windows XP (32/64Bit), Windows Vista
                   (32/64Bit Home/Business/Enterprise)?

            4. what exact services will these operating systems
                   (virtual machines) be rendering as in Domain Controller, SQL Server, DHCP
                   Server, DB Server, Development Server etc etc?


            The point in gathering this

            information is that everytime you build a server, there is a load calculation

            you perform that involves the OS, services the server will be hosting and the

            number of users being entertained, in compliance to this the ideal load is

            calculated accordingly. This just doesn't include the processer's frequency or

            the capacity of main memory. Here are a few suggestions that I'd like to




            When you are building a server

            specifically for virtualization, ensure that the server you order is VT

            (Virtualization Technology) enabled. To find out about VT supported processors,

            use Intel Processor Finder



            In the processor finder, you have to

            specify the type of processor which in your case would be SERVER and the in

            drop down menu, select Intel XEON Processor ... you will get a long list of

            Xeon processors as a result, however in the tab stating SUPPORTING FEATURES,

            select "Intel Virtualization Technology" and press the button FILTER

            ON SELECTIONS that is just against it, you will get the processors that support

            virtualization. I am attaching the search results for processors that support

            VT for you anyway Intel VT Enabled Processor Furthermore, you can

            customize your selection according to Bus speed, Cores, Cache, Frequency as per

            your need. I propose the VT enabled processor since there isn’t much of a price

            difference but these processors are especially designed to handle the needs of




            You must know that it is not only

            the frequency and cores of a microprocessor that are taken into consideration

            but also,


            • RAM (Capacity and Bus Speed)

            • HDD (Capacity and RPM)

            • Motherboard (Chipset, Supported Processor/RAM/HDD
                   Controllers )


            Furthermore I can offer you that you send me your needs and

            I can customize a server for your virtualization needs. For pricing, you will

            have to contact your local Intel reseller or if you are already one, you can

            contact your Intel distributor for latest pricings and availability.



            I'd also encourage you to look into the  that have specifically addressed the SMB market and are highly recommended for Virtualization giving you an enormous cut down on electric power consumption and cost.






            Warm Regards,



            Javed Lodhi

            • 3. Re: Need Recomendation on MotherBoard/CPUs for Lab Virtulization Server
              Christopher Peters

              Javed, Thanks for pointing out that processor finder tool - I was not aware of it's existence - very helpful at narrowing down choices.

              Also, thanks for pointing out the importance of Intel VT for a virtualization project - i forgot to mention that feature in my response earlier.


              • 4. Re: Need Recomendation on MotherBoard/CPUs for Lab Virtulization Server
                Javed Lodhi


                You're welcome Chris!



                You enrich us with pretty valuable information all the time, I just tried to add something I thought could be useful. Thanks for the appreciation and your contributions that helps us all the time.






                Warm Regards,



                Javed Lodhi



                • 6. Re: Need Recomendation on MotherBoard/CPUs for Lab Virtulization Server
                  Javed Lodhi


                  You're most welcome ... do tell us about your experience with Virtualization.






                  Warm Regards,



                  Javed Lodhi



                  • 7. Re: Need Recomendation on MotherBoard/CPUs for Lab Virtulization Server



                    Hope this mail will find you in good health and best of spirts.


                    I read your comments in thread where you guys helped to set up ahis virtual lab and also recommeded not going for high range server just for the reason that they are available.


                    I'll be greatly obliged if you may please help me with the same. I started with a budget of INR 20k and have already extended it to 30K and i am very confused over the same.


                    I need to install 1 Server 2008 Enterprise as Host OS, 1 Windows-7 (Initially Beta version, First release to be out by Aug'09). 1 Vista, 3 Windows 2003 servers (One with Exchange 2007) on a Hyper-V enviroment. This server will never go in production and is just my test lab server I will have at my home, not even on a network. I am an Enterprise Professional Support Engineer with Microsoft. Thus, all this server needs to handle is the software load of this setup and never the productoin load.


                    Now, I iniially though of purchasing Q9650 with DQ45CB board for Rs. 26K but then found that i can have a Xeon at almost same price. I have a budget of 28-32K for CPU+Board+Cabinet.


                    2 GB 667/800 MHz DDR2 RAM is for INR 1,100. All the boards here support the same.


                    My vendor suggested following for Xeon:





                    E5405: INR 11,000 (2.0 GHz)

                    E5410:  INR 15,000 (2.3 GHz)

                    E5420: INR 18,000 (2.5 Ghz)






                    SR 5000VSA 4DIMM: INR  15,000 (Max 8 GB RAM @ 677 Mhz)

                    SR 5000VSA 8DIMM: INR 19,000 (Max 16  GB RAM @ 677 Mhz)


                    Now, I have following questions:


                    1. The Q9650 has higher Clock Speed (3 GHz as compared to 2.3 or 2.5 Xeon) and supports faster RAM (800 MHz as compared to 677 for above Xeon boards) and still costs lesser. Will Xeon perform faster even with lower speed ratios? Should I buy Xeon or Core 2 Quad?
                    2. What shud I buy: 2.3 GHz Xeon or 2.5 GHz? How much difference it actually makes?
                    3. What should I buy: 8 GB Board or 16 GB Board for Xeon?


                    I am really confused and not sure what to do and would highly apreciate your help.


                    Thanks for your time,

                    With Regards,

                    Amit Saxena

                    • 8. Re: Need Recomendation on MotherBoard/CPUs for Lab Virtulization Server



                      Xeon's are optimized for Server based applicaitons and datacenters, they have high heat tolerance, built to provide multiple processor support and to scale that way. One small difference you can notice between Xeon and QC desktop version is in power envelope QC 9650 has a TDP of 95W while Xeon 5420 is around 80W. Since you have already stated that you only tend to use this as your lab machine to play around, IMO it makes sense for you to go with QC 9650 which is cheaper in terms of both processor and MB.  You might find some difficulties in finding drivers for windows server OS running on a desktop platform, since Intel won't support or provide Server OS drivers for Desktop boards, however if you get a bit creative you can have the OS up and running using 64bit Vista drivers.