I'm building a new machine to run VMWare Worksation 7 virtual machines. The host will run Windows 7 Ultimate.
This is a development machine, not a multi-user server. The machine will run Visual Studio, MS-Office, Subversion, CI, SQL Server and Web Server, each on its own virtual machine (guests will be XP, Windows 7, 2003 or 2008 Servers), but the load will not be too high (except for the music playing on the host machine, for which I've already bought an Assus Essence Stx :).
The machine will be connected to three monitors (1x24" + 2x20"), and I plan to buy an ATI 5770.
Anyhow, as the load isn't too high I'm thinking on a one i5/i7 desktop processor machine (probably the i7-930 or the i7-860, but I need to know: Are there any important features specific for virtualization support found in Xeons and server motherboards and missing in desktops?
I ran VMware Player doing protein folding (Folding@Home) for weeks on Core i5-650 Clarkdale with 4 GB and Windows 7 Enterprise. ran fine. The threads are 80%+ the value of a real core. I am doing the same VM on Core i5-870 with heavy graphics on 2 cards and get very good results. I see no reason to go to Xeon to do virtualization. there could be other reasons, but basic VM technology on desktops works fine with adequate cycles and memory.