Time for a new server platform 3

i7It’s been a few years – more than I’d like to admit – since I hand built my current server/workstation.  It was way back in 2008 when living in Brisbane that I ponied up the cash to procure the appropriate hardware.

Fast forward to now, in 2014, the current rig is still functioning, albeit the hardware is very out of date. 

The Quad Core processor is a pre i-Series Intel which does not support Second Level Address Translation (SLAT), and therefore does not support the next generation Hyper-V/hyper virtualization technologies which are standard today.

It has come time to invest in a new server platform, so that I can hand test the current OS specifications and anything coming down the line.  As I have an existing (and fairly new) NAS, I don’t need a solid set of storage – I need memory and CPU grunt.

Here’s what I’m proposing (to myself):
Intel BX80633I74930K Hex Core i7-4930K 3.4Ghz 12MB LGA 2011 CPU
Asus P9X79-LE LGA 2011pin/8XDDR3/3XPCI-E/SATA3/USB3 ATX Motherboard (Supports up to 64GB of RAM)
Kingston HyperX KHX16LC10K2/16X or KHX16C10B1K2/16 16G kit DDR3 1600 RAM x2 (32GB total)

Now that’s not a bad start.  The idea would be to expand memory to the full 64 GB in due course.  This box doesn’t require an intensive GPU/graphics capability, and I’ll go with a moderately priced PSU, HDD and Graphics card.  The motherboard isn’t the cheapest, but when I compared it to more expensive models, I couldn’t see the benefits in the “TUF” style boards.

Intel i7 Family Comparison Table

I’m keen to see how the hex core processor responds to load (say, from SQL Server) and what the efficiency of the memory will be for non-persisted (in memory) operations – particularly with SQL Server 2014.

If you have any opinions on the spec please leave a comment.  Note that I’m on a budget, and I expect this rig to cost around AUD $1700.

Lastly – I think it would look pretty wicked in this case from Corsair:


Your thoughts?

Read my machine build review here.

Hyper-V 2012 Review: VHDX Disks

Microsoft will be introducing a new file format (VHDX) for virtual hard disks as part of Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012.  The original format (VHD) has been around for many years, the new format provides a host of additional benefits.

At a glance, the new format supports up to 64 terabytes, so this will help in situations where large volumes of data need to be catered for.  The sector alignment and increased block sizes mean disk utilization is improved, and makes more efficient usage of modern disk drives.  There’s also a logging mechanism to reduce the impact of power outages.

Here’s the main info from Technet:

[1] The main new features of the VHDX format are:

  • Support for virtual hard disk storage capacity of up to 64 TB.
  • Protection against data corruption during power failures by logging updates to
           the VHDX metadata structures.
  • Improved alignment of the virtual hard disk format to work well on large sector

The VHDX format also provides the following features:

  • Larger block sizes for dynamic and differencing disks, which allows these disks to
           attune to the needs of the workload.
  • A 4-KB logical sector virtual disk that allows for increased performance when
           used by applications and workloads that are designed for 4-KB sectors.
  • The ability to store custom metadata about the file that the user might want to 
           record, such as operating system version or patches applied.
  • Efficiency in representing data (also known as “trim”), which results in smaller file
           size and allows the underlying physical storage device to reclaim unused space.
           (Trim requires physical disks directly attached to a virtual machine or SCSI disks,
           and trim-compatible hardware.)

I’m going to be writing more about the new edition of Hyper-V in coming articles.  Check back for more, including the following:

  • Hyper-V Replica
  • Expanded processor and memory support
  • Dynamic Memory Improvements
  • Network adapter improvements