Almost 3 years.. need Moar RAM!! (new home server time)

So I’m back, and this time to blog about my updates to my home network.

Looking through my history here, its been 2.5 years since I set up my current incarnation of my home server, which is a neat little mATX case and motherboard, with an aging Lynnfield X3450 Xeon cpu, a supermicro motherboard, and 32GB of ECC.  Its served me well, but sad to say, I find 32GB of memory a little limiting, given that the little box runs a number of VM’s for varying purposes:

  • pfSense with dual NIC PCI passthrough – my gateway/firewall/squid proxy server/dns/dhcp host
  • freeNAS with LSI HBA pass through – my home file server serving CIFS(SMB), nfs, DLNA etc.
  • Win8.1 Pro VM – SQL Server Lite plus anything else I want to run on Windows
  • Fedora24 VM – mail server
  • Fedora 18 VM – untouched but often used ledgersmb accounting software
  • Centos 7 – stable database server
  • WinXP – useful for some older 32-bit software, like car parts electronic catalogues from VW etc.
  • Various Centos6/C7/Fedora dev environments

So as you can see, a mix of Windows, Linux and BSD systems, all cohabiting nicely on a somewhat old install of Centos 6 Xen baremetal hypervisor.  Its held up admirably, but the CPU is struggling these days, and more importantly, I needs more rams.

So the decision and experimentation process has started..

Stuff I’ve bought so far:

  • 18x sticks of 8GB DDR3 ECC
  • 2x HP SAS 9205-8i based PCI-e 3.0 HBA (which I’ll attempt to flash with an LSI IT-mode firmware)
  • 2x Xeon X5660 LGA1366 hex-core cpu’s
  • Tyan S7012 dual-1366 server motherboard
  • Quad port 1GB PCI-e 4x network card
  • Fractal Define XL R2 case (huge – but needs to fit SSI-EEB or E-ATX motherboards)

I haven’t completely settled on the motherboard and CPU’s yet.. being very very tempted by the cheap Xeon E5-2670 CPU’s out there, altho’ motherboards to go with them are pricey and relatively hard to find.  I should be happy with 12 cores (24 threads) and 144GB of RAM, but I find myself being drawn to the idea of 16 cores and 128GB RAM (or 192GB RAM if I get one of the superhuge Supermicro EE-ATX boards).  Total overkill, but I’m sure I’ll find a use for the extra grunt somehow.

So.. thats the intro summary.. over the next few weeks and months, I’ll be experimenting with the build, and working out whats practical.  I’m hoping to sort out the box using Xenserver this time around, as its moved on and now supports 64-bit PVHVM guests, and should give me the performance I want.. assuming I can bend it to my will for storage configuration etc.

I’m also considering upgrading networking capabilities – therre are some new swsitches on the market which have a few 10GBe SFP+ ports, and 24 1GBe ports, and having 10GBe from the file server to the switch would be good I’m sure (rationalising here :D).


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