Hardware for running 4 images with VmWare Workstation

Discussion in 'Business & Enterprise Computing' started by andydev, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. andydev

    andydev Member

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    Hi,

    We use VmWare for our development systems, since we can handle versions, etc... very easily.

    We now need to build a computer that will be able to run 4 images of Windows XP with our software installed (our software is pretty resource heavy).

    Which hardware would you recommend? Our budget is about $2500, and we don't need a strong graphic card or an huge screen.

    Should I just build a strong core 2 quad intel pc (VmWare knows how to use 4 cores) or should I go straight to XEON (or something else)

    What do you guys recommend?


    [edit]Error on the title, should be 4 images, not 3.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  2. NSanity

    NSanity Member

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    Specs on the VM's?

    how much ram do they have assigned to them?
     
  3. OP
    OP
    andydev

    andydev Member

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    2 of the images will need 1gb ram, the other two will need about 512mb.
     
  4. NSanity

    NSanity Member

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    Add 512-1024mb of ram of the OS.

    Considered going a 64 bit OS with 4gb ram?
     
  5. Kodaz

    Kodaz Member

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    Okay,

    So what you need is enough to run 4 VM's that require 3GB RAM and some CPU power. This should do it:

    1x Seagate 80GB SATA II 7200RPM 8mb Cache $55
    4x Western Digital 320G SATAII 7200 rpm HDD $328
    1x Corsair DDR2 Twin2X 4096 6400C5 4Gb $109
    1x Antec NSK6580 Solution Series ATX MiniTower $135
    1x Promise TX4650 4xSAS/SATA PCI-E Raid Controller 0,1,5 $220
    1x Intel CORE 2 QUAD Q9550/2.83GHz/12MB CACHE/1333MHz FSB/LGA775 $507
    1x Gigabyte GA-EG31MF-S2 G31 1333MHzDual DDR2-800 PCI Express x16 Int $115

    Total $1469 (prices from Umart)

    4x 2.83GHz cores, 4GB of RAM and a 80GB system drive with the VM's on 4x320GB Drives in either RAID 10 or RAID 0 based on the need for speed or some redundancy.

    Spend the remaining $1k on the other bits less needed like monitor, keyboard, mouse, DVD, etc and that should be it.

    Alternatively run the drives in non RAID and have one VM per drive.

    Edit:

    And no need for 64bit as the int graphics will use next to no RAM so should have plenty left for the system.
     
  6. NSanity

    NSanity Member

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    I mean you're not spending a lot of money on it as it is - but is this dev, test or prod?

    *wait - I read the initial post *

    Individual disks/arrays work well in Prod environments (or Arrays with lots of IOPS).

    I use one and I have about 15 VM's spread between 3x 2 drive 15k Raid1 arrays...
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  7. Kodaz

    Kodaz Member

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    Says developement system in first line of OP
     
  8. OP
    OP
    andydev

    andydev Member

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    it's for QA and dev (test).

    The thing is that I have one system that has 3gb RAM, on a quad core 2.8ghz (no raid) and I run two images, and the system is pretty slow. Do you think the raid will make big difference?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2008
  9. Kodaz

    Kodaz Member

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    Yes,

    The RAID will alow it to handle a greater IO depth, sperate spindles for each VM will do this as well. If you have the RAM and CPU available (ie the VM's aren't maxed out) this will be the likely bottleneck.
     
  10. kogi

    kogi Member

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    I would NOT raid. And put each VM on their own separate drive. And ditch the raid controller.
     
  11. Kodaz

    Kodaz Member

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    In the non RAID case change the motherboard to the Gigabyte GA-EG45M-DS2H M/B at $189 as it has 5 sata ports and lose the RAID card.
     
  12. tensop

    tensop Member

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    i would not go raid either for this specific purpose


    individual I/O streams > single stream

    Unless you want to say, do 4x raid 0 arrays :p

    redundancy be damned!


    At home im running 3x win2k3 AD VM's, 10x winXP VM's, 2 linux VM's off 8gb, core2 quad 3.73Ghz

    Biggest limitation is that there is only 4 hard disks

    Still quite snappy but

    only time CPU really get maxed out 100% is when ghosting in a 16bit enviro
     
  13. gbh

    gbh Member

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    I'm currently running 4 x server 2008 vm's in production via esxi
    Dell 2950 - dual quad core Xeon e5410's, 8 gig ddr2 667mhz, 3 x 400 gig 10k rpm SAS in Raid 5
    not a problem
     
  14. Smoke87

    Smoke87 Member

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    You could always take a 3rd party controller or image and setup the RAID0 array to be imaged to a RAID1 array each night, or, is it possible to setup a RAID0 and then have the RAID0 as a member of a RAID1 array?
     
  15. tensop

    tensop Member

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    that's called a nested array. Raid 01/10/50/51 etc etc

    all raid modes have their specific advantage, except that - they do not help with one of the core limitations of hard drives - seek time(that's what SSD/15k drives etc are for)
     
  16. OP
    OP
    andydev

    andydev Member

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    Thanks for the help guys.

    Is there a big difference between running ESX and running VmWare Workstation just to run Dev machines?
     
  17. Aetherone

    Aetherone Member

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    I'd suggest 4 cores, x64 OS, at least 8GB of ram (pref 16GB), and either one drive per image, or drives with better seek times and I/O performance. 15K SAS would be best, but its awfully expensive. On a budget, V-Raptors should do just fine, and you should be able to run 2x guest per drive assuming the guests are not I/O pigs. On a tighter budget, multiple 6400AAKS might have sufficient throughput to keep you happy, esp if you shortstroke them and distribute the VMs over as many drives as possible.

    With 5 OS'es hitting the drives, I/O becomes important. This can be partially offset by providing enough ram that all the systems rarely need to hit their swap but with so many access threads, seek time becomes far more important than STR.

    I'd be careful about the performance of the hosts system drive too - if it's forced to swap, this will have detrimental effects on the guest performance.
     
  18. Dutch Wink

    Dutch Wink Member

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    are your guests getting enough RAM, though?

    512mb is a pittance these days - get a 64bit system with 8gb ram and double what you're offering to the guests.

    also agree with aetherone - spend the money on some raptors - raid 10 if you dont want to rebuild the vm's, or spread the four vm's across two drives if you don't mind a rebuild.

    also, if you're running the workstation edition, look around for a host option that allows vmware to page some guest ram to the host pagefile, and turn it off. you will notice a huge difference immediately.
     
  19. saba

    saba Evil Vizier

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    $200. Very affordable. Newer consumer motherboards are coming out with SAS support. They're quiet nowdays too.
     
  20. Phool

    Phool Member

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    How do you manage the VMs?
     

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