Working ESXi4 on Asus V2-M3N8200 Barebones Chassis
Machine is a barebones systems with added CPU/RAM/RAID/NIC/HDD. Details below.
Total cost was around £330 and £50 for the RAID card from ebay
Before starting the ESXi install, I disabled the internal LAN card via the BIOS as I had already put in the Intel card and knew the chances of the internal card working were low. I also installed the SATA RAID card and connected both drives. On first boot I created a RAID 1 array from both drives via the RAID card interface.
For the ESXi4 install, I used the method below. I installed ESXi4 onto a 2GB SD card, and, as the machine has a media reader which can be booted from, it loaded once I made it the primary boot device. Doing this was very easy and slightly genius!http://www.vcritical.com/2009/08/create ... rkstation/
ESXi4 seemed to work fine on first boot initially, but, it would hang after about 30 minutes of use which was pretty worrying. So, I did a motherboard firmware upgrade to version 0604 (can't remember the initial version) and afterwards it seems fine, phew. Link to page with firmware update in case you are doing this also. The upgrade itself was easy. Put the file on a usb flash disk, go into the BIOS, choose the ezflash utility and it can read the usb drive and update from it. Very cool.http://support.asus.com/download/downlo ... uage=en-us
The RAID card used was an Adaptec AAR 2610SA 6 port sata card. I put 2 drives in mirror mode and it seems to work fine. I had to go into datastore configuration the datastore and prompt ESXi to use it, but other than that, works great. The card has no battery so I disabled write caching via the RAID card interface during boot. I'm not sure it was even enabled, but best make sure as a powercut could make things intersting if left on. Thats it! Easy.
Very impressed so far, may get more RAM later (has 4 slots which is nice in a small PC, using 2). The machine itself is also very very quiet which is a huge bonus. The 300W PSU could be a little weedy. But, it looks like a standard case so it can be replaced if need be. Had no issues so far so not going to change.
I also managed to overclock the CPU from 2.6Ghz to 3.1Ghz. I haven't stress tested this and it may go higher, but this seems a decent boost while maintaining stability so not wanting to push my luck (200Mhz to 240Mhz in BIOS if interested). Using stock AMD cooler suppplied with chip. Seems to do the job. More details on chip below, supports full hardware virtualization and is very cheap, cost £75. I looked at intel for my server but the range is pretty diverse and confusing. The chips with virtualization are mainly high-end and expensive (the Q8200 doesn't do VM!). AMD seems to be virtualized across most chips which is great.http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=2452http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/260 ... re-support
One minus point is that the case has only space for 2 hard disks, so adding drives may be a bit messy later. Also, it hs only one sata power cable!!! It has about 5 (I think) 4-pin molex connectors so I had to go to Maplin to get a molex to sata convertor. Bit of a pest but grab a couple adaptors and you should be fine. Links to equipmet below.
ASUS V2-M3N8200 Black Barebone for AM2 with Nvidia GeForce 8200 VGAhttp://www.ebuyer.com/product/152741
AMD Athlon II X4 620 2.6GHz AM3 Retail Boxed Processorhttp://www.ebuyer.com/product/173368
2 x Maxtor STM3500418AS 500GB Hard Drive SATAII 7200rpm 16MB Cache - OEMhttp://www.ebuyer.com/product/159390
Kingston 4gb (2x2gb) 800mhz/pc2-6400 Memory Non-ecc Cl6http://www.ebuyer.com/product/167738
Intel PRO/1000 GT PCI Desktop Adapter - OEM Versionhttp://www.ebuyer.com/product/78400