Posted in: virtualisation

VMWare ESX Host refresh

I’ve been running my servers on a VMWare ESXi white box for some time now,  and the old hardware is no longer up to the job.  It only really the RAM that is a problem, but the motherboard, an Asus P5WS DG Pro I have only supports up to 8Gb, which is no longer enough.

I’ve done some research and the I’ve chosen a Asus P8Z77-V mother board with 32Gb of Corsair DDR3 Ram, and a Intel i3-3220 CPU.  Neither the CPU or Main board support VT-d extensions, but that’s not important to me.  I wanted an onboard VGA card, so that I don’t use up a slot / power on a separate card.  The onboard NIC is reported to work too.

I’ve moved the old PCI-X LSI Logic Mega RAID 150-4 raid card to the new system for the storage, and am booting of an old laptop 2.5inch SATA drive for the ESXi install.

After buying the kit, and installing the latest ESXi 5.1.0 on the machine all looked good, but I’ve been getting random freezes.  I don’t get a PSOD, but just no response from the machine – no ping’s, nor any repsonse on the console.

I’ve done some digging on the forums etc, and there are some things to try

  • Disable as many mother board devices as possible that are not used
  • Disable ACPI
  • Disable interupt remapping in ESXi (KB 1030265)

As the problem only appears every few days, this is going to take some time to find I fear.

The first thing I’ve done is check the BIOS settings, and I’ve disabled all the unwanted things:  USB Adapters, Onboard Sound, COM port.  I also have disabled the memory-remap feature of the mother board too. I’ve restarted things, and just have to wait.

Update Nov 2013

After much messing about I’ve decided that the issue might be hardware, so I changed the CPU over for a Inetl G610 processor to see if that helped.  It did, stability returned.  I suspected that either the i3-3220 cpu was faulty or that the mother board / esx combination does not like 22nm processors.  After I was really sure that the G610 was OK I decided to get a decent 32nm processor, and installed a i3-2120, which has the same features as the i3-3220 excepting hyper threading, but as I’m not really cpu bound I can live with that.

Update Jan 2014.

So far I’ve seen no issues at all with the i3-2120 CPU so I’ve cracked it.