I recently picked up a (a few months ago) Dell R710 in order to leverage its higher memory and CPU capacity compared to the 2950 III’s I run from time to time in my lab. I bought it with dual Xeon E5530 CPUs which are 4-core CPUs clocked at 2.4 GHz. It only came with 12GB of DDR3 RAM, however, which is a bit limiting for an ESXi host.
My plan is to swap the E5530’s with E5649 (6-core, 2.53 GHz) or X5670’s (6-core, 2.9 GHz). My intention behind a CPU swap is to get two 6 core units which, with hyper-threading, will result in 24 vCPU within the one host. I also planned on adding as much memory as I could reasonably afford. For now, that ended up being 72GB. I found a seller on eBay selling 18 4GB PC3-10600R DIMMs for ~$189 shipped. I thought that was a pretty reasonable deal! So for now the CPUs will remain until I can scrounge up some extra homelab money to bump them up too.
Now, before anyone thinks I am getting ahead of myself by thinking 72GB of RAM is something remarkable – I know it’s not. I’ve deployed servers (ESXi, Oracle, etc.) with way, way more memory… but this is a homelab where 72GB is pretty darned nice!
The specs of this machine are:
- 2x Intel Xeon E5530 4-Core 2.4GHz CPUs (for now)
- 72GB (18 x 4GB) PC3-10600R RAM
- Intel Pro/1000 VT Quad-Port NIC
- 8 x 146GB 2.5″ 10K SAS drives in RAID10 on PERC6/i
- Dell MD1000 with 15 x 1TB 7.2K SATA Enterprise drives in RAID50 on PERC6/e
- iDRAC 6 Enterprise
- ESXi 6.0.0b w/ OMSA installed
Here’s my new (to me) 72GB of DDR3 ECC memory:
Here’s what 12GB of RAM looks like installed in an R710 – kind of funny:
And here is my R710 with 72GB in it:
72GB isn’t a ton – in fact, the R710 supports 288GB with the latest BIOS and 16GB DIMMs. I may upgrade to 8GB DIMMs this winter or spring, but for now 72GB should prove to be fine. My primary ESXi host has 32GB of RAM in it which is great for a primary box. I have a 2950 III cluster that is loaded with 32GB of RAM (3 nodes) that this R710 will replace.
So now it’s just a matter of letting this server run for a bit and validating that all of the DIMMs are good! The seller packed them well so I doubt there should be any issue, but as I’ve come to learn working with servers even brand new memory can trigger error correction rate thresholds, etc. For now, I am enjoying building VMs without worry about paring down my memory too far! Stay tuned as I plan on upgrading the 6-core CPUs shortly!