Gathering spare parts that I already had on hand, as well as purchasing a few cost effective parts, I’ve assembled all that I need to build and test ESXi 5.0 in a home-lab environment. The goal of this project is familiarize myself with the features of ESXi 5.0, as well as exploring advanced virtualization features like IOMMU.
Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 830 ($49.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3 ($109.99 @ Microcenter)
RAM: 2 x G.Skill F3-12800CL9D-8GBSR Sniper 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) DDR3 1600 (Spare Part)
Seagate Barracuda ES.2 1 TB 7200 RPM SATA HDD (Spare Part)
Western Digital WD800AAJS 80 GB 7200 RPM SATA HDD (Spare Part)
Kingston 4 GB SDHC Card (Spare Part) Vantec 58-in-1 Internal Card Reader
Graphics: Diablotek VARX-8P ATi Rage XL 8MB SDRAM PCI Video Card ($11.96 @ Microcenter)
Network: Realtek RTL8111E (Onboard)
Optical: 2 x LITE-ON 24X DVD+-RW Drive (Spare Part)
Power Supply Unit: Corsair CMPSU-430CX 430W PSU (Spare Part)
Case: Thermal Master TC-102 ($36.99 @ Microcenter)
It can be tricky to find out which motherboards support VT-d/IOMMU, as very few consumer motherboards support this feature. With the help of the whitebox suggestions over at vm-help.com, I was able to find a Socket AM3+ IOMMU capable motherboard, the Gigabyte GA-970-UD3. According to AMD’s technical specs, the AMD 970, 990X, and 990FX series all support IOMMU, but true support is largely dependent if the option is actually available in the BIOS settings and working correctly.
As I continue to explore several ESXi features, I will be adding additional parts onto this build as needed, but for now, these components will do. In the next several posts, I will go over the installation procedure for ESXi 5.0.