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Is it possible to swap processors on HP servers when upgrading them to dedicated VMWare ESX Servers?

Posted on 2008-10-28
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Last Modified: 2013-11-29
I have three HP Proliat DL380 G5 servers with the following processor configuration:

Server1: Single quad-core x86
Server2: Dual quad-core x86
Server3: Dual quad-core x64

I am about to convert these three servers to be ESX servers for my new VMWare rollout. The problem is that I want to also virtualize my Exchange environment, which is currently 2003. I know if I upgrade to Exchange 2007 I will need x64 processors, which is fine if I run the VM on Server3. But if Server3 fails and VMotion moves the VM to Server1 or 2, what happens to my Exchange 2007 VM?

My actual question is whether or not it's a problem to simply purchase four new x64 processors and put them in place of the three x86 processors now. I know I cannot do this with the machines as they are in production now, since all three are running Server 2003 on the x86 processors... but if I replace the CPU's as I convert these to ESX servers, is this possible and will there be problems running VMs that have been initially installed on x86 systems?
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Question by:alan2938
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by:andrew_aj1
ID: 22823311
It should not be a problem to replace your CPU's in those units right before you install ESX. Your going to be wiping the data from those systems so they will be like new. Just make sure your motherboard supports the new processors.
I hope this helps. Good luck.
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by:alan2938
ID: 22823325
All three servers are identical except for RAM and CPU configuration. I was hoping you'd say it was easy like that :)
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by:alan2938
ID: 22823355
And just to clarify, any VM created from a x86 Windows image will work on the x64 ESX server?
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by:paulsolov
ID: 22825212
From my experience all DL380 G5 support 64  bit guests.

Just get a second CPU for Server1 and you're all set (to match the other two servers config and take advantage of licensing since they're licensed by 2 CPUs with vmware)

Just make sure to turn on Virtualization on in the BIOS and you're good to go.

X86 VMs will work in ESX since the CPUs have EMt64 the ESX hosts are already installed on x64 hardware.  If you have windows servers running on the current hardware create a single ESX host, convert the other physical servers to the ESX.  You can then collaps the the other servers and install ESX on them.
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by:alan2938
ID: 22825276
>> X86 VMs will work in ESX since the CPUs have EMt64 the ESX hosts are already installed on x64 hardware.

That sentence doesn't make sense to me. Are you saying I can Virtualize Exchange Server 2007 (which requires x64 CPUs) on the existing machines with the x86 architecture CPUs?

Why get just one additional CPU for Server1 when the existing Server1 CPU and both CPUs of Server2 are only x86 architecture?
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by:paulsolov
ID: 22825336
the DL380 G5 support X64 virtual machines, you should be able to create x64 and x86 virtual machines (mix and match) without any issues.  I would get the same CPU you have in there now so that you can take advantage of the vmware licensing and so that if you create a cluster it will be easier to spread the load.

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by:alan2938
ID: 22826126
Hm.. I'm still a bit confused as VMWare is new to me. We are currently running the free version only of VMWare on Server3 (the only existing server with x64 processors). I want to have the CPU upgrades ready so that when I convert the physical machines to VMs as I convert the three servers to ESX servers I can pop in the CPUs.
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paulsolov earned 300 total points
ID: 22827177
As I mentioned before, if you install ESX on the sDL380 G5 ervers that you currently have they will give you the capability to convert x86 and x64 bit machines without an issues.  All G5 models are x64 processors which allows you to run either x86 or x64 operating systems.  If you are running Windows 2003 x86 on one of the servers that you have and you wipe it clean and install ESX you can convert or create new x64 bit machines as well x86 machines without any problems.

If you give me the part numbers to the servers I will give you a link on the HP website but if they're quad core processors they include Intel Virtualization and EMT64.  EMT64 is 64 bit processor and Virtualization allows you to have 64 bit virtual machines installed.

Your current processors are sufficient to run ESX with both type of virtual machines

Hope this helps
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by:andyalder
andyalder earned 100 total points
ID: 22831783
As Paulsolov says you've already got 64 bit CPUs that support Intel Virtualization, all you have to do is enable it in BIOS since it is turned off by default.
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by:alan2938
ID: 22831943
Wow, great. Thanks guys. So it looks like I just need ONE additional CPU to make Server2 a dual processor machine. I'm going to upgrade the firmware on all three servers to make sure I have all the latest BIOS updates before moving forward.
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by:paulsolov
paulsolov earned 300 total points
ID: 22833839
yes

When you install ESX on these machines it is a good idea to install HP Insight agents.

If you're installing ESXi there is VMWare build with the agents installed.
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by:alan2938
ID: 22833899
I purchased the mid-tier VMWare acceleration kit (full licensing for three hosts) so I'll have the full ESX platform with VMotion. The package comes with setup from our VMWare consultant, so I'll make sure he installs that. Thanks for the advice guys.
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by:paulsolov
paulsolov earned 300 total points
ID: 22836387
If you have the funds setting up ILO2 on the back would also be beneficial.  This will allow you remote access the console even if the system crashes so you may remotely install applications via virtual media via ILO
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by:andrew_aj1
andrew_aj1 earned 100 total points
ID: 22836481
ILO and Dell's DRAC are both great tools and I use them with the servers i manage.
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