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Need advice for VMWare Player computer setup

Posted on 2011-02-22
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hi, I am setting up a new computer for the sole purpose of running some virtual machines with vmware player simultanously.

-The VM`s will be responsible for network re-routing (proxy) so what I need the most is processing power to send and receive packets.
-They will be running a home made server written in .NET. The application is heavily multithreaded.
-I will have at least 4 VM per computer, so the specs should be based on 4 VM`s running at full speed (approx 150GO traffic per month per VM).
-There will be nothing else than VMWare running on the host computer.

So I would like a few advices. CPU? RAM? etc.

Also, I am running the VM`s on windows xp right now, should I use windows server 2003 instead? Will there be a big difference? (Everything works fine now on xp, so I would only opt for windows server if it can drastically change the performances).

I would also like to know if there would be big performance advantages by using the other paid vmware releases? I don`t need the fancy snapshots or anything like that, the vmware player features are sufficient for me but performance-wise, would there be a better choice?

I would also like any other tips, I am fairly new with vmware so any bit could help! (vm`s configuration tips, etc.)

Thanks
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Question by:MikeDotNet555
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by:coolsport00
ID: 34957389
If you have a host capable of installing ESXi (vsphere Hypervisor - free version), that would be my recommendation. That will cancel out host OS overhead for the most part since ESXi installs directly on hardware. You can install ESXi on a USB stick, then use your hard drives for all your storage/datastores. If you have it, I recommend at least a single quad-core server, with 24-32GB RAM. Why so much RAM? To cover your VMs, the ESXi host, and potentially adding another VM, if needed.

~coolsport00
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by:coolsport00
ID: 34957396
You can check any of your hosts against VMware's HCL to see if it (they) is supported:
http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php

It's pretty simple to do, really. If you don't have a host to support ESXi, you can run Player. Just make sure you have enough RAM to cover your VMs (whatever your requirement is) as well as the host the VMs are on. For CPU...dual or quad socket, and multi-core is my recommendation. VMs tend to hog desktop resources, IMO.

~coolsport00
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LVL 119
ID: 34957443
ESXi v4.1 (Free Edition) would be my recommendation. Its a 64-Bit hypervisor and does not require the presence of an operating system.

Make sure that the hardware on which the ESXi installation is going to be performed is in the VMware HCL before installing ESXi.

HCL link - http://goo.gl/YwWF9

ESXi v4.1 download link - http://goo.gl/3ccjb

Make sure that Intel VT or AMD-V is enabled on the BIOS before initiating the installation.

Or you could try building a white box server see here

http://www.vm-help.com/esx40i/esx40_whitebox_HCL.php
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Author Comment

by:MikeDotNet555
ID: 34957484
Thanks to you two for answering so fast.

The link to vm-help does not seem to work, could you check that?

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by:MikeDotNet555
ID: 34957489
Nevermind I dunno what happenned it works now.
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by:coolsport00
ID: 34957606
Yeah...that whitebox link can be buggy at times "MikeDotNet555". It's not just you :)

~coolsport00
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 34957849
Another vote for ESX(i) - reason?  Type 1 Hypervisors (which is what ESX(i) is) are MUCH faster than Type 2 Hypervisors (which is what VMWare Player is).

I don't remember where I saw the stats on Type 1, but on Type 2, an old Windows IT pro article compared them and the performance relative to running on the same physical hardware WITHOUT virtualization saw type 2 systems perform at roughly 30-40% of the physical hardware (that's analogus to a 2 GHz CPU running at (average) 700 MHz in a VM).  While Type 1 Hypervisors ran at 80-90% of physical hardware (so that 2 GHz CPU would have the VMs running at about 1.7 GHz - a HUGE increase).
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LVL 119
ID: 34959611
white box linking working okay here
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by:MikeDotNet555
ID: 34961686
What I am afraid with the ESXi thing is that I will not be physically at the location to configure it, and the person helping me is far from being a computer geek. So I am scared that we will run into endless problems and fixing something over a webcam is a real headache.

With a windows-ready system, I can just remote control it and everything will be fine. Also I do not necessarily need enterprise-grade quality, I don`t have the budget to go with a 2 socket MB.

Currently running 2 vm`s on a amd athlon X3 440 with 3GO ram. Each vm is running windows XP with 512 ram allocated and it`s running "not-so-bad".

So if I would have to go with a "budget pc" to start with (lets says 700-1000$), and windows, what would be recommended? I was thinking about a i7 quad with 8gb ram.
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by:coolsport00
ID: 34961722
I agree with the CPU; if you could get at least 4 more GB RAM, that would be my recommendation, although 8GB should be fine. You just don't wanna get bogged down is all. RAM is so cheap anymore, getting more isn't a huge additional cost.

~coolsport00
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by:MikeDotNet555
ID: 34961809
Ok, good.

And about HD? One would be enough? 7200rpm is fine?
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by:coolsport00
ID: 34961842
Well, you probably want some kind of failover, right? If you can get at least 2 to make a RAID1, I recommend doing so; and try to get a 10Krpm.

~coolsport00
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by:MikeDotNet555
ID: 34961864
Well I won`t have anything on that hard drive that cannot be replicated in 1-2 hours, so the RAID1 I don`t think it is necessary.

Now the last point would be the RAM. Is there a huge advantage in buying DDR3 1600ghz over 1333ghz?
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Accepted Solution

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coolsport00 earned 500 total points
ID: 34961879
Not that you'd would probably notice.

~coolsport00
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Author Closing Comment

by:MikeDotNet555
ID: 34964385
Thanks for all the info.
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