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A few questions regarding ESXi installation


OctavianH
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Hi all,

 

I plan to reinstall my server in the next weekend with the customized HP ESXi 6.0 image (VMware-ESXi-6.0.0-2494585-HP-600.9.2.38-Mar2015.iso).

I expect to receive this weekend my Xeon 1265L V2 from Ebay. Before starting I want to check if I am on the right track.

 

The configuration will be:

Xeon 1265L V2

16 GB RAM

4x4TB WD Red

120GB SSD Corsair Force LS

16GB microSD Samsung PRO (overkill but the price/size was OK compared to 8GB version)

 

The current setup is:

RAID10 on the HDDs

RAID0 on the SSD with Windows Server 2012 R2 (SSD on SATA5)

ILO 2.10

All drivers updated with SPP 2015.04.0

 

What I want to achieve:

ESXi 6.0 installed on microSD

SSD for all VMs for better performance (I will have a Windows Server 2012 and a Linux one, most probably CentOS)

the 4x4 TB RAID10 HDDs as a datastore visible for all VMs. VMs will be installed on SSD and only read/write data on the HDDs which remain "clean" and "transparent" to VMs.

 

I plan to install the ESXi from an USB drive to the microSD installed on the motherboard.

 

Now my questions:

1) Can I activate the AHCI controller for SSD and keep the RAID on the HDD without any problem? (I do not want to boot anymore from SDD - this is the current situation and therefore I do not need anymore the RAID0)

2) Can I install all the VMs on the SSD and use the HDDs only as a datastore for Data (Any disadvantage on this configuration? ESXi supports TRIM? Cache or other problems?)

3) If I change the SSD to AHCI do I loose the RAID configuration or data on the existing RAID10 configuration?

 

Thanks in advance for all advices!

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A couple things you need to be aware of.

 

1. The ODD SATA port you've got your SSD connected to is SATA II 3.0Gbps only which will bottleneck it. Only bay 1 + 2 in the front are SATA III 6.0Gbps.

2. The latest B120i driver has some performance issues. You need to downgrade the driver to fix it.. There shouldn't be any major problems caused by the downgrade.

 

1) Can I activate the AHCI controller for SSD and keep the RAID on the HDD without any problem? (I do not want to boot anymore from SDD - this is the current situation and therefore I do not need anymore the RAID0)

No. The SATA controller can either be in B120i mode or AHCI mode. You can't do both at the same time.

 

2) Can I install all the VMs on the SSD and use the HDDs only as a datastore for Data (Any disadvantage on this configuration?

No problems with that. Only potential issue is that the SSD is quite small and most OSes want quite a large system partition now.

 

ESXi supports TRIM? Cache or other problems?)

ESXi doesn't support TRIM in 5.x for VMFS. AFAIK, they've not added it to 6.x either.

 

I've got a Sandisk SSD in my Gen8 Microserver but I'm using it for vFRC + vFlash Host Cache. All of my VMs are stored on the HDs.

 

3) If I change the SSD to AHCI do I loose the RAID configuration or data on the existing RAID10 configuration?

As mentioned above, you can't have AHCI + B120i together. If you set the Intel SATA controller back to AHCI then you lose the RAID features.
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You dont want to be using the onboard RAID controller for any serious ESXI work. Get yourself a HP P212 or P410; or their newer variants if you require iLO visibility. (P222 and P420 respectively) That way you can RAID0 the SSD using the B120i and keep the fan speed under control, and use the dedicated HP RAID card for RAID5 your HD array.

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You dont want to be using the onboard RAID controller for any serious ESXI work. Get yourself a HP P212 or P410; or their newer variants if you require iLO visibility. (P222 and P420 respectively) That way you can RAID0 the SSD using the B120i and keep the fan speed under control, and use the dedicated HP RAID card for RAID5 your HD array.

 

Just checked some websites and the P420 costs as much as 4 Gen8 servers here where I live (P222 is out of stock, price was 3xGen8).

I would prefer to avoid such costs for a home lab and 2VMs.

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Pick up a P212 or P410 then :) They just dont have iLO integration, but otherwise work fine. I picked up a P410 with a 512MB cache and battery for £32 on eBay. Make sure the card you purchase comes with a low-profile bracket as well!

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I read the manuals and the forum and observed that the P222 gets quite hot without extra cooling, so I guess if I install an additional RAID controller I will need to add some fans and it will become noisier and so on. This is why I try to keep it simple. The plan is only to change the CPU to 1265L V2 using the stock passive cooler and to have a decent temperature without other extra fans. And low noise if possible because it will be used 24/7 in my house (living room) and I try to keep is as silent as possible.

For what exactly I need that battery on the P2xx?

Edited by OctavianH
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Thanks a lot for the advice. P222 needs additional cooling? (except the fan from the case)

I've read something about getting hot somewhere here on the forum.

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