Intel's Haswell-E X99S and Atom can handle 64GB of memory, affordability TBD

VMware ESXi or Microsoft Hyper-V home labs crave RAM. Lots of RAM. It's likely the bottleneck you'll bump into first. It's also not easily upgradeable, once you hit your CPU/motherboard limits.

So we continue to wait for possible solutions. My own 2011-vintage Z68 based vZilla build has 32GB of RAM, and still works nicely 24x7, at around 100 watts. Cost was $300 for the Core i7 CPU,  $255 for the ASrock Z68 motherboard, and $270 for the 32GB of memory, total of $825. See also:

Haswell Z97 limited to 32GB memory max, an unfortunate reality for virtualization enthusiasts
by Paul Braren on June 07 2014

Core i7 / X99S

In the last few days, we've learned about the new Intel LGA 2011-3 socket for August 29th's Haswell-E, including the X99S chipset based motherboards. Some of this new crop will have 8 memory sockets, making 64GB a possibility by using 8 8GB DIMMs. But it'll all be at enthusiast pricing, and gamer watt burn, and an emphasis on overclocking features. The CPU family starts around $300, the motherboards will likely be around $400, and the new memory around $???. We'll have to wait and see. It's new DDR4 SDRAM, and as we've seen with past jumps in memory technology have shown, it'll also likely mean high prices. Oh yeah, this kind of system likely has a 130 to 140 Watt TDP. And that's without those 8 memory slots full. Not ideal for a multi-purpose home server like mine, left running 24x7.

E3 Xeon

Then there's the Intel Haswell-based E3-1xxx v3-series Xeons from May 2013. That's well over a year ago now. A 45 to 65 Watt TDP. But a 32GB of RAM limit. The others higher-end models aren't really affordable. Next.

Atom "System on a Chip"

A little newer is the Intel Atom family of CPUs (formerly known as Avoton/Rangely) such as the C2750 SOC (System on a Chip, shipped as CPU+mobo combo), which have been out since October of 2013, as I mentioned back in June, 2014. Such Atoms systems, such as the Supermicro A1SAi-2750F, already support 4 memory sockets and 64GB of RAM, using 4 16GB DDR3 DIMMs. A mere 20 watts TDP. Ability to juggle a lot of VMs (I run about 7 full-time) is TBD, and there's the trouble with finding anybody who sells such DIMMs affordably. See my search on Amazon here for example, with just one choice of DDR3 DIMM at about $678 USD, as of Aug 16 2014, that might work in the C2750.

Should be an interesting 3rd (and 4th) quarter!

(digging around more after the article was published did get some reader feedback on other 64GB kits, but all are still upwards of $650, see also ASRock Memory QVL here, with no 64GB kits listed. 64GB SODIMM kits are even more elusive. How do you actually buy the MM2G64D3(L)SOD8AG? Good discussion here too.)

See also

Superguide: Home virtualization server enthusiasts’ colorful variety of ESXi whiteboxes
by Paul Braren, last updated Jul 07 2014

Haswell Z97 limited to 32GB memory max, an unfortunate reality for virtualization enthusiasts
by Paul Braren on June 07 2014

Home Gadget Geeks Podcast Episode #174 "Haswell Issues"
by Paul Braren on Jul 05 2014

World's First Windows® 8.1-Certified Intel® X99 Chipset Based Motherboard : ASRock X99 Extreme4
by ASRock on Aug 01 2014

MSI’s Next Haswell-E Teaser: X99S Gaming 9 AC
by Ian Cutress on Aug 07 2014

This Week in Computer Hardware 279 - It's a NAS and a HTPC (Aug 08 2014)
by Ryan Shrout and Patrick Norton on August 08 2014
or jump to just the right spot in the podcast:

MSI’s Flagship X99S XPOWER AC Motherboard Unveiled – Features a Beastly E-ATX Design With LN2 OC Support
by Hassan Mujtaba on Aug 10 2014

32GB of memory on the ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 Motherboard
by Paul Braren on Feb 12 2012

Superguide: “vZilla” Z68/Core i7/LSI 9265-8i – built for virtualization, storage, and speed
by Paul Braren on Jul 12 2012

Coming up next, at TinkerTry...

Video production still underway for some scenes showing the informal testing, here’s a [fixed] image of the results summary.

Completely successful NVIDIA 560Ti to 750Ti upgrade for my 2011 Z68 Core i7 gZilla build: quieter, about 25% faster, reduced heat and noise, and less than 1/2 the watts!
(in a re-purposed IntelliStation case)