TinkerTry's Xeon D All Flash VSAN mini-cluster featuring Supermicro and Intel NUC - Live VMworld US demo Wed. Aug. 31 8am-1pm at VMvillage, thanks @vCommunityGuy!

Posted by Paul Braren on Aug 16 2016 (updated on Aug 27 2016) in
  • Virtualization
  • ESXi
  • HomeLab
  • HomeServer
  • Storage
  • Presentation
  • E300-and-5018D-10GbE-links
    SYS-E300-8D and SYS-5018D-FN4T networking compared. ESXi 6.0U2, fully loaded!

    I used to do high jump and 400 meter hurtles back in high school. This Olympic month, it feels a little like that again. Numerous obstacles tripped me up on my way to the finish line. First, an NVMe storage vendor that had volunteered to loan me some M.2 goodness missed the mid-August deadline. Then some surprise networking questions that came up last week. Of course there were also terabytes of data to evacuate from my own Xeon D-1541 mini-tower that I'm also bringing with me, as I was finishing up preparations of the rest of the loaner gear.

    Feels great having those hurtles squarely behind me now, and the finish line now well in site. The hard-stop for my work is August 28th, as I shut it all down and pack it all up for my Southwest Airlines direct-flight adventure, heading to Las Vegas where I'll be unveiling this tiny little datacenter to everybody who wants to stop by and see it, touch it, or even do a little Storage vMotion. Your chance to see for yourself how fast M.2 NVMe really is. Yes, I had a (storage) Plan B, you'll see!

    I really appreciate that VMware's tireless Corey Romero @vCommunityGuy not only came up with the opportunity for a blogger like me to get into VMworld, but also for his generosity in offering me a table at VMvillage! Be sure to let Corey know your appreciation by replying to his retweet below:


    I love being a member of the friendly virtualization community, and I can't wait to meet new people interested in kicking-the-tires, or folks that already dove in and adopted a Xeon D system of their own.

    If you'll be at VMworld US this year, I sure hope you can join me for a bit, very nearly all the parts are listed in TinkerTry's Xeon D cluster for VMworld 2016, man with a VSAN demo plan!, but there will be some surprises too.

    TinkerTry Live Demonstration Aug 31st VMvillage 8am to 1pm

    Click for a much bigger view of the little rig, along with a parts list.

    Looking for the VMworld US Agenda? How about some more close-up SuperServer picures, watt burn and noise levels, networking, and speeds-and-feeds comparison charts?


    Aug 23 2016 Update

    Things are coming along nicely!

    Click twice to zoom all the way in, then slide the image around. Heck, if you got 2560x1440 or more pixels, just use the full-screen feature at top-right.

    Two SSDs per system, each system at idle except for the SYS-5028D-TN4T running the vCSA and vSphere HTML5 Web Client appliances.


    Aug 27 2016 Update 12:01am

    Good thing it's really coming together now, because my direct flight to Vegas this Sunday leaves in just 36 hours!

    Click twice to zoom waaaay in. Every system has VMware ESXi 6.0U2 running, at idle. 3 SSDs in the SYS-5028D-TN4T 8 core mini-tower, 2 in the rest of the systems. Under Windows, watt use would be about 20%-40% lower at idle, and about the same under heavy load.

    Aug 27 2016 Update 12:01pm

    I have so good news and not so good news. First, the not so good news.

    No so good news

    The collection of my own and loaner SSDs I have on hand are not all on the VSAN Compatibility list. Budget concerns have me coming up a bit short currently, but Micron has already promised to help out with temporary evaluation units soon, and Intel has some good stuff just announced too. You can be sure I'll be visiting their VMworld booths again this year!


    Taking over all internal storage on three of the 4 systems for all-flash VSAN storage tier and caching tier would greatly reduce what I'm able to show VMworld visitors. I am therefore leaning toward skipping the VSAN aspect of the demo at VMworld 2016 US, and sticking with dual-booting Windows Server 2016TP5 or VMware ESXi 6.0U2 on each system, with some local VMFS. This will also allow me to do some often requested watt and decibel measurements today, under load. Those values at idle have already been published at the bottom of this table.

    The same Windows Server 2016 instance has been virtualized by simply using a VEB restore into a UEFI VM. Therefore, I can run a Windows 2016 VM that lives on centralized storage, like an iSCSI NAS, then vMotion it very quickly from Xeon D to Xeon D to compare CPU grunt, or even to the Core i7 NUC. Heck, even VMs running on local NVMe SSD formatted VMFS, shared-nothing vMotion will also be quite fast over 10GbE.

    So good news

    Fun will be had! I think this short video clip below captures a bit of that. Of course, you could use IPMI to power up each server, but the featured Ubiquiti mPower Pro lets me easily handle all the infrastructure, with the built-in Web UI via wired ethernet.

    Oh, and another thing. A special package arrived from Supermicro today. What is it? I will be ready to announce exactly what that is when I'm at VMworld, but suffice it to say that a new bundle is coming soon.

    So for these next 24 hours, some careful testing, measuring, then re-packaging is in order. Oh, and maybe even a little sleep.


    "Powering up Supermicro SuperServer Xeon D-1518/1528/1541& i7 NUC6i7KYK VMware vSphere 6.0U2 cluster" published on YouTube Aug 27 2016.

    See also at TinkerTry