I like to shop around on ebay and look at the current prices for used parts, specifically trying to use older server hardware, since there's usually pretty good deals. Lately I've been toying with the idea of doing a dual xeon build, but using the extra performance to run more than just windows/linux using virtual machines.
Before I get into the software and theory aspect, here's the hardware list.
CPUs - intel xeon e5 2670s
Cooler - hyper 212
Mobo - AsRock EP2C602-4L/D16
RAM - 64gb ECC ddr3
HDDs - WD black 1 tb, hitachi 2tb, 4x 4tb hitachi nas
SSD - 512gb crucial mx100
GPU - 295x2
PCIe - asus xonar soundcard
PCIe - TV Tuner
PSU - seasonic x-1250
Case - fractal design r5
CPUs - cheap as hell for the performance I'm going to get. Around the same performance as my 8350 for a single chip, let alone with 2, and for the price you cant beat it.
Cooler - lets be honest, this is the budget choice, no two ways around it
mobo - this is the main issue here, I love the multiple nics built in and the 3 pcie x16 slots, but it is hard to find this motherboard, but again for the value especially open box it is crazy hard to beat.
RAM - ram has really come down in price and I can get an 8x8gb set on ebay for around 100-130 with ecc, so why not, it's also always good to have extra ram for VMs
HDDs - Bringing everything but the hitachi 2tb drive, that would be an addition, the 4tb drives would be pulled from my current nas
SSD - would be bringing this over
PCIe - I would need a soundcard, since most server motherboards lack this feature, and would also bring my tv tuner over, would need a lsi raid card for the nas, and usb card for ports for general use
PSU - bringing this over, it's a super solid power supply though so even better
case - bringing this over, love the case
Problems with hardware:
I cant find a good motherboard. I'm looking for dual socket 2011, at least 2 pcie x 16 slots, and at minimum 2 nics. Any suggestions? as close to or under 300 as possible
The case does not support most of the motherboards I'm looking at because of the slope in the motherboard tray for cable routing. By cutting this out and putting in metal braces, I would hope to compensate for this with appropriate mounting points. Everything would be nice and cramped in there, especially with having to have the HDD cage in the front, but everything should fit based on my measurements
Problems with software:
Specifically, there are issues with running freeNAS (my preferred NAS solution) inside of a virtual machine. It can be done but it has to be done right, which is where the lsi card comes in. This would let mo connect all of the drive and just pass the card and controller through, at least as I understand it, solving many of the problems. Beyond that, it appears that if done correctly there are few drawbacks to running FreeNAS in a VM, though please correct me if I'm wrong.
I've not done too much with VMs before, and I've not had enough time to research, although I see a lot of talk about esxi and xen in terms of freeNAS in a VM. Will it be possible to actually run the nas and a windows VVM alongside each other, and still pass my hardware through to each? TV tuner/usb/soundcrd/gpu >> Windows, lsi card >> freeNAS
Can you pass a hardware device through to more than one VM at a time? for instance, can I pass the gpu through to a windws vm and linux at the same time? If not, would the 295x2 allow for this since it it technically 2 290x?
Is there anything I'm missing? this seems like a fun project to learn about virtualization while also letting me upgrade and make my rig into something unique. I game, but I also do some productivity work, where an upgrade in the cpu department would be appreciated. More than anything though I think this just sounds like a fun way to try to get killer performance for a not so killer price. Being able to have a windows gaming rig, linux workstation, and nas all in one rig running at the same time with no compromises sounds pretty sweet too.
At this point all this is is a hobby project idea, but before going further I figured I could ask here and see if there are any specific problems with what I have in mind.
I want to use older server hardware to run windows, linux, and freeNAS at the same time, will this work? Specifically, will freeNAS still work with these if configured properly with pass through? Can I pass a device through to more than one VM at a time? Is the upgrade to 2 e5 2670 a worthy upgrade over a 8350, given that the new rig would be for everything NAS included, as opposed to just a desktop?