ESXi hardware support – disk subsystems

I’m trying to find a really good machine to run ESXi on. It has to be cheap (£500 max, excluding hard drives), it has to support lots of cheap ram (£35 per 2GB DIMM, max), and it has to have four cores.

Currently we use Dell R200 boxes for vmware. They only support 8GB of ram and one cpu, but it’s a quad core cpu. And the ram is cheap (£140 plus VAT from crucial for the full 8GB). And the servers only cost about £300 each. (You have to haggle, they’re not always available at this price, and all prices exclude vat).

So we end up buying other machines for disk, and we use ISCSI and NFS to make disk available to the ESX boxes. (I’ll write again later on which is better).

The problem is that ESXi doesn’t support any reasonably priced 3ware raid cards. Or, indeed, any reasonably priced raid cards. Which is a shame. I’d really like to have a couple of ESX boxes that cost well under a grand all in, that are completely self-contained, and have shit-hot disk subsystems.  Or even shit-warm: four 500GB drives with decent hardware raid5 would make me very happy.

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