Saturday, 15 August 2009

My take on Google server tray

For some time I wanted to have a dedicated test machine at home. I had only few requirements - I wanted a 64-bit CPU, 8GB RAM and network adapter that is using drivers that are present in OpenSolaris and VMware ESXi.

After looking at various dmesg outputs online I have selected ASUS M3N78-VM motherboard. The motherboard is using forcedeth driver on Linux for the network adapter. I knew that OpenSolaris had nge driver and VMware ESXi 3.5 had forcedeth driver for nForce Ethernet adapters so I thought that it was a safe choice. If not supported out of the box the drivers would require very little modification to get them working. The motherboard has an integrated video adapter which is a bonus.

For the CPU I have selected AMD Athlon X2 7850 Black Edition processor. It is obviously a 64-bit CPU and has virtualization extensions. It also comes with a heatsink in
the retail box.

I used Crucial to get 8GB of RAM and Amazon to get a power supply.

I really liked Google's approach to their servers and thought that I could do something similar. I went to a local Ryman stationery store and purchased two transparent document trays. Motherboard fits nicely into one of them. I am using the second one for the HDDs.

Here is the final result:

I had an old drive I was going to use with this machine and I was looking to use PXE boot/USB sticks for OS installations so optical drive was not required. All the parts came down to roughly to £230 with shipping:

AMD Athlon X2 7850 Black Edition: £55
ASUS M3N78-VM: £55
WinPower 600W Power Supply: £19
8GB RAM from Crucial: £80
Transparent document trays from Ryman: £6

Not a lot as for 8GB machine in my opinion :)


  1. I have similar WhiteBOX running ESXi 4.0. Perfect setup for testing purpose ;)

  2. Been thinking of the same idea, small test bed with ESX or Xen + openfiler iscsi...thanks for the info