Dell PowerEdge R200 Virtualization

The Dell PowerEdge R200 is a reasonably priced 1U rack server. With 8GB RAM and a 250GB hard drive, its price tag is around £370 at the time of writing. Not bad for a rack server. Most of the low price is achieved by picking a more inexpensive processor than the standard Intel Xeon server processors, which are priced at about £250 alone. Workstation processors such as the Celeron or E-series keeps this server affordable, but yet well performing.

For applications with relatively low load, this server may be the perfect host for virtual machines. Or at least so it seems. Some of the R-series servers are actually delivered with processors that do not support Intel’s hardware virtualization (VT-x) technology! I bought a R200 server with an Intel Pentium E5400 processor. According to the Intel page, it seems like some models of these are support virtualization, but the one from Dell does not.

After five phone calls and two emails to Dell, I was informed that the server did support virtualization, but I had to buy a Xeon processor with a price tag around £300 to get virtualization support. They also quoted their own tech center page.

The PowerEdge R200 server must be configured with Intel Xeon processors to run Hyper-V. This server can also be configured with Intel Celeron®, Intel Pentium® Dual-Core, and Intel Core 2 Duo processors—none of which supports Intel VT hardware-assisted virtualization.

Fortunately, this is wrong! I bought a Intel Pentium E6300 processor for about £50. Probably any recent Intel processor with LGA775 socket will work, but remember to check the Intel pages for VT-x support. Replacing the existing processor is very easy, and is no problem if you have touched the internals of a computer some time in your life. Remember that virtualization support must be enabled in the BIOS (press F2 after turning the server on). Furthermore, Dell support informed me that the server warranty is still valid for the components that are not replaced.

So now I have a working rack server running virtual machines, costing about £420. I am very happy with it, I just wish I didn’t have to spend days figuring out how to fix it in the first place. Hopefully, this post will help some spend less time on this issue.

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