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TomS.

notebooks, ssd's, mechanical drives, and virtual machines

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After searching the board, I didn't find anything about setting up notebook storage for running multiple, simultaneous vm's. Not much choice until recently.

I'll be giving demonstrations on the road for our user group, and other stuff.

Has anyone looked at the impact of SSD caching on vhd performance? Some thoughts I'm trying to figure out

  • Intel Smart Response with an mSATA in front of one of a large fast 2.5?"
  • large mSATA with DataPlex-like solution in front of large, fast 2.5"?
  • manual process of spliting OS on one spindle, VHD's on the SSD?
  • Does a caching SSD obviate the benefit of a hybrid like the Momentus XT 750?
  • Other choices?

Does anyone have any links to Intel Smart Response Technical guides, whitepapers or such? Scary thin on http://support.intel.com.

With mSATA, and hopefully SATA 3 standard ports, I can see doing all of this in a 15+ inch chassis, with FHD resolution, around 6lbs, including optical, and not needing to go to 9-12+ lb dual-bay monsters.

I think some really interesting possibilities are on the horizon, I just don't know how to design for this. I'm budgeting around $2k USD, and I'd like to get something figured out in a few months. Maybe Dataplex solutions are available then, maybe not, maybe something else.

TIA,

Tom

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Im not sure I understand what your trying to do here. Demonstrations run from your laptop using virtual machines? Where does the rack come into play?

Ive done a little work with VMs on my own PCs and found disk caching provide by vmware was plenty adequate to overcome disk latency, and the real bottleneck was running out of physical ram. Assuming you can fit 12-16GB of ram on your laptop, you should be ok with just using a large SSD on your laptop.

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Im not sure I understand what your trying to do here. Demonstrations run from your laptop using virtual machines?

Kittle, thank you for your reply.

Yes, run demonstrations from virtual machines, and model some environments with VMs. Let's say 2 or 3 servers + 2 or 3 clients, 4-6 simultaneous VMs.

Where does the rack come into play?

No rack involved. If it is the 15+" chassis reference, that was to the size of the laptop, a 15" screen class system vs. a 17".

Ive done a little work with VMs on my own PCs and found disk caching provide by vmware was plenty adequate to overcome disk latency, and the real bottleneck was running out of physical ram. Assuming you can fit 12-16GB of ram on your laptop, you should be ok with just using a large SSD on your laptop.

Given that large SSD's are about 240GB, that's 1 OS+hypervisor for about 40GB. Then 5-6 preallocated VHD files for virtual machines. Now, given the speed, preallocation may not be as beneficial on SSD as it is on mechanical. Production quality speed, as if I was hosting a large virtual infrastructure isn't necessary, but with several simultaneous VM's running, I'm concerned about contention for the single spindle.

Your memory point is well-heeded. I'm absolutely looking at 4 memory socket systems. With 16GB(8x2) available for under $150-200, and memory deduplication in the latest hypervisors, I'm not feeling so bad there. I have 4GB desktop machines running several simultaneous client OS vms under 2k8R2. Those aren't too bad. I can tolerate some slowness as long as it is slow launch times or other background stuff. Slow keyboard echo or registering of mouse clicks, nope.

I'm wondering if some of the new caching technologies, will let me have the best of both worlds. 4x the capacity of an SSD, with a very high percentage of the speed without having to carry a 12lb, multi-bay monster or losing the optical drive.

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Right off the bat, I have limited experience with VM's. If you are looking to run a 4 slot laptop, you are going to be buying a bigger 15" chassis. The 4 RAM slot laptops run the hotter Quad-core chips. Second, I'm going to make an assumption that many of your VM's will be running same/similar OSes. If so, I think you will probably see the greatest price-to-performance benefit using a SSD Cache since each VM will be requesting a lot of similar data.

Using a an SSD cache instead of a Hybrid HDD will have much higher performance, as the 4-8GB flash in the Momentus XT has been shown to be too small to see the full benefit of SSD caching. Also, if you are really concerned of the single spindle contention issue, you could always swap out the optical drive for a second HDD, and go with an external optical drive.

All-in-All, a Quad-core 15" laptop w/ 32GB RAM, 60GB mSATA SSD, and 2 HDD's is probably going to exceed your budget. If you buy and install the RAM and storage yourself, you might be able to come close to your budget. You are looking at a Thinkpad W520 or similar laptop. SR has a W520 and could probably run some tests for you. I suggest you create a thread in their "Test Lab Previews and Requests" section.

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ok... so based on what I see, your looking to run 4-6 VMs in parallel. This gives rise to a few more questions:

How big are the files for each VM?

How much ram does each VM need?

How many VMs do you want to actually store on your system at the same time?

Look into what bricktop said about getting a Thinkpad T520 or W520. Very solid laptop for what it does. But order it with minimal ram and HDD, and plan to replace what they have with your own.

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ok... so based on what I see, your looking to run 4-6 VMs in parallel. This gives rise to a few more questions:

How big are the files for each VM?

How much ram does each VM need?

How many VMs do you want to actually store on your system at the same time?

Look into what bricktop said about getting a Thinkpad T520 or W520. Very solid laptop for what it does. But order it with minimal ram and HDD, and plan to replace what they have with your own.

Kittle & Bricktop, thank you both for your thoughts.

Preallocated VFD files for 2008r2 server and win8 run 30-40GB each. Preallocation is strongly encouraged when using mechanical storage, but comes with obvious penalties of unused space in the vhd. Maybe testing dynamically expanding VHD's against preallocated ones should be something for a test request thread.

Ram should be 4-8GB per VM for 64bit OS's. One of Bricktop's earlier points about caching applies here as well. Portions of the memory images will be the same even between server and client VM's. Memory deduplication technologies, and dynamic allocations in Hyper-V, VMware, and Linux-KVM can help here.

I'd like to store enough for a couple of simultaneous projects. 4-6 per project. A dozen VHD's 360-500GB.

The Lenovo's been the leader in my mind for a while. Same purchase strategy as well. Apparently some Dell workstations also have mSATA. More research required. I keep systems a long time. The prior notebook lasted 7 years before an internal power component blew.

A gneral review of specs is looking like:

Core i-7, quad-core

4 memory slots.

32GB Ram (high-end @Newegg = 16gb/$149)

600-750GB HD, Velociraptor to Momentus XT ($300-174)

120-24GB SSD, $240-$400.

FHD Screen

I roughly spec'd out a T520, with the default Lenovo website coupon, the price is in the neighborhood of $1600. The things I'd have to buy separately run $900-1000. That's 20% over budget without any real sharp pencil work. I also don't need everything right away. I can purchase the items that are hard to change:screen, processor, integrated peripherals now, make improvements later.

What sort of items would either of you like to see in a test thread request?

4 VM's running, 1 webserver, 1 database server, 2 clients (or recorded traces, simulations)

Compare Dataplex with >64GB SSD to Intel Smartresponse

OS on mechanical, VHD's on SSD

OS on hybrid, VHD's on SSD

impact of preallocated VHD files vs dynamically allocated VHD files when cached, when on SSD?

Thank you again for your thoughts.

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Please note the Velociraptor won't work in a laptop not only it is 15mm think but also it runs on 12V.

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Please note the Velociraptor won't work in a laptop not only it is 15mm think but also it runs on 12V.

Thank you fallbreak. I rushed the product search @Newegg and didn't pay close enough attention to the selection criteria. I'd selected Sata Revision 3 only (6.0Gb/s), not including SATA 2 (3.0Gb/s) devices. Something was bugging me about there not being enough choices, and not seeing the Scorpios there.

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