A quick trawl through AMDs blog

I mentioned the other day I needed to do some more research on AMD processors to use in a home lab so I was looking at the AMD blog and website. I found a post which plugs the latest version of Xen (and AMD processors) and saw thay had a link to the original Xen paper, Xen and the Art of Virtualisation http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/research/srg/netos/papers/2003-xensosp.pdf. I like to read these academic papers, even the old ones. It helps to know where you’re going if you know where you’ve come from.

I also added to my reading list “Virtualisation for Dummies” which I also found on the AMD site. This is written and published by AMD so that has to be taken into consideration (did “Dummies” sell the rights to their format or something?). First glance looks good though and I will write some more feedback after I’ve read it. http://www.amd.com/us/Documents/Virt_for_Dummies.pdf. In an environment where I may have to explain virtualisation to “the business” I hope to find something useful in there.

It’s hardly worth saying AMD have just brought out new processors because they (and Intel and others) are doing it all the time. For my own reference (well and yours too) a good comparison page is http://products.amd.com/en-us/desktopcpuresult.aspx?f1=&f2=&f3=&f4=&f5=AM3&f6=&f7=&f8=&f9=&f10=&f11=&f12=True&f13=Active or http://products.amd.com/en-us/OpteronCPUResult.aspx?f1=AMD+Opteron%E2%84%A2+6100+Series+Processor for more server oriented chips. Fiddle around with those URLs and pages to get what you want.

I also regularly read “The register” http://www.theregister.co.uk/. Not only because it is a good source of information but it often makes me laugh out loud. They also published a “Virtualisation primer” today so I hope I get time to read that over the weekend too (DIY notwithstanding)…

Home setup

I’m following in Chad Sakac’s blogsteps here (and probably many others). Some kind of home lab is needed (and my iMac is not a good starting point).

Chad’s started in 2008 with an update in early 2009. Technology being what it is means modern hardware is a must. I already have Cat 5e installed so the other major components to consider are processors and storage. To be of most value the processors have to be something “industry” standard, as well compatible with as many products as possible…I’m not just thinking about playing with ESX/ESXi, there’s a whole world out there (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_platform_virtual_machines).

Of course that means Intel or AMD. Obvious, yes. But this is IT so it was worth thinking about and justifying for a minute.

Intel have a plethora of processor options for every need. I’m thinking Nehalem from Intel at the moment. Opterons from AMD although I need to do more research on them. Having VT extensions is a must, of course. I started by looking for used HP proliant rack-mount servers on ebay, merely because I was familiar with them. Discussions with colleagues quickly led more to the tower servers and my favorite front runner is:

HP ProLiant ML330 G6 Tower Server

The following site looks like a good place to buy (good price and recommended by friends)


The good thing about this server is that it takes up to 144G internal memory. Nowadays 8G probably won’t be enough. Not that I intend to buy 144G straight off. I’m too scared even to work out the cost of that.

The server above has a E5504 details of which are: http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=40711

So, lets put that on the shopping list for now and turn to storage. Same arguments apply as for processors, it’s got to be something relevant and supported. I don’t think I’m going to be buying a DMX or a Clariion from ebay. The favorite here, again relying on colleagues who proceed me is a home NAS device from Qnap. Product range is  http://www.qnap.com/Products.asp. I need to do some more research on that myself.

Running out of time now so signing off for now.

Hello world!


Duncan Baillie

Duncan Baillie

My name is Duncan Baillie. Welcome to my blog. This is my first ever blog so some background is in order. This is all going to be IT focused by the way.

I am lucky enough, and of the right age to have witnessed the revolution in home computing. The first computer I ever used was a Commodore Pet which turned up at the Maths department of my secondary school in 1979 (I think). The school, not knowing what to do with it stuck it in the cleaners broom cupboard and there I sat at break-time surrounded by pungent mops learning to program it in basic.

I had the bug and it was clear to me I wanted to study IT which I did at the University of Edinburgh from 1981 to 1988 doing a joint degree in Computer Science and Electronics and postgraduate studies in distributed operating systems.

At that time, another IT revolution was in full swing led by Xerox Parc and their amazing “workstations” with bit-mapped graphics and  those new-fangled mice. Soon to be copied by some other successful products (like Apple Macintosh) and some which disappeared (like ICL’s Perq).

I spent a lot of time at University learning Unix, firstly thanks to the Engineering department, a PDP 11 and the “learn” program (whatever happened to that). Unix (and C) went from strength to strength and when I left I was a fully qualified Unix sysadmin.

Fast forward now to the 21st century and I find myself taking part in another IT revolution, this time it’s called “Virtualisation”.

There, I’ve said it, the V word. I’ve recently been involved in a largish virtualisation project and having drunk from the cup of virtualisation I find myself liking the taste very much and wanting to drink some more. Hence this blog. This time round I hope to be able to contribute more to the revolution rather than watching other people. Partly this comes from a career in large organisations with highly inefficient IT (I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “Stupid IT”. The technology never ceases to amaze me). I don’t like inefficiency. I don’t like waste. That’s just my personality. This, no doubt, is the reason I am so enamoured with virtualisation.

So how do I hope to contribute to the world of virtualisation?

Watch this blog…