Assembling the Hyper-V Server

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Motherboard and PSU in desktop case Once I figured out my preferred components I emailed MSY and put in an order with MATS. However it turns out that just because MSY have something on their parts list, doesn’t mean they have it in stock. I ended up having to go to their Plympton and City stores, and got the PSU from MATS as MSY didn’t have that at all.

The case I used was from an old desktop PC. It can accept an ATX board, but as the previous motherboard was a slightly smaller model I had to do some “creative” metal work to move the hard drive bays around so that they could still fit inside the case and not bump into the motherboard.

Things that changed

RAM2 x G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1600 F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL
Drive (Data)2 x Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 SATA 3Gb/s 1.5-TB Hard Drives
UPSEaton Nova 625 AVR

Noctua CPU Fan vs Ripjaw RAM

RAM next to CPU and Fan One reason I preferred the G.Skill Ripjaws RAM was that the heat spreaders were less intrusive than those on the “Trident” model. Having said that, once I went to clip the fans onto the Noctua, the wire clips on the RAM-side were in the way of the RAM. A bit of physical effort with a couple of pliers managed to bend the wire clips flatter against the heat sink such that the RAM could just slide past into the sockets on the motherboard.

Faulty RAM?

DDR3 RAM not seated correctly I added an old DVD drive I had lying around and went to install Windows Server 2008 R2. The installation proceeded as expected, then I noticed that the machine had suddenly rebooted. On restarting a message indicating that “Windows had not expected to shutdown” appeared. That’s odd. Allowing it to continue then displayed a message that the installation had failed and to try again.

Hmm.. Just out of curiosity, I fired up the Memory Diagnostics tool and after ticking over it came up with a message indicating there was a problem! Restarting the machine I went back into the BIOS to see what it said there.. Only 6G of RAM??? Hmm. Now a visual inspection of the sticks of RAM and something looked wrong!

Reseating the RAM in the sockets and re-running the memory diagnostics and everything was happy again.

Enabling AHCI

I realised after I’d installed Windows Server 2008 R2 that I’d left the BIOS at the default settings, which included the SATA emulating IDE instead of AHCI. Because the boot disk was also connected this way, you can’t just change the BIOS and reboot – you need to tweak the registry so that the ACHI driver gets loaded properly.


“A clock interrupt was not received on a secondary processor within an allocated time”

Lots of references to this online – some solutions suggest lowering the bus speed slightly. I fiddled around with these a bit but the crashes kept happening. I have no experience over (or under) clocking so I was quite out of my depth. Finally in desperation I changed the BIOS settings to the “fail safe” defaults. This appears to have done the trick.


An unfortunate side-effect of trying to re-use an old desktop case is that I don’t think the cooling of the various components is as good as it could be.

Using HWMonitor I am seeing the following temperatures being reported:

<table border=”0” cellspacing=”0” cellpadding=”2” ?=”?”><tbody><tr><td valign="top">Component</td><td valign="top">°C</td></tr><tr><td valign="top">CPU Core #0</td><td valign="top">41</td></tr><tr><td valign="top">CPU Core #1</td><td valign="top">36</td></tr><tr><td valign="top">CPU Core #2</td><td valign="top">43</td></tr><tr><td valign="top">CPU Core #3</td><td valign="top">38</td></tr><tr><td valign="top">HDD ST314003 #1</td><td valign="top">53</td></tr><tr><td valign="top">HDD ST314003 #2</td><td valign="top">55</td></tr></tbody></table>

I’m thinking getting a proper-size case and possibly some extra cooling might help bring things down to a better level. It would also mean the disks would be slightly more secure in the case!


I now have a number of machines capable of gigabit networking but my trusty Billion 7402GL modem/router only has 4 100Mb network ports. I purchased a new Asus GX-D1081 8 port gigabit switch to enable better network performance. This also meant I could connect the Windows Media Center PC directly (it was previously using a wireless connection). After confirming the switch worked correctly, I then changed the network settings on all the gigabit-capable machines to enable “Jumbo frames” at 9K. I’m pretty sure this has resulted in a noticeable improvement in performance – especially when browsing pictures through the media center that are stored remotely on the Windows Home Server box.

Bring on the Lobster

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

I’ve now officially started as a Senior Consultant for LobsterPot Solutions.

David holding a knife and fork

Let’s start cutting that code!

Hyper-V Server

Saturday, 6 February 2010

I’ve come up with the following list of components that should make a decent server using Hyper-V to experiment with various versions of SQL Server, Windows Server and also run Windows Home Server:

CPUIntel i7-860
CPU FanNoctua NH-U9B-SE2
RAM2 x 4G Kit DDR3 2000 Kingston HyperX
PSUAntec TP 550
Video512MB 4350 Gigabyte
Drive (System)A-RAM SSD PRO series 32GB 2.5" MLC SSD
Drive (Data)2 x WD 1.5TB
UPSSocomec NeTYS PE 600Va UPS

Most parts I’m planning to get from MSY with the exception of the SDD and UPS which I’ll get from MATS Systems. I’ve seen comments that while MSY sell a cheaper SSD, the Indilinx-based drives (such the A-RAM) perform much better. The video card is the cheapest I can find, as it will be hardly ever used (there isn’t any on-board video on the motherboard). The i7-860 has 4 cores and 8 threads. It uses the 1156pin packaging and seems to be reasonable value if you don’t want to step up to the 1366pin 950/970 chips (which then require more expensive motherboards and RAM). I’m thinking that a UPS might be a helpful addition to ensure this machine gets treated well as far as the power supply goes. The motherboard has plenty of USB and SATA connections so should offer room for future storage expansion. I may end up throwing in some of my existing older/slower drives into this machine so that the Home Server can make use of them too. I’d appreciate any suggestions/comments too.

Update: 7-Feb 9pm

Another Lobster in the Pot

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

David eating Lobster in Prince Edward Island

The year was 1994, and I was travelling with good friend Sally over to the US to attend the wedding of a mutual friend Cathy.

It was my first trip overseas, but Sally was an experienced traveller and suggested we do a bit of sightseeing in Canada, including visiting Prince Edward Island. As well as being a beautiful, picturesque island it also happens to be the setting for the Anne of Green Gables books.

On one of our excursions around the island we happened to stop at Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers. As you can see, they supply a practical (if not very fashionable) bib. To be honest, I probably got more out of the 60 foot salad bar than the lobster, not being a huge seafood fan, but it was an experience nonetheless.

“That’s nice Dave, but where’s this trip down memory lane leading?”, you say?

As Dean Hutton would respond, “I’m glad you asked!”

LobsterPot Solutions LogoWell I’ve been offered the position of “Senior Consultant” with LobsterPot Solutions!

I’ll be working with Rob Farley and the rest of the LobsterPot team, providing consulting and training services around SQL Server and Business Intelligence. I also hope to bring my .NET application development experience to the mix.

I’m quite excited about this next step in my career. In some respects it seems like it will combine many of the best parts of some of my previous positions – the training and professional development support that I got working at UniSA, and the intellectual stimulation and enthusiasm of working with some seriously smart guys at Viterra/ABB Grain.

I start on Monday 15th February, so that gives me two weeks break – to do a few jobs around the house, take the kids to school, go for the odd bike ride, and do some more research on that Hyper-V server I’m planning to build.

Goodbye contracting..

Friday, 29 January 2010

imageTen years ago, a crack IT-commando unit was sent to prison by a static code analyser for a bug they didn’t create. These men promptly escaped from a Triple-DES security stockade to the Adelaide underground. Today, still wanted by the government/higher education and private sectors, they survive as developers of fortune. If you have a software problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire… The AoM-Team.

If I recall correctly, I wrote those words not that long after I started as a contract developer at ABB Grain around 18 months ago. This Friday the 29th is my last day contracting at what is now known as Viterra. Our team is finishing up as “the job is done”.

It has been an exciting and fulfilling adventure being part of the team that has created a software solution that has been so widely praised by the end-users. More often than not, IT project fail, but against the odds we managed to succeed in a big way. I’m proud to know that our work made a real difference to the staff who have just worked through one of the biggest grain harvests in recent history.

Without doubt THE highlight has been working with a group of awesome colleagues – my fellow “AoM Team” members:

(And previous team members Timothy Walters, Richard Hollon and Solan Dogan).

I will really miss working with you guys - sharing stories, parenting tips, learning new coding tricks, Jo’s lollies, plying everyone with “Dad” jokes, visiting lots of country bakeries and creating great software.

“So what’s next?”, I hear you ask? Well while it isn’t a secret, I’m going to make you wait until my next blog post to tell you!