New PC Build: Server

I’m putting together a new PC. For myself this time. The last, I don’t know, ten PC’s I’ve built have been for my kids or my kids’ friends. I got fed up and decided to build one of my own.

I was set on AMD this time around, and Windows (more on that later). AMD Threadrippers have great benchmarks and the price point makes it a no-brainer to go the AMD route.

I ordered a motherboard that supports a whopping 4400Mhz of DDR4 memory. But I wanted 64GB and I couldn’t find 16GB DIMMS (the motherboard only has 4 slots) so I went with 3600Mhz memory. It looks like the Threadripper 3900x I’m getting only supports 3200Mhz without overclocking so I suppose this was a good compromise on memory. Here’s the parts list:

  • CPU – AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core, 24-Thread
  • Motherboard – ASUS AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus
  • Memory – G.SKILL Trident Z Neo Series 32GB (2 x 16GB) 288-Pin RGB DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 3600
  • Storage – SAMSUNG 970 PRO M.2 512GB
  • Power Supply – CORSAIR RMx Series RM850x
  • Case – Corsair Graphite Series 760T Black Full Tower Windowed Case

You may notice a a graphics card is missing. This was intentional for the initial build to reduce costs. Also, a graphics card is unnecessary because I’m building a server so I can play around with containers, VM’s, and Kubernetes. I’ll access it after the install via Remote Desktop from my Macbook Pro.

Choice of OS

I’ve always thought about doing my day-to-day work a Linux Desktop and this would be the perfect time, right? Unfortunately, no. In the back of my mind this rig will get a GPU upgrade one day and when that happens I’ll start doing gaming or VR on it. As such, Windows 10 will give me the most flexibility. And now I see Microsoft has Windows 10 Pro for Workstations, which is a new flavor of desktop OS with some features borrowed from recent Windows Server builds:

  • More sockets support (up 4 CPU’s)
  • RDMA support
  • Support for 6TB of RAM (from Windows 10 Pro’s 2TB)
  • Support for NVDIMM-N (storage-class RAM, which can recover on power failure)
  • ReFS support
  • SMB-direct support for faster file transfers

Upgrades

  • The motherboard I got supports two M.2 slots so at some point I’ll add a 1TB Samsung EVO Pro for extra storage.
  • Another 32GB of RAM to get me to 64GB
  • Obviously a graphics card, one with a lot of GPU’s, like 2080 Ti maybe? Probably not as it’s pretty expensive.

K8s Configuration?

My plan right now it to use Hyper-V natively, instead of something like VirtualBox, to host Linux VM’s. Why? I don’t know. I just want to try something new. I read a good article on Hypervisor performance between Hyper-V, KVM, Zen, and vSphere:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242105480_A_Component_Based_Performance_Comparison_of_Four_Hypervisors

It seems like performance varies greatly from workload and most of these hypervisors are in the same ball-park in terms of performance.

I plan to create 2-3 VM’s and have those be my Kubernetes nodes. On these nodes, I’ll deploy all of the containers I’m interested in configuring and using:

  • Kubernetes core pods
  • Docker image repository
  • Rancher
  • Prometheus
  • Grafana
  • Kafka
  • Gitlab and maybe Azure DevOps