As you know I bought a NUC a while back, and while it is a very cool vSphere host it was not quite what I needed. So I bought something new – a Supermicro SuperServer SYS-5028D-TN4T. What is interesting is that I bought a particular bundle (bundle 2) that I found through this site. This is what I bought specifically. This is thanks to Paul Braren and his site. He designed the bundle that I got and made sure it works!
What was important to me was that I was getting 128 GB of RAM, 2x 10 GB ports and 2x 1GB ports. Also I appreciated a decent remote KVM solution too. It could handle a variety of different disk configurations as well. So this is much more flexible for me and I think it can do more for me. It came out to 2051 US$ or 2744 CAD. So more than twice what I paid for my NUC. But, I think I got more too.
But lets make this server work. Since I bought a bundle it means it has been burned in, and tested, plus BIOS updated and BIOS configuration done appropriately. So all nice. If you did not buy this hardware via WiredZone and Paul you need to check this article out for BIOS config.
Here are the things to know:
- I did this article with my first Supermicro which had 1.1b BIOS and thus you need to have current Java (I used Version 8 Update 101) installed somewhere. If you have less than current it will cause frustration for you as things will look like it works but it won’t. I specifically used Windows and Firefox too. I hear in the near future it will be HTML5 and not Java.
- You should connect the lone network port to a network with DHCP – which BTW is the iKVM port.
- As the server boots you will see the BMC IP address.
- Connect to the BMC IP address – which is Supermicro iKVM, and the password is ADMIN / ADMIN. Update, Supermicro randomizes the password now. It is on a sticker on the front of your server and it is in very small type.
- I change the default password and give it a static IP.
- You will be able to boot to the VMware installer ISO mounted as a virtual CD. You will install to the USB that was included (which did not work in the front USB ports but it did in the rear USB ports).
- The bottom, left network port is vmnic0 (actually 1) and the top, left network port is vmnic1 (actually 2)and both are 1 GB.
- The bottom, right is 3, and top, right, is 4 and both are 10 GB.
- The 10 GB ports will not be seen. You will need to install the VIB which I did using VUM and a baseline. More info, and the VIB, can be found in this article. Update: I believe that is not required any longer. As of – I think – vSphere 6.7 the drivers are included.
- I also run memtest86 for a bunch of hours before this hardware is used. It is easy as it is a CD and you boot to it and it automatically runs and tests all of the memory. This is an important step and I never skip it.
But it is working great. I have four networks, and 128 GB and it rocks. But, it is very quiet indeed! Much more quiet than any host – except for the NUC that is.
Interesting to note that WiredZone does hardware replacement but Supermicro does support. WiredZone was very good to deal with. They have a nice system for ordering, configuring and all that. which was very nice to deal with!
Thanks very much to Paul Braren for putting this excellent bundle together.
- 9/10/20 – using this with my just purchased two new Supermicros. So had to update for the new random passwords for iKVM. And memtest86 and not needing to import VIBs.
- 7/7/18 – In this article you can learn how to install vSphere 6.7 specifically on SuperMicro. Very nice! I love how the 10 GB and 1GB ports don’t need drivers any longer.
- 2/2/18 – You can use this article to figure out network driver info. I am using 1.4.1 of the i350 (1 GB ports) and 4.5.3 of the 10 GB ports. These updated drivers work good for me.
- 2/1/18 – I bought two more – so have two clusters of two now, and got rid of the Intel Whiteboxes and one R710 so pretty happy. I can confirm with BIOS v1.2c that the iKVM HTML5 version works great with a Mac using Chrome. I did not have to change the keyboard either so all the keys worked as I need to install vSphere. Nice!
- 12/17/16 – general updates after I got a second one. Now there is some HTML5 support available rather than Java. Will need to test that out – wait, it has old IPMI so no HTML5. And, a Blu Ray Pawtec portable disk player plugged into the front lower USB port would boot – and thus easily able to do a memory test, boot GPartED to check my SSD, and install vSphere. Be aware that the install goes a bit faster when the ISO is virtual.
- 11/30/16 – Anthony got one of these and has some great pictures of the server.
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