Intel Z68 chipset MSI motherboard custom build ESXi, disk throughput looking good

I’m building the mother of all VMware ESXi 4.1U1 servers, based on the new Z68 chipset. The goals are reasonable cost, efficiency, and a lot of flexibility and coolness (literally and figuratively).

A nice bonus is VT-d (VMDirectPath) support, where worry about what components are not on the VMware HCL are greatly lessened, since such devices (like USB 3.0 controller) can be passed through to the Virtual Machine. This could be used for a VM to be allowed to see a Realtek NIC that ESXi itself cannot identify, without tweaking the hypervisor (generally not a good idea). Or it could just be used to allow full speed USB 3.0 support for a VM running Windows, for much faster copying.

In a nutshell, ASUS P8Z68-V PRO board doesn’t yet support VMDirectPath, but apparently, the MSI Z68A-GD80 (B3) does.

I’m also excited to say I’ve been getting some excellents results for disk throughput tests underway: stay tuned for many more details on this rig, and screenshots and videos, coming to this site throughout June!


<EDIT added 7/15/2011>

You may wish to check out updated info at

turns out the ASRock motherboard supports VT-d as well!

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  • Paul Braren

    Does the trusty and affordable PERC 6i RAID controller sound a bit old to you?
    (and it’s PCI SMB issue with pins 5 and 6, that keep Z68 from even booting) 
    Do you want to have a RAID controller with proper 3TB drive support at a somewhat reasonable price point? With SSD caching?
    Do you want a new Z68 motherboard based system, efficient and fast, for use with many VMs running with VMware ESXi 4.1U1?
    Do you wish to use VT-d VMDirectPath for 2 non-ESX compatible NICs that come with some Z68 motherboards? If any or all of this interests you, please watch this space, more detailed information coming soon…