OK, with the new dual HT/ Quad core chips out lately, I've been thinking about a potential market: home server for proxy/ firewall/ centralized storage with backup or a very small business (3-10 users) server with Base Linux OS and virtualized Windows DC/ file/ print server, Linux SQL server, and Linux Web server for a web based accounting/ POS app. I'm sure they could be useful.
The big things would be idle power consumption, performance, and cost. (I suppose the idle power consumption would be part of the cost, but I'm narrowing it down a bit.)
Which would be better?
1. AMD Athlon II X4 635 (quad core, 2.9Ghz, $119), 8GB memory, 760G motherboard
2. Core i5 530 (dual core with HT, 2.93Ghz, $125), 8GB memory, H55 motherboard
The cost difference, with the same memory, is currently about $52 in AMD's favor ($360 compared to $412)
the power consumption is in Intel's favor. I am not considering overclocking.
I had an additional idea that might be worth doing something with: a centralized program, preferably web based, that would allow licensed content to be streamed to other remote devices on a local only network. Basically a home theater server. Make it web based to work with the above server using virtualization. (Sold as an entirely set up virtual machine, to minimize installation problems. Perhaps even selling it on a eSATA drive. Just plug and play.)
the developer could work with the movie and music companies to allow for copying the content to licensed devices for mobile use, and allowing copying existing hard copies of DVD's and CD's to the server with their blessing. Built in content protection and file sharing protection would be vital to get their blessing for it.
How about a point of sale/ accounting/ inventory web based app, sold as 2 virtual machines to minimize installation, that would use think clients as registers, network controlled credit card readers and cash drawers, iPod touch or iPhone (or something equal with wireless 802.11g/n connection and camera) for inventory. It would use a Linux / SQL server / Apache web base and have full back ups on the entire virtual machines, so that if the hardware filed, it could be quickly brought back up on a new server with no data lost. Perhaps sold on a mirrored eSATA dual hard drive.
this could be a boon for very small businesses. Sell the whole package, the above server, eSATA drive with POS system, backup system, thin clients, inventory module, printer, and installation and customization, for $7,000. It would cost about $1500-$2000 in hardware and take about a week to setup/install completely with just one person.
Small businesses are getting major grants lately for things like this. I think the market is there.
i would go for the Athlon II X4 over the i3, 4 cores are better than 2 cores w/ HT
though if this has to be a stable 24/7 system, you would still want to go the Xeon/Opteron route as that is what that is made for (ie no down time ever)
though if you can accept some downtime, the consumer market has cheap prices
i would not recommend e-sata, i find that a lot of the enclosures have bad controllers that make it slow, what you could do is use a hot swap bay so if the system goes down you could easily take out the drives and not have to worry about external enclosure problems
If most VMs are tiny ones like 2-8GB, using just one Intel X25-M G2 will take care of all disk performance issues. Storage data goes on iSCSI SAN (can also be virtualised) plus an external array for snapshots.
The only way to achieve almost zero downtime is through a HA setup, which is something I've been experimenting with just two baremetal hypervisor hosts (Google "2node HA cluster"). It's chaotic as HA (e.g. VMWare HA + vMotion) are usually found in a relatively larger cluster, beyond the size of typical SMB/SME.