HomeLab Stage XLVI: New ESXi Host (MacPro)

In the last episode Stage XLV: Monster Workstation I covered my new daily workstation. What happened to my old one? The 2013 Apple MacPro with 3 x NVMe and 10GbE?

It´s now an ESXi host 🙂 Fully supported by the way:

I have upgraded it in the past to the absolute maximum: Mac Pro 2013 with 6 Cores, 64GB RAM, Amfeltec NVMe Carrier, Thunderbolt FC and Thunderbolt 10GbE SFP+. You can find the details here: Stage XXXII: Workstation Upgrade

How to place it in a rack? No problem. I found the Sonnet Rackmac option very cheap and put into my datacenter II, next to the Apple Mac Mini vSAN cluster:

I installed ESXi on the system with no problems. I removed the 3 x 2 TB NVMe devices and plugged in some smaller versions.

I am using the Sonnet Thunderbolt Expansion for years at my Mac Minis with different PCIe cards installed. Time to test it with the MacPro: It worked without any problems. I have installed a Solarflare Dual Port 10GbE NIC as well as a FusionIO ioDrive2 1.2TB device. You know that there are no drivers available for vSphere 7.x, so I decided to work on 6.7U3.

I wanted a way to power on the system remotely, when working on customer sites or sitting in a hotel…. I did the same trick like on the MacMini systems: Auto Power On after Power Loss……

I attached the MacPro to one of my Remote IP Power sockets. It was a little bit tricky to get it working, but it does.

What about the Thunderbolt Port and my external devices? Let´s test it out. I attached the Promise SanLink Thunderbolt FC 4Gbit Adapter and it worked like a charm.

The same for the Promise SanLink2 Dual 10GbE SFP+ Adapter. Quad 10GbE SFP+ connections together with the dual 1GbE onBoard NICs, nice!

Why using an Apple system for vSphere? Because you can power up all different versions of Mac OS on it!

Special Configuration for Big Sur VMs is needed to start the Beta / RC version of the operating system, but it works.

My good old working horse has now a second life:

Stay tuned for the next episode of my #HomeLab journey

Check out the next episode here: HomeLab Stage XLVII: New Hardware