Control (remotely) the power of your Home Lab

I have a lab at home to test for example VMware vSphere and  Microsoft stuff. Running your home lab for 24/7 will result in a high electricity bill. For a couple of months I use the Internet Control Station ICS-1000  (ICS-1000) to power on my home lab when needed from anywhere.  The ICS-1000 controls (left picture) controls the receivers (right picture).  The ICS-1000 is connected to my router. In the receivers are the power cables plugged from the devices you manage.

foto (2) foto (1)

So when needing my lab environment I  open the App on my iPhone and power on the home lab  from everywhere. After a short time I can remotely access the home lab and connect for example to my:

  • NAS
  • VMware vSphere with ESXi servers environment
  • Microsoft Hyper-V environment

Using the web browser or the iPhone App for example you can program the timers to power on/off devices on specific times and dates.   

image image

I use different receivers through  the whole house and control it with the ICS-1000.  For example I control the light outside the house with timers I programmed in the the ICS-1000. The App has still some limitations and bugs.  For example it is not possible to edit timers.  To change the timers you need to delete and recreate them. Probably in March 2013 the App will be updated to solve some bugs and add new functionality.

Intel X79 whitebox for vSphere 5 and Hyper-V 3


Update August 8 2012: Added Microsoft Windows 2012 Hyper-V screenshots and link to blog post how to enable the Intel 82579V NIC

Update August 9 2012: Updating to the latest BIOS enables support for DirectPath I/O in VMware vSphere. Screenshot added

In an earlier blog post (found here) I mentioned that it is time for a new homebrew whitebox based on the Intel X79 chipset. With the X79 chipset it is possible to install 64GB of memory (8 x 8 GB). Because the 8 GB DIMMs are expensive on the moment, I decided to use 8 x 4GB DIMMs (total 32GB).

I decided to create one physical host for testing VMware vSphere 5, vCloud Director, VMware SRM, VMware View 5 etc. The possibility to create a physical ESXi5 server, create virtual ESXi  hosts on it and start VM on the virtual hosts is great! This feature is called nesting. How to do this, can be found on William Lam blog found here.

Components used for the VMware ESXi 5 / Microsoft Windows Server 2012 whitebox:

  • Intel i7-3820 CPU 3.60 GHz, 4 cores, with Hyper threading 8 cores
  • Zalman CNPS10X performance cooler
  • Asus P9X79 s2011 motherboard. Some specs:
      • Socket 2011
      • 8 DIMM slots, supports 64GB memory
      • Expansions slots: 2 x PCIe 3.0 (dual x16), 1 x PCIe (x8 mode), 2 x PCIe 2.0 x1, 1 x PCI
      • 2 SATA 6 Gb/s port, 4 x SATA 3 Gb/s
      • LAN: Intel 82579V Gigabit LAN controller
  • 2 x Corsair Vengeance DDR3- 1600 16GB (4 x 4) kit, total 32GB memory (max 64GB)

The case, power supply, graphical card, RAID controller and extra NIC(S) are reused. Here are some photos of the configuration:

image image
image image

When the hardware  configuration was done and tried to power on the system, nothing happened (black screen). The appears that BIOS of the motherboard didn’t know the i7-3820 CPU yet. The cool thing is that the motherboard has a function called “USB BIOS Flashback”. It is possible to flash the BIOS without CPU or memory installed. Here are the steps:

  • Download the latest BIOS from the Asus site;
  • Extract the BIOS on a USB stick;
  • Rename the BIOS file, example: rename “P9X79-ASUS-0906.ROM” in “P9X79.ROM” (important);
  • Place the USB stick in the USB port with the WHITE interior on the back;
  • Press the BIOS flashback button for 3 seconds and the light will begin to flash;
  • Don’t turn of the computer during the BIOS flash;
  • When the flashing light stop, the BIOS has been complete;

After the BIOS update was finished, the system boots and I was able to install VMware ESXi and Windows Server 2012 and enable the Hyper-V role.

vSphere 5 / ESXi 5 screenshots:

image image
Hyper threading enables 8 cores 32GB memory
image image
The onboard SATA controller is listed as Patsburg 6 Port SATA AHCI controller.

Software-RAID does not work

The hardware RAID controller is added as extra PCI card

The onboard Intel 82579V NIC is not supported in ESXi5. Use the procedure found here to add the NIC. Use at your own risk!

The Intel 82574L NIC is added as extra PCIe card.


The latest firmware includes support for DirectPath I/O


Microsoft Windows Server 2012

It is possible to install Microsoft Windows 2012 and enable the Hyper-V role. Here are some screenshots:

image image
image image

The onboard Intel 82579V NIC is not recognized in Windows Server 2012 by default. How-to enable the Intel 82579V NIC is explained in this explained in this blog post.

This whitebox is a great extension to my home lab!


Homebrew / Whitelist Hyper-V R2 home server NAS

For my home lab i was looking for a home server with NAS functionality. My current Iomega IX2 (2x500GB) NAS is replaced by this server.  For this server I had the following requirements:

  • Low power consumption (24×7)
  • Low noise
  • Flexibly and room to expand with extra hard drive(s), hardware RAID and a NIC
  • Home server functionality for sharing photos, music, documents and films
  • NAS functionality with iSCSI and NFS protocol
  • FTP server
  • Hypervisor enabled
  • Backup server
  • Print server 
  • Active Directory
  • DNS server
  • Download server
  • Wake-on-LAN functionality to start other virtualization hosts

I selected the following components:


Asus E35M1-M Pro. This motherboard contains  AMD Zacate E-350 1.60 GHz Dual-Core Processor.  It has TDP (Thermal Design Power) of 18W!



  • Dual-core 1.60 GHz processor that has passive cooling.
  • Onboard AMD Radeon graphic card
  • USB 3.0
  • 5 x SATA 6Gb/s
  • 2 x DIMM, Max 8GB RAM
  • Realtek Gigabit  8111E LAN
  • 1 x PCI Express 2.0, 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot, 2 x PCI 3.0 slots
  • uATX Form Factor, 9.6 inch x 7.2 inch ( 24.4 cm x 18.3 cm )

This Motherboard has room to expand, it is possible to add extra extra hard drive(s), a RAID controller and an extra NIC. Virtualization is also supported with AMD-V feature in the CPU.


The motherboard supports two single channel DDR3 1066MHz DIMMS . The maximum memory is 8GB.


I picked 2 x 4 GB G.Skill Ripjaws (F3-10666CL9D-8GBRL ). More supported memory for this motherboard can be found in the Asus download section

Hard drives

In this set-up I used three hard-drives. As boot drive an old Samsung SP0411C 40GB SATA 150 is used.  For the data and backup storage I picked 2 Samsung EcoGreen F4EG 2TB  hard drives.


Some specifications:

  • 2TB unformatted capacity
    SATA 3Gb/s interface
  • Three platter design
  • 32MB cache
  • 5400RPM spin speed
  • Average Seek time – 8.9 ms

Great price, large space and low power consumption.

Power Supply

As Power Supply I choose the Seasonic S12II-330W ATX power supply.


Some specifications:

  • 80 PLUS
  • Efficiency up to  85%
  • Advanced ultra-low resistance, high temperature capacitors on critical 12V rail
  • Low Noise

Good quality, high efficiency (85%) and quiet power supply.


Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced


Some specifications:

  • Tower
  • Motherboard support Micro – ATX / ATX / Mini-ITX
  • 6 x 3,5” bays
  • 4 x 2,5”bays
  • Dimension (W / H / D)  214.5 x 496 x 528.8 mm / 8.4 x 19.5 x 20.8 inch
  • Cable management

Great case with a lot of room for expanding.

Software running so far

When installing VMware ESXi it gives an error because the NIC and disk controller aren’t  supported. The solution is to install a controller and NIC that are supported or add the drivers to the VMware ESXi ISO (more information can be found here).

An easier way is to use Microsoft Hyper-V R2 because all the drivers are supported. 

The following software is installed so far:

  • Windows 2008 R2 SP1 with the AD, DNS and Hyper-V role installed
  • Windows Home Server 2011 (Vail) RC as Virtual Machine (VM) for sharing photos, documents, music and videos. I use it also to backup my work laptop and other Windows pc’s at home.
  • Starwind iSCSI SAN
  • Services for Network File System for the NFS protocol
  • FileZilla server for FTP

Power consumption

Here are some power consumption tests I did:

  • Motherboard with 8GB RAM, started in the EFI BIOS without the hard drives attached. Power consumption around 31 Watt
  • Motherboard with 8GB RAM with three hard drives attached , Windows 2008 R2 with the MS Hyper-V R2 role and one VM active. Power consumption idle around 35 Watt
  • Motherboard with 8GB RAM with three hard drives attached, Windows 2008 R2 with the MS Hyper-V R2 role and one VM active and 2 CPU cores fully loaded in Windows 2008 R2. Power consumption around 45 Watt


Don’t except that this configuration is a performance monster. The performance is not bad for a home server with a lot of flexibility, low noise and power consumption and couple of VMs running. 

Screenshot Hyper-V manager with Microsoft Windows Home Server 2011 running.



The following considerations (will increase the costs) can be made for better performance and/or lower consumption:

  • Use an SSD drive as boot hard drive for faster booting and lower power consumption.
  • Change the power supply for an higher efficiency power supply. For example a PicoPSU has an higher efficiency for lower power consumption.
  • Add an RAID card with cache on it for better disk performance. The power consumption will increase.