What are the hardware requirements for a virtualization server?

Setting up a virtualization server?

Don't worry--you don't need a Cisco certification to choose the right server. If you know your way around the innards of a desktop, you won't have any problems.

Microsoft offers a guide to determine your server hardware requirements. Unfortunately, it requires some technical savvy.

This guide, on the other hand, gives you simple, straightforward instructions. Read on to discover the methods used to find your optimal server.


The three elements to consider when selecting virtualization hardware include the CPU, memory, and network I/O capacity. They're all critical for workload consolidation.

Issues with the CPU pertain to either clock speed or the number of cores held by the CPU. Please don't run out and buy the market's fastest CPU. Instead, buy one with more modest clock speed and a greater number of cores.

You'll receive better consolidation from two CPUs with 2.4 GHz and 10 cores than you will from two CPUs with 3 GHz and 4 cores. Invest in faster CPUs only when your workload demands it. The best server for virtualization will include CPUs with large internal caches.


Your virtual machine resides in memory. The more memory you have, the greater your consolidation. You need at least enough DDR3 memory to support the number of workloads you run on the system.

Take the 10-core example above. The two 10 core CPUs would support 40 threads of potential workloads. We derive this number from adding the number of cores (20 total). Then we multiply the result by 2 because each core has two threads.

If each workload uses 2 GB, your server would need at least 80 GB. The closest binary equivalent would be either 96 GB. Anything less would compromise your consolidation or your performance.

Anything more would just be a waste of money.

It's worth noting that memory resilience features require extra memory modules. They won't add to your available memory pool. Save these features for your servers that run mission-critical workloads.

Network Access

Be sure you have adequate bandwidth available.

Consider upgrading your network interface to a quad port NIC. You may even install a 10 GbE NIC if your workload demands justify it.

Common 1 GbE network interface cards just won't cut it. Get rid of them and set up more rigorous network access.

Other Considerations for Your Virtualization Server

Before you decide on a server, consider whether it'll serve all your needs.

Begin by writing down each of your requirements. Then write a list of each of the components you'll need to fulfill those requirements. Last, determine whether your server choice can accommodate those components.

Here's an example:

PCIe x8 slots may be in short supply. You need one for your GPU, NIC adapter, and Fibre Channel host bus adapter. What happens if you want to install 3 GPUs rather than just one?

Check the specs on your virtualization server hardware requirements. See if they will match your needs.

If you run into trouble, head over to our self-service support center. There, you can find help on hundreds of subjects, including the costs to build your servers.

What's Next?

Well, now you know the requirements for your virtualization server.

Figure out your workload first. Then work through the math to discover your CPU and memory needs. The rest is simple!

If you enjoyed this read, check out our other fantastic articles about servers.

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