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September 25, 2015

Four Intel NUCs on steroids in awesome custom build case - Atlantis @HomeLab

Ruben Spruijt - Atlantis


Is great and useful to use cloud services such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS but quite often it’s very handy, comfortable and sometimes cheaper to use gear in your own R&D (home) lab as well. As Chief Technologist and all-around geek I love to get my hands dirty, get shit done #GSD, - JustDoIT with new software and hardware. I like to investigate new technology areas and check new use-cases about modern workspace and modern datacenter technologies. I want to share my latest gem, four Intel NUCs with 128GB RAM and 4TB SSD raw capacity, 5th generation Intel Core i5 CPUs. All is built in an Apple styled case with an EL-paper powered Atlantis logo. Wow!

Quite often community peers are interested what gear I am using in my home lab. Just some insights here, my personal R&D lab contains e.g. core infrastructure components such as ADS, SQL, Citrix, -Microsoft, VMware Virtualization and Desktop delivery management solutions these are running on Apple MacMini (core i5, 16GB, 1TB SSD) and two other intel Core i5 NUCs (16GB, 1TB SSD, Corei5). Obvious Citrix XenServer, VMware vSphere and Microsoft HyperV are being used. Shared storage is a Synology DS411+II NAS with 2 x 2 TB and 2 x 1.5TB drives connected via normal 1Gb switch. Three workstation class machines with high-end Core i7 and Intel Xeon CPU, 48-64GB memory, multiple 1TB SSDs and AMD FirePro S9000 and NVIDIA GRID K2 and NVIDIA Quadro K6000 GPUs in each machine. Great stuff for Team Remote Graphics Experts (TeamRGE) testing and solution evaluation. I use a hardware based frame grabber from Epiphan, DVI2USB 3.0, and a hardware based WAN emulator from Apposite, the Linktropy Mini2.  These three workstation machines are awesome but make a serious amount of noise, consume a huge amount of energy, the WAF factor is very low and my energy bill is 3 x higher than normal equal family with 3 kids. Time to add some environmental friendly gear... :-) BTW: don’t know what WAF is? It is: Wife Acceptance Factor, design elements that increase the likelihood a wife will approve the purchase of expensive consumer electronics products

To evaluate various Software Defined Storage solutions such as Atlantis USX, new OS functions from Windows Server 2016, Virtualization solutions from Citrix and VMware, workspace layering technologies such as AppVolumes and Unidesk use a nice setup, powered by four Intel Next Unit of Computing – Intel NUC. The unit by itself is great but combine four of these NUCs, insert 1TB SSD and add 32GB in each of these NUCs you get a powerhouse. Add a custom built Add a custom built aluminum case with awesome EL-paper Atlantis Logo on both sides and it’s unique, made in Holland. The WAF factor and Geek level is sky-high, some details about my Intel NUC – Atlantis@HomeLab.

  • (4) Intel NUC core i5 – type NUC5i5RYH | i5-5250
    The Intel core i7, wasn’t available when I bought my NUCs.
    Price: €1676,00

  • (4) Samsung EVO 1TB
    Type 850 EVO/basic.
    Price: €636,00

  • (1) D-Link DGS 105
    5 ports 1Gb switch
    Price: €29,99

  • (4) Sharkoon RJ45 Cat.5e SFTP 0.5m cable
    Price: €9,96

  • (8) 16GB (2Gx64), DDR3L,1333 204Pin SO-DIMM
    Total 32GB (2 x 16GB) DIMM in Intel Core i5 NUC :)
    The CPU supports 32GB, Intel NUC officially not, but it works fine with 5th+ CPU.
    Doesn’t work with 4th Gen CPU.
    Price: €2872,00

  • (1) Custom build case
    Support from community friend Richard Garsthagen.
    Price: €200,00

  • (2) EL-paper + power adapters
    Bought from Alibaba.
    Price: €80,00

  • Total: €6473,96

Most of the people interested in this IntelNUC setup ask two things. The first: Wow, how is it possible to use 32GB ram per Intel NUC. Second question is about the custom build ‘Atlantis’ case. To address the first question, when you want to use 32GB RAM per Intel NUC you need special low voltage SO-DIMMs and a 5th Gen. Intel CPU. I have ordered the DIMMS in here.

Details about the memory can be found here. “Want 32GB of RAM in your laptop or NUC? You can finally do it.” Is 32GB enough for all the tests and configurations I want to execute? Its fine for now but I am looking forward to new NUCs with higher memory configurations. The dual sided SO-DIMMs fit in the two memory banks, but it’s pretty tight. The custom build Atlantis – Apple styled Intel NUC case is designed and milled with a CNC machine by a community friend of mine, Richard Garshagen. You can use e.g. SolidWorks Draftside to view or change the design. The .DXF file of the design is available for download, hope you find the design it useful.

A lot of community peers have written about the Intel NUC, adding an extra NIC, setup for VMware vSphere, etc. etc. I have added a couple of handy blog posts here:

Tip1: Make sure you change the power setting ’After Power Failure = PowerOn’  in The power button on top of the NUC can’t be used anymore because of space between the NUCs.

Tip2, I bought a couple M2.SATA modules but these didn’t work with vSphere and Xenserver, lack of driver support here.

When you have questions or feedback, when you made your own custom case and want to share your design? Please send me an email and thanks for following me on twitter @rspruijt

Current rating: 3.1 (8 ratings)