Peter Blum from the Citrix XenServer team put together a short (37 minutes) product training for XenServer and recorded it using Camtasia. Below the info on the video, I have posted some info on the hardware support for Citrix XenServer (Processors, memory, storage, network) as well as the virtual machine limitations.

In this video, Peter covers the following topics –

1.Setting up Xen Enterprise and Xen Center.
2.Creating resource pool.
3.Attaching the remote storage.
4.Creating VM
5.Using some of the features in the product.

You can watch (and listen) to this mini product training here.

After you watch the XenServer training video, you may to read about the specific new features in XenServer v4 in this post

If you would like to go through a quick install yourself, you can download XenServer Express Edition for free. Once you have the code downloaded, it takes about 10 minutes to Xen

Here are some background requirements for installing Citrix XenServer –

Hardware Support

Do I need a system with a 64bit x86 processor to run your software?

Yes, our products require a 64bit x86 processor.

Can I run your server software on a system with a 32bit processor?

No, our virtualization server software cannot be run on a 32bit processor based system. You can however run the Linux P2V capture tool and our XenCenter Management Client on a 32bit system.

Do I need a system with hardware virtualization support for running Linux operating systems?

You can currently run all of our supported Linux guests on a 64bit x86 system without the need for hardware virtualization support.

NOTE In previous releases a system with hardware virtualization support was required to do the initial installation of the latest Linux releases. This is no longer the case.

Do I need a system with hardware virtualization support for running Windows operating systems?

Yes, to run Windows operating systems you will need a 64bit x86 CPU based system that supports Intel VT or AMD-V hardware virtualization technology in the CPU and BIOS.

What is required to run Windows virtual machines?

To run Windows operating systems you will need a system with a 64bit x86 system that supports AMD-V or Intel VT hardware virtualization technology in the CPU and BIOS.

Which Intel VT processors do you recommend for running Citrix XenServer products?

We recommend the following Intel VT CPUs:

* Intel Xeon 51xx series processors (Dual-Core)
* Intel Xeon 53xx series processors (Quad-Core)
* Intel Xeon 71xx series processors (Dual-Core)
* Intel Xeon 30xx series processors (Dual-Core)
* Intel Xeon 32xx series processors (Quad-Core)

Can I use other Intel VT processors with the Citrix XenServer products?

Yes, other 64bit Intel processors including the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors contain VT technology and should work with the Citrix XenServer products. You can find a list of 64bit VT-enabled processors on the Intel website. Also be sure to check with your system vendor to make sure you BIOS supports Intel VT.

Which AMD-V processors do you recommend for running the Citrix XenServer products?

We recommend the followingAMD-V CPUs:

* AMD Opteron 12xx series processors
* AMD Opteron 22xx series processors
* AMD Opteron 82xx series processors

Can I use other AMD-V processors with the Citrix XenServer products?

Yes, many other 64bit AMD processors contain the AMD-V technology and should work with our products. You can find a list of AMD-V-enabled processors on the AMD website. Also be sure to check with your system vendor to make sure you BIOS supports AMD-V.

AMD Sempron processors do not currently contain AMD-V technology.

Can your products run on a 64bit Intel VT or AMD-V laptop system?

Yes, the products can be run on 64bit laptops for demonstration purposes, but we recommend running on a server system for production use.

Can your products run on a 64bit Intel VT or AMD-V desktop system?

Yes, the products can be run on 64bit desktop systems, but we recommend running on a server system for production use.

What does the AMD-V and Intel VT technology do?

The hardware virtualization technology from AMD and Intel allow Xen to efficiently handle certain virtualization-unsafe x86 instructions that a virtual machine may call during its normal course of operation. In first-generation virtualization systems, complex software layers must watch all executing machine code to rewrite unsafe x86 instructions on the fly. The Intel VT and AMD-V technology intercept these unsafe instructions and pass control to the Xen hypervisor to return a valid response to the virtual machine without a complex and performance-hindering layer of software.

You should check with your system supplier to determine if your system has Intel VT technology. Generally, systems with Intel VT will have an option to turn on Intel Virtualization Technology in the BIOS under Processor, CPU, or Advanced Configuration menus.

In addition, the first part of the Citrix XenServer product installer performs a check on your system that alerts you if Intel VT technology is not detected before making and changes to your server.

How can I tell if my AMD based system has AMD-V Technology?

You should check with your system supplier to determine if you system has AMD-V technology. A good rule of thumb is that AMD processors that support DDR2 memory have the AMD-V technology.

In addition, the first part of the Citrix XenServer product installer performs a check on your system that alerts you if AMD-V technology is not detected.

Do your products support dual-core or higher core processors?

Yes our products support multi-core processors, including quad-core processors from both AMD and Intel.

Memory Support

Do your products support memory sharing between VMs?

Xen and the Citrix XenServer family of products do not currently support memory sharing. Sharing memory between virtual machines imposes a performance penalty on VM memory operations. Generally you don see much savings from memory sharing in other products, since the operating system and applications don use most of the memory on a system. The data and file caches which are unique per VM use most of the memory which can be shared.

Do your commercial products support memory ballooning?

The core Xen technology currently supports memory ballooning and this capability will be included in our commercial products in a future release.

What is the maximum amount of memory that your products can use on a physical server system?

XenServer Enterprise is based on the 64bit version of Xen, which allows it to use up to 128GB of physical memory.

XenServer is also based on the 64bit version of Xen which allows it to use up to 128GB of physical memory.

Storage Support

What types of local storage can be used with your products?

All three Citrix XenServer products support IDE/PATA, Serial ATA (SATA), SCSI, and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS)

What types of non-shared remote storage can be used with your products?

The following forms of non-shared remote storage can be used:

* Hardware FC: Connections to storage area networks via fiber channel HBA from Emulex and QLogic.
*

Hardware iSCSI: iSCSI storage connections made with a hardware iSCSI adapter

The following forms of -shared remote storage can be used:

* Software iSCSI: iSCSI storage connections made with our built in software iSCSI initiator
*

NFS: NFS storage connections made with our built in NFS client.

What products support shared remote storage?

Shared remote storage is only available in our XenServer Enterprise product.

What products support non-shared remote storage and local storage?

All of the Citrix XenServer Family of Products support non-shared remote storage and local storage.

What is the difference between remote storage that is shared and non-shared?

Non-shared remote storage (such as FC SAN or an iSCSI SAN via hardware iSCSI adapters) can be used with our product, but will act like locally attached disk. When virtual machines are stored on non-shared remote storage, they cannot be live relocated between systems, they also cannot be automatically placed on other servers when they are started. With non-shared storage, the VMs on that storage can only be seen by one virtualization server.

Shared remote storage (such as connections to an iSCSI SAN via our built in software initiator or our NFS client) allow a VM to be accessed by multiple virtualization servers. This allows for VMs to be XenMotioned between systems. It also allows for automatic placement of virtual machines as they are started.

Do your products support software iSCSI?

Yes, we include a software iSCSI initiator with the product. We use the open-iSCSI initiator. Our Software iSCSI initiator can be used for remote connections to shared remote storage.

Do your products support hardware iSCSI adapters?

Yes, we support using the QLogic 405X series of iSCSI HBAs for remote connections to non-shared remote storage.

Do your products support NFS based storage?

Yes, XenServer Enterprise supports NFS based shared remote storage.

Can I use a regular software NFS share from a general purpose server with your XenServer Enterprise product for remote shared storage?

While you can use a regular NFS share from a general purpose server, we highly recommend using a hardware NFS appliance for proper levels of performance. We recommend that a hardware NFS appliance with high speed non-volatile caching be used (for example, Network Appliance Filers).

Can I boot your products from an iSCSI based SAN?

We don currently support booting the product from an iSCSI-based SAN.

Can I boot your products from a fiber channel SAN?

Yes, the products support boot from SAN with Emulex and QLogic HBAs that have boot from SAN capabilities.

Do your products support multipathing for fiber channel SAN?

Our products do not currently support multipathing for fiber channel SANs. Dynamic Multipathing support is planned for a future release.

Do your products support shared storage between systems?

XenServer Enterprise includes shared storage technology for Software iSCSI and NFS.

Does your products support using raw disk?

Yes, our products use LVM technology to create a storage repository which contains one or more disks or LUNs. This storage repository is then split up automatically to create virtual disk drives for the XenVMs. Note that the virtual machine will see a virtual disk drive, not the raw disk.

Do the Citrix XenServer products support virtual disk formats such as VHD?

When using remote shared NFS storage, XenServer Enterprise will storage virtual hard disks in the Microsoft VHD format. We also have a converter tool that allows you to convert a VHD (Microsoft Format) or VMDK (VMWare format) VM to our VM import format.

Does your product support software RAID?

Yes, the product allows the use of the Linux mdadm tools to create software RAID volumes. A technote on setting up software RAID can be found in the Citrix XenServer Knowledge Base. We generally recommend that you use a true hardware RAID solution for the best system performance.

Does your product support hardware RAID?

Yes, the product supports using standard hardware RAID controllers that are included with OEM systems. We also recommend 3Ware and Areca controllers for 3rd party RAID controllers. You can find a complete list of adapters on our online HCL. Our HCL can be found at http://hcl.xensource.com

Does your product support HostRAID or FakeRAID hardware/software RAID solutions?

No, our product does not currently support using lower end hardware/software HostRAID or FakeRAID solutions. We recommend using true hardware RAID controllers with our products.

Do your products support thin clones of existing virtual machines?

Yes, XenServer Enterprise, when using remote NFS shared storage or local storage with VHD-based VMs, supports thin-cloning of an existing VM template. Thin cloning allows you to create copies from a virtual machine template with minimal disk space usage. The original VM template is used as a base read-only disk, and any copies you create from this template will only require disk space to store differences in your newly created virtual machine.

Thin cloning also allows you to create new VMs very quickly. Since you don need to copy and virtual disk drives, new VMs can be created in only seconds.

Do your products support fast cloning of existing virtual machines?

Yes, XenServer Enterprise, when using remote NFS shared storage or local storage with VHD-based VMs, supports fast cloning of existing virtual machine templates. The original VM template is used as a base read-only disk, and any copies you create from this template will only require a small virtual disk drive to track changes. This allows XenServer Enterprise to create new VMs in only seconds.

Do your products provide disk snapshot support?

Virtual disk snapshotting will be provided in a future release.

Do your products support AoE (ATA over Ethernet)?

No, our products do not currently support AoE based storage.

Networking Support

Do your products support virtual networks that only operate between VMs?

Yes, administrators can create virtual networks that connect VMs running on the same physical system together over an internal virtual network.

Do your products support multiple physical networks?

Yes, administrator can create multiple physical networks that attach to NICs on the physical system.

Can VMs connect to multiple networks?

Yes, VMs are able to connect to multiple virtual and physical networks.

Do your products support single VLANs to a physical NIC?

Yes, the networking system allows the use of VLANs that connect to physical network interfaces on the physical box. In this setup one VLAN is connected to each physical NIC on the box.

Do your products support multiple VLANs to a physical NIC?

Yes, when using XenServer Enterprise the networking system allows splitting multiple VLANs on a single physical link into multiple virtual network switches.

Do your virtual networks pass all packets to all VMs?

No, our virtual networks act like a layer 2 switch. The virtual machines will only see traffic designated for that virtual machine.

Can I put the virtual NICs and networks into promiscuous mode?

Yes, you can put a virtual NIC into promiscuous mode to see all traffic on a virtual switch. Please search our knowledge base for the details.

Do your products support bonding or teaming of physical NICs?

This feature is planned for a future release.

Product Limits

What is the maximum amount of memory that your products can use on a system?

XenServer Enterprise is based on the 64bit version of Xen which allows it to use up to 128GB of physical memory.

XenServer Standard is also based on the 64bit version of Xen which allows it to use up to 128GB of physical memory.

XenServer Express is also based on the 64bit version of Xen but is limited to using up to 4GB of physical memory.

How many processors can your products use?

XenServer Enterprise can use up to 32 physical CPU sockets with up to 32 CPU cores.

XenServer Standard can use up to 32 physical CPU sockets with up to 32 CPU cores.

XenServer Express can use up to 2 physical CPU sockets with up to 8 CPU cores.

XenServer Enterprise and XenServer Standard support running up to 50 virtual machines per server at the same time. Keep in mind that the actual maximum number of VMs that can be run per server is generally bound by the amount of memory on the box and the memory requirements for your virtual machines.

XenServer Express supports running up to 4 virtual machines at the same time.

How many virtual machines can be created on your products?

We don currently limit the number of virtual machines that can be created on our products. We do have limits on the number of simultaneous virtual machines that can be active and running at the same time.

How many physical NICs do your products support?

All three products support up to 4 physical network interfaces.

Virtual Machine Limitations

How many virtual machines can run per server on your products?

XenServer Enterprise and XenServer Standard support running up to 50 virtual machines per server at the same time.

XenServer Express supports running up to 4 virtual machines per server at the same time.

How many virtual CPUs can you allocate to a virtual machine?

Linux and Windows VMs can use up to 8 virtual CPUs.

How much memory can you allocate to a virtual machine?

XenServer Enterprise and XenServer Standard allow that

a Linux VM can use up to 32GB of memory

a Windows VM can use up to 32GB

XenExpress allows a VM to use up to 4GB of memory

How many virtual disk drives can be allocated to a virtual machine?

A virtual machine can be allocated up to 7 virtual disk drives. This number also includes a virtual DVD-ROM device.

How many virtual disk drives can be allocated to a virtual machine?

A virtual machine can be allocated up to 7 virtual network interfaces.

I found a link that provides a list of all the actual systems, storage, components, and drivers that have been tested with XenServer. You can find it at this link –[ Hardware Compatibility for Citrix XenServer|http://hcl.xensource.com/] .

I will post more technical background info on the Citrix XenServer product line over the next few days. If you there is some specific information you would like to see, please post it in the comments.

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