We have a client who currently has a server running on old hardware.

They want to move this server to another machine and virtualize it to make it more portable in the future (AFAIK, they use a non-mainstream server OS). However, their current setup has 4 video outputs, which they make full use of. They want to maintain the quad-monitor setup on the new hardware.

I've been tasked with figuring out how to do this. After some research, here is the (vague) shopping list I've come up with:

  1. Server motherboard supporting an IOMMU, such as Intel VT-d.
  2. 64 bit server CPU, also with VT-d support.
  3. Type 1 hypervisor, such as ESXi, as a native OS.
  4. GPU with PCI-Passthrough capabilities (I've been told that practically any AMD card would meet this criteria).
  5. USB controller with PCI-Passthrough capabilities.

Am I on the right track? Is my assumption about AMD video cards correct? Is there anything else important that I haven't yet considered?


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    I'm sure you could get that to work with a bit of fiddling but I'd be worried about how fragile the setup would be, why would you want to virtualiise this, it seems an odd way to go about this, why not just bare-metal Windows? – Chopper3 Jun 8 '16 at 20:35
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    Don't build a server just buy one pre built from a reputable manufacturer like HP or Dell. They come with warranty and support – Iain Jun 8 '16 at 20:43
  • Without sharing too many details, our clientele uses technology related to operating machinery. The server OS is neither Windows nor Linux, as far as I know. – Parker Kemp Jun 8 '16 at 20:51
  • Get the details... then we can help. I've worked in manufacturing, logistics and other weird industries with special requirements. Leaning on the vendor makes sense in some cases, because you're likely not the only one who's faced this problem. – ewwhite Jun 8 '16 at 20:55
  • @ParkerKempI've worked with this kind of stuff in a Mil/Aero setting which has lots of compliance. Use industrial class systems, they are designed to last and be easily repairable. Our solution then was to but a lifetime supply of systems and some spare cards. So far as I know they are still running, in production with WfW 3.11 and will do so for another decade or so. – Iain Jun 9 '16 at 18:05

Virtualization is unnecessary to maintain portability if the operating system is modern. Windows 2008 R2 can handle having the hardware changed out fairly well, and Windows 2012 and higher handles it even better. Modern Linux operating systems also don't care about underlying hardware changes.

  • I don't disagree, but that's not my call unfortunately. The client wants it done this way, so if it's feasible, that's how we're going to do it. Also, I don't have all the details about the server software, but knowing the nature of their business, it's likely not Windows or Linux. – Parker Kemp Jun 8 '16 at 20:47

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