I started to prepare my old desktop PC to become a development server running virtual servers on Microsoft Hyper-V.
The hardware specification is as follows:
Motherboard: ASUS P5K
CPU: Intel Xeon X3210
Memory modules: 4×2 GB Kingston Value Ram DDR800
Hard disks: 1×120 GB Hitachi (boot), 1×120 GB Seagate, 1x Western Digital 640GB
Graphics: An old ATI GTO800
Installing Hyper-V Server
My first attempt was to install the free standalone Hyper-V Server 2008 R2.
Everything went smoothly until I connected remotely with my Windows 7 laptop and started to create virtual hard disks. The PC started to hard freeze. Ctrl+Alt+Del didn’t help, it totally locked itself.
Very frustrating. I did have some bad experience with memory modules before, so I suspected that this was a case of bad memory modules.
Downloaded Memtest86 v4.0 and let it ran for an hour. Nothing. Rock solid.
Since the problem happened during creation of the virtual hard disks, I started to suspect some I/O issue with the disks. Removed all but the boot drive and tried again. No. Hard lockups continued. Bad.
I started to run out of options now. The PC had been running Windows Vista 64bit and Windows 7 64bit rock solid, without a glitch. What on earth could cause the Hyper-V behave like this?
Installing Windows Server 2008 R2
Since the possibilities to troubleshoot is rather limited on Hyper-V Server, being console based, I decided to wipe my boot disk and install a full fledged Windows Server 2008 R2 with the Hyper-V role hoping that at least something in the event log could shed some light on the issue. Said and done.
It started good, I could create virtual hard disks and install operating systems without a glitch. I was happy.
I thought I had it going until I prepared remote management for the Hyper-V role, and connected to the server remotely….. bam! Hard freeze again.
This was not good at all. Re-booted, and tried to map a network drive from my laptop to the PC… bam! Hard freeze. Like on order.
Now I started to remember something… didn’t I actually had some network issues with the motherboard before? Indeed, sometimes the built in network card stopped working when I ran Windows Vista. A reboot didn’t always help, I was sometimes forced to do a full power cycle.
Enter the crappy Attensic L1 Ethernet controller
Reading the ASUS support forums I found out that there was a lot of people that had network issues with the built in Attensic L1 controller.
The joy of an Intel network card.
Ok, I had to find an alternative and went out and bought an Intel PRO/1000 GT Desktop Adapter, installed it, and disabled the on board Attensic controller.
Every since that moment, the PC has been rock solid. No freezes, no lockups.
Lesson learned: when it comes to network adapters, there is only one make that cuts it: Intel. Period.