I just got my hands on a pair of 32GB SODIMM memory modules (64GB total) which I had been waiting to evaluate since last Fall. Apparently, it has taken some time for these high capacity memory modules to be readily available in the consumer market. Even after the announcement of the new 2018 Apple Mac Mini last year, which officially supports 32GB SODIMMS, I was not aware of any vendors who were selling these modules direct to consumers.
My primary interests in these memory modules was whether they would work on the latest Intel NUCs, specifically the Hades Canyon (NUC8i7HNK) which are the prosumer versions of the standard Intel NUCs that many folks use for vSphere Home Labs. Both the standard and Skull/Hades Canyon NUCs all officially support a maximum of 32GB of memory (2x16GB SODIMM), however it been hypothesized by the community that they *should* in theory be able to go up to 64GB, especially as some of the newer CPUs technically state support for it.
With the lack of 32GB SODIMM availability and the cost, there has not been anyone that I am aware of that has confirmed whether the Intel NUCs can see the full 64GB of memory and more importantly, does ESXi also see the full memory capacity? With help from MITXPC on providing the evaluation units, I can finally answer this question which I actually shared on Twitter earlier this afternoon 🙂
YES! It works 😂
— William Lam (@lamw) March 13, 2019
Here are some screenshots of ESXi 6.5 Update 2 running on the Hades Canyon NUC with the 64GB memory modues:
I figured that if this would work, the Hades Canyon had the best chance as it was the latest generation of the Intel NUCs. What came next was a complete and unexpected surprise and hence the tweet. I still own and frequently use my Intel 6th Gen NUC (NUC6i3SYH), which was actually my first experience with the NUCs. I was curious if the memory modules would even be detected with such an old NUC, especially given this platform had already been discontinued.
As you can see from the screenshots below, my old 6th Gen Intel NUC (purchased in 2016) recognized all 64GB memory running the latest ESXi 6.7 Update 1 release! This means anyone with at least a 6th Gen Intel NUC or newer can definitely benefit from these new 32GB SODIMM modules. From a setup standpoint, there was nothing special I needed to do. The Hades Canyon was running a fairly new BIOS but my old NUC was running a pretty old version 044 vs. 068 and it did not have any issues. Once I confirmed that it successfully posted, I ended up flashing the BIOS to the latest version which you can find on Intel's website and its a good practice, especially if you have taken the downtime.
This is a pretty freaking amazing if you think about the tiny footprint of a classic Intel NUC and combining that with M.2 NVMe for storage and now the ability to go up to 64GB of memory! Best of all, you can have these benefits today without having to purchase a brand new system, which many assumed would be required if/when Intel officially supports 64GB for their NUC platform.
For the few still in doubt, yes I can actually consume all the available memory. I was able to deploy 17 x Windows 10 VMs, each configured with 1 vCPU and 4GB of memory to demonstrate memory overcommit as not all memory is active. Obviously, there will be some amount of memory that will not be consumable, for example if you are using vSAN, ESXi will require a portion of the memory to run the service. This is no different than any other system you are managing today 🙂
In addition, a number of you have also asked if you *could* mix a 16GB and 32GB module, not recommended for obvious reasons, but it looks like the system will also recognize that configuration for those wanting to iteratively update their existing Intel NUCs.
Finally, I am sure folks are wondering about what this will cost them. Currently, on Amazon a single Samsung DDR4 32GB SODIMM is going for $298. Interestingly, I also recently came across a Slickdeal (one of my favorite sites to visit) and they have this exact module for just $213! For a little over $1K USD, you can have a pretty nice vSphere/vSAN/NSX Home Lab kit that can run next to you with very little no noise at all.