My original home server rack is being upgraded to use more ARM machines as the infrastructure of the lab itself. I've also moved house, so there is more room for stuff and kit. This has allowed space for a genuine machine room. I will be using that to host test devices which are do not need manual intervention despite repeated testing. (I'll also have the more noisy / brightly illuminated devices in the machine room.) The more complex devices will sit on shelves in the office upstairs. (The work to put the office upstairs was a major undertaking involving my friends Steve and Andy - embedding ethernet cables into the walls of four rooms in the new house. Once that was done, the existing ethernet cable into the kitchen could be fixed (Steve) and then connected to my new Ubiquity AP, (a present from Steve and Andy)).

Before I moved house, I found that the wall mounted 9U communications rack was too confined once there were a few devices in use. A lot of test devices now need many cables to each device. (Power, ethernet, serial, second serial and USB OTG and then add a relay board with it's own power and cables onto the DUT....)

Devices like beaglebone-black, cubietruck and other U-Boot devices will go downstairs, albeit in a larger Dell 24U rack purchased from Vince who has moved to a larger rack in his garage. Vince also had a gigabit 16 port switch available which will replace the Netgear GS108 8-port Gigabit Ethernet Unmanaged Switch downstairs.

I am currently still using the same microserver to run various other services around the house (firewall, file server etc.): HP 704941-421 ProLiant Micro Server

I've now repurposed a reconditioned Dell Compact Form Factor desktop box to be my main desktop machine in my office. This was formerly my main development dispatcher and the desktop box was chosen explicitly to get more USB host controllers on the motherboard than is typically available with an x86 server. There have been concerns that this could be causing bottlenecks when running multiple test jobs which all try to transfer several hundred megabytes of files over USB-OTG at the same time.

I've now added a SynQuacer Edge ARM64 Server to run a LAVA dispatcher in the office, controlling several of the more complex devices to test in LAVA - Hikey 620, HiKey 960 and Dragonboard 410c via a Cambrionix PP15s to provide switchable USB support to enable USB network dongles attached to the USB OTG port which is also used for file deployment during test jobs. There have been no signs of USB bottlenecks at this stage.

This arm64 machine then supports running test jobs on the development server used by the LAVA software team as azrael.codehelp. It runs headless from the supplied desktop tower case. I needed to use a PCIe network card from TPlink to get the device operating but this limitation should be fixed with new firmware. (I haven't had time to upgrade the firmware on that machine yet, still got the rest of the office to kit out and the rack to build.) The development server itself is an ARM64 virtual machine, provided by the Linaro developer cloud and is used with a range of other machines to test the LAVA codebase, doing functional testing.

The new dispatcher is working fine, I've not had any issues with running test jobs on some of the most complex devices used in LAVA. I haven't needed to extend the RAM from the initial 4G and the 24 cores are sufficient for the work I've done using the machine so far.

The rack was moved into place yesterday (thanks to Vince & Steve) but the patch panel which Andy carefully wired up is not yet installed and there are cables everywhere, so a photo will have to wait. The plan now is to purchase new UPS batteries and put each of the rack, the office and the ISP modem onto dedicated UPS. The objective is not to keep the lab running in the event of a complete power cut lasting hours, just to survive brown outs and power cuts lasting a minute or two, e.g. when I finally get around to labelling up the RCD downstairs. (The new house was extended a few yours before I bought it and the organisation of the circuits is a little unexpected in some parts of the house.)

Once the UPS batteries are in, the microserver, a PDU, the network switch and patch panel, as well as the test devices, will go into the rack in the machine room. I've recently arranged to add a second SynQuacer server into the rack - this time fitted into a 1U server case. (Definite advantage of the new full depth rack over the previous half-depth comms box.) I expect this second SynQuacer to have a range of test devices to complement our existing development staging instance which runs the nightly builds which are available for both amd64 and arm64.

I'll post again once I've got the rest of the rack built and the second SynQuacer installed. The hardest work, by far, has been fitting out the house for the cabling. Setting up the machines, installing and running LAVA has been trivial in comparison. Thanks to Martin Stadler for the two SynQuacer machines and the rest of the team in Linaro Enterprise Group (LEG) for getting this ARM64 hardware into useful roles to support wider development. With the support from Debian for building the arm64 packages, the new machine simply sits on the network and does "TheRightThing" without fuss or intervention. I can concentrate on the test devices and get on with things. The fact that the majority of my infrastructure now runs on ARM64 servers is completely invisible to my development work.