Dell PowerEdge T20 with Xeon E3-1225v3 CPU

The Dell PowerEdge T20 is a entry-level server from Dell. Being available since 01.2014 the price for those machines dropped quite rapidly in 06.2014 and now end users buy this machine to use it as a cheap desktop computer or workstation. The version with the Intel Xeon CPU 1225v3 is quite powerful and this is the version I bought. This blog post is my collection of information about this computer.

Main Features

  • Processor: Xeon E3-1225v3
  • Graphics (on CPU): Intel HD Graphics P4600
  • Chipset: Intel C226
  • Network: Intel I217
  • Power Supply: 290W
  • USB Ports: 6x USB 2.0, 4x USB 3.0

Available Expansion Slots:

  • 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 slot
  • 1x PCIe 2.0 x16 (wired x4) slot
  • 1x PCIe 2.0 x1 slot
  • 1x PCI 32/33 slot

More technical details to be found here.

Upgrading Parts / Hardware Modifications

Alternative Power Supply

RAM Extension

GPU Upgrade

  • Gainward GeForce GTX 750 Ti Golden Sample

Case / CPU Fan Mod


Power Supply Fan Mod

Post 1 | Post 2

Options for the fan:

More SATA Ports

SATA PCIe Cards:

What about the IBM M1015 with reflashed fw? Here is how to flash it to IT mode on UEFI Mainboards

This cable would be suitable: DeLock Kabel mini SAS 36pin zu 4x SATA metall (SFF 8087 > Kabel intern 1 x mSAS 36 pol - 4 x SATA 7 pol 0.5 m.

More Network Adapters

Intel Chipset based PCIe Gigabit Cards

Dell's recommended addons

  • PEXSAT32 2-Port PCIe SATA 6GB controller card
  • Slimline DVD or Blueray drive

Remote Features

AMT: Press [CTRL]+[P] during the boot screen phase to enter MEBx (Management Engine BIOS Extension v9.0).

  • Default password is admin. You need to change the password right away (you get an error message if the new password isn't complex enough!).

After that, you can reach the AMT website at: http://IP-of-T20:16992. The username is admin.

After booting with the additional kernel parameter console=ttyS1,115200n8, I was able to use amtterm to connect to the computer: amtterm ip.of.amt -p password.

More info on how to configure the host OS to enable the serial console is to be found in this Arch Linux Wiki page on the serial console.

My changes to /etc/default/grub:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet pci=assign-busses console=tty0 console=ttyS1,115200n8"
# I also tried to get the grub menu via serial terminal but this failed:
#GRUB_TERMINAL_INPUT="console serial"
#GRUB_TERMINAL_OUTPUT="console serial"
#GRUB_SERIAL_COMMAND="serial --speed=115200 --port=0xf0e0 --word=8 --parity=no --stop=1"
# Grub was flickering (turning black for ~two seconds every ~10 seconds)
# Didn't receive anything on the SOL connection

Afterwards, run:

sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

More useful AMT tutorials:

KVM Status can either be set to “redirection ports” (meaning it will only be accessible to VNC clients that specifically support Intel AMT, such as RealVNC Viewer Plus or Intel’s KVM Console, the former of which costs $100, the latter of which constantly overlays a RealVNC logo on the screen), to “default port” (meaning it will be accessible on TCP port 5900 to any VNC client), or to “all ports” (which is the combination of both). If you enable VNC access, you will also need to set an RFB Password. As I found out the hard way (Intel actually has it hidden in their documentation as well), it gets truncated at 8 characters and at the same time has the same security requirements as the general AMT password. If you disabled User Opt-In in the MEBx menu, you can disable it here as well.

So that’s it, now you can use almost any VNC client you like (RealVNC and Chicken of the VNC work fine, while Apple Remote Desktop appears to cause the VNC server to freeze) and control the machine just as if you were sitting in front of it.

Dann mit "...\Intel_AMT_SDK_Gold_9.5.0.34\Windows\Intel_AMT \Bin\KVM\KVMControlApplication.exe" aus dem SDK lt. obiger Anleitung den Zugang für den normalen VNC freigemacht und dabei ein Zugriffspasswort vergeben. Passwortregeln beachten: "...das RFB Passwort für den Zugriff mit normalen VNC Clients muss genau acht Zeichen lang sein, und Klein- und Großbuchstaben, eine Ziffer und ein Sonderzeichen enthalten"

Operating Systems and Advice

Idea for a ZFS server:

Install the OS on a USB thumb drive and use three builtin HDDs for the ZFS data storage.

My BIOS Settings

  • SATA Mode: AHCI !!

Moving my installation of Arch Linux to my new Dell T20 computer

All I had to do was boot into recovery mode, generate the initrd again using

mkinitcpio -p linux

and reboot.


Getting WOL to work

Read this on how to get Wake on LAN working. Basically you need to update the BIOS to v05+, then load BIOS defaults (optional?), clear NVRAM with Jumper and load BIOS defaults. Then enable WOL in the Bios and it should work.

I have the problem that the T20 restarts after shutting it down from Arch Linux or Ubuntu Linux when WOL is enabled in the BIOS.

Possibly here ares some hints to solutions (??):

sudo vim /etc/default/grub
## and change
## to
sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

sudo vim /etc/modprobe.d/dell_t20.conf
## and add:
# This should make the Dell T20 power down using APM (not ACPI)
### Attention! Doesn't work so far. the apm kernel module is not there in Arch Linux anymore!
options apm power_off=1

Mod to fix annoying noise when shut down

The small piezoelectric buzzer is making an ugly noise when WOL is enabled and the computer is in S5 (shutdown) state. You can simply put a little bit of scotch tape on its opening and the high frequency buzzing sound will go away.

Getting the power consumption with Linux below 15 Watt

sudo pacman -S powertop

Add the file /etc/udev/rules.d/10-local-powersave.rules:

# PCI runtime power management
ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="pci", ATTR{power/control}="auto"

# USB autosuspend
ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTR{power/control}="auto"
ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="usb", TEST=="power/autosuspend" ATTR{power/autosuspend}="60"

# SATA active link power management
SUBSYSTEM=="scsi_host", KERNEL=="host*", ATTR{link_power_management_policy}="min_power"

And run sudo udevadm trigger. Afterwards, cat /sys/class/scsi_host/host0/link_power_management_policy should return min_power.

echo auto > /sys/bus/pci/devices/0000:00:14.0/power/control

Updating the firmware

My T20 shipped with A03. To update it to A05 I first downloaded the BIOS upgrade file PET20A05.exe from the Dell homepage. Then I downloaded the FreeDOS image FreeDOS-1.1-memstick-2-256M.img.bz2 from here, unpacked it and wrote it to a USB stick. I also copied the .exe to the stick. I started from the stick (F12 for a one-time boot menu) and started FreeDOS (chose option 4 / no drivers when asked). Then I ran dir and PET20A05.exe at the dos prompt and flashed the new BIOS. After that I set the RTCRST jumper to clear BIOS settings and loaded default values when entering the BIOS.

ECC /w Linux - EDAC

ECC memory is supported by the E3-12xx CPU family via the kernel module ie31200_edac since 3.17.

edac-ctl --status

edac-ctl: drivers are loaded.

edac-ctl --mainboard

edac-ctl: mainboard: Dell Inc. 05HY2L


edac-util: No errors to report.

More on that: Checking ECC RAM with Linux.


You could read this comparison of platform virtualization software on Wikipedia.

VMware ESXi

Other Technices

You may also look at Xen, KVM, CoreOS, Docker, ...