Originally Posted by Skrumzy
What I hate is having a gaming rig with so many cores that go unused. Its a waste. Not to mention if I were to somehow incorporate the server and gaming rig into one, less wires and less hardware. If this isn't possible Ill just wait till llano goes mainstream and build a server around it and a zacate htpc. If I could incorporate everything I was also going to sell off all my used hardware.
My question is what's preventing you from doing that even without virtualization? You don't need virtual machines so your PC can act as gaming rig, media encoding rig and file server at the same time. Just install a bunch of RAM and cram a bunch of hard drives into your PC. Before building a separate server, that's what I did. I just used Windows sharing on the primary desktop which was also used for some gaming and media encoding. The only reason I built a separate file server was for redundancy, storage scaling and to reduce power consumption. Q6600 + 9800 GTX + 24/7 operation = bad for power bill, not to mention being a space heater (great during winter, though).
I can understand separating the HTPC portion from the gaming portion. It's kinda hard to game when someone's clicking on the remote and changing focus to WMC or whatever front-end your HTPC uses. However, for the other tasks you mentioned which just runs in the background, there's no reason you have to keep them separate.
As the_beast mentioned, though, having two separate builds is more reliable. By the way, I'd go the other way around if I were you (Llano HTPC and Zacate file server). For simple file server duties, you don't need much CPU power. HTPC's however, can actually benefit from the extra horsepower (smoother/lag-free operation, playback of media that doesn't support hardware acceleration, etc).
If you're also going to be encoding on the file server, another option is dual-core Llano for HTPC and quad-core Llano for file server. I'm betting dual-core Llano + FM1 motherboard wouldn't really cost much more than Zacate. Heck, Zacate's pretty overpriced at the moment. Right now, cheapest board is $110 ASRock (sold out) and the next step up is $130 MSI. You can get an 880G + Athlon II X2 for $120 at regular pricing. Even less when on sale.