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Thread: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

  1. #1

    Default OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    Anyone have any experience putting together Opteron systems?

    I've been charged with putting together two Opeteron systems (one single proc, one dual proc).

    I've found some helpful info from the Anandtech forums and think I'll give the Tyan Tiger mobo for dual Opterons a try (the MSI seemed to be a bit "strange" from reading reviews though I would generally choose an MSI mobo over a Tyan).

    For the single proc I'll likely just go with the Asus nForce3 mobo.

    The biggest thing that concerns me that there are relatively few memory modules that have been tested and approved for these systems (esp. the dual proc one). I suppose I'll end up using crucial.com's memory selector and ordering from them since there will be no restocking fee on memory they approve for whatever board you're using.

    Anyway, I sort of have my plan worked out but if anyone has any experience with this and has any helpful tips it would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Grumpy Old Man (PD host) able's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    send me an email and i will gladly give you a few pointers, this is not the "right" place me guesses

    abel@able-towers.com
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  3. #3
    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    I'm a big AMD fan, but I've never built with an opteron, let alone two. What are you using for a cooling solution?

    Tyan's supposedly the big name for highend workstation mobos, but they're generally out of my price range.

    By the way, what are you using as an OS? A dual-Opteron system almost has to run Linux, right? Windows doesn't have a 64-bit OS. Maybe Solaris?

    I'm running Suse 9.0 at home, and it's a pretty durned fine operating system. Although I am in dependency hell right now trying to install gnucash.
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  4. #4
    Member rabid's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    Just screw the doohicky into the thingamobob, install the whatsit, run the widget scripts and make sure you're the only person at your company that knows how to fix it, thus ensuring job security.

    Oh, and make sure you can watch Pacers games on it.

  5. #5

    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    Windows has a 64 bit OS. There's actually a new public beta program that opened this week. I've been working on 64 bit Itanium systems on and off for several months now with WinXP 64 (slow as hell btw).

    On a single proc Opteron system you can actually run 32bit WinXP and it's not slow or anything (at least on one of the nForce3 mobos you can). I'm not sure about dual proc, but I'd imagine it _can_ be done.

    These will likely be mostly running Windows but will use Linux at times. Depends, on what's goin on ya know? That's kind of vague I know but they're for hardware and driver compatibility work basically.

  6. #6
    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    Windows has a 64 bit OS. There's actually a new public beta program that opened this week.
    You're going to use a beta copy of an operating system for a development machine?

    You're a braver man than me.

    As far as linux, I know Suse has a product specifically for Opteron, and it should run the dual proc just fine. Or if you wait 2 months, Fedora Core 2 will be final, which should run all of that natively as well.

    Let me know how it works. I've been watching chip prices fall, and thinking how much fun it would be to build a dual opteron system.

    EDIT: Just so's ya know, I run a dual-boot so that I can still play my Windows games. I've got XP straight from the box with no service pack or patches to slow it down (disabled the network card so I'm not a petri dish). Even with the old kernel and the old kde, my linux side is substantially more responsive than my Windows side. The new 2.6 kernel and KDE 3.2 are supposed to be MUCH faster, so when I move up I'm guessing this baby will scream. It's only an Athlon 1800+, but I've tweaked it pretty well.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    Yeah, it's not really by choice. It's a matter of seeing what works and what needs work right.

    As far as cooling goes from what I've seen standard heatsink fan combos should be okay. At least I haven't read anything to the contrary.

    I'm sure there are caveats with this but that's why I asked, maybe someone out there knows. I'll email able tomorrow to pick his brain.

    I'm aware of the SUSE support. At this point it's likely gonna mostly Windows stuff but I'm sure Linux will creep into things soon enough.

  8. #8
    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    I'm aware of the SUSE support. At this point it's likely gonna mostly Windows stuff but I'm sure Linux will creep into things soon enough.
    Fair enough. Setting up the dual boot was pretty easy...
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  9. #9

    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    It's amazing how fast Linux runs on about _anything_

    Smart man. I guess you use Linux for everything but games then? That's a pretty good deal really.

  10. #10

    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    Fair enough. Setting up the dual boot was pretty easy...
    Eh, I'll just have different drives. That's how I work the Windows/Linux switching now.

  11. #11
    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    Smart man. I guess you use Linux for everything but games then? That's a pretty good deal really.
    Yeah. Some people say "get a console" but my favorite games only run on Windows. I'm not a big player of FPSs, racing games, or the like, which is what consoles are great at. I pretty much only play RTS or RPG.

    I have two hard drives. I installed Windows on the first one, then linux on the second. SuSe set up the dual boot as an automatic part of installation. I was pretty impressed really.

    Sorry for the lingo. FPS = first-person shooter; RTS = real-time strategy; RPG = role-playing game.
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  12. #12

    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    Hehe. I get the game lingo

  13. #13

    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    Alright, an update for anyone who cares.

    I assembled the dual Opteron system and had it working on first boot in about an hour. Formatting the drive now and am gonna give the WinXP 64bit a go here in a few.

    What I used:

    Tyan Tiger K8W motherboard
    AMD Opteron 244(Server) 1800MHz CPU (2)
    1 GB DDR PC3200 CL=3 Registered ECC 5ns 2.6V 128Meg x 72 (2)
    WD 120GB SATA drive

    The only half of a hitch I've hit so far has been that the motherboard is supposed to be able to use a standard power supply and the manual has the instructions for using one. However, there was one of the loose sheets of paper included in the mobo box saying not to use one. We happened to have a "proper" one lying around so to err on the side of caution I used that one.

    Also, with this particular Tyan mobo use the CPU heatsink mounting brackets that come with the motherboard, not the CPUs. The AMD stock ones would cover up a mounting hole on the mobo and also some resisters which might not be such a good thing.

    Soooo. Now the fun begins (I hope).

  14. #14
    Grumpy Old Man (PD host) able's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    Just some questions out of curiosity:

    Why did you decide on Opteron instead of Xeon or Itanium(2) processor ? Price ?

    Also what case did you use (size, make)

    What "difference" was there between the powersupplies, are you using hotswap/redundant powersupply ?

    what are the total specs and cost on the machine

    yeah i know, I like to know

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  15. #15

    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    Okay, first issue.

    No Silicon Image 3114 64bit drivers for booting. Only for use in WinXP 64 bit so that's a data drive if I use it on that system. Back to IDE for this one.

    Ah, I haven't put it in a case yet. I usually make sure they work first before putting 'em in a case. A standard ATX form factor case will work for this motherboard as that's what size it is. The Tyan Thunder model (which is basically the same mobo only uses seperate memory buses for each CPU) is a larger layout to accomodate the extra 4 memory banks. The Tiger uses a shared memory bus which should be okay for my purposes because I'm not going to be running any database stuff on it.

    I have a Dual Xeon 2.8 and 3 Itanium systems already. It wasn't really a price issue but more of needing an Opteron platform to work on.

    $954.50 for the 2 CPUs (Went with the 244s instead of 246s because the 246s were twice as much).
    $880-something for the 2 1GB DIMMs.
    $236.50 for the motherboard
    $101.25 for the SATA drive which I'll be using in another system now
    $85.50 for the power supply which after reading all of the inserts I believe is safe to use (standard Antec True 480 model).

    Floppy, DVD drive, IDE drive was all stuff on hand.

    EDIT - Ordered the memory from Crucial.com. Arrived in two days.
    Everything else from MALabs.com. Arrive one full day later.

  16. #16
    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    yeah i know, I like to know
    Me too. If Codeweavers ever gets Premiere to work properly, I'll be building a dual Opteron system in a flash.

    Speaking of stuff only geeks are interested in, did you guys hear that the Win2k/WinNT source code got leaked to the internet? It's at times like this that I'm REALLY glad I've got no MS on my PC.
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  17. #17

    Default Re: OT - Question for workstation/server builders

    Speaking of stuff only geeks are interested in, did you guys hear that the Win2k/WinNT source code got leaked to the internet? It's at times like this that I'm REALLY glad I've got no MS on my PC.
    I saw that. Unfortunately the link was /.ed so I couldn't see the story. heh.

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