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-   -   Run Your Server on A Desktop Motherboard (http://www.syschat.com/run-your-server-on-desktop-motherboard-705.html)

extremepixie 04-09-2006 05:52 PM

Run Your Server on A Desktop Motherboard
 
I found this interesting article where you are truely seeing the power of the desktops reaching server status.

Quote:

WITH DUAL core CPUs spreading like wildfire, you can now have affordable real SMP on your desktop - what about taking that same CPU and creating a cheap dual-processor server with an accompanying server-class mainboard?

That's a good question, actually - the current Pentium XE series dual core processors can handle up to four threads at once, with their soon-to-be-extinct Hyperthreading, which makes it quite suitable for entry-level servers in I/O intensive multithreaded workloads like, say, Web serving.

But if you want that advanced I/O, you usually cannot stick with current PC chipsets, at least until most cards are available in PCI Express format. You need PCI-X 64-bit slots still, since many adaptor cards are still mainly using this I/O bus, and the standard PCI is way slow for server grade I/O. Also, you may want to have the flexibility of using either ECC or non ECC memory, depending whether you lean towards extra reliability or lower cost.

A good example of such a board? Well, look at Tyan's entry in this market, the S5162 Pentium 4/D/XE Socket LGA775 server ATX low profile mainboard.

While this is an ATX-sized board, the differences are obvious immediately: three large 64-bit PCI-X slots, all capable of 133 MHz speed, plus one 16X-sized but 8X-speed PCIe slot, low-profile I/O back panel connectors with dual Gigabit Ethernet and XGI onboard VGA output, and on-board flash memory slot show this is not an ordinary desktop board. On the other hand, desktop Pentium CPUs work, both single and dual core, and so does desktop non-ECC DDR2 memory - up to 8GB of it!

The chipset consists of E7230 "Mukilteo" north bridge, with functionality similar to 955X/975X, ICH7R south bridge, and 6700PHX PCI-X bridge. The board's BIOS doesn't provide the desktop-centric performance tuning options, but I did see some good server-centric features like, for instance, console display redirection to a serial port, so your notebook that is connected to that port could then display the boot messages from the board.

I put together a system, checking out three CPUs on this board: the Pentium XE 840 dual-core 3.2 GHz (worked smoothly), Pentium 4 XE 3.73 GHz 1066 FSB (also smooth), and the newest Pentium XE 965 dual-core 3.73 GHz. The last one will probably be fixed soon, by the next BIOS update. While the low-level performance benchmarks in Windows (Sandra, for instance) had results that are nothing to shout about (after all, server boards don't have that many tuning parameters), neither was there a big penalty in CPU or memory-based benchmarks compared to the best desktop boards - with 2 GB of A-DATA DDR2-800 memory, the performance results on both 800 MHz and 1066 MHz FSB were just one to two percent slower than a coof 975X-based mainboard supporting the Intel chips directy.

And oh, by the way, according to the Tyan manual, the Intel south bridge RAID only seems to work in Windows. I didn't have a RAID array on hand to test it with Linux, but I guess the problem is RAID driver functionality in Intel Linux drivers. So, once more, the Redmond Satan has the priority.


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