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Old 02-02-2006, 05:00 PM   #1
johnroberts
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What to buy for AMD64 system?



Hi, everybody
I need to build a new system based on AMD64 in order
to set-up OpenFOAM. I do not have previous LINUX
experience. Proposed distro is SuSE, probably 10.0
(or 9.3). I am at a loss, because HCL's seem to be
outdated. SuSE's CDB stops on technology available
a year back - or more (A7 era...). What about current mobos in the line of A8N5-X or A8N-VM-CMS from ASUS, or
similar?
Config will not be on the extravagant side. RAM
will be 2Gb (4x512Mb) DDR400 (it is already
available) & a DVD-RW of the current crop. I
will need a common PCIe VGA. Hdisk or disks will
be SATA or IDE (maybe even mixed) but NOT in RAID
config. I will need basic networking. System has
to be STABLE and preferably with subsystems (audio
etc) in proper order. Any clues, please?
 
Old 02-02-2006, 09:20 PM   #2
Electro
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I do not recommend ASUS motherboards because they are becomming Windows dependent. I recomend Abit K8N-SLI, Abit AX8 (version 2), or EPOX 9HEAI. I am not going to recommend motherboards that uses active heatsink for nForce4 chipsets because they produce a lot of noise and the fan will fail sooner than you think. It is better to with passive cooling for the chipsets.

I recommend using two 1 GB ECC DDR memory instead of four 512 MB DDR memory. The reason why two 1GB is because the memory speed will not be clocked down to 333 MHz. Four can be used if single sided memory is used. ECC will give a reliable and stable system. The 754 and 939 socket do provide ECC support but you will not find a setting in the BIOS to enable for ECC in many enthusiasts boards.

Sun Microsystems have 64 bit processors. They have a processor that can do up to 32 instructions a cycle. Though you will have to use Solaris.

I use Gentoo because it is easier to update programs. You are going to have trouble installing software for video cards if you use SUSE. Gentoo makes installing software for video cards easier than other distributions. Though installing Gentoo is tedious, but easy. It is tedious because there are a lot of steps to follow. It is easy because there are steps are explained and installing the programs is done by Gentoo's utility emerge.

I recommend using PATA or IDE hard drives because its easier than SATA to install Linux on to PATA drives.
 
Old 02-02-2006, 09:31 PM   #3
sgammons
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnroberts

Hi, everybody
I need to build a new system based on AMD64 in order
to set-up OpenFOAM. I do not have previous LINUX
experience. Proposed distro is SuSE, probably 10.0
(or 9.3). I am at a loss, because HCL's seem to be
outdated. SuSE's CDB stops on technology available
a year back - or more (A7 era...). What about current mobos in the line of A8N5-X or A8N-VM-CMS from ASUS, or
similar?
Config will not be on the extravagant side. RAM
will be 2Gb (4x512Mb) DDR400 (it is already
available) & a DVD-RW of the current crop. I
will need a common PCIe VGA. Hdisk or disks will
be SATA or IDE (maybe even mixed) but NOT in RAID
config. I will need basic networking. System has
to be STABLE and preferably with subsystems (audio
etc) in proper order. Any clues, please?
Hi,

I have an AMD64 3200+ processor running on a Gigabyte KN8SC-939 motherboard with version F7 BIOS. That particular BIOS seems to have problems with single channel memory and 64 bit. Dual channel works fine however. Currently I'm running 1 Gb (2x512 mb DDR400).

Video card is a nVidia FX5500 based AGP card.

Drives are all EIDE. Ultra 100's or Ultra 133. The board has SATA ports but I don't have any SATA drives.

You'll have to define STABLE. FC4 and Suse 10.0 both seem to run Ok. There are many gotchas when trying to run 64 bit AND 32 bit on the same machine. Like no 64 bit flash player, no 64 bit windows codecs for mplayer, 64 bit problems with video editors like Kino and so on. So going to 64 bit is a bit of an adventure at the moment. One I decided not to take for the time being. Give it a whirl if you want. BTW, 64 bit is a little faster than 32 bit. Not a great deal though in my experience.



Stan
 
Old 02-02-2006, 09:32 PM   #4
peter_89
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Quote:
I do not recommend ASUS motherboards because they are becomming Windows dependent.
Hmm, I've never heard that, it's interesting though... thanks for the tip.
Like Electro said, Sun makes awesome CPUs, the best I've ever computed on. Unfortunately not too many products are compatible with them, so you more-or-less have to go with either Intel or AMD.
Gentoo is one of those distros that is loved by some and yet hated by others. Unless you've got a really powerful processor, the install process itself will take up to two days. If you do have an exceedingly powerful processor though, it's the only distro you should be using, and is the only operating system out there that lets you take full advantage of such hardware.
As for hardware recommendations themselves, I HIGHLY recommend this motherboard, it's been absolutely wonderful for me and comes at an excellent price. Looks like it fits your needs too.
 
Old 02-03-2006, 02:50 AM   #5
Electro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peter_89
Hmm, I've never heard that, it's interesting though... thanks for the tip.
Like Electro said, Sun makes awesome CPUs, the best I've ever computed on. Unfortunately not too many products are compatible with them, so you more-or-less have to go with either Intel or AMD.
Gentoo is one of those distros that is loved by some and yet hated by others. Unless you've got a really powerful processor, the install process itself will take up to two days. If you do have an exceedingly powerful processor though, it's the only distro you should be using, and is the only operating system out there that lets you take full advantage of such hardware.
As for hardware recommendations themselves, I HIGHLY recommend this motherboard, it's been absolutely wonderful for me and comes at an excellent price. Looks like it fits your needs too.
That is not true. Gentoo, does not need a powerful system. It took 17 hours to compile xorg, gnome and kde using a Pentium 4 2.0 GHz (Northwood core). On an AMD Athlon 64, it will take half that or a quarter of that. Actually, compiling depends on the hard drive's latency and accessing time.

The motherboard that you recommend is obsolete and its layout is worst than the models that is I suggested from Abit. 754 sockets are the worst for calculating numbers. Also AGP video cards are more expensive than PCIe. Adding a second memory module to 754 socket systems reduce performance. The motherboard that you recomend is a dead end product.
 
Old 02-03-2006, 04:52 AM   #6
johnroberts
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Location: EUROPE
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Thanks for the help guys!!!

I agree about 2x1Gb ECC being better since ECC is FAR, FAR more stable and you need to populate only two slots (you have growth space for 2 more Gb...). But as i said, memory is already available, bought from the same maker, series and even S/N line (i.e. ready for dual channel config). i asked about ASUS because it was easy to get on the local market, here.
The same applies about CPU's. I am bound by what i CAN get, not what i would prefer. E.g. in socket 754 i can only buy Sempron's. Nothing else. For a fully
fledged system, i have to find mobo equipped with Socket939. The CPU i had my eye on is Athlon64 3700+ (128kB-L1/1Mb-L2/FSB-1600MHz), Socket939. I will have a look
around and see what i may find from Abit and EPoX.
Another thing was that SuSE was recommended from the OpenFOAM people (the main app that will be running on the system...). Binaries distributed from OpenFOAM have been compiled using SuSE. It would prove a mess to have a working LINUX machine and then to have to start fidling through 68Mb of OpenFOAM code (which is totally, unknown to me) digging through dependencies, to force it to work.
In buying new material SPECIFICALLY for LINUX i would HATE to end up with just spare parts for a future Windows PC. I already have enough spares to build many Pentium systems (3-4). And one of the spare mobos, P4M266A Pro from Albatron came bundled with Linspire4.5 and is actually guaranteed from Linspire to be fully compatible with it...
I know though, that Linspire is very different from SuSE...
Any help is extremely valuable...

Last edited by johnroberts; 02-03-2006 at 05:06 AM.
 
Old 02-03-2006, 11:38 AM   #7
sgammons
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnroberts
In buying new material SPECIFICALLY for LINUX i would HATE to end up with just spare parts for a future Windows PC. I already have enough spares to build many Pentium systems (3-4). And one of the spare mobos, P4M266A Pro from Albatron came bundled with Linspire4.5 and is actually guaranteed from Linspire to be fully compatible with it...
I know though, that Linspire is very different from SuSE...
Any help is extremely valuable...
I believe that is the same motherboard I killed while processing video files. I was converting some VHS tapes to DVD and noticed the sound and video would suddenly speed up from time to time. Come to find out the VIA chipsets don't hold up very well with heavy i/o and start doing weird things. So no more VIA chipset boards for me. I'll stay with the nVidia nForce chipset boards.

I've never used Linspire. I like Suse pretty well. I also like FC4. We all know RH does things their way, so it's different than Suse and probably most other distros too.


Stan
 
Old 02-04-2006, 10:42 AM   #8
johnroberts
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It is good then that i have stowed a couple of them. I bought them wholesale 6pcs for 8$/pc. What you described is probably what i like to call "thermal death" or
"thermal fatigue" and must be one of the main contributing factors in hardware
breakdowns, be it mainboards, video cards or hard disks. High thermal load will
lead to accelerated wear. A system may be set up to look fine, stable, etc, but
when local, high thermal load on specific components is present, its no surprise when a PC suddenly croaks. Typical example are hard disks. When cooled sufficiently one may cut failure rates to very low levels. Not long ago i set up
a desktop with an Albatron GeforceFX5200 GPU. This piece had passive cooling with
a long and wide, sturdy Al-heatsink. The machine worked fine but it did not take long to figure out that the heatsink temp rose to the point that it was intolerable to touch for more than 1-2 sec, meaning >55deg Celsius (...and i am not soft skinned...). It is also fairly obvious that a GPU mounted in a horizontal plane inside a tower with the heatsink on the PCB's underside and natural convection only, blocks flow of air and actually traps hot air around the heatsink. How long would that GPU live, operating in this environment? I just mounted an old, small, Celeron fan screwed on the fins of the existing heatsink. Temp dropped to (measured) 39 deg, with exhaust air as hot as outflow air from CPU. Same principle on all onboard VGA mainboards. How hot does it get inside the chipset when a GPU is also forced to reside on a very small area. These are excellent though for test rigs and quick assembly of systems. But enough of blabbing... Stan, do you use SuSE? Why do i conclude - from what i am reading around - that current distros have not yet reached a good level of maturity on
the AMD64 architecture? What is the point to prepare a 64-bit system and then
having to settle for i386 32-bit OS? And i am not yet sure if the 64-bit architecture is indeed used to its potential. Crucial part (calculation-wise)
is gcc and libraries. Main advantage of going 64-bit is accuracy together with
speed. Having 64-bit in double-precision variables is much harder to underflow
and lose results...I will look around for your mobo.
 
Old 02-04-2006, 10:58 AM   #9
johnroberts
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Stan

your rig is GA-K8NSC-939? NForce3 250GB chipset? If so, they are all gone, as all the AGP-based mobos. Only PCIe mobos available at the moment (so i have to buy the PCIe as well ). Is it still a problem when all DIMM slots are populated? CPU underclocking the RAM (or something like that...) or has it been corrected?
(Reminds me of a glitch on an ASUS board, P4V8X-X i think; onboard VGA and all...With Win2k & 1 DIMM only fine; all DIMMS populated, OS crashing continuously...)
 
Old 02-04-2006, 09:32 PM   #10
sgammons
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnroberts
Stan

your rig is GA-K8NSC-939? NForce3 250GB chipset? If so, they are all gone, as all the AGP-based mobos. Only PCIe mobos available at the moment (so i have to buy the PCIe as well ). Is it still a problem when all DIMM slots are populated? CPU underclocking the RAM (or something like that...) or has it been corrected?
(Reminds me of a glitch on an ASUS board, P4V8X-X i think; onboard VGA and all...With Win2k & 1 DIMM only fine; all DIMMS populated, OS crashing continuously...)

Hi John,

Yes, I have a K8NSC-939 with the nForce3 250Gb chipset. I know it's an older MB and probably should have gotten an Asus with the nForce 4 chipset.

I had a couple of problems with the K8NSC-939 when I first got it. I tried using some PC2700 memory from an older Cleron board in it. Problem was one of the DIMM's was single sided and the other was double sided. The K8NSC-939 doesn't support that memory configuration. So I could only use 1 of the PC2700 DIMM's. With 1 DIMM a 32 bit loaded fine. Trying a 64 bit OS on it was an adventure until I figure out I need to use "noapic nolapic" kernel options to get the OS to boot and run. Come to find out, after I put 2 PC3200 DIMM's, both double sided, in the board. One has to use 2 DIMM's in the K8NSC-939 with a 64 bit OS to get the OS to boot and run. I don't have all 4 memory slots populated, so I can't comment on that memory configuration. I have upgraded the BIOS to F8 but I haven't tried the single DIMM with a 64 bit OS to see if the problem still occurs. Seems like I have FC4 64 bit loaded on a drive and when I have some more time, I'll give it a try to see what happens.


Stan
 
Old 02-04-2006, 09:46 PM   #11
sgammons
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnroberts
Stan, do you use SuSE? Why do i conclude - from what i am reading around - that current distros have not yet reached a good level of maturity on
the AMD64 architecture? What is the point to prepare a 64-bit system and then
having to settle for i386 32-bit OS? And i am not yet sure if the 64-bit architecture is indeed used to its potential. Crucial part (calculation-wise)
is gcc and libraries. Main advantage of going 64-bit is accuracy together with
speed. Having 64-bit in double-precision variables is much harder to underflow
and lose results...I will look around for your mobo.
Hi again,

Yes. Currently I'm running 10.0 32 bit on the AMD64. I liked the 64 bit version too. I like Suse in particular because it has better admin tools than FC4. There are things I like about FC4 too, so if FC5 has better admin tools than FC4, I'll likely go back to Fedora.

The thing I didn't like about 64 bit, for the time being anyway, is that not all of the software I often use is all 64 bit. Sure there are 64 bit versions of Mplayer, Firefox, Kino, mjpegtools and so forth. But the windows codecs to play windows media files are still 32 bit. Same story with the flash plugins for Firefox. So one has to either build 32 bit versions of Firefox and Mplayer and run those on a 64 bit OS. In my opinion, that's a REAL pain the backside. Having a mix of 32 bit and 64 bit libraries on the same system I mean.

I think if I were to get another MB for the AMD64, I'd likely get an AN8SLI with the nForce 4 chipset. I may try a AMD64 X2 in this board though before I decide on switching to another architecture. A G5 is what I have in mind.



Stan
 
Old 02-05-2006, 07:37 AM   #12
johnroberts
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Hi Stan,

Many thanks for the thoughts. Since - as i've said - i am bound by what i CAN GET on the market, i had my eye on the A8N5-X (Asus). Also a NF4 mobo and supports all the current crop of CPU's (including the X2 line...). SLI is not important as i am not interested in games at all. My primary fear is a distro not being able to install due to hardware-driver mismatch, or needing extensive tweaking in order to work in a stable fashion (got no time for this...) . Dont get me wrong, though...I would love to have a general purpose rig running LINUX with all aps working fine. But it is quite sufficient to have the apps that i really need working properly...
I see in SuSE's site that 10.1 RC1 will be released February 16. I will wait and try that one, for size. If i just wanted the 32-bit version, i would probably try it on a 3.0GHz Prescott. I have a couple of 865-based mobos on the side.
I dont expect true breakthroughs in 64-bit, not until hardware being able to handle 4 cores, enough memory for all (guestimating at 8Gb...2Gb apiece) and proper kernel support for full SMP WITH NO GLITCHES!!!
Did the 64-bit install properly? Mobo subsystems (video, sound, ethernet) working ok?


Tks & Rgds
J
 
Old 02-05-2006, 07:43 AM   #13
johnroberts
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Stan

sorry for repeating the question. I did not see in time yr comments fm prv message. You surely got a point about the RAM config. The 2 DIMM limit in your mobo, is it documented somewhere?
 
Old 02-05-2006, 07:46 AM   #14
johnroberts
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Novell claims also 64-bit support for Intel's CPU's. Anyone tried 64-bit on EM64?
 
Old 02-05-2006, 08:02 AM   #15
sgammons
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnroberts
Hi Stan,

Many thanks for the thoughts.
I dont expect true breakthroughs in 64-bit, not until hardware being able to handle 4 cores, enough memory for all (guestimating at 8Gb...2Gb apiece) and proper kernel support for full SMP WITH NO GLITCHES!!!
Did the 64-bit install properly? Mobo subsystems (video, sound, ethernet) working ok?


Tks & Rgds
J
Hi,

You are welcome.

That's one of the reasons I want a G5. It's been around a long time and most all the glitches have been worked out. OS X supports 16 Gb of memory too.

After I figured out the memory problem, the OS installed properly and everything worked Ok.

Looking at your other message. I'm not sure this memory problem is a 2 DIMM problem as much as it's a single channel versus dual channel problem. The kernel guys seem to think it's BIOS. Perhaps I'll have some time tomorrow to see if version F8 BIOS fixed the problem or if it's really a single channel problem or what.


Stan
 
  


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