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Good motherboards for AMD 64 bits

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Anonymous
a b à CPUs
October 22, 2004 6:30:12 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

Hello

In the last few years I bought quite a number of AMD-based computers.
Unfortunately the reliability of those computers was disappointing.
In particular a room full of computers (16) which use a VIA chipset
(the boards are Gigabyte GA-7ZX) had no end of problems. Another room,
with older computers (Athlons 550 and 600 Mhz) and FIC boards was
not so bad, although they were still less reliable than the room
next door (slightly older Celerons 466 MHz using FIC VB-601 motherboards
with Intel 440 BX chipset).

So, in recent months, I got very weary of AMD computers and I have
bought almost exclusively Intel processors with Intel motherboards
(which obviously use Intel chipsets).

Recent * Intel configurations I have bought are:

Low-end Medium
Processor Celeron 2.7 Pentium 4 2.8
Chipset Intel 845 GL Intel 865 PE
Board Intel 845 GLC Intel 865 PERL
Ethernet 100 Mb/s ? 1 * Gigabit
Analogue Audio out 5.1 5.1
Analogue Audio in stereo stereo
Digital Audio out coax + optical coax + optical
Digital Audio in no no
USB ports 4 * USB 2.0 8 * USB 2.0
variable speed
case fans 1 2
Memory 512 MB 2 * 512 MB
Video integrated in MB Nvidia FX5200 128Mb

* I just noticed that there are a lot of new models available and so
these configurations might be a bit outdated. Time to research again ...

After a bit of research I was disappointed :( 

1 - When I first read about PCI-Express I was pleased that soon it
would become possible again (as it was before the AGP) to use
multiple video cards instead of special cards for multi-headed
machines. Specially because now the software handles that well,
which IIRC was not the case back in the old PCI-only times.

But in fact, despite both being called PCI-Express, there are
still two different buses: PCI-Express x1 and PCI-Express x16
Graphics.

2 - Current Intel boards using 9xx chipsets have only 1 IDE connector.
I don't like this since I might still want to use either IDE
hard drives or more than one DVD/CD reader/writer.

URLs:
http://www.intel.com/design/chipsets/845gl/index.htm?ii...
http://www.intel.com/design/chipsets/865pe/index.htm?ii...
http://www.intel.com/design/motherbd/rl/index.htm?iid=i...
http://www.intel.com/design/motherbd/va/index.htm?iid=i...


One exception to the "Intel-only" rule was a server for which I
bought a Opteron with a Tyan motherboard (using a AMD chipset). It
also failed ! Both gigabit Ethernets (which are Broadcom, not part
of the AMD chipset) stoppped working, one after the other. And the
Portuguese Tyan importer's policy for warranty replacements is not
very good (we had to send back the board before receiving the new
one). We could have suscribed a better warranty but that would cost
the price of another board because that is what the importer does:
he gets another board to be kept as spare, so to be able to offer
24 hour replacement.

We have now received a new server, a bi-opteron sold by Fujitsu-Siemens
(inside it there is also a Tyan motherboard. I hope it is more reliable
this time).

After all this I am not very willing to risk buying AMD again. But,
OTOH, I had intended to buy only 64-bit processors for linux machines
as soon as they were available at decent prices. So is there a decent
AMD option ?

What would be a configuration with an AMD processor comparable to
the Intel ones I mentioned above ? Unfortunately AMD doesn't sell
motherboards so it would have to be an Asus, Tyan or other brand.

And AMD's chipset are probably obsolete by now (does the current
model have gigabit ethernet, USB 2.0, good audio ?), so it would
have to be a Nvidia ?

Asus has one board using Nvidia nForce3 pro:

http://uk.asus.com/products/mb/socket940/sk8n/overview....

It has a 940 pin socket (for Opterons and Athlon 64 FX). It seems
that it doesn't support the 939 pin processors (Athlon 64).
BTW, I don't remember the difference between the 939 and the 940.
Is it related to multiprocessing ? IIRC, the 754 pin only has
one memory bus, right ?

After looking at some of the motherboards listed at:

http://www.nvidia.com/object/motherboards.html

I am not very convinced that I will find a board that I like.
Suggestions ?

Thanks in advance

--
http://www.mat.uc.pt/~rps/

..pt is Portugal| `Whom the gods love die young'-Menander (342-292 BC)
Europe | Villeneuve 50-82, Toivonen 56-86, Senna 60-94
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
October 22, 2004 7:49:08 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

Rui Pedro Mendes Salgueiro wrote:

> It has a 940 pin socket (for Opterons and Athlon 64 FX). It seems
> that it doesn't support the 939 pin processors (Athlon 64).
> BTW, I don't remember the difference between the 939 and the 940.
> Is it related to multiprocessing ? IIRC, the 754 pin only has
> one memory bus, right ?

As far as I can tell,

Socket 940 <- registered DDR SDRAM & dual-channel memory controller
Socket 939 <- unbuffered DDR SDRAM & dual-channel memory controller
Socket 754 <- unbuffered DDR SDRAM & single-channel memory controller

What has me confused is that recent models of the Athlon FX (e.g. FX-53)
are available for socket 939 *AND* for socket 940. Do the socket 939
models only work with unbuffered RAM, and the socket 940 models only
work with registered RAM? Or can the memory controller somehow adapt?

--
Regards, Grumble
October 23, 2004 2:37:39 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

On Fri, 22 Oct 2004 15:49:08 +0200, Grumble wrote:

> Rui Pedro Mendes Salgueiro wrote:
>
>> It has a 940 pin socket (for Opterons and Athlon 64 FX). It seems
>> that it doesn't support the 939 pin processors (Athlon 64).
>> BTW, I don't remember the difference between the 939 and the 940.
>> Is it related to multiprocessing ? IIRC, the 754 pin only has
>> one memory bus, right ?
>
> As far as I can tell,
>
> Socket 940 <- registered DDR SDRAM & dual-channel memory controller
> Socket 939 <- unbuffered DDR SDRAM & dual-channel memory controller
> Socket 754 <- unbuffered DDR SDRAM & single-channel memory controller
>
> What has me confused is that recent models of the Athlon FX (e.g. FX-53)
> are available for socket 939 *AND* for socket 940. Do the socket 939
> models only work with unbuffered RAM, and the socket 940 models only
> work with registered RAM?

Yes.

Or can the memory controller somehow adapt?

My guess is that the chips are the same, but the packaging determines what
it grows up to be. This strategy is not new. My bet is that this will
continue as memory technology marches (DDR2, etc.) on too.

--
Keith
Related resources
October 23, 2004 9:26:30 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

On 22 Oct 2004 14:30:12 +0100, Rui Pedro Mendes Salgueiro
<rps@rena.mat.uc.pt> wrote:
....snip...(long story removed)

> So is there a decent
>AMD option ?
>
>What would be a configuration with an AMD processor comparable to
>the Intel ones I mentioned above ? Unfortunately AMD doesn't sell
>motherboards so it would have to be an Asus, Tyan or other brand.
>
>And AMD's chipset are probably obsolete by now (does the current
>model have gigabit ethernet, USB 2.0, good audio ?), so it would
>have to be a Nvidia ?
>
>Asus has one board using Nvidia nForce3 pro:
>
>http://uk.asus.com/products/mb/socket940/sk8n/overview....
>
>It has a 940 pin socket (for Opterons and Athlon 64 FX). It seems
>that it doesn't support the 939 pin processors (Athlon 64).
>BTW, I don't remember the difference between the 939 and the 940.
>Is it related to multiprocessing ? IIRC, the 754 pin only has
>one memory bus, right ?
>
>After looking at some of the motherboards listed at:
>
>http://www.nvidia.com/object/motherboards.html
>
>I am not very convinced that I will find a board that I like.
>Suggestions ?
>
>Thanks in advance
I can't claim a lot of first-hand experience with K8 boards, but from
what I experienced with my current system I would recommend it to
anyone who wants to have dual Opteron on the cheap (if the term
"cheap" is applicable to a system that cost roughly $1200, monitor not
included). It's MSI Master2-FAR board. Yes it's VIA-based, but
either I am lucky or we should admit that KT800 is "not your father's
VIA chipset". Now it's outfitted with 2x Opty242, and in a year or so
it will run 2 dual core chips making it effectively a quad system.
Yes it takes only registered memory, but this is the case with all
today's multiprovessor boards. It has gigabit ethernet and USB 2.0.
Not sure if the AC97 onboard audio is good because I used the spare
Creative SB card. So far no crashes. I use it primarily for .NET
development, also video encoding and some occasional game. It's fast
and rock-solid, no BSOD ever (knock on the wood) yet. Not sure about
Linux - never tried it with anything but Windows.
Good luck.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
October 25, 2004 5:19:19 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

On 22 Oct 2004 14:30:12 +0100, Rui Pedro Mendes Salgueiro
<rps@rena.mat.uc.pt> wrote:
>
>In the last few years I bought quite a number of AMD-based computers.
>Unfortunately the reliability of those computers was disappointing.
>In particular a room full of computers (16) which use a VIA chipset
>(the boards are Gigabyte GA-7ZX) had no end of problems. Another room,
>with older computers (Athlons 550 and 600 Mhz) and FIC boards was
>not so bad, although they were still less reliable than the room
>next door (slightly older Celerons 466 MHz using FIC VB-601 motherboards
>with Intel 440 BX chipset).
>
>So, in recent months, I got very weary of AMD computers and I have
>bought almost exclusively Intel processors with Intel motherboards
>(which obviously use Intel chipsets).
>
>Recent * Intel configurations I have bought are:
>
> Low-end Medium
>Processor Celeron 2.7 Pentium 4 2.8
>Chipset Intel 845 GL Intel 865 PE
>Board Intel 845 GLC Intel 865 PERL
> Ethernet 100 Mb/s ? 1 * Gigabit
> Analogue Audio out 5.1 5.1
> Analogue Audio in stereo stereo
> Digital Audio out coax + optical coax + optical
> Digital Audio in no no
> USB ports 4 * USB 2.0 8 * USB 2.0
> variable speed
> case fans 1 2
>Memory 512 MB 2 * 512 MB
>Video integrated in MB Nvidia FX5200 128Mb
>
>* I just noticed that there are a lot of new models available and so
>these configurations might be a bit outdated. Time to research again ...

One bit of research I could suggest is to DEFINITELY avoid these
old-style Celerons at all cost! The new Celeron D 3xx series of chips
cost about the same but a WAY faster (about 25% faster at the same
clock speed).

>After a bit of research I was disappointed :( 
>
> 1 - When I first read about PCI-Express I was pleased that soon it
> would become possible again (as it was before the AGP) to use
> multiple video cards instead of special cards for multi-headed
> machines. Specially because now the software handles that well,
> which IIRC was not the case back in the old PCI-only times.
>
> But in fact, despite both being called PCI-Express, there are
> still two different buses: PCI-Express x1 and PCI-Express x16
> Graphics.

There is actually a PCI-Express 4x and 8x as well. I know that some
of the upcoming boards are planning to have a pair of 8x slots that
can be used for a pair of video cards. I'm not sure how much of a
market there would be for such a thing though, doing video to two
monitors from a single card is a trivial task these days, and even 4
from a single card is no big feat.

> 2 - Current Intel boards using 9xx chipsets have only 1 IDE connector.
> I don't like this since I might still want to use either IDE
> hard drives or more than one DVD/CD reader/writer.

For Intel's own boards, yes I believe that is the case. Most other
manufacturers of the 9xx series of boards have an extra IDE chip
on-board to add another channel or two. Of course, this does slightly
complicate things by giving you two separate IDE controllers to worry
about.

>After all this I am not very willing to risk buying AMD again. But,
>OTOH, I had intended to buy only 64-bit processors for linux machines
>as soon as they were available at decent prices. So is there a decent
>AMD option ?

Just as a FWIW, Intel does sell 64-bit x86 chips now in their Xeon
line. They are still a bit rare in retail channels and you might have
a tough time tracking one down in your neck of the woods, but they do
exist. Just look for a Xeon "EA" model (ie the "Xeon 3.2EA GHz") with
EM64T (that is Intel's name for AMD64/x86-64/x64/name-du-jour).

Probably not really cost-effective for what you're looking to build,
but it's something to keep in mind for other projects.

>What would be a configuration with an AMD processor comparable to
>the Intel ones I mentioned above ? Unfortunately AMD doesn't sell
>motherboards so it would have to be an Asus, Tyan or other brand.

In my experience Intel boards are nothing to get too excited about
anyway, not to mention the fact that they don't even make the boards
(Intel outsourced all their production long ago).

>And AMD's chipset are probably obsolete by now (does the current
>model have gigabit ethernet, USB 2.0, good audio ?), so it would
>have to be a Nvidia ?

Gigabit ethernet - no
USB 2.0 - yes
Good audio - not really, but it's pretty much the exact same as the
audio on Intel's i8xx chipsets, ie AC97 going through a third-party
codec of variable quality.

>Asus has one board using Nvidia nForce3 pro:
>
>http://uk.asus.com/products/mb/socket940/sk8n/overview....

This uses the rather dated nForce3 150 chipset. It has since been
supplanted by the much improved nForce3 250 chipset and the new
nForce4 chipset was just officially unveiled, though no products are
shipping with it yet.

>It has a 940 pin socket (for Opterons and Athlon 64 FX). It seems
>that it doesn't support the 939 pin processors (Athlon 64).
>BTW, I don't remember the difference between the 939 and the 940.
>Is it related to multiprocessing ?

Despite their visual similarities, these are actually VERY different
sockets. It's definitely NOT just a question of removing a pin! The
whole layout was completely redone. Both have 128-bit wide memory
controllers (ie dual-channel), though where Socket 939 uses
unregistered memory (cheaper and slightly faster, ie good for
desktops), socket 940 requires registered memory (slower, more
expensive, but you can get a lot more memory on a board, ie good for
servers).

There is also a different in terms of multiprocessing capabilities.
In short, Socket 940 has 'em, Socket 939 does not. Socket 939 has
only a single hypertransport connection to the outside world, and that
is used to talk to the chipset. Socket 940 chips have 3
hypertransport connections which, depending on just which Opteron you
have, can be used to build a system with up to 8 processors.

> IIRC, the 754 pin only has
>one memory bus, right ?

That is correct.

>After looking at some of the motherboards listed at:
>
>http://www.nvidia.com/object/motherboards.html
>
>I am not very convinced that I will find a board that I like.
>Suggestions ?

For you're "low-end" system above, I would probably stick with a
Socket 754 Athlon64, maybe the 2800+ or 3000+, whichever seems to
offer the better bang for your buck. In terms of boards, I would
probably go either for an Asus K8N or an MSI K8N Neo FSR, both using
the above-mentioned nForce3 250 chipset. Now, keep in mind that there
is currently no good integrated video solution for an Athlon64 (one of
the downsides of moving the memory controller on-chip, makes it hard
to get the memory bandwidth to the video chipset), but it only takes
about a $30-$50 video card to beat pretty much any integrated video
anyway.

For the more high-end systems I wouldn't really change much except to
go to a Socket 939 Athlon64, probably the 3500+ or maybe the new 3200+
if you're a bit tight on cash. Again I would probably stick with
either an Asus or MSI motherboard using the nForce3 250 chipset (I
don't think Asus has one out just yet, but MSI has their K8N Neo2
Platinum available). Alternatively if you won't be buying for a
couple of months there may be some nForce4 boards available, and those
look rather promising. You can find an initial preview of the nForce4
chipset here:

http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=224...

In particular you may be interested in the fact that at least some of
these boards should allow for multiple video cards. Gigabit ethernet
and improved audio are also an option.

-------------
Tony Hill
hilla <underscore> 20 <at> yahoo <dot> ca
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
November 4, 2004 7:07:02 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips (More info?)

In additiona to this I would say, make sure you use
memory type that is approved on the mobo website, as AMD 64 is
known to be picky. In addition I had hell of problems on Biostar
Nforce3 mobo that no memory would pass memtest 6 until I moved it from
slot1 to slot2. Looks like this integrated controler puts higher
requirements on memory timings and litle inductance of the traces
plays a role.

Regards,
Evgenij
!