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Windows 7 Ultimate on old Supermicro server

Last response: in Windows 7
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April 13, 2011 11:04:16 PM

Hi,
I’ve got Windows 7 Ultimate that I would like to install on the below machine.
I’ve been picking up old supermicro server parts and I want to put them together to build an old school workstation. I’ve got the Supermicro P4QH8 motherboard sitting in a Supermicro 8042-8 chassis.

The system is based on a Serverworks GC-HE chipset and has the 400Hz system bus and 6x64bit PCI-X slots (3.3v) and one zero channel RAID expansion slot to compliment the onboard Ultra 320 SCSI. I have 8GB of DDR266/200 memory and a pair of 2.8GHz Zeon MPs (have 4 but Windows 7 only recognizes 2 physical processors). I also have a Matrox Parhelia DL 256 (or 512 can’t remember?) in 64bit to occupy one PCI-X slot.
The chassis includes an older CD ROM and a floppy drive. I have the BIOS ready to go on a floppy if I need it, but after that I may be in trouble…

Windows 7 system requirements state that a DVD drive is required for installation. Is that true or do they really mean a CDROM capable drive (knowing any DVD inherently handles CDs)? The P4QH8 system board has dual EIDE channels and two early USB ports (2.0?) at the back.

Am I going to have to get hold of a DVD drive to get this thing to boot from the Windows 7 installation disk? I assume that a DVD drive will need to have some drivers (that I don’t have or will not be able to install on an empty system). How can I get the thing to boot from a DVD without drivers, or can I? I recall being able to set the BIOS to boot from a CD in the past but I am not sure about a DVD. Could it be as simple as getting hold of a cheap DVD drive and plugging it into the onboard controller and setting the BIOS to boot from the DVD drive?

One other question - (assuming I find a way to boot up) which do I install, Windows 7 in 32bit or 64bit? The processors are “32bit” but the memory bus and data bus are 64bit on this machine. To recognize the full 8GB of available memory the 64bit would make sense(?) but I don’t know for sure.

I do not want to have to install an earlier version of window from CD only to get a DVD drive up and running to install from…

Thanks and please be kind, as it has been about ~9 years or so since I’ve put any machines together...
a c 209 $ Windows 7
April 13, 2011 11:41:15 PM

You need an actual DVD drive - the Windows 7 install media is a DVD, not a CD.

You didn't specify the model of Xeon processor, but it's the CPU and not the PCI bus width that determines whether or not you can use 64-bit Windows. Check this Wikipedia page to see if your model of Xeon CPU is listed as being x86-64 compatible.

32-bit machines running a Windows Server OS were able to access more than 4GB of memory using extended addressing APIs, but this is not true of Windows 7. If it's a 32-bit CPU then you won't be able to use the memory beyond 4GB unless you use a 32-bit server version of Windows and you have one of the relatively rare software applications (such as SQL Server) that were able to make use of the extended addressing APIs.

I'm sure this was an outstanding machine in its day, but it wouldn't take a very expensive modern system to run circles around it.
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April 26, 2011 9:08:16 PM

The 2.8 MHz Zeon MP is a 32bit having 512 cache. I've got it to POST and boot off of a floppy. I will be putting my IDE DVD drive in later this week to attempt win7 install.

Thanks for your input.
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