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Need help to select hw for ac project - i7 or Xenon?

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January 13, 2010 7:00:38 PM

I need help for me first really oc project.
This time I will start from scratch and go for high oc.

But first one need some hardware to tweak. I am not set which way to go on this project.
One the one hand I have a great offer for an Asus mobo in the ws series. This mobo supports i7 as well as Xenon so that part is great. However many pcie slots the board have there is one short coming as far as I see. It only holds 1 CPU.

I also have a good offer for a dual CPU true workstation motherboard. Nevertheless I doubt I will be able to afford 2 Xenons right away.

Ok what I have decided so far:
12 GB of ram - possible to upgrade to 24 GB. (I am set on Ecc buffered ram, pls comment this choice)
2 x controller card for two hardware raid.
Got my heart set on Corsair H50 water-cooling along with several quiet fans.
10-12 HDD's mounted with fans.

I will run several virtual machines under vmware workstation including FreeNAS, but will try to keep host os as lean as possible. For the moment it seems host will be Xubuntu 64 bit. A few of the guest OS will need to run 24/7.

Are the Xenon as easy to overclock as the i7?

Will the choice of Ecc ram hold me back when it comes to performance?

Can I start with a dual cpu workstation mobo and start with only one Cpu in place? (Add one more as I hold money)

I know i7 920 easily clock past 4 Ghz and is stable. How far would I be able to clockQuad-Core Intel Xeon E5540?

More about : select project xenon

a b å Intel
January 14, 2010 12:26:45 AM

You need a server motherboard and a Xeon processor to support ECC registered (RDIMM). Server motherboards are built for stability and their BIOS usually doesn't allow for overclocking. You should be able to start with a single E5540 (download the manual to make sure).
January 14, 2010 12:59:57 AM

Hmm. Ok so server-motherboard is not a great option for over-clocking.
My choice of ram is also voided now cause servermobo is ruled out.


I only found 8 GB and no 12 GB for unbuffred ram.
Ecc unbuffered ram

Edited: Google is my friend and I found also 12 GB unbuffered ECC ram as well as the 8 GB set.

If I use the asus ws board I can still use the ram above. If people have seen other 12 GB sets of unbuffered Ecc memory please let me know.

Will I be able to use registered ecc ram with asus ws board, of course without any bells of the registered part? Reason for asking is that the ram above seems just like this ram that is buffered ecc.

If anyone can help me finding cheaper Ecc unbuffered memory I would be happy. Seems like ram like that is not highly available.
Related resources
January 14, 2010 1:19:24 AM

So one thing left to decide here and that is to go for i7 920 or Xeon E5540.
I know I will get i7 920 up to 4 Ghz, but i am not sure how well Xeon will do. If anyone have oc a Xeon pls let me know if it is worth doing.

Will I get the Xeon past 4 ghz and stable?
a b å Intel
January 14, 2010 2:11:19 AM

You wrote that a few VMs need to run 24/7. Setting up an overclocked system might not provide for the most stable system. Are a few crashes per year acceptable?

Only the Xeon processor supports ECC memory. The 12GB kit (CT3KIT51272BB1067) is ECC registered and it only works in motherboards having a server chipset and the required logic. If ever plan on using more than 12GB, then RDIMM certainly is better.
January 14, 2010 4:39:08 AM

Hmm. Few crashes are acceptable, yet not @all desirable. My old rig had a Q6600 and an asus mobo and with the help of a big scytche cooler and good circulation inside cabinet system was running asus 20 % overclock rock stable. The Bios had an option to run @2.4 +20% with only one or a few settings and that was stable.

So I must also get this system stable. And this time I will use Corsair H50 water-cooling along with big "silent fans".

Ok maybe I don't need to reach 4 Ghz but how high you think I could clock and still have a rock solid system without any crashes related to oc?

Yeah I just read up on other forums and a few articles and I see the difference between unbuffered Ecc end registered ECC. But as you say I can still use unbuffered ECC if I go for Xeon.

As Xeon runs lover voltage then the i7, one should think Xeon would be more stable when over-clocked?
a b å Intel
January 14, 2010 11:10:30 AM

Quote:
Ok maybe I don't need to reach 4 Ghz but how high you think I could clock and still have a rock solid system without any crashes related to oc?
You could overclock it (without increasing voltage too much) to the point where it no longer is 100% stable and then drop the speed down by at least 200MHz. 3.6GHz can most likely be achieved (that means running a Xeon E5540 at 19 x 200MHz) and be stable with good cooling. Stability for some people is no more than one crash per week while it should never crash for me, particularly for a server.
Quote:
But as you say I can still use unbuffered ECC if I go for Xeon.
Yes if the motherboard supports Xeon processors and ECC memory.
Quote:
As Xeon runs lover voltage then the i7, one should think Xeon would be more stable when over-clocked?
Not necessarily. Xeon processors run cooler, but don't necessarily overclock better. You can't buy an overclocked server for obvious reasons. I still can't figure out why you need to overclock a server when the bottleneck often is the disk subsystem. Just install two E5540 or faster processors and you'll have a very stable high performance server.
January 14, 2010 2:25:50 PM

The reason I will oc is to get most bang for the buck.
I have already dual Intel x 25 SSD, along with some decent controllers and lots of HDD.
To get the most use of the hardware I have I will try to get as much out of the money I can spend at the moment, hence over-clocking.

I will run SSD in raid 0, and another raid 0 for 5 WD Black in raid 0 for best possible performance for working with high-res images, rendering and video. And there will be yet another array running raid 5 for the virtual FreeNAS.

For the use with vmware and virtual machine I think now I will run out of cpu before disk I/O or r/w.

@the moment lack of founds is the cause for not going for a dual Cpu workstation, I will end up getting just one cpu from the start due to money issues.

I will think things over during this weekend to make sure I choose the right path, I would hate to start down the wrong one and waste any money.

Any comments on my thoughts here are very much welcome.

a b K Overclocking
January 14, 2010 3:27:33 PM

@OP: Only server boards support ECC and 2P and even fewer boards like Skulltrail and the upcoming 2P board by EVGA which support OCing (well).

However, WHY do you need a 2P board? I run VM and you trully don't need 2P unless you plan to run 3-4 VMs at once.

Als, don't bother with the H50. A good air cooler, ie Core Contact Freezer will work well (assuming you have space). Also, is this going to be on a rack or a PC case (ie HAF932)?
January 14, 2010 6:49:44 PM

Asus has a couple of boards "workstation-boards" that supports both i7 and Xenon Cpu. When those boards are used with Xenon CPU they will also support unbuffered ECC ram.

Skulltrail is still using older socket LGA771. I am not sure if that would be best solution today.
Must check and see what prices I can get.

You are correct. I will run multiple VM's @once.

Have you tested the corsair H50? I have only heard good things about it and considering the price I think it is well worth testing. I have seen several nice comments made on the H50 in some hw and oc forums as well.
a b K Overclocking
January 14, 2010 7:29:44 PM

Quote:
Skulltrail is still using older socket LGA771. I am not sure if that would be best solution today.

DO NOT get a Skulltrail, I was just giving an example.

Quote:
Have you tested the corsair H50? I have only heard good things about it and considering the price I think it is well worth testing. I have seen several nice comments made on the H50 in some hw and oc forums as well.

The H50 is not worth the extra money imo. A good air cooler, ie CCF will do the same job for quite a bit less money (CCF 120mm + bracket is ~$30 where as the H50 is ~$70-100).

Here's a review: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/corsair-h50-fort120...

The main "flaw" that I see with the H50 on an i7 is the i7 (current gen ie 920) runs HOT esp. when OCed. The 120mm rad on the H50 is too small to make a difference over an air cooler.
January 15, 2010 5:15:27 AM

Good points made there Shadow, I will stay away from both Skulltrail and the H50.
Made me look around for other options for cooling.
What do you think about this Zalman External Kit?

There was also good choices over @Koolance.com. Here is a expensive external kit from Exos and we got a more affordable model also from Exos

None of those are complete, few bits and bobs to be added before ready to operate so that will drive the price even more up. However these kits are also bits that might stay in service when time comes to update rest of computer so I guess worth the extra money.

Even the latter will manage 750 watt of heat dissipation. So that would be more then enough to cool both cpu, gpu and n/s bridge.

What do you think Shadow, is this the way to go for cooling?
January 15, 2010 12:04:03 PM

Ok the budget I had for this build definitely has cracked.
Water-cooling is now decided. What type is yet to be decided. I will try to have it all worked out past this weekend.

Thing is I might as well go for full blown server board and dual cpu right away. Cause I am spending way more then my first budget.

So now open for great server mobos and Xenon cpu's. Any great combos that gives lots of bang for buck is welcome, as well as well performing mobos and cpu.
January 15, 2010 9:09:47 PM

Thank once again. I will make sure to read up on the link before posting.
Well this build is going to be more expensive the what I first intended, so no it will be even more important to buy the right hardware from the start.

Hardware to get:

Server-motherboard
Dual Xeon CPU
Water-cooling kit (Exos?)
12 or 24 GB of ram

Any tips hardware wise are very much welcome.
a b K Overclocking
January 15, 2010 10:21:32 PM

WTF? I posted a reply here but it's been deleted? (Hence why glope ) is quoted.

Anyways,

DO NOT get a Reserator, Exos,etc. The Reserator leaks. The Exos is Aluminum while most/all water blocks are copper. Aluminum + Copper = bad. If you plan to do REAL watercooling, your looking at $400-450 for 2 CPUs. The Heat desapation marketed in the kits are total BS

See here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/253958-29-watercoolin...

PS: Once you read it, head over to overclockers (formerly OC Forums). There are lot of WCing pro's there: http://www.overclockers.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=7...
Including me, Conumdrum (his Home Forum),et al.
Just read the guide I linked to before posting at overclockers.

January 15, 2010 11:29:03 PM

Hmm Strange. I read that post just after you posted and replied to it but then when I was taken back to the thread after posting you post was gone. thought you might had deleted it or something. Anyway.

So this is corrosion like what we see on boats? On boats a small piece of sink is used to avoid the metal of the boat tearing away, rather the sink give away.

From what I seen on the web the Exos uses plated copper and from what I understand the copper is then not in contact with the water or the alu from the rad.
So my understanding of corrosion is that there are actually no bad mix of metal there and there will not be any metal oxidizing.

From what I've read on your link I guess smarting up on water-cooling over the weekend might prove to be a tough task. :-) might use slightly more time. Thats ok, that way I can make a better qualified decision on what hardware to go for.

Still I feel that is strange not seeing anybody cloking servers.

Well I'll be off reading up on the matters :-)
a b K Overclocking
January 16, 2010 12:02:42 AM

Quote:
So this is corrosion like what we see on boats? On boats a small piece of sink is used to avoid the metal of the boat tearing away, rather the sink give away.

From what I seen on the web the Exos uses plated copper and from what I understand the copper is then not in contact with the water or the alu from the rad.
So my understanding of corrosion is that there are actually no bad mix of metal there and there will not be any metal oxidizing.

Eventough the Exos uses copper plating on the inside, it's still succeptable to corrosion over time.

Quote:
From what I've read on your link I guess smarting up on water-cooling over the weekend might prove to be a tough task. :-) might use slightly more time. Thats ok, that way I can make a better qualified decision on what hardware to go for.

Thank you. Not many here think like that any more. It took me 2-3 weeks of reading before I did my first custom loop back in the S939 days.

Quote:

Still I feel that is strange not seeing anybody cloking servers.

The main reason is that servers are meant to have a really high uptime (Linux web servers running for a over a year with out any down time are not uncommon) and OCing is a risk to stability. No matter how long you run Linpack, Prime 95, there is still a chance of a small memory error,etc when OCed.
January 16, 2010 12:18:19 AM

Poking around on newegg I came across this Asus Z7S WS Dual LGA 771 board. It seems that it will be possible to overclock Xeons?

Might be hard to get now tough.

Just a quick edit here cause you posted as I was writing the reply.
I'll see your point regarding uptime, but as I said before I will try to go for Ecc ram as well and hopefully
that will give me some extra stability. Doing the cooling in a correct manner will of course also help and I am really set to try out oc Xeon. After all if that do not work out well I will be left with a dual cpu running @stock speed and that is not the end of the world.

I am thinking best to go the whole nine yards now and water-cool everything but the HDD which I will air-cool, also due to Googles HD life-cycle report.

Well first I have a huge amount of learning to do, then I will pick hardware.

-Thx for your thought-full comments shadow.

January 16, 2010 12:46:16 AM

Do not waste money on an E5540 if you get a single CPU motherboard. Even if it works (not likely!) you are paying for the second QPI link that the dual boards use to communicate between the processors. I believe you want the Xeon W35xx processors.

You desire for ECC should push you towards the server MB and it is pretty simple to find one that gives you 24Gb RAM and two sockets. The best value for money is probably to put two E5520 processors in it (though nothing wrong with the E5530-X5570), they look a bit slow at 2.26GHz but you will have great throughput for all your VMs and the system should be very stable.

You should be able to start with one processor and 12Gb RAM and then add a second processor and 12Gb if/when you see the need (the RAM is attached to one processor, it uses that second QPI link to get to the RAM attached to the other one).

This means no overclocking so don't waste time and money on water cooling, the E series is only 80W TDP compared to 130W for the i920. I would even upgrade to the 60W L5520 before playing with water.

I use a server like this for work (though with the 95W X5570 since my application can keep all cores at 100% CPU for hours) and they just work.

Whatever you do make sure that you get Nehalem based server (socket 1366), not socket 771 which has a crippled memory subsystem when using multiple CPUs. I have compared an 8-core E5450 (3GHz) with the X5570 (2.9GHz) and the latter wins by a mile. Even the E5520 will beat the E5450 in my application (hardcore Monte-Carlo in C++ and assembly) though YMMV.

E5520 ~$390
3x4Gb Registered ECC RAM ~$400
Tylersburg dual CPU MB ~$400

This means that you can get going for $1200 and then upgrade to twice the capacity for $800 when needed.
a b å Intel
January 16, 2010 1:30:13 AM

glope said:
Poking around on newegg I came across this Asus Z7S WS Dual LGA 771 board. It seems that it will be possible to overclock Xeons?

Might be hard to get now tough.

Just a quick edit here cause you posted as I was writing the reply.
I'll see your point regarding uptime, but as I said before I will try to go for Ecc ram as well and hopefully
that will give me some extra stability. Doing the cooling in a correct manner will of course also help and I am really set to try out oc Xeon. After all if that do not work out well I will be left with a dual cpu running @stock speed and that is not the end of the world.

I am thinking best to go the whole nine yards now and water-cool everything but the HDD which I will air-cool, also due to Googles HD life-cycle report.

Well first I have a huge amount of learning to do, then I will pick hardware.

-Thx for your thought-full comments shadow.
That motherboard uses the previous generation of Xeon processors. Even when overclocked, they will be much slower than Xeon 5500 series processors.
January 16, 2010 12:17:49 PM

GhislainG said:
That motherboard uses the previous generation of Xeon processors. Even when overclocked, they will be much slower than Xeon 5500 series processors.


Yeah I was afraid of that.
Thing is I have seen several mother boards that will give me the chance to over-clock Xeons but they are all on old sockets, or they are single cpu board. I would like to go dual cpu.

Have anyone seen updated socket 1366 versions of ie the Asus Z7S, skulltrail or similar mobos?
I guess using a regular server mother-board will destroy any and all plans of over-clocking Xeon.
a b å Intel
January 16, 2010 2:30:03 PM

Quote:
I guess using a regular server mother-board will destroy any and all plans of over-clocking Xeon.
That's correct, but you'll end up with a very fast and stable system. That normally is the primary goal of a server.
a b K Overclocking
January 16, 2010 9:57:44 PM

Quote:

I am thinking best to go the whole nine yards now and water-cool everything but the HDD which I will air-cool, also due to Googles HD life-cycle report.

Imo, there is no point wasting money on WCing the NB,RAM,etc unless they run quite hot (ie like most DFI boards NB).

Quote:
That motherboard uses the previous generation of Xeon processors. Even when overclocked, they will be much slower than Xeon 5500 series processors.

Agreed!

@OP:
1. You may be better off with a single OCed (4Ghz) CPU i7 920 (or up coming 32nm CPU).

2. The HT in the i7 makes it quite even in multi threaded situations compared to a LGA771.
January 17, 2010 8:24:57 PM

Thx for your comments shadow. I am still learning about water-cooling :-)

I'll see the new 32 nm CPU will launch in march, think we will see price reduction on 45 nm processors?

Anyone have any experience with AMD opteron Socket 1207? I'll got a tip to check out them as well. Actually I had written AMD off, cause it seems long ago they beaten Intel in performance. Maybe there is a different tune when it comes to server processors?
a b å Intel
January 17, 2010 8:44:03 PM

A Xeon Nehalem is faster than any Opteron that you can buy. You should read this review: http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=3571 They included older Xeon and Opteron processors in their benchmarks. That allows one to see how much faster a Xeon 5500 series is over the previous generation. The same can be said of newer Opteron processors, but the improvements may not be as spectacular.
January 17, 2010 11:01:42 PM

Thanks. Reading up now.
Hmm 6 cores and still whipped?

Strange thing, articles start buy talking about 6 core opteron, then later mention Shanghai. I tought shanghai was the older 4core cpu?
The latest 6 core is called Istanbul. Maybe it is the language barrier making me miss-read some essential info.
January 18, 2010 4:10:38 PM

REALLY, IF YOU CAN FIND IT FOR THE SAME PRICE AS THE I7 920 GET THE XION ON A RAMPAGE 2 MOBO U GOT GREAT EXPECTECTIONS ALSO THEIR SO CALL (MORE STABLE UNDER OVERCLOCKING DUE TO THE FACT THE ALWAYS BEEN (DO) AND THE NEWER CAN ASCEND BIGGER UNDER LOW CPU VOLTAGES IF U GOT THE CHANGE GO FOR IT ITS WORTH


:hello: 
a b K Overclocking
January 18, 2010 7:22:17 PM

^ TURN OFF THE CAPS LOCK! DI YOU NOT READ THE THREAD?
!