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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I what's the deal with the Intel 860 chipset based systems? I was looking at Dell's site, and they have a Workstation 530 that I can get with dual 1.7Ghz PIV Xeons, 256 of dual channel RDRAM, and a 64bit PCI slot for my dual channel Ultra160 SCSI controller, all for $2500 or so.


I'd just get it with the minimal video and hard drive and give them away basically, and move over my SCSI controller and drives and video card from my current system, then put the lower end stuff into the old machine and give it a relative.


Another option would be to buy an enclosure and the MB and move the good stuff over into that. What would be an enclosure/MB/CPU combo that I could pick up that would be equivalent to this machine? Would I come out appreciably cheaper and/or better by picking up my own bits and/or getting some other combiantion of bits?


I know that the dual channel RDRAM cannot quite keep the Xeon's fully busy. But this chipset has a 400Mhz FSB, and some specialized dual CPU support.


BTW, this won't be an HTPC, it'll be replacing my main development machine for CQC work. My development work pushes the machine in pretty much every area but video processing. I've got the disk I/O taken care off, and its a matter of getting the MB back up to speed. But if its going to have any I/O or internal bus bottlenecks, I don't want to spend the bucks for CPUs that are going to twiddle their thumbs a lot.


I really want the dual CPU because I need to insure that my software is happy on a multi-CPU system. You can run software for months on a single and not find that magic race condition that will pop right up on a dual system.
 

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Hi Dean:


___I have to get to bed so I cannot give you the best reply but please read the Xeon/Athlon XP + dually articles over at Tom’s HW and Anandtech before you decide on such an animal. If it were me, I would be purchasing an AMD 760MPX chipset with the 64-bit/66 MHz PCI busses and dual 1800+’s. You simply cannot find a more cost effective dually workstation IMO. Than again, this platform is very untried and you may find all of those incompatibilities faster than you would on the Xeon based unit ;) It is really too bad that the AMD Hammer isn’t available because if it were, I might even think about going dual on a future AMD chipset that supports two of these wildly fast CPU’s.


PS: Let us know how our HTPC apps work on your platform of choice as well …


___Good Luck


___Wayne R. Gerdes

___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.

___ [email protected]
 

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My personal/work PC is a Dell 530MT, dual xeon workstation. My HTPC however, is based on an asus p4b266 and p4 northwood. There's nothing on my htpc that would require a dual cpu based system. That being said, the dell 530 is a well built workstation and pretty damn quiet for a dually. I'm using it with their Dell PERC3/160 QC with an external SCSI array and it's very fast, especially for video editing and encoding.


My neighbor has two 760mpx based dual boards (MSI k7d & Tyan MPX). It took him a while to get both up and running without BSOD's. He's totally happy with his AMD systems. I've decided that quiet is nice, and quiet is peaceful, and didn't want the noise associated with cooling 2 overclocked 2000MP's . Since my scsi array is located in another room, I can live and work in peace. I went with Xeon's because I simply don't have the time right now to deal with any POTENTIAL incompatibility issues.


If you want dual Xeon boards, check out Supermicro P4DCE+ or P4DC6+, or Iwill's DP400 (with reported future support for 133mhz FSB). Xeon boards are expensive ~$400-600, but they usually come with onboard scsi too. If you want a server based board (no AGP port) the intel i7500 chipset with dual channel ddr seems interesting.


Upcoming dual-hammer systems are the ones to look out for. However, I have a feeling dual hammer systems won't be out til sometime next year. Single CPU version later this year, but I'm holding out for the dual :D
 

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Didn't quite catch that this isn't for an HTPC. I mainly use the workstation for work (Oracle, Weblogic, XML, and Java stuff) and for fun - video editing and encoding. It has good bandwith, as I can easily sustain over 200MB/s via the raid controller, although I don't need that much bandwidth, I do use all the i/o's it can process. Plus there's plenty of bandwidth to spare as I add on more drives.


I think with both 760mpx and i860 bandwidth hasn't been a problem as long as you don't put in a 33mhz/32bit card in the 66mhz/64 bit slots. With the 530 you can bump the ram to 4gb using up to 16 RIMMS with the memory riser cards/mrh repeater.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So as long as I keep 32 bit boards in 32 bit slots and 64s in 64 bit slots, then there won't be any downshifting of the PCI bus?


I'm currently using an Adaptec dual channel SCSI with two Ultra160 10K drives. Its for software development on my CQC system, but its a large system (about 300K lines of C++) and when I'm going hard and need to make a change to a fundamental file, I want it to rebuild post haste or as soon thereafter as possible. When I upgraded the SCSI system, the I/O caught up with the CPU (an old 733 box), so I'm pegging it pretty often during builds which makes its spongey to do other useful things while that's going on. But I would think that a system of this sort would do the trick, and would keep me happy for a good while.
 

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Yup as long as you don't put 33mhz or 32bit cards into the 66/64 slots the bus won't downshift to lower speeds. If you have a 33mhz/64 bit card then the bus will run at that speed (266mb/s) according to the Dell manual. Which doesn't really matter anyway since your SCSI card can only run at that speed. If you have a 66mhz/64 bit card then it'll run at max speed 533mb/s. I'm not sure what spec the adaptec card runs at (I believe it's a 66/64 card). With 2 10K U160 drives you are nowhere near reaching the limits of a dual U160 scsi system, which is good, since you can upgrade to faster 15k scsi drives later :D. Plus the 530 has a single channel Adaptec U160 controller onboard to begin with. You could have 3 x15-36lp or the upcoming x15-73lp (coming in August) each with up to 75mb/sec sustained transfers on it's own channel, add dual xeons to boot and you should be happy for at least a few months :).


If this is a business expense, a benefit of buying a dell or any other premade workstation is the onsite support and warranty service should anything fail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, one day such a thing would be a business expense, but not yet. I probably should have already formed a single owner business since I could have written off 10 or 15 thousand worth of development hardware and software over the last few years.
 
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