The dual XEON box takes shapeThis page will record the progress of the dual XEON box I’m building up. It contains some photographs, an explanation of how I assembled the box, a list of the box hardware, and a request for donations of hardware needed to get the box up and running.
BackgroundWhile I was at BSDCon, I was given two XEON 550MHz processors. They are have a bus speed of 100MHz and contain 1MB of cache. The same person also gave me two 18GB SCSI Ultra160 drives. Also given to me were:
- video card
- 64MB SDRAM
- PII 266 MHz processor
- Other ram to upgrade my other boxes (not sure how much ram that was as I haven’t installed it yet)
The caseThe case was not a xeon-ready box. I suggest you look for that feature if you are building a xeon box. The CPUs slot into the motherboard, much like a NIC, but much larger. Make sure the board is properly attached to the case in order to prevent damage to the motherboard during CPU insertion/removal.
I obtained the case from Quay Computers. The case is shown in the pictures.
I like the case because it opens without tools. I did have trouble with the power supply. The fan didn’t work. Otherwise, the PSU worked, but ran a bit warm to the touch. I obtained a replacement from the shop and swapped them over. It was then that you could see that one of the blades from the fan had snapped off. You could hear it rattling around inside.
The motherboardThe motherboard I obtained (courtesy of a kind cash donation) is a SuperMicro S2DGE. This is a dual XEON board. The CPUs have a retention device which holds them stable. This places one CPU right up against the other CPU. For cooling, the retention device allows you to add CPU fans. I’m using two of these fans (there’s room for four). I’m not sure if these are necessary, but the massive heat-sinks were too hot to hold. With the fans, they are cool to the touch.
Pictures of the motherboard are here
AssemblyThe box has been assembled (want to see the pictures?) and FreeBSD 4.1.1-RELEASE has been installed. Unfortunately, I don’t have a controller capable of handling those 18GB SCSI Ultra160 drives. So I’ve used two small IDE drives. As I’ve found out, that’s not even enough space for a build world. So the box is sitting there, very fast. But more or less useless.
The dual Xeon box was assembled over the weekend. Here’s what it looks like. There are two sets of pics, large and small. The small ones vary in size from 72KB to 127KB. The large ones are from 221KB to 383KB. You decide which you want to see.
More information on the assembly process is available at The XEON assembly story.
DonationsI’m still trying to obtain a few more items. For details, please see the hardware donations section.
Hardware things left to do
- hang a secondary fan directed at the CPU which does not have direct cooling. I have more fans than I need, thanks to Terry Hughes.
- when obtained, install the items listed in the previous section.
Software things left to doI’ve never installed X. I plan to do that as soon as possible. Of course, this will be documented on the site. I’m also going to install Star Office as soon as possible.
The picturesIf you click on the picture, you will be taken to an image about 600×500, roughly 70K-127K. If you click on that one, you’ll get the large version, which are 1152×864 and vary in size from 221K-387K.
Readers of this article might be interested to know that the donated components (in fact the whole box) is being auctioned off at <A HREF="http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1317676007">http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1317676007</A>
This doesn’t really seem like a particularly good thing to do – any comments?
A Concerned Punter wrote:
> Readers of this article might be interested to know
> that the donated components (in fact the whole box) is being
> auctioned off at
It’s good to be concerned. I would be too. Especially given that this box is used by me every day.
I’m happy to say that the concern is unfounded. You see, that is not my box. A short examination of the URL will show that the box for sale is in the UK. I’m in Ottawa.
Looking more closely at the URL you suppllied: "The box can also be seen in parts similar to this one on the following site". The URL states it is similar to the box in the article. It does not say it is the box referred to by this article.
> This doesn’t really seem like a particularly good thing to do
> – any comments?
My main comment is that if you have an issue with me, bring it up. Confront me directly. Don’t hide behind a title and a fake hotmail address. If I’m wrong, I’ll admit my mistake.
Just a quickie note.
Checked the site for the first time in a long time….introducing a friend to freebsd….
The site saved my bacon on more then one ocassion and i’ve appriciated it a lot in the last few years.
I saw the note from Mr Concerned.
I saw your note.
He/She make a goof, a mistake. It’s not that uncommon, as few really read everything….just the highlights.
The fact that they are comming in from AOL should have been a clue right away. Most people who are serious about the net wouldn’t be caught on AOL….:)
Anyway, thanks for the great site. I know you asked for donations long ago, but at that time I just didn’t have it to spare.
I do now, if you need something
I don’t mind mistakes. It’s just that this one is so glaringly obvious. When questions the actions of another, it’s best to have the facts straight. On that note however, I have checked with the group that donated the CPUs and the disk for the xeon. They have said that I’m free to dispose of it as need be should that situation ever arise. All donations are used for the purpose intended. They go towards my use of FreeBSD and we know that I write about what I do. Basically, the donors said: As for anything you’ve gotten (and may get) from us, our position is that it should benefit the efforts of your work with FreeBSD. How you do that is -your- business.
In the past few weeks, I’ve spent about US$1000 buying two new boxes and three 40GB drives.
What I do need now or sometime over the next few months:
– a couple of very low-end video cards for use in servers
– a few long RJ45 networks cables
– a few power cables
– MS Natural keyboard
– memory (128, 256, or 512MB DIMM)
– disks (IDE preferably > 2GB)
– low end mobo 486 or more (cases sell here for about US$25)
> – a couple of very low-end video cards for use in servers
How low end do you want?
> – a few long RJ45 networks cables
> – a few power cables
> – a couple of very low-end video cards for use in
> – servers
> How low end do you want?
80 cols x 24 lines, b&w is sufficient. It’s just for
simple console use…
> > – a few long RJ45 networks cables
> How long?
Well, right now I’m using a hub to stretch to the other side of the room. 30ft would be great.
> > – a few power cables
> How many?
None now. I went and bought some today. Thank you.
> 80 cols x 24 lines, b&w is sufficient. It’s just for simple console use…
PCI or ISA? I have two PCI I can send right now, if you want the ISA ones I will have to dig them out.
> Well, right now I’m using a hub to stretch to the other side of the room. 30ft would be great.
Will two be enough?
> Dan wrote:
> > 80 cols x 24 lines, b&w is sufficient. It’s just for simple
> console use…
> PCI or ISA? I have two PCI I can send right now, if you want
> the ISA ones I will have to dig them out.
> > Well, right now I’m using a hub to stretch to the other
> side of the room. 30ft would be great.
> Will two be enough?
Yes. Thank. you. Try the whois information for the shipping address. Cheers.