Overclockable Server Motherboards - Hardware

This is a discussion on Overclockable Server Motherboards - Hardware ; I'm starting to plan my next system. I would like to have support for > 8G of RAM which puts me on a server motherboard. I'll probably use a pair of 3GHz dual core 45nm Xeons which I would like ...

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Thread: Overclockable Server Motherboards

  1. Overclockable Server Motherboards

    I'm starting to plan my next system. I would like to have support for >
    8G of RAM which puts me on a server motherboard. I'll probably use a pair
    of 3GHz dual core 45nm Xeons which I would like to overclock if possible.
    My current fastest compute server is an 8G Core2 E6700 overclocked to
    3GHz so the next system needs to be bigger and faster than that which is
    why I'm shooting for 16G of RAM and four cores clocked at 3.5-4GHz. This
    system is for Verilog simulation (which is single threaded, thus the need
    a high clock rate, and FPGA place and routes. Storage will be a couple of
    SATA drives in RAID0, I don't need SCSI. I don't care about the number of
    PCI slots, this system will have a cheap PCIe graphics adapter or onboard
    graphics because it will be running without X most of the time. What I
    care about is compute speed, memory size and stability. Any
    recommendations will be appreciated.

    Is there any support for overclocking on a server motherboard. There are
    a couple of SuperMicro motherboards that look good, the MBD-X7DWA-N with
    8 FB-DIMM sockets and the MBD-X7DWA-N+ that has a whopping 16 FB_DIMM
    sockets. Can these boards be overclocked?


  2. Re: Overclockable Server Motherboards

    General Schvantzkopf writes:
    >What I
    >care about is compute speed, memory size and stability. Any
    >recommendations will be appreciated.
    >
    >Is there any support for overclocking on a server motherboard. There are
    >a couple of SuperMicro motherboards that look good, the MBD-X7DWA-N with
    >8 FB-DIMM sockets and the MBD-X7DWA-N+ that has a whopping 16 FB_DIMM
    >sockets. Can these boards be overclocked?


    We have a dual-Xeon 5160 box with 24GB of RAM based on the SuperMicro
    X7DBE+ and are happy with it. The only funny thing is that, when we
    turn it on, it does not show any sign of working for about one minute.

    Concerning RAM, I recommend that you avoid FB-DIMMs if you can:
    FB-DIMMs consume much more power (our machine consumes 280W when
    idle), and require special cooling (we have a 5300rpm 80mm fan for our
    FB-DIMMs, otherwise the machine would not work). Instead, go for
    registered DIMMs (e.g. PC5300R instead of PC5300F DIMMs); if you want
    to use a dual-Xeon board, that would mean the 5100 chipset.
    Supermicro seems to have only a 6-DIMM board (X7DCL-i), whereas Tyan
    has an 8-DIMM board in the Tempest i5100X (S5375); you might also want
    to look at what Intel has to offer.

    Concerning overclocking, there's little demand for that in servers, so
    server boards usually do not support it. Looking at the manual of the
    X7DBE+, I see no way to overclock the FSB. You can set the
    multiplier, but that's probably locked on the CPU. One thing that may
    be possible is to get a motherboard with a FSB1600, buy CPUs with
    FSB1333, and try to run it at FSB1600. That would overclock a 3GHz
    CPU to 3.6GHz. Unfortunately the 5100 chipset I recommended above
    seems to be limited to FSB1333, and FSB1600 seems to be limited to the
    5400 chipset, which requires FB-DIMMs.

    - anton
    --
    M. Anton Ertl Some things have to be seen to be believed
    anton@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at Most things have to be believed to be seen
    http://www.complang.tuwien.ac.at/anton/home.html

  3. Re: Overclockable Server Motherboards

    On Fri, 25 Jan 2008 12:54:46 +0000, Anton Ertl wrote:

    > General Schvantzkopf writes:
    >>What I
    >>care about is compute speed, memory size and stability. Any
    >>recommendations will be appreciated.
    >>
    >>Is there any support for overclocking on a server motherboard. There are
    >>a couple of SuperMicro motherboards that look good, the MBD-X7DWA-N with
    >>8 FB-DIMM sockets and the MBD-X7DWA-N+ that has a whopping 16 FB_DIMM
    >>sockets. Can these boards be overclocked?

    >
    > We have a dual-Xeon 5160 box with 24GB of RAM based on the SuperMicro
    > X7DBE+ and are happy with it. The only funny thing is that, when we
    > turn it on, it does not show any sign of working for about one minute.
    >
    > Concerning RAM, I recommend that you avoid FB-DIMMs if you can: FB-DIMMs
    > consume much more power (our machine consumes 280W when idle), and
    > require special cooling (we have a 5300rpm 80mm fan for our FB-DIMMs,
    > otherwise the machine would not work). Instead, go for registered DIMMs
    > (e.g. PC5300R instead of PC5300F DIMMs); if you want to use a dual-Xeon
    > board, that would mean the 5100 chipset. Supermicro seems to have only a
    > 6-DIMM board (X7DCL-i), whereas Tyan has an 8-DIMM board in the Tempest
    > i5100X (S5375); you might also want to look at what Intel has to offer.
    >
    > Concerning overclocking, there's little demand for that in servers, so
    > server boards usually do not support it. Looking at the manual of the
    > X7DBE+, I see no way to overclock the FSB. You can set the multiplier,
    > but that's probably locked on the CPU. One thing that may be possible
    > is to get a motherboard with a FSB1600, buy CPUs with FSB1333, and try
    > to run it at FSB1600. That would overclock a 3GHz CPU to 3.6GHz.
    > Unfortunately the 5100 chipset I recommended above seems to be limited
    > to FSB1333, and FSB1600 seems to be limited to the 5400 chipset, which
    > requires FB-DIMMs.
    >
    > - anton


    I read somewhere that SuperMicro does have some overclocking support on
    their boards but they don't advertise the fact.

    I probably won't build this system until March or April. I'm hoping that
    4G DDR2 DIMMs will be available by then which would allow me to use a
    desktop motherboard. I was looking at the Samsung and Micron sites and it
    appears that they are both sampling 2G DDR2 RAMs which makes a 4G DIMM
    possible, in fact Samsung was also sampling a 4G unbuffered DIMM.

  4. Re: Overclockable Server Motherboards

    On Thu, 24 Jan 2008 15:57:40 -0600, General Schvantzkopf wrote:
    >I'm starting to plan my next system. I would like to have support for >
    >8G of RAM which puts me on a server motherboard. I'll probably use a pair
    >of 3GHz dual core 45nm Xeons which I would like to overclock if possible.
    >My current fastest compute server is an 8G Core2 E6700 overclocked to


    Why would you select a server motherboard for increased reliability, and
    then overclock it to destroy the system's reliability?

    Pick a faster processor if you need it to run faster.

  5. Re: Overclockable Server Motherboards


    > Why would you select a server motherboard for increased reliability, and
    > then overclock it to destroy the system's reliability?
    >
    > Pick a faster processor if you need it to run faster.


    The only reason that I'm looking at server motherboards is for the large
    memory support. Desktop motherboards are limited to 8G which is starting
    to be a problem for me, I would like to have 16G in my next system. If 4G
    unbuffered DIMMs get announced in the next couple of months then I'll
    stick with a desktop motherboard.

    My current Core2 is overclocked and it's been completely reliable. I've
    been running it 24/7 for about 15 months without an issue. My server room
    is air conditioned in the summer and in the winter I keep the heat down
    to 60 so I don't have to worry about running in a hot room. My Core2 is
    using stock Intel cooling, I plan on using a heavy duty cooler like the
    Zalman 9700 in the next box which should allow me to get another .5GHz.
    With my Core2 system I used sys_basher to find it's breaking point, then
    I backed off by about 15%. I also underclocked the memory system, the
    RAMS are DDR2800 but I'm running them at 600 which gives the memory
    system plenty of margin.

  6. Re: Overclockable Server Motherboards

    On 2008-01-25, General Schvantzkoph hit the keyboard and wrote:
    >



    > My current Core2 is overclocked and it's been completely reliable. I've
    > been running it 24/7 for about 15 months without an issue. My server room
    > is air conditioned in the summer and in the winter I keep the heat down
    > to 60 so I don't have to worry about running in a hot room. My Core2 is
    > using stock Intel cooling, I plan on using a heavy duty cooler like the
    > Zalman 9700 in the next box which should allow me to get another .5GHz.


    Liquid cooling is then no option for you I take? :-)
    Overclockers like to use it...

    > With my Core2 system I used sys_basher to find it's breaking point, then
    > I backed off by about 15%. I also underclocked the memory system, the
    > RAMS are DDR2800 but I'm running them at 600 which gives the memory
    > system plenty of margin.





    Dragomir Kollaric
    --
    Q: Do you know what the death-rate around here is?
    A: One per person!

  7. Re: Overclockable Server Motherboards

    On Sat, 26 Jan 2008 17:24:12 +0000, Dragomir Kollaric wrote:

    > On 2008-01-25, General Schvantzkoph hit the keyboard and wrote:
    >>

    >
    >
    >> My current Core2 is overclocked and it's been completely reliable. I've
    >> been running it 24/7 for about 15 months without an issue. My server
    >> room is air conditioned in the summer and in the winter I keep the heat
    >> down to 60 so I don't have to worry about running in a hot room. My
    >> Core2 is using stock Intel cooling, I plan on using a heavy duty cooler
    >> like the Zalman 9700 in the next box which should allow me to get
    >> another .5GHz.

    >
    > Liquid cooling is then no option for you I take? :-) Overclockers like
    > to use it...
    >
    >> With my Core2 system I used sys_basher to find it's breaking point,
    >> then I backed off by about 15%. I also underclocked the memory system,
    >> the RAMS are DDR2800 but I'm running them at 600 which gives the memory
    >> system plenty of margin.

    >
    >
    >
    >
    > Dragomir Kollaric


    Cooling is not the problem, there are very good air coolers that will do
    the job. The issue is BIOS support for overclocking which allows you to
    control the clock rate, DDR clock rate, and voltages. Desktop
    motherboards generally have these features, server motherboards mostly
    don't. Overclocking is a selling feature for desktop motherboards, it
    isn't for servers. However some server motherboards have included some
    overclocking features, probably because the BIOS codes are basically the
    same as for the desktops and the engineers developing the server
    motherboards need to be able to tweak the same parameters anyway. The
    decision to enable those features in a shipping BIOS is a subjective one
    so some manufacturers may choose to do it on the grounds that it doesn't
    cost them anything and that it might give them some selling advantage,
    and others may choose not to because it could effect their reputation for
    reliability. What I was asking was if anyone knew of a server motherboard
    that supports the 45nm Xeons and was overclockable. As I've said earlier
    what I'm really interested in is 16G of memory. A desktop board that
    could use registered DIMMs would satisfy my needs. The availability of
    4G unbuffered DIMMs would also satisfy my needs.

  8. Re: Overclockable Server Motherboards

    > We have a dual-Xeon 5160 box with 24GB of RAM based on the SuperMicro
    > X7DBE+ and are happy with it. The only funny thing is that, when we
    > turn it on, it does not show any sign of working for about one minute.


    With ECC, it has to go through and zero out all of the memory so that ECC
    operation can be reliable. If you took out most of the RAM, you'd find it
    would take considerably less time.



  9. Re: Overclockable Server Motherboards

    "Steve Wolfe" writes:
    >> We have a dual-Xeon 5160 box with 24GB of RAM based on the SuperMicro
    >> X7DBE+ and are happy with it. The only funny thing is that, when we
    >> turn it on, it does not show any sign of working for about one minute.

    >
    > With ECC, it has to go through and zero out all of the memory so that ECC
    >operation can be reliable.


    Good theory. I would expect it to initialize the graphics card and
    the keyboard first, though, and only initialize most of the memory
    afterwards, just like the classical RAM test does. We had no
    indication that the machine was working at all, and turned it off
    after a while the first few times, and checked that all the cables
    were plugged in etc. We even thought that we would have to send it
    back as defective, but luckily before we did that, we once left it on
    long enough that we did get signs of life.

    Also, a single process under Linux can zero the memory on that machine
    at 1.4GB/s, so the zeroing could be done in 17s, but the BIOS takes
    around a minute.

    - anton
    --
    M. Anton Ertl Some things have to be seen to be believed
    anton@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at Most things have to be believed to be seen
    http://www.complang.tuwien.ac.at/anton/home.html

  10. Re: Overclockable Server Motherboards

    > Also, a single process under Linux can zero the memory on that machine
    > at 1.4GB/s, so the zeroing could be done in 17s, but the BIOS takes
    > around a minute.


    Yes, I don't know why it takes so long - but that's how it's been on every
    ECC motherboard I've ever used. "Back in the day", when you'd get a machine
    with lots of sloooooow memory, I saw it take as long as three minutes.



  11. Re: Overclockable Server Motherboards

    On Sun, 10 Feb 2008 16:59:44 -0700, Steve Wolfe wrote:

    >> Also, a single process under Linux can zero the memory on that machine
    >> at 1.4GB/s, so the zeroing could be done in 17s, but the BIOS takes
    >> around a minute.

    >
    > Yes, I don't know why it takes so long - but that's how it's been on
    > every
    > ECC motherboard I've ever used. "Back in the day", when you'd get a
    > machine with lots of sloooooow memory, I saw it take as long as three
    > minutes.


    Chances are they always run some sort of memory test. As you pointed out
    you have to initialize ECC memory before you uses it, if you don't you
    will get ECC errors when read uninitialized locations. Since you have to
    write every location once a quick bring up isn't possible so you might as
    well do at least one read back pass which means that the minimum bring up
    time is 2X the time it takes to access the entire memory. However once
    you've committed to doing a single pass of a memory test you might as
    well do two, writing a checkerboard on one pass and then writing it's
    complement on the second pass so that you checked every cell with both a
    1 and a 0. Two passes is 4X the time it takes to access the entire memory
    which corresponds to Anton's observation about the boot time on his board.

  12. Re: Overclockable Server Motherboards

    "Steve Wolfe" writes:
    >> Also, a single process under Linux can zero the memory on that machine
    >> at 1.4GB/s, so the zeroing could be done in 17s, but the BIOS takes
    >> around a minute.

    >
    > Yes, I don't know why it takes so long - but that's how it's been on every
    >ECC motherboard I've ever used.


    Apart from this board and some RISC-based servers, we have not noticed
    a machine doing nothing noticable for a significant time after turning
    it on, and some of them have 8GB of ECC RAM, so when this board did
    not do anything for a long time, it came as a surprise to us. Anyway,
    I just wanted to pass the lesson on that sometimes it takes a while.

    - anton
    --
    M. Anton Ertl Some things have to be seen to be believed
    anton@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at Most things have to be believed to be seen
    http://www.complang.tuwien.ac.at/anton/home.html

  13. Re: Overclockable Server Motherboards

    On Mon, 11 Feb 2008 16:05:34 UTC in comp.os.linux.hardware,
    anton@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at (Anton Ertl) wrote:

    > Apart from this board and some RISC-based servers, we have not noticed
    > a machine doing nothing noticable for a significant time after turning
    > it on,


    My old Tyan S2466N-4M used to do this. Also ECC memory and took about 2 mins to
    show you the BIOS splash after startup and by the time it did, it was too late
    to press a key to get inside the CMOS setup.

    --
    Trevor Hemsley, Brighton, UK
    Trevor dot Hemsley at ntlworld dot com

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