AMD? Intel? Single Core? Dual Core? Gulp!

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woodsman
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AMD? Intel? Single Core? Dual Core? Gulp!

Post by woodsman » Tue May 29, 2007 6:08 pm

As I mentioned in my introduction I am considering a new box.

My current primary box is a 400 MHz K6-III+, 256 MB of RAM, a 40 GB Seagate Barracuda IV ATA-100 hard drive, along with a Diamond Stealth 3D 3000 video card (with a whopping 4MB of RAM). The motherboard is Socket-7 with a 66 MHz FSB. This box is no powerhouse by today's standards, but is silent and an efficient office machine.

My starting point is a CPU supporting full hardware virtualization. Basically this is the sole reason for wanting new hardware because otherwise I am content with my primary box. I have been tinkering with GNU/Linux for five years or more and I plan on using Slackware (GNU/Linux) as my primary OS to host other virtual OSs.

My priorities for a new box:

1. Hardware virtualization.
2. Silence.
3. Energy conservation.
4. Speed.
5. Cost.

My first question is which CPU? I'm still researching like crazy (I think my eyeballs are turning square!). If possible these days, my current leaning is to do similarly as I did with my current box: use a laptop CPU in a desktop motherboard to reduce noise, cooling needs, and energy consumption. Of course, my criteria for native hardware virtualization limits my choices of CPUs.

Originally I was leaning toward an Intel Core 2 Duo. Yet, unlike my fortunate trick with my K6-III+ CPU, originally intended only for laptops, I was disappointed to learn that I cannot install a laptop Core 2 Duo (T series/Merom) into an LGA775 socket T (E series/Conroe). The Merom requires a Socket P. My search for an appropriate motherboard to use the laptop Core 2 Duos left me empty. There is the AOpen, but I want to use as much of my existing peripheral hardware as possible, especially my silent Seagate hard drives.

I have discovered that the Core Duo (Yonah) supports hardware virtualization. The Core Duos require a Socket M. Might I find a motherboard to use that CPU? Also, Core Duo is 32 bit rather than 64 bit and I wonder how that might affect me several years down the road should I want to update anything. Is 64 bit better for futureproofing? Probably.

Then there are the "energy efficient" AMD CPUs. Seems the AM2 socket is more universal than the LGA775 socket. With this line of CPUs, at 35W TDP, with no overclocking, and with built-in kernel support for power management and speed stepping, I suspect that passive cooling is very possible or even likely. I probably do not need to tinker with undervolting and underclocking but adding that extra tweak would be nice. Even if the CPU cooler fan remains connected, I guess that with my usage habits that either the fan never runs or runs at the slowest speed (inaudible). I'm not interested in the performance-per-watt advertising jargon because I am making such a significant leap from old hardware to modern hardware. My priorities are silence and energy consumption.

Can I passively cool a AMD CPU? How about the Intel Core 2 Duo?

Is a stock CPU cooler sufficient for passive cooling or do I need to invest in a third party heat sink (Thermalright, Ninja, etc.)? I get the feeling that several people here passively cool their dual core CPUs but I'd like to hear more explicit words.

What other criteria ought I consider with this basic starting point?

Do I need dual core or is single core sufficient for hardware virtualization? I do not expect to run dozens of virtual OSs, only one at a time. Yet, down the road as software matures, might I regret not having dual core? However, I'm not a developer, just a person who tinkers. Are there reasons not to buy a dual core?

Although I'm familiar with the Linux kernel, I never have used energy management with my old hardware. How well does the Linux kernel handle energy consumption in desktops, both Intel and AMD chips?. As a typical office user, I suspect my CPU idles a lot and I can conserve energy if the kernel is smart about that.

What kind of energy consumption can I realistically expect with a modern CPU when routinely I do little more than office related tasks? I want on-board graphics, which should help. Seems that even with a virtual OS running in the background, there will be a lot of idle time with such a box. Although in my priority list silence trumps energy conservation, I am also spoiled with the low energy consumption of my current K6-III+ box.

I would be grateful for some energy consumption reports from current users, of both CPU types.

For me, silence trumps all subsequent considerations, even if that means sacrificing or compromising. My current silent box has me terribly spoiled. Based upon my experience with my second box used for testing and a quiet-but-not-silent power supply fan, I will not settle for "quiet." I need silent (inaudible). My current system is the ultimate criteria. I have to match that kind of silence.

Compared to my current system I am resigned that any new system will increase energy consumption. That is disheartening and I will appreciate any tricks that will reduce energy consumption. I suspect a laptop CPU and on-board video/audio/LAN will help reduce energy consumption.

Regarding speed, bear in mind that any modern hardware I buy will be significantly faster than my current system. Having used my old hardware for so long, I am blissfully ignorant about current speed criteria. I am not qualified to know or understand any speed comparisons of modern hardware. Speed benchmarks simply fly right over my head. ;) Any modern hardware will seem incredibly fast to me, including integrated graphics. That is, I do not want to get caught up in the minutia of speed tests or the like as is the habit with many hardware review sites. Many of those reviewers do not live in the reality of the typical office user and to them, almost everything is slow.

I have no interest in overclocking. I'm willing to sacrifice speed to gain silence and energy conservation.

I am not into computer games or 3D CAD or modeling. Modern integrated graphics will be more than I need and will be dramatically faster than my current hardware. With 1 GB of RAM or more, shared memory is a non-issue for a user like me. And although features like Beryl or Compiz are great eye-candy, they are low on my priority list.

Regarding videos and audio, my multimedia needs are modest at best. My current hardware adequately supports those needs. With new hardware I might play an occasional DVD movie or add a video capture card for occasional digital recording of late-late night movies, but this will not be an HTPC box. However, I'm not concerned about modern hardware satisfying those modest needs.

I'm not new to computers, just ignorant about the new hardware options. I'm still wading my way through the forum discussions and articles. I'm very much still in the research phase therefore I can wait several months for new developments that are scheduled to appear in the upcoming months.

I hope I'm not too verbose, but I figure the more info I provide the better the quality of the responses. Any thoughts, suggestions, or links are appreciated. Thanks for your patience and a great web site and forum!

~El~Jefe~
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Post by ~El~Jefe~ » Tue May 29, 2007 7:07 pm

jeez.

you could get a pIII tualatin and be riding the life of luxary compared to that.

hm.

for you? I would say socket AM2 with some version of integrated ATI graphics like 690G would be a smart choice. I think asus has a lot of support and is popular so might as well get this board.

AM2 Board

This processor... it is the lowest of the dual cores. No sense in buying a single core if you are the type that keeps it 6 years before upgrading! You will need it then and youll love the never-slow-down aspect of two cores.

Awesome Processor

Ram? 2 gigs. Why? because its dirt cheap at the moment and its all you will ever need for a long time. This is the company I like, it's called Patriot Memory. cheap, fast, reliable, nice company too.

2 Gigs DDR2

That's your whole setup. PSU wise, well the best people are in forums for psu's. This is a quick recommendation that doesnt let people down:

Seasonic 330 Watt

Get a dvd combo burner, get a floppy. case? read about Enclosures on here for what suits you. Cooling and changing heatsinks is most complicated aspect but thats a long fun road that doesnt cost that much if you read a lot.

THis is the system I recommend to about 90% of the people I know at the moment. You cannot beat the price... go add up all I said... its dirt cheap for a fantastic system. Dont be one of those that do not get a floppy drive because it is 2007. just a warning that costs you 7-12 dollars... 65nm brisbanes are cool running and this one is lower clocked so both together and its a win. for the price, it's awesome.

OH, i forgot to add a harddrive. ack. hm. that jacks the cost up more. Samsung Spinpoint T series is what I recommend but theres a lot out there in forums for this.

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Tue May 29, 2007 10:28 pm

El Jefe is giving some sound advice. I wanted to compare difference in power consumption between Sempron 3200+ and Athlon X2 3600+ (Brisbane) but unfortunately one of my test motherboards isn't functioning properly. But AMD is the way to go if you want a low power consumption. 1 GB RAM should be more than enough for your needs, but it is true that RAM is very cheap at the moment. Other than that I'd recommend a 2.5" HD and perhaps a 120W PicoPSU.

In Linux you have Powernowd to simulate Cool 'n Quiet. For further undervolting/clocking you can have a look here: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=248867

How much power does your current system use?

johno
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Post by johno » Tue May 29, 2007 10:47 pm

Wow. Lots of questions. As a reference, the system I've just set up is pretty much what El Jefe has just suggested:

Athlon X2 4800+ Brisbane 65nm (DD code)
ASUS M2A-VM HDMI motherboard (onboard DVI graphics)
2GB 667 Kingston RAM
Pioneer 212 SATA DVD-RW
WD3200AAKS 320GB SATA hard disk
Antec NSK-3400 case with SU-380 power supply
thermaltake TMG A2 cpu cooler
Ubuntu 7.04 Linux

It draws 49W at idle from the mains with cool n quiet enabled (it is enabled by default in Ubuntu) I had a 3600+ in it as well, and that drew about 2 to 3 watts more than the 4800+. By default both of those CPUs were idling at the same frequency (1GHz), and I think the same core voltage. Using the 4800+ and with both cores fully loaded, system power draw can reach around 120W. I believe it is possible to patch the cpufreq driver to do deeper automatic undervolting than by default under cool n quiet. (by default it gets the voltages out of a look-up table in BIOS). Linux support for energy management is fine on both platforms. The main area you could get problems is not getting S3 suspend and hibernate to work correctly on some motherboards.

At idle, I'd say you *could* passively cool that system with the stock cooler, but it would be marginal. Once you start spinning up the stock cooler, it is audible. That Asus system wants a bit of air flow around the northbridge chipset heatsink too. I bought the thermaltake CPU cooler on account of its availability (I don't otherwise specifically recommend it). At idle under fancontrol, it runs at 400RPM and is virtually silent. Temperature-wise, it could happly turn off most of the time, but it still keeps spinning on the lowest PWM setting. Under the normal loads I give it, the CPU temperature and fan speed stay very low. The CPU heatsink doesn't even feel warm (but the northbridge one does)

At idle loads, it seems that currently with desktop chips/boards AMD systems use less power than C2D based ones, to the order of 10 to 20W. However, under heavy load, the C2D will use less power. I don't know the specifics of the desktop boards for the mobile chips. I didn't go that direction because of the difficulty availability and higher cost. Another alternative is just a laptop, or a Mac mini. They will generally idle at under 20W.

I also tried a NForce 6100 chipset board with the Athlon. Under linux, Nvidia is somewhat preferred over ATI because the closed source video drivers are better from the former. However, I found my ATI based 690 board auto-detected and had things running better than the Nvidia board. It needs the closed-source video drivers though, or you're stuck with VESA driver. I had been hoping the 6100 board would use less power, but in fact it used more, despite not having DVI, and the cool n quiet didn't want to work properly. Some other 6100 based boards may be good options though.

The SU-380 supply runs at a fairly respectable 70% efficiency into 40W load, but you can do better. With some of the 80+ supplies, you could shave another 5W or more off the energy use. Some supplies are also much worse - more in the 60% region, and so add another 10W to the system draw. Of course, they then need more fan cooling to get rid of that extra 10W too. Another way of getting power consumption down is to use a laptop hard disk. With a pico PSU (save 10W), no DVD (save 2W), and laptop hard disk(save 8W), I think the system listed above would be down to around 30W idle. More gains would be made with a more efficient board, some undervolting, and/or using one of the 65nm DE code single core Athlons.

How much power is your current system using?

Palindroman
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Post by Palindroman » Wed May 30, 2007 1:23 am

johno wrote:
It draws 49W at idle from the mains with cool n quiet enabled (it is enabled by default in Ubuntu) I had a 3600+ in it as well, and that drew about 2 to 3 watts more than the 4800+.
Is that 3600+ Brisbane or Windsor?

johno
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Post by johno » Wed May 30, 2007 3:06 am

Palindroman wrote: Is that 3600+ Brisbane or Windsor?
Brisbane. Same as the 4800+ I was surprised as I somehow expected the 3600 to use less power at idle, but on testing found it was a bit more. On looking at it, at idle the both run the same clock speed(1GHz) and vcore(1.1V), so they probably should generate the same heat. I suspect it could be just sample variation, but it is possible that better spec chips are liable to end up in the parts bin for higher speed rating.

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Post by ryboto » Wed May 30, 2007 6:52 am

if silence is a priority, why not go with a fanless power supply? for such a low draw system, the Zen 300 shouldn't have any trouble.
[url=http://fah-web.stanford.edu/cgi-bin/main.py?qtype=userpage&teamnum=31574&username=rybot]F@H[/url]
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i5-750 | TR AXP-140 | DFI MI P55-T36 | Lan-Gear mITX | HD5850 | Silverstone ST45SF[/size]

nzimmers
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Post by nzimmers » Wed May 30, 2007 11:06 am

Hi woodsman,

I put together a computer for pretty much the same reasons... I use VMware server on top of windows 2003 (eventually I'll move to linux)

I use a core solo (yonah) with the MSI Speedster 945GT motherboard which is pretty well rounded (4xsata, 2xGb lan, socket M). It allows about 20% overclock to just about any cpu you put in it and I run *no fan* anywhere near the CPU heatsink.

Here are some suggestions I have:

1) definately go with a mobile socket M chip, they can tolerate much higher temps by design and can be passively cooled with an aftermarket heatsink. If you fanless CPU cooling, mobile is the way to go.

2) buy the CPU cheap off ebay or something....I got mine (1.5ghz core solo) for less than $50 and I am sure you can get a core duo cheaply

3) don't skimp on the ram....I started with 1GB, then added another for 2GB. eventually I'll replace both sticks with 2x2GB. more ram = more virtual machines and with 2GB I can run the Host OS + 3 VM's comfortably.

4) get a socket M motherboard that will accept an after market cpu cooler (I recommend the MSI board, but I know there is a Gigabyte one as well)

5) with a core solo and 2GB or ram + 7 x 3.5 HDD's and 1 notebook drive I use about 100 watts, but the system would use less if 4 of my hdd's were newer and used less power.

6) Single core is sufficient (and cheaper) and you can always upgrade the CPU....three VM's + Host OS on a core solo, basically since most of the work they do is light...CPU is usually at about 15% useage. I do sometimes offload video conversion work to it, which does gum things up considerably but not enough to stop the VMs from searving up web pages.
If you can get a core duo at a good price then go for it.....should be more than enough power!

power consumption for core duo (socket m) + 2GB ram + 3.5 HDD would be around 60watts (core duo uses about 10watts more than the core solo for the extra core).


I seriously looked into the AM2 + Low power CPU combination - but any core (solo, duo, 2duo) combo will use less energy and performance per $ of the core series is fantastic. Mobile chips rock!

are you going to use your same case?
how many hard drives will you use?

I would recommend a motherboard with dual lan ports, help with virtual machines but not a necessity - just nice to have.






I looked at the AM2 + low power CPU scenario.....

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Post by RBBOT » Wed May 30, 2007 1:10 pm

I'd recommend against getting a single core chip for virtualisation - with a host and one or more guest OS, you have got multiple sets of background processes to run. In particular if the virtual is runnnig but idle and you are using the host, the virtual has no way of telling the host is busy and tends to start running "idle time" processes such as search indexing etc. Windows virtuals are worse than linux for this but they alll benefit massively from multiple cores.

nzimmers
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Post by nzimmers » Wed May 30, 2007 1:18 pm

RBBOT wrote:I'd recommend against getting a single core chip for virtualisation - with a host and one or more guest OS, you have got multiple sets of background processes to run. In particular if the virtual is runnnig but idle and you are using the host, the virtual has no way of telling the host is busy and tends to start running "idle time" processes such as search indexing etc. Windows virtuals are worse than linux for this but they alll benefit massively from multiple cores.
Good point.....Currently I have a core solo, but any upgrade to replace that chip will definitely have virtualization support - I have my eye on some low end core 2 duo chips and just waiting for the price to come down

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Post by sjoukew » Wed May 30, 2007 3:25 pm

Multiple os-es with virtualization eats ram, it is really cheap now, so buy at least 2gb. Also when running multiple os-es with virtualization, having 2 cpu cores really makes a difference, it will run a lot better and nicer and it doesn't cost a lot more. Don't be cheap, buy yourself a good machine which will make you happy. I would also advise you to buy an 64bit chip so you can run 64bit linux if you like. Core2Duo and amd x2 are 64bit, but the coreDuo is not (that mobile thing).
If you want to play with linux and virtualization, good quality drivers are a must, bad drivers will really give you a lot of headache. Look around for linux support for all the components, it will pay in the end. There are similar threads on this forum Recommendations for Linux System and Possible motherboards/CPUs for a Linux system. Common used hardware does often have the best support, like intel, always good, nvidia, etc. If you buy exotic hardware, driver support will not be as good as the common hardware.
I don't have experience with it, but they say that ati has "not so good" linux drivers, so I would advise you to buy an nvidia graphics card, ofcourse fanless :).

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Post by woodsman » Wed May 30, 2007 5:54 pm

Thanks everybody for responding! Funny thing about participating in a forum is that often posting questions helps a person fine-tune what he or she is seeking.

After posting I did some more research and discovered that the 35W AMD CPUs are scheduled to ship 2Q 2007, which means any day now. I have checked only newegg and they do not yet seem to have any in stock. But I did learn how to identify the new chip. The Vcore is 1.075 volts and the chip ID begins with ADD rather than ADO.

But with that new info I have now more or less decided that the new 35W AMD CPUs is probably what I am seeking. As I am in no hurry to buy, I will wait until these chips are more readily available.

I have been running silent for so long that I cannot fathom running anyway else anymore. Hence the initial questions about CPUs. But I do have a background in electronics and computers (albeit getting rusty these days) and I still remember that P = E^2/R. Thus, my focus on trying to find the best CPU with the lowest Vcore and TDP. I realize most chips run cooler than the advertised rated TDP but a lower Vcore and TDP is the starting point.

I think my K6-III+ uses something like 13W or so. And performance is comparable to most PII chips and some low-end PIIIs. With a built-in 256KB L2 cache, my motherboard's 512 MB L2 cache becomes an L3 cache. That is one mighty fine CPU!

Undervolting would be nice and I'll have to watch the motherboard BIOS descriptions to obtain that option. However, if I understand correctly, then Cool-and-Quiet seems to already support automatic undervolting so perhaps motherboard support is not so important. Also, these newer 35W AMD CPUs seem undervolted already anyway.

nzimmers's post has me wondering if I should search harder for Socket M motherboards. Good thing I'm in no hurry! :D Sounds as though a single core will satisfy my meager needs, but since posting I now am leaning toward future proofing a new box with dual core. Also, the advice about 64 bit affirms my original thoughts so perhaps I ought to just consider a dual core 64 bit CPU and be done with that section of my research.

After searching newegg I do have several motherboard candidates, but I need to learn more about the chip sets. Seems there is not a significant difference in overall capabilities or energy consumption, therefore I will focus on GNU/Linux compatibility and the peripherals I want to use.

I was hoping the AMD 690 series might be the ticket seeing as ATI is now a subsidiary of AMD and AMD has committed to supporting GNU/Linux. But the chip set supports only 1 channel of IDE (two drives) and I want 2 channels (4 drives). I realize SATA is the standard now, but I'm not spending a ton of money on SATA drives when all of my IDE drives are in great shape. Besides, with my older hardware I never have pushed those drives beyond ATA-33 because that is all the motherboards support. Simply moving to a newer motherboard will provide me improved bandwidth with my current hard drives. As I mentioned earlier, anything I buy will be faster than I am accustomed. :)

Additionally, the motherboards I have looked at with the 690 chip set do not seem to support an LPT1 parallel port, which I need for my HP 4200 Duplex LaserJet. I could buy a PCI card to provide LPT1 support, but I'd rather avoid buying new and extra. I also could buy a Jetdirect network card, but again, that is more money.

So for now I am focusing on Nvidia 6100/6150 or the "business" version of those chip sets, the Quadro NVS 210S. Those chip sets all are passively cooled. Also, as mentioned above, although proprietary Nvidia seems well supported in GNU/Linux. However, I plan to do some more reading about the chip sets before posting any questions in that area.

Regarding passive cooling, although the CPU cooler fan might still rotate, if my usage causes the fan to rotate at only the lowest speeds (e.g., 400 rpm) then if the fan is like other quality 120mm fans the sound will be inaudible. And that will suffice for me. Still, I have a hunch that the newer 35W CPUs might be able to run passively cooled, although I might need a third party heat sink to provide that much heat draw.

I was leaning toward a Seasonic S12 and therefore I have not investigated the Zen fanless PSU --- but now I will. :)

Regarding RAM, after happily using only 256MB for many years I figured 1 GB would be more than enough, :shock: but apparently virtualization can be more demanding that I thought so I'll modify my list to 2 GB.

Regarding the suggestions about peripherals, as I stated in my original post I will use as much as I can from my existing boxes and that includes my 40GB Seagate Barracuda IV ATA-100 drives. I'm not into videos, games, and audio, and 40GB is more than sufficient. I have one 40GB Seagate in each of my boxes and eventually I'll combine the drives into the newer box when I master virtualization. I also use a 60 GB Seagate in a removable hard drive bay for my backups. I intend to continue that practice rather than buy new SATA drives that are hot pluggable. I do not mind the momentary inconvenience of rebooting to perform full backups. Especially when those three drives have already proven to be inaudible in my boxes.

With integrated graphics I will not need separate video, LAN, or audio cards. This box is not an HTPC and 4 or 6 channel audio is more than I need! Regardless, 6 and 8 channels seems rather standard these days on most motherboards. Other peripherals includes my trusted Northgate Omnikey Ultra keyboard, which after 15 years I still use, although now through a DIN-5 to PS2 converter. I will not depart from my trusted Northgate! :D

I probably cannot use the same case because the chassis in those older cases were never designed for today's oversized CPU heat sinks.

I'm glad to see several people using GNU/Linux and having good knowledge with the newer CPUs. That will help later down the road!

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Post by MikeC » Wed May 30, 2007 8:56 pm

No point waiting for 35W AMD CPUs. They are now channeled into their mobile line. The new low power desktop AMD processors are 45W.

TECH SPECS:

Processor: AMD Athlonâ„¢ X2 dual core processor BE-2350
OPN: ADH2350IAA5DD
CPU Core Count:2
Operating Frequency: 2.1GHz
L1 Cache Size: 64K - L1 instruction + 64K - L1 data cache per-core (256KB total L1)
L2 Cache Size: 512KB L2 data cache per-core (1MB total dedicated L2 cache)
Manufactured: Fab 30 and 36 / Dresden, Germany
Process Technology: 65-nm DSL SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology
Packaging: Socket AM2 (940-pin organic micro PGA)
HyperTransport Spec: One 16-bit/16-bit link @ 2.0GHz (1GHz DDR) full duplex (up to 8.0 GB/sec bandwidth)
Memory Controller: One integrated 128-bit dual-channel memory controller (up to 12.8GB/sec bandwidth)
Supported Memory Speeds: DDR 2 memory up to and including PC2 6400 (DDR2-800) unbuffered
Total Processor bandwidth: Up to 20.8 GB/sec
Approximate Transistor count: 221 million
Approximate Die Size: 118 mm2
Nominal Voltage: 1.15- 1.20 V
Max Thermal Power: 45W
Max Ambient Case Temp: 61o Celsius to 78o Celsius
Max Processor Current: 36.5 A
Min P-State (power management): 1.0 GHz
Nominal Voltage @ min P-state: 1.10 V
Max Thermal Power @ min P-state: 27.7 W
Max Current @ min P-state: 22.5A
Mike Chin, SPCR Editor/Publisher
Support SPCR by buying your gear through this link: Amazon

~El~Jefe~
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Post by ~El~Jefe~ » Wed May 30, 2007 9:16 pm

"But the chip set supports only 1 channel of IDE (two drives) and I want 2 channels (4 drives). I realize SATA is the standard now, but I'm not spending a ton of money on SATA drives when all of my IDE drives are in great shape."

er.

those drives just cant be silent with their lengthy age and technology. Even the quietest barracuda "reference" drive here on spcr is said to be LOUDER than some 500gigabyte drives (in teeny tiny ways)

you will get like 10x the performance using a modern hd and it will run cool and ultra quiet. that is a major bottleneck. also, 1 hd always sounds quieter than 2-3-4 etc drives. Some people say it doesnt, but more noise never is quieter.

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Post by johno » Thu May 31, 2007 2:39 am

Watch those model codes. ADD and ADO also appear on the old 90nm chips. Check with:
http://www.amdcompare.com/us-en/desktop/
http://fab51.com/cpu/guide/opn-64-e.html

Don't expect too much in the way of wonders with the new chips. The current series already drop down to 1.1V automatically at idle under cool n quiet. But still, they do indicate a slightly better spec, and should handle lower volting.

But for the vast majority of computers out there that spend most of their time at idle, the CPU is no longer the big user in terms of power. The 65nm Athlon X2s use less than 10W at idle with CnQ. That's about the same as a modern 3.5" hard disk. There are higher power dissipation in each of the motherboard and the power supply. So in the case of energy efficiency, the targets are now the motherboard and powersupply, because there is still dramatic variation in those among different models, whereas CPUs and hard disks are much about the same.

The TDP doesn't matter much in terms of energy efficiency. That is mainly an issue for cooling system design to handle the peak load.

It could be interesting for you to measure the consumption of your current system. The figures we've been talking about are measured over the total system excluding monitor. Even under light loads, count on 15W lost in a typical ATX power supply, and 10W per 3.5" hard disk. It wouldn't surprise me for a modern system to have lower idle draw than the K6-III. Then if you lock the multiplier and vcore on their idle settings, the TDP probably won't be much more either.

I agree with El Jefe about the hard disks. New drives are relatively cheap, and a lot quieter than the ones from a few years back. Where efficiency and noise are important, I wouldn't have two hard disks running unless the capacity needs really dictated it. Swapping two old 3.5" disks for a single 2.5" drive would save you 20W in idle - a bigger slice than the processor and motherboard choices. Then if this requirement drives you out of the efficient motherboards, the use of the old drives could easily bring the additional power draw and heat loading cost up to 30W. Having said that, from an eco point of view, there is embodied energy in the manufacture of new hard disks, so you may never "save" back the energy you expend in the disk manufacture.

Regarding the parallel port and 690G chipsets, my Asus M2A-VM has a parallel port. Also, my researching earlier suggested that the 6150 based boards with DVI I looked at used about 10W more then the 690G boards.

vanhelmont
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motherboard with two ata channels

Post by vanhelmont » Thu May 31, 2007 3:00 am

If you want to keep your ide drives, the MSI k9vgm-v has 2 channels, and everything, including video and audio, works with Ubuntu 7.04. It has a passively cooled via chipset, and the northbridge feels just slightly warm to the touch. I need to figure out how to monitor temperatures in Linux.
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Re: motherboard with two ata channels

Post by johno » Thu May 31, 2007 3:42 am

vanhelmont wrote:If you want to keep your ide drives, the MSI k9vgm-v has 2 channels, and everything, including video and audio, works with Ubuntu 7.04. It has a passively cooled via chipset, and the northbridge feels just slightly warm to the touch. I need to figure out how to monitor temperatures in Linux.
It has some limitations, like no DVI, only 2 memory slots 2GB RAM limit, but could be an interesting ATI/NVidia alternative with its VIA chipset. From memory, there are 2D linux graphics drivers for VIA.

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Post by sjoukew » Thu May 31, 2007 10:16 am

Don't forget, If you have 1 host OS running and 3 Virtual Operating Systems to play with, you have 3 times more disk IO then without those Virtual environments. Now more then ever the harddisks are the bottlenecks of modern pc's. All startup times from almost all programs are limited to disk speed. The speed of the interface isn't really the problem, but the amount of IO's per second is. So just for the sake of speed I would advice to get a new drive. They don't cost a lot of money, they are as silent as your old drives and a lot faster.
And don't forget if you have 3 VM's to play with, they need 3x disk space for their operating systems. My Windows XP (\windows, \program files, \docs 'n sett's, pagefile and hiberfile) are now 17gb, without games and recored tv etc. (with games and recorded tv it is 140gb)
My guess is that you will fill your disk space faster then you could ever imagine and you will be very happy with a new disk.
In that way you can also keep using your old box if you like to for whatever reason.

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Post by woodsman » Thu May 31, 2007 4:12 pm

those drives just cant be silent with their lengthy age and technology.
They are inaudible. Considering they are enclosed in the computer case --- silent. All three of the Seagate drives are that way. Perhaps I got lucky, perhaps others were unlucky. Mine are silent. :)
you will get like 10x the performance using a modern hd and it will run cool and ultra quiet.
I appreciate your suggestions, but I am not discarding useful components. My hard drives are fast enough for me now with my old motherboard. I have yet to discover how to type faster than my computer can respond!
The 65nm Athlon X2s use less than 10W at idle with CnQ.
Ah! Now there is a number I can understand. Thanks! Such numbers are what I was seeking when I started this thread.
It could be interesting for you to measure the consumption of your current system.
Indeed! I intend to stop at the hardware store the next time I travel into town to see if they have any Kill-o-Watt meters. Possibly look for some el-cheapo digital thermometers too.
It wouldn't surprise me for a modern system to have lower idle draw than the K6-III.
Now that would be great! Even close would be nice.
Also, my researching earlier suggested that the 6150 based boards with DVI I looked at used about 10W more then the 690G boards.
Interesting. Some of the potential motherboards I looked at had DVI output.
If you have 1 host OS running and 3 Virtual Operating Systems to play with, you have 3 times more disk IO then without those Virtual environments. Now more then ever the harddisks are the bottlenecks of modern pc's.
Possibly. I'm willing to cross each bridge only as necessary. As I stated in my original post, any new hardware I obtain will be significantly faster than anything I am accustomed. Even my IDE drives will provide faster throughput because they finally will operate at their ATA-100 rating rather than ATA-33. So right there I already have a theoretical 3x improvement. :shock: Additionally, I'm not a person who hammers a hard drive. I'm the sole user and I seldom multi-task. Right now I have my web browser open and Word 97. That is all and typical of the way I work on a box. Very little disk I/O happening. Speed is nice but not the most important criteria for me.
My guess is that you will fill your disk space faster then you could ever imagine and you will be very happy with a new disk.
You might think. :) But I never have come close to filling either of my 40GB drives. As I stated above, I'm not into videos, MP3s, etc. I'm just not, but even if I wanted to start saving such files, then I'll cross that bridge when appropriate. In the mean time my existing drives will suffice. I keep looking out back but I still do not have a money tree growing there. 8)
In that way you can also keep using your old box if you like to for whatever reason.
Much like when I migrated from my 486 to my then new MMX box, I likely would take 6 months or more to move everything. Thus, my current primary box would remain my primary box for a long while and there would be no rush. This is a personal project, not business, so moving at my traditional rural pace will suffice. :)

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Post by qviri » Thu May 31, 2007 4:38 pm

woodsman wrote:Even my IDE drives will provide faster throughput because they finally will operate at their ATA-100 rating rather than ATA-33. So right there I already have a theoretical 3x improvement. :shock:
Don't get too ahead of yourself ;)

The maximum sustained transfer rate you're going to get from a Barracuda IV is something like 40 MB/s, nowhere close to 100 MB/s. An improvement over ATA-33, yes, but not dramatic.
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Post by ~El~Jefe~ » Thu May 31, 2007 8:35 pm

your choice of keeping those hard drives is irritating.

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Post by woodsman » Thu May 31, 2007 9:43 pm

I found some online reports discussing energy consumption, value, etc.:

Energy Efficiency Duel: Intel Left Out In The Cold

The Power Saving Guide

Which is the Best Mainstream CPU?

Generally, the Intel L2 stepping will provide better performance per watt for the hard-core system crunchers. For people like me who almost never stress a CPU, the AMDs remain the better value.
The maximum sustained transfer rate you're going to get from a Barracuda IV is something like 40 MB/s, nowhere close to 100 MB/s. An improvement over ATA-33, yes, but not dramatic.
Noted. I got carried away trying to be tongue-in-cheek. :) Being rated at ATA-100 means a maximum burst speed that fast, not sustained. Yet, even if hard drive performance remains about the same, I am content with the speed they operate now with my older hardware.
your choice of keeping those hard drives is irritating.
Should I keep my cold feet on my side of the bed tonight, dear? ;)

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Post by MikeC » Thu May 31, 2007 9:48 pm

woodsman wrote:
your choice of keeping those hard drives is irritating.
Should I keep my cold feet on my side of the bed tonight, dear? ;)
touche! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Post by ~El~Jefe~ » Thu May 31, 2007 10:46 pm

sleep on the couch.

I deserve sata.

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Post by sjoukew » Fri Jun 01, 2007 3:37 am

HD Tach
Seagate barracuda 40gb 7200rpm
max 42 mb/s min 25 mb/s random access time 16,2 ms burst speed: 50 mb/s
wdc 320gb 7200 rpm wd3200ks
max 62mb/s min 40mb/s random access 13,8 ms burst speed: 201mb/s

I don't know why, but suddenly I felt the need to benchmark certain things ;)

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Post by mentawl » Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:14 am

I don't want to belabour a point too much, but I've found that one of the single most effective upgrades you can make to an older machine is to upgrade to a newer hard drive. Makes a huge improvement to general desktop work, second only to adding more RAM, in my opinion.

Case in point is the machine I just finished fixing up for my parents. It's nothing special - Duron 1000 with 384mb of RAM and a Geforce2MX, but it used to be running an old (noisy as all else) 40gb Western Digital drive. This drive recently started packing in, and I put in a brand new Seagate 7200.10. The difference in desktop usability is definately noticeable to my eyes.

I appreciate that the old drives are quiet and possibly fast enough for your uses, I'm just pointing out that my experience is that a new HD breathes a significant bit of new life into a PC. I honestly believe the older drives will "drag down" a new PC a little bit. For the amount that a new drive costs nowadays, it seems silly to spend so much on a CPU/whatever else and stick with older HDs which are slower and (quite possible) reaching the end of their usable life into the bargain.

Anyways, just some food for thought :)

--Tom

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Post by Jasper » Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:59 am

Indeed. Hard drives that old significantly increase the risk of losing all your data, which is major pain even if you *do* have proper backups. In addition the parallel ata cables are a major pain airflow-wise, especially when it's more than one.

There's also no way that 3x 40GB Cuda IVs are quieter than a single modern HD (The WD 5000KS was, I believe, the current favourite here -- 500 gigs of "I won't need to use that much in *ages*"). If your mantra is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", you might as well keep using the K6-3+. It will do virtualisation, just very slowly. Hardware VT support is not *that* much faster than doing it in software.

A virtualisation machine (IMHO) needs more grunt -- even at single-user -- than a single-OS machine. What it needs most is RAM, absolute buckets and buckets of it. When you run out of RAM, you need buckets and buckets of HDD performance.

Can you define a bit further which guest OSes you're going to run under the Ubuntu host OS? Keep in mind that most modern OSes -- from Linux to XP to Vista to whatever else you can think of -- like to have at least 1, preferably 2 gigs of ram. You're going to load at a minimum the host and one guest OS into RAM. The host OS won't be doing too much, so won't need that much, but it'll still eat into it a bit. If at some point you want to run two OSes simultaneously -- and you will, for file transfer if nothing else -- 4 gigs might even be better.

Keep in mind that swapping from one guest OS to the other, if their assigned ram is nearly the entirety of physical, amounts to swapping one of them out and the other in from disk. This is where disk performance will be critical. This applies whether you run them simultaneously or subsequent to eachother.

Processor grunt is secondary, but *especially* for a virtualising machine, a dual-core machine is advisable. The single biggest advantage is that if one core is busy doing infinite loops in one OS, the whole computer doesn't stall.

So, my thoughts:

- Antec Solo/P150, P182, or NSK4400. NSK2400 if you'd like a desktop.
- SeaSonic S12 380 (you want the 380 instead of the 330 for the beefier heatsinks), or the NeoHE 430 from the P150 if you like that case colour better.

- Motherboard's a tough one. I've got a couple of 6150 motherboards and they're pretty good, but I understand those are out of date by now. Other people will be able to weigh in more effectively than me. mATX/integrated graphics are probably your best bet. My favourite manufacturer generally is Asus. Replacing the northbridge heatsink with a Zalman ZM-NB47J or NBF47 can be worthwhile, because integrated-graphics northbridges tend to run fairly hot.

- Dual core processor, either something along the lines of an Intel C2D E4300 or an A64 X2 3800+. Depends on the chipset you prefer.
- Scythe Ninja (I'm a big, big fan of them. They're cheap and still very very good).
- Arctic Silver in between the two.
- Some Nexuses[1] as casefans, with Zalman Fanmate 2s to control speed, or possibly speedfan if your chosen motherboard has the software-drive channels.
- 2 or 4x 1 gigabytes of memory, from a reputable merchant like Crucial or Corsair. Even if you only put in 2x1 now, it would be wise to select a motherboard that can take 4x1 for futureproofing purposes. If there's one thing that computers grow hungrier for more quickly these days, it's RAM. Disk performance comes second to that, but only because there's not that much difference from one *modern* drive to the next.

- WD Caviar SE16 500GB WD5000AAKS. You could even put on a two-meter e-SATA leash and put it halfway to another room.
- An SATA DVD burner, for backups if nothing else.

If you absolutely insist on keeping the 'Cudas, make sure you get the P150/Solo or the NSK2400 so you can at least suspend them.


[1] I just fully Nexused my old PC (which'll be the home server soon), an XP 2500+ system, currently residing in an NSK6000. From the Zalman ZM-400A-APF to the Zalman 7000Cu to the casefans. That made an incredible amount of difference even compared to the times when the PSU fan *wasn't* telling me it was dying (and you wouldn't believe how noisy it was when it *was* doing that).

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Post by matt_garman » Fri Jun 01, 2007 6:37 am

Here's the board I've been recommending for people: Biostar Tforce6100 AM2. Pair that with the X2 3600. I built a computer using those specs for my dad and my friend's dad did the same. Both are happy.

Definitely get at least 2 GB of RAM if you plan to run virtual machines. I previously had an AMD X2 3800 with 1 GB of RAM. I run Linux as my host OS and was using VMware to run Windows XP. This setup resulted in occasional mild slowdowns in either the host or guest OS. Now I've got a Core 2 Duo E6600 with 2 GB of RAM, and the same setup flies. I'm sure the problem was memory bound (as opposed to CPU bound). The equation is simple: whatever RAM you give to your guest OS, you instantly remove from your host OS.

You may already know about this, but the Linux kernel recently got built-in virtualization: KVM, kernel-based virtual machine. I haven't had a chance to play with it yet, but it certainly looks promising.

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Re: motherboard with two ata channels

Post by peteamer » Fri Jun 01, 2007 9:44 am

~El~Jefe~ wrote:your choice of keeping those hard drives is irritating.
woodsman wrote:Should I keep my cold feet on my side of the bed tonight, dear? :wink:
~El~Jefe~ wrote:sleep on the couch.

I deserve sata.
ROFLMFAO!!!!... 'Kin Hilarious'... sounds just like me 'n' the missus....... :lol:

vanhelmont wrote:I need to figure out how to monitor temperatures in Linux.
gkrellm


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Post by nzimmers » Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:53 am

I still say mobile chip is the way to go!!

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