4 cores and 6 gb
of 64 bit goodness
I was regularly using more than 2gb of ram on my main desktop, and swapping was killing me. So I decided to decided to add more, however there was a problem; the 32 bit version of Windows XP i was using does not support more than 4gb. Even worse, due to the way memory ranges are allocated for device drivers, I would not be able to use more than 2.5gb on my machine (a lot of IO cards using mem ranges, and 2 256mb video cards). Windows XP used to support more than 4gb of address space by using a mode called Page Address Extension, however Mircrosoft removed this support in SP2! Apparently driver writers were not thorough in their assumptions about mappable ranges and this was causing a lot of issues with supporting larger ram configs. Keep in mind that 32 bit versions of 2000 and 2003 all support more than 4gb of ram.
This meant it was time to consider a 64 bit version of Windows. A quick look at Windows XP Pro 64 indicates that it breaks everything and drivers are hard to come by. So I opted for Vista Ultimate 64bit. I heartily recommend buying the OEM version from Newegg since its half the cost of retail. A quick check revealed that all of my hardware would have drivers.
The goodsOf course, one of my problems is “If it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet” so rather than just doubling the ram to 4gb, I opted to make it 6…oh and replace those aging Opteron 244s while I’m at it with 2 dual core 275s.
Before the upgrade
The machine was a bit dirty before the upgrade, and I opted not to remove the bar in the photo since I have a ton of cables on the underside of it (scsi, power, fan speed, etc).
Socket 1 after install
All the slots filled by cpu 1, clearner, but not quite clean enough.
Good newsAfter flashing all the various bits of firmware, and installing everything it was time to cross my fingers and boot it up. Success, yes I know those RAM latencies wouldn’t be acceptable to an overclocker, but socket 940 requires registered/buffered ECC, so there isn’t any point in blowing money on OMG BLING RAM
The install of Vista was insanely easy; boot from the dvd, partition the disk, enter the key and let it go. It was pretty quick too, took less than an hour.
Drives A vanity shot of the drives
Polar ChallengeUpdate:Bonus! I got a 20-30 degree celsius drop in cpu temps, an 8 percent drop in power load at the UPS and most importantly, I can play the 1080p h.264 version of Top Gear’s Polar Challenge.