The Motherboards, Memory and Processors

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Because of our decision to put each of the prominent and separate parts of on separate servers, our hardware selection job was made a bit easier. For the most part, all three of the new servers will have the same hardware with the exception of the hard drives. Careful planning was needed for all of this to go smoothly, so Warren and I set to looking for the best hardware in terms of quality, speed and reliability. I certainly didn’t want to be replacing parts every week or to be trying to upgrade the servers yet again this summer.

The Motherboard

The critical part of any machine lies in the circuit board that everything plugs into: the motherboard. Our previous servers had been running on the Tyan Thunder K7 and the Tyan Tiger MP motherboards for a while without any hiccups or problems that weren’t related to our software problems. After testing both of the latest offerings from Tyan recently, the Tyan Tiger MPX and the Tyan Thunder K7X and seeing that the stability and speed were still there with the addition of the extra features, going with Tyan for our motherboard of choice on servers seemed essential. Server Upgrade Summer 2002 - Systems 11
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My choice for all three of our servers was to use the new Tyan Thunder K7X motherboard based on the AMD-760 MPX chipset from AMD. The server world is what this motherboard was designed for and it had the features and options that would make our new servers fast and reliable – and upgradeable.

Dual processors were a definite must in our high-speed servers. The inclusion of 4 DDR DIMM slots made the memory we need easier to decide on and allowed us to put as much memory as we could afford in the machines. The dual 10/100 network adapters allowed us to have the connectivity options we wanted to have connections to both the external network and an internal network between the three new systems. The on-board video would make installation easier and less expensive. Finally, the on-board SCSI features would allow us to have a fast I/O subsystem on all three servers, and with the inclusion of the 0-channel RAID feature, we could push the systems I/O system even further.

You can read more about all the features and speed of the Tyan Thunder K7X motherboard by checking out my review of it or visiting the Tyan website.

The Processors

This was perhaps the easiest choice for me to make. 🙂 We just wanted the most powerful processors that were available at the time for our dual-processor setup. AMD was kind enough to help out and we now have a total of 6 Athlon MP 2000+ processors pushing the website to you. The MP 2000+ was the fastest MP chip available at the time and with the coming Socket A processors enhancements, we should be able to keep upgrading these processors until the release of the Hammer processor and our next server. Now that will be a fun article! Server Upgrade Summer 2002 - Systems 12
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The Memory

Choosing memory for your system, whether it is for a home system or a server, is very important to the stability and speed of the system. Getting the wrong memory can result in countless errors and crashes that are difficult to diagnose. As our web servers were to be running 24 hours a day for years (hopefully) we needed the best in stable memory platforms. Server Upgrade Summer 2002 - Systems 13
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For this we went to our friends at Crucial memory. With the release of the 512 MB DDR modules, their chips were a good choice for We have had all different kinds of memory here being tested at and even in our PC3000 Memory Comparison article we saw that the Crucial memory was extremely stable and fast enough to compete with the overclocking kings. Server Upgrade Summer 2002 - Systems 14
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One of the features that our server memory required that most home systems would not is the use of ECC memory. ECC is the acronym for Error Correction Code and this memory is able to make single bit data corrections on the fly that may have otherwise caused a crash on standard memory. Even though the ECC memory does have slightly slower performance than non-parity memory, the difference is very small at about 2% and the added stability and peace of mind you get with ECC memory is good in a server environment. Of course, you also are required to have registered ECC memory if you would like to populate all four of the DDR DIMM slots on the Tyan Thunder K7X motherboard, and we did want to do this.

Crucial memory offered us all of this at a very reasonable price.

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