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The dual XEON box takes shape 7 November 2000
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This 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.
While 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 case
The 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 motherboard
The 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
The 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.

I'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 do
I'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 pictures
If you click on the picture, you will be taken to an image about 600x500, roughly 70K-127K.  If you click on that one, you'll get the large version, which are 1152x864 and vary in size from 221K-387K.


The empty case click for larger image The CPU handles, one attached, one detached. click for larger image
The SuperMicro motherboard click for larger image The CPUs. click for larger image
The CPU retention device. click for larger image The fans on the CPU retention device, outside view click for larger image
The fans on the CPU retention device, inside view click for larger image One CPU installed click for larger image
Both CPUs installed, side view click for larger image The assembly zone click for larger image

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