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8-core Xeon 5400 series overclocking

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hello overclocking experts, I'm new here and created an account to discuss overclocking my "Workstation".

Although I searched the forums and didn't find much about this particular chipset/CPU, I'm hoping one of you reading might have some experience with it (or at least the Skulltrail variant).

My system has:
  • Supermicro SC743TQ-865B workstation chassis (with a high quality 865W Supermicro power supply)
  • Tyan i5400PW (S5397) workstation motherboard (Intel 5400 chipset "Seaburg", with 6321ESB I/O controller and 2x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots, supports dual 150W TDP 3.4 GHz processors and up to 128 GB of 1600MHz memory)
  • Dual E5420 CPUs (2x quad core "Harpertown" @2.5 GHz, 1333 MHz FSB, 80W TDP)
  • HIS Radeon HD6850 1 GB video card
  • ATI FirePro V5700 512 GB video card
  • 64 GB Kingston server 1333 MHz FB-DIMMS with ECC (fully buffered), configuration is 16x 4GB FB-DIMMS (all 16 FB-DIMM slots in the motherboard are filled)
  • 6 500GB Seagate hard drives, 2 in RAID 0 for boot/OS/software and 4 in a short stroked RAID 0 for high speed I/O used when running Ansys FEA simulations
  • Asus Xonar DX sound card (PCIe 1x)
  • Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speakers
  • Lite-On Blueray combination drive

The motherboard's stock FSB is rated for up to 1600 MHz when using both CPUs spec'd for 1600 MHz and memory spec'd for 1600 MHz (the CPU and memory clocks are locked together). The base clock on the motherboard runs at 333 MHz stock with the current CPU and RAM, but is spec'd to run at up to 400 MHz.

Currently I have the HD6850 video card running at 850/1135 MHz (stock is 775/1000 MHz stock) for the GPU and memory. This is about as fast as it will run without artifacting (although the GPU itself has a little room left). The FirePro V5700 video card runs at stock speeds, but only the HD6850 is used for gaming.

For the memory, CPU and chipset, I am running it currently with a 351 MHz base clock (stock is 333 MHz) giving me a CPU clock of 2.63 GHz and memory clock of 1404 MHz. I have not tried pushing it past 355 MHz because I'm a little concerned there might be a risk of actually damaging something. It was 100% stable at 355 MHz so there is more room to go. Unfortunately I can't touch voltages, multipliers, memory wait states, etc. All I can do is crank up the base clock (and the PCIe/PCI clock if I want to).

So - my question for you is have any of you overclocked this particular motherboard/CPU combination before? How far did you take it? Have you ever heard of the system being damaged at all?

I've overclocked many regular PCs in the past, but since this system cost roughly $10,000 I'm not as willing to just crank it up without doing a little research first. My guess is it shouldn't hurt anything, at least up to a base clock of 400 MHz since the motherboard is spec'd for this and both the memory and CPU are both available running at this speed (same multipliers, voltage, etc. - just a faster base clock).

I should also mention that this system used to run very hot when being pushed hard (at stock speeds). To keep it cool it now has a pair of Supermicro 6 heatpipe CPU coolers keeping each CPU cool (coolers are rated for 150 W CPUs) along with two 80 mm fans blowing directly on the memory in addition to the 9 stock case fans (for a total of 13 cooling fans). The memory used to get up to 120 °C but now stays in the mid 80's when pushed extremely hard. The CPUs used to overheat (and throttle) at about 70°C, but now stay below 65°C (and the CPU and stock case fans are not at full speed).

How far can I push this system safely?
Edited by HTSlider - 2/5/11 at 11:48am
post #2 of 18
Given the high temps you are reporting, I would not recommend OCing much at all-until you have temps better under control. I'd guess you have serious airflow problems in your case...

That's a nice workstation rig BTW.
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post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skripka;12273032 
Given the high temps you are reporting, I would not recommend OCing much at all-until you have temps better under control. I'd guess you have serious airflow problems in your case...

That's a nice workstation rig BTW.

What part of the system do you consider thermally out of control? Do you have a dual quad Intel 5400 series system with 16 FB-DIMMS that runs cooler? My understanding (through discussions with Intel, Kingston, Tyan and Supermicro) is the current temperatures are well within acceptable limits for this particular hardware.

Keep in mind that although not being currently used anywhere near the max at the moment, the system has the potential for ridiculous airflow (there are many 5000 rpm high CFM fans in the case). The fans are currently controlled by the motherboard (to Intel's specifications). According to Intel, they expect these processors to run at close to 65°C all the time so the fans are not supposed to start to crank up very much until above this. I spoke to Intel about this back when the stock Intel coolers let the temperatures get into throttling range (I was not impressed) and Intel insists that this was by design. According to Intel, they actually expect these processors to bump against the throttling temperatures limits if pushed at 100% non-stop (using the stock Intel CPU coolers). They claim this doesn't occur enough to slow the overall performance down and that the chips will run forever while bumping against the throttling thermal limiter. I didn't consider this reasonable so I installed the pair of 150W TDP Supermicro CPU coolers to keep the temperatures down and noise levels very low with the autofan controller enabled (the fans typically run at about 1800 rpm after a long time with the CPUs at 100%; I believe they are 4000 rpm fans).

The memory is the same sort of situation and similar to how I opened tech support calls with Intel about the CPU temperatures, I also did the same with Kingston about the memory temperatures. According to Kingston they expect these FB-DIMMS to normally run in the 100°C to 115°C range when used in a heavily loaded server or workstation. Unfortunately with the stock cooling setup it used to get as high as 119°C when only 4 FB-DIMMS were used for heavy number crunching (small range of memory being accessed constantly (quad channel) instead of all 64 GB being used uniformly. Now, with the extra fans, the worst memory temperatures are about 89°C and believe me there is a HUGE amount of air blowing on them to keep them this cool (the pair of fans dedicated to the RAM just run at full speed all the time, but luckily at 2800 rpm they aren't too loud inside the case). When running an application that works all of the memory (or a typical game) the temperatures don't get much over 70°C. According to Kingston, less than 90°C (when being pushed) is considered extremely cool for this memory, especially when 16 FB-DIMMS are installed directly beside each other. These FB-DIMMS each have their own "memory processor" (hence fully buffered) and these things generate allot of heat (if I recall correctly from talking with Kingston, as much as 35W each when being used heavily).

If I disable the automatic fan controller and fix the fans at 100% the noise is insane. As far as I'm concerned the system is unusable and I would get a headache (or go deaf) in no time. I tested the thermal capability of the system by blocking all of the air intakes and then running Prime95 on all 8 cores for about an hour. The temperatures didn't even get 1°C higher than they do with the intakes open - but the noise became ridiculous towards the end of the test. I do expect the noise will be unacceptable if I overclock it much, but my thinking is I would only crank it up when I really want the extra power.

Although I don't know for certain that heat won't become an issue if I crank it up, for certain the cooling system still has a lot more capacity when running at current speeds.

I haven't researched Skulltrail systems, but I assume they must also run just as hot - don't they? Did Intel somehow make them support regular memory instead of the power hungry FB-DIMMS? Aren't the CPUs on Skulltrail systems also designed to run in the 65°C range?
Edited by HTSlider - 2/5/11 at 1:07pm
post #4 of 18
A bit off-topic but what case are you using?
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post #5 of 18
he's probably using the stock intel oversized case

OP make sure your northbridge temps are reasonable and continue raising the FSB and voltage until you are happy with the performance.
Edited by trinstac - 2/5/11 at 3:34pm
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenixlight;12275242 
A bit off-topic but what case are you using?

I listed the case in my first post here. It is the Supermicro SC743TQ-865B workstation chassis (http://www.supermicro.com/products/chassis/4U/743/SC743TQ-865.cfm)

It is a 56 lb monster "case" that is big enough to easily fit the enhanced ATX (E-ATX) Tyan Tempest motherboard. It uses four 5000 rpm fans located in the center of the case plus 2 5000 rpm rear fans located at the rear that suck the air through an air shroud over the FB-DIMMs. The fans are 38mm thick (regular PC fans are about 25mm) and each one flows 68.3 CFM when running at 5000 rpm. They also each produce an incredible 45 dB of noise when running at full speed. When my system isn't being used hard, they idle at about 1100 rpm. As the temperatures start to climb, especially the CPUs, they increase in rpm. With the cpu at 63°C (all CPUs running at 100% for a while), most of the fans are still fairly quiet at about 1800 rpm. If I plug up the air intake (as a test), once the CPUs get up to about 66°C or the motherboard's northbridge gets up to about 50°C, the fans all hit their max rpms (6x 68.3 cfm case fans at 5000 rpm, 2x ~45 cfm CPU fans at 4000 rpm, 2 PSU fans at about 3500 rpm, front hard drive fan at about 3500 rpm, and the two fixed rpm FB-DIMM fans always run at 2800 rpm). The FB-DIMM fans are regular, decent quality PC fans that I purchased locally (they are much thinner than the "server" fans used everywhere else).

As I mentioned before, there is plenty of air flow when the temperature rises enough. The sound is insane though. Literally I can't sit beside the workstation comfortably as it makes something like 70 dB of white noise, combined with the high pitched whine of the high speed fans. As I keep trying to point out, I really don't think overheating is an issue at this moment.

For those that still believe I need to increase the air flow you can take a look at the spec's for the main chassis fans here:

http://www.supermicro.com/support/resources/Thermal/index.cfm
(scan down to part # FAN-0082L4).
Edited by HTSlider - 2/5/11 at 4:09pm
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by HTSlider;12275633 
I listed the case in my first post here. It is the Supermicro SC743TQ-865B workstation chassis (http://www.supermicro.com/products/chassis/4U/743/SC743TQ-865.cfm)

It is a 56 lb monster "case" that is big enough to easily fit the enhanced ATX (E-ATX) Tyan Tempest motherboard. It uses four 5000 rpm fans located in the center of the case plus 2 5000 rpm rear fans located at the rear that suck the air through an air shroud over the FB-DIMMs. The fans are 38mm thick (regular PC fans are about 25mm) and each one flows 68.3 CFM when running at 5000 rpm. They also each produce an incredible 45 dB of noise when running at full speed. When my system isn't being used hard, they idle at about 1100 rpm. As the temperatures start to climb, especially the CPUs, they increase in rpm. With the cpu at 63°C (all CPUs running at 100% for a while), most of the fans are still fairly quiet at about 1800 rpm. If I plug up the air intake (as a test), once the CPUs get up to about 66°C or the motherboard's northbridge gets up to about 50°C, the fans all hit their max rpms (6x 68.3 cfm case fans at 5000 rpm, 2x ~45 cfm CPU fans at 4000 rpm, 2 PSU fans at about 3500 rpm, front hard drive fan at about 3500 rpm, and the two fixed rpm FB-DIMM fans always run at 2800 rpm). The FB-DIMM fans are regular, decent quality PC fans that I purchased locally.

As I mentioned before, there is plenty of air flow when the temperature rises enough. The sound is insane though. Literally I can't sit beside the workstation comfortably as it makes something like 70 dB of white noise, combined with the high pitched whine of the high speed fans. As I keep trying to point out, I really don't think overheating is an issue at this moment.

For those that still believe I need to increase the air flow you can take a look at the spec's for the main chassis fans here:

http://www.supermicro.com/support/resources/Thermal/index.cfm
(scan down to part # FAN-0082L4).

Well you're using a server rack, of course it is loud. wink.gif

You could watercool it, resulting in much lower noise and much better temps. Considering how much money I think you spent thus far-the blocks/rad/pump/res wouldn't be that much more.
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post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skripka;12275701 
Well you're using a server rack, of course it is loud. wink.gif

You could watercool it, resulting in much lower noise and much better temps. Considering how much money I think you spent thus far-the blocks/rad/pump/res wouldn't be that much more.

But it is NOT loud unless I plug up the air intake and run the system hard. Right now as I type this the fans are all running at around 1100 rpm and I can hardly hear them. It is a virtually silent workstation.

Only when the system is working at 100% load with all 8 cores do the fans increase in rpm enough to even notice them. As I have said several times now, they run at below or around 2000 rpm when the system is at full load for extended periods of time (I run finite element simulations that sometimes take as long as 24 hours). At 2000 rpm the sound level is still not a problem - very similar to a typical PC with regular fans. The fans do spin up to similar levels (not quite as loud) when playing GTA IV for a few hours too, but again the noise is not an issue at current clock settings. The fan on the HD6850 is at least as loud as the rest of the case fans when gaming.

It might get loud with a serious overclock but I'm not there yet. Personally I'm not convinced that watercooling makes the most sense for this system anyway (I did consider it when I was specing it out and building it). There are several hot chips on the motherboard in addition to the CPUs that would need to be cooled if there wasn't a fair bit of air flowing through the case. Even more to the point, the 16 FB-DIMM modules produce at least as much heat as the CPUs and they would be almost impossible to water cool.
Edited by HTSlider - 2/5/11 at 4:22pm
post #9 of 18
Actually not. If you have someone that makes you a custom waterblock for 16 dimms, not only it would be quite useful but it could also be AMAZING.
     
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post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwiasian;12275358 
If I could give you negative rep, I would.
I don't see any reason why you can't max out crysis on a 6850.
He already said he was using 0xAA.

I don't know why he doesn't believe it can either. Crysis runs extremely well on it IMO.

I don't know if there is a built in benchmark but I downloaded the "CrysisBenchmarkTool1.05" and ran it. For some reason the benchmark doesn't seem to work properly with the current version of Crysis (or possibly the issue might be Vista 64-bit Ultimate or something?). It was able to turn on a FPS indicator while playing Crysis though, but it did not run through a specific sequence nor did it save the results.

With every single setting on Very High and 2xAA (benchmark tool reporting "Ultra-HDR development mode" whatever that means) and a resolution of 1920x1200:
  • The game starts off at 60 fps during the introduction.
  • The worst performance occurs when the plan flies ahead and the view is from behind. Here it drops to as low as 20 fps at times and you can see it getting too low to look good.
  • Then during the air drop, the frame rate varies between 35 and 50.
  • Once in the water it stabilizes as just under 40.
  • Once on land the frame rate remained at 40-50 as I climbed onto the beach and looked around a bit.
I noticed that when I enable v-sinc (which I usually do because I hate the tearing when spinning around quickly), the frame rate flips between 30 and 60. Most of the time it is solidly locked at 30 fps and it doesn't drop below this. 30 fps actually looks very good in my opinion with this game (although it doesn't "sound as good" as 40-50 fps...).

I ran the built in benchmark with GTA IV and it showed the following:
Statistics
Average FPS: 44.33
Duration: 37.52 sec
CPU Usage: 37%
System memory usage: 15%
Video memory usage: 78%

Graphics Settings
Video Mode: 1920 x 1200 (60 Hz)
Texture Quality: High
Shadow Quality: High
Reflection Resolution: High
Water Quality: Very High
Texture Filter Quality: Anisotropic x4
Night Shadows: Off
View Distance: 80
Detail Distance: 80

Hardware
Microsoft® Windows Vista" Ultimate
Service Pack 2
Video Adapter: AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series
Video Driver version: 8.17.10.1063
Audio Adapter: Speakers (ASUS Xonar DX Audio Device)

Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5420 @ 2.50GHz

Even though GTA IV "claims" 44 fps, the game is jerky and the choppiness gets to me after a while. I don't believe it is really running at 44 fps. It looks more like 20 fps to me. On top of this I have the view distance dropped down to 80%. I also tried dropping Anisotropic Filtering to 2x and it hardly helped at all. Note all of this was done with the motherboard's base clock at 355 MHz (stock is 333) and the video card at 850/1135 (stock is 775/1000).

I'm going to try slowly cranking up the base clock and see how things go. I would really like to hear from someone who overclocked a Skulltrail system or even better an Intel 5400 series based workstation.

Those of you simply complaining about using a workstation for gaming really aren't contributing to answering my questions.

Obviously a modern, dedicated high end gaming system with an i7 or i5-2600k will produce superior gaming results but I have no desire to purchase a new system (I actually already have 3 other systems semi-available, but my children and wife use them; these are all P55-UD4P/P55-UD3 systems with slightly overclocked i3-560's (3.6GHz) or i5-760's (3.4GHz) and HD6850 video cards).

With the exception to GTA IV this system handles games just fine. I haven't tried it on the i5-760/P55-UD4P/HD6850, but Crisis plays perfectly on that system as well as my workstation.

One thing I just noticed about GTA IV is it reported using 15% of my system memory. If true that means it is using just under 10 GB!

I'm not sure how many CPU's GTA IV supports, but it does not look like it supports 8 (or the video card could possibly be the bottleneck). At 37%, it "might" be using 3 cores (or possibly not fully utilizing 4 cores somehow).
Quote:
Originally Posted by trinstac;12275256 
he's probably using the stock intel oversized case

OP make sure your northbridge temps are reasonable and continue raising the FSB and voltage until you are happy with the performance.

Unfortunately since this board is not designed for overclocking, there is no way to raise the voltage (that I know of).

The board is designed to run with a base clock of 400 MHz and FSB of 1600 MHz though so the board itself can be cranked up using SetFSB (software) to as high as 400 MHz bclk/1600 MHz FSB without being overclocked.

The memory and CPU are spec'd for an FSB of 1333 MHz and they have fixed multipliers so they are being overclocked as I increase the base clock and I don't have any voltage adjustment to help improve stability (I can actually change the FB-DIMM voltage between 1.5V and 1.8V, but it is already running at 1.8V which is stock for the particular Kingston memory I'm using).
Edited by HTSlider - 2/5/11 at 4:55pm
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