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8-core Xeon 5400 series overclocking - Page 2

post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHNS0;12275896 
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.

What sort of a thermal interface to the RAM are you thinking of?

About the only thing I can think of is to take a chunk of aluminum, core it out a little, drill/tap a couple of hose barb fittings, and then mill fine slots into it that will "just" semi-tightly fit over the RAM when installed on the motherboard. I'd have to get some thermal paste in there somehow too. I don't really think this would work very well. Really you would need to clamp down on each FB-DIMM somehow. Maybe a stack of copper plates with alternating thickness and sizes to clamp across the memory, but then I'd need to find a way to interface a block above that somehow and....

I do agree that the memory and keeping it cool enough to really overclock might be my biggest issue. This memory is insanely hot due to the active memory controller/buffer (AMB) on each module. The CPUs might handle a decent amount of overclock since I've read that the regular non-Xeon versions of the same processors overclock well.

If 1600 MHz memory had been cheaper I would have bought it in the beginning and underclocked it to 1333 MHz (until I experimented with overclocking the CPUs). At the time 1600 MHz RAM was more than double the price per GB, plus this was for 2 GB modules so I'd be maxed out at 32 GB. I needed at least 48 GB for the work I do and memory size has a much bigger influence on finite element analysis solution times (for large models) than clock rate.

Recently 1600 MHz and 1333 MHz FB-DIMMs have come much closer in price, but I already have the 1333 MHz parts...

BTW, here is a website that "boasts" the benifits of FB-DIMMs http://www.valueram.com/fb-dimm/default.asp. The reality is FB-DIMMs don't work anywhere near as well as they were supposed to and the memory bandwidth isn't even as good as current i5/i7 performance. Actually the full stream bandwidth isn't too bad, but the latency is.
Edited by HTSlider - 2/5/11 at 5:57pm
post #12 of 18
I like his system smile.gif And "maxing" out a game is personal preference. I can max out Crysis at 1080p, it will just run at 20fps. It's still technically maxed out. If the definition demands 60fps, I seriously doubt ANY system ever built can run a game like Crysis or Metro 2033 without ever slowing down.

But I second the moving to an SR-2 system, it can OC way better then a pure server board smile.gif Anybody making fun of your system can go suck a radiator. Workstation, gaming rig, it's all welcome here.
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post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MCBrown.CA;12276375 
On topic: OP can I ask why you are using a $10K+ workstation build for any sort of gaming? And more importantly... why does a $10K+ workstation have Vista on it?

I mainly do finite element analysis for a living so "my PC" needs to be a machine with lots of memory if I want to be competitive in the market. I don't really need ultra CPU speeds as long as there is enough memory to load the entire finite element matrix into core memory (although once there is enough memory for an in-core solve, processing power is fairly close to inversly proportional to solve times so faster is still better).

It used to be that specialized, extremely expensive 64-bit computers were needed for this type of work, but times have changed. Starting a couple of years ago, a "PC like" workstation running Vista Ultimate 64-bit became the ideal choice because it supports 64-bit processors, up to 128 GB of memory and most importantly 64-bit Ansys had been ported to Vista 64-bit (it used to run only on Unix/Solaris/Irix/etc.). On top of that SolidWorks and Solid Edge both run on it too. All 3 applications that I use regularly run very well on it and no other OS can run all 3 and handle the amount of memory I need (other than Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate today).

On top of that, if you price out different hardware options (Sun, SGI, Cray, IBM, HP, etc.) it turns out that the best FEA computing system per dollar is an Intel multi-processor Xeon system with lots of memory running Vista 64-bit Ultimate (or Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate if I was to buy it today).

To give you a little comparison, my last workstation was a Sun V40z with 4 dual core Opteron AMD processors and 32 GB of RAM. Bought around 2004 it cost roughly $60,000 and I had to also have a CAD workstation to run the CAD software (SolidWorks at the time). The CAD workstation cost something like $5000 itself. My workstation prior to the Sun was an SGI that cost over $100,000 and going back to the 1990's, my first FEA workstation (SGI) cost something like $400,000 (if I recall correctly it started with 512MB of RAM and was later upgraded to something like 2GB - for something like $200,000).

This Intel Xeon 5400 series workstation, running Vista, only cost $2500 (Canadian $) initially (single processor + 8 GB of RAM + ATI HD4850) and I was able to start working on my own, consulting from home, with a system that could easily be upgraded into a very capable FEA workstation (once I got my first contract). Now that I've been working for close to two years I've increased the RAM to 64 GB, added a second CPU, and added a 1/2 decent CAD video card (FirePro V5700). In it's current configuration this system completely blows the doors off every previous workstation I've used, including the old 8-core Sun workstation and it cost a small fraction of the price. On top of that, since it runs Vista it can not only run my CAD software very well but it can also run Microsoft Office for report and presentation generation, Windows Live Mail for e-mail, etc. To top it off I don't even need a different computer to play games. By simply throwing in a 1/2 decent mid-range gaming card into an unused PCIe 2.0 x16 slot I've got an adequate gaming machine for when I want to play a game.

BTW, the total amount of money I've spent on this system is less than $10k in Canadian $, including all taxes, shipping, OS, CPU coolers, extra cooling fans, extra memory, extra hard drives, etc. Buying the same system from Dell would have cost roughly double the price - before tax.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by HTSlider;12276768 
What sort of a thermal interface to the RAM are you thinking of?

About the only thing I can think of is to take a chunk of aluminum, core it out a little, drill/tap a couple of hose barb fittings, and then mill fine slots into it that will "just" semi-tightly fit over the RAM when installed on the motherboard. I'd have to get some thermal paste in there somehow too. I don't really think this would work very well. Really you would need to clamp down on each FB-DIMM somehow. Maybe a stack of copper plates with alternating thickness and sizes to clamp across the memory, but then I'd need to find a way to interface a block above that somehow and.....

Something like that.
Or, 4 of something like this together:

EK-RAM-Dominator-Acetal.jpg

Xeons use quad channel right? That means You need to find a block for 4 dimms and get 4 of em. But that would be kind of expensive, I think.
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post #15 of 18
Just buy a whole motherload of these.

http://www.koolance.com/water-cooling/product_info.php?product_id=860

Will cost a pretty penny, not to mention you'll need tons of connectors, but I think they look rather sexy cool.gif
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post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHNS0;12277695 
Something like that.
Or, 4 of something like this together:

EK-RAM-Dominator-Acetal.jpg

Xeons use quad channel right? That means You need to find a block for 4 dimms and get 4 of em. But that would be kind of expensive, I think.

It is running quad channel memory but I actually have 16 FB-DIMMs installed (4 GB each).

I did some more Internet research into overclocking this system and in one of the threads found an interesting FB-DIMM water cooling setup. You can check it out here:

http://forums.overclockers.com.au/showthread.php?t=714778

I also found several threads where SkullTrail owners overclocked their 5400 series systems. It looks like the e5420 processors are good for about 3.2-3.5 GHz and they like to run at stock voltage levels. My 1333 MHz memory is likely my weakest link for overclocking.

So far I've cranked the base clock up to 387.2 MHz which bumps the CPU up to 2.9 GHz. It is still 100% stable running Prime95 on all 8 cores.

According to HWMonitor the (stabilized) temperatures haven't moved much either (CPUs are cooler if anything), but the fans are definitely a bit louder.

One thing that did concern me a little was starting with an idling system, when I ran Prime95 on all 8 cores, the CPUs climbed up to 68°C before the fans start to rev up.

Once the fans rev up and everything stabilizes, the CPUs are now down to a reasonable 60°C.

The way it actually went, the fans started screaming when the CPUs got to 68°C and the CPU temps very quickly dropped to about 57°C. After about 15 seconds the fans slowed down to a more reasonable level and the CPU temperatures slowly climbed back to 60°C and stayed there. The fans are still definitely louder than at stock speeds. The rear FB-DIMM fans (the stock ones, not the ones I added) are spinning at 3160 rpm and the internal case fans are all spinning at 2188 rpm. The CPU fans are at 2250 rpm. At stock speeds most of the fans don't go much over 2000 rpm ever.

68°C is pushing it a bit since thermal throttling starts to kick in at anything over 67°C (although I didn't see CPU-Z reporting any drop in clock rate).

The memory temperatures are still OK. High by most of your standards in the low 90°C range, but totally stock (without the extra fans) they run in the 110-115°C and I've seen them get as high as 120°C in the summer. Without the overclock, but with my extra fans the FB-DIMMs typically don't go above 90°C, even in the summer.

I'm guessing I'll be able to push this system to at least 3.0 GHz (400 MHz base clock), which is the stock speed for the e5450 processors (the e5450's are identical to the e5420's I have except they have a 400 MHz base clock instead of 333 MHz).

EDIT: Correction-the e5450 runs a 1333 FSB with a 9x multiplier. I'm actually currently running close to the stock speeds for the X5472 which runs at 3.0GHz with a 1600 FSB and a 7.5 multiplier (the e5420's that I have run stock at 2.5 GHz/1333FSB with a 7.5 multiplier).

Prime95 has been running on all 8 cores for about an hour at 2.9 GHz so far. The CPU temperatures for some wierd reason are actually running cooler at 2.9GHz than at 2.5GHz (they typically run just under or at 65°C at 2.5GHz).

BTW, I've searched the web as much as I know how and I have not been able to find a single other person who has overclocked the motherboard I have (Tyan Tempest i5400PW otherwise known as the Tyan S5397).

I'm surprised to be honest. With all of the interest in the Skull Trail platform (there is quite a bit if you search), I'm surprised no one else decided to build a system using Tyan's top of the line motherboard. There are many discussions where people "think about" going with this board, but they always end up going with Intel's actual Skull Trail or Asus's equivalent instead for their 8-core gaming rigs.

Unlike a typical "server" motherboard, this particular board includes dual PCIe x16 slots and supports dual ATI video cards in Crossfire mode. With the quad channel memory the memory bandwidth was pretty good in its day (not as good as Intel's i5/i7 quick path interface though). It also has a decent PCIe/PCI slot layout that allows a high end audio card to be installed (such as the Asus Xonar DX http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=R3E8hhLCEgwyAOt9 that I went with).

The main reason I went with this board was the 16 memory slots so I could get my 64 GB without spending a fortune (8GB FB-DIMMS cost a fortune, but 4GB ones are relatively cheap). I also wanted dual video card support (using high bandwidth PCIe 2.0 x16 slots) so I could have both a decent gaming and decent CAD video card installed. I also liked the fact that it has a decent RAID controller built in to support the 8 hot swappable drive bays in my case (I get a sustained read and write rate of above 450 MB/s over the entire 4-drive RAID 0 "short stroked" array of 500 GB single platter Seagate drives - which is better than most solid state drives). Finally the onboard dual gigabit NIC works well with my Cisco SLM2008 switch using LACP teaming for 2Gbps throughput (our P55A-UD4P based system is also running a dual gigabit LACP team to the same switch and the dual RAID 0 drives provide over 250 MB/s throughput so we can actually take advantage of the extra performance - files transfer extremely quickly).

Oh well, I guess I'm on my own... Prime95 has been running for several hours now. Time to shut it down and see how well GTA IV plays with the CPUs at 2.9 GHz...

GTA IV was a little better, but still not fantastic at 2.9GHz.

I turned down the view distance and detail settings to about 70% and the frame rate looked to be about 25-40 depending on how much complexity was in the view. The system was perfectly stable during both several hours of Prime95 on all 8 cores and during a couple of hours of GTA IV.

I've now cranked up the base clock to 400 MHz. My CPU is now running at stock speeds for the X5472 or 3.0 GHz with a 1600 MHz FSB (stock for my e5420(s) is 2.5 GHz with a 1333 MHz FSB) and my memory is now running at stock settings for 1600 MHz RAM (stock is 1333 MHz). This is a modest 20% overclock for both the CPU and RAM, but the motherboard and chipset are just running at top rated speeds (not overclocked).

Prime95 has so far been running for about 15 minute as I type this. This time the fans started to kick in when the CPUs got to 63°C. Again the fans overcompensated at first, but not as badly this time. CPU0 is currently 57°C and CPU1 is currently 59°C.

One of the FB-DIMMs has just hit 101°C (3 others are at 95-97°C), but the rest are all in the high 70°C to 85°C range. I find it greatly depends on which region of memory that Prime95 is running in as to which FB-DIMM(s) become hot. If I stop it, run something else, and then start Prime95 again, it will typically be a different FB-DIMM that gets the hottest. Prime95 tends to be extremely hard on four FB-DIMMs due to how it pounds on only 4 FB-DIMMs at a time. When running Ansys and using all 64 GB the FB-DIMMs tend to spread out the heat amongst them all. Prime95 just started the 8k test and all of the FB-DIMMs dropped into the 70°C to 90°C range.

Without additional cooling for the FB-DIMMs this is about the fastest I'm comfortable with. The system is still Prime95 stable (so far) - about 30 minutes so far. For some reason the CPUs are running cooler at 3.0GHz than they did at 2.9GHz, but the fans are also running a little faster (2500 rpm is the slowest fan, while the stock FB-DIMM fans are spinning at 3600 rpm). To be honest the fan noise is getting to the point where I would not want to sit beside the workstation for hours on end, but the only thing that will push it this hard is solving a large finite element model (not running any game). I'm sure it will be quieter playing GTA IV.

With Prime95 still running the CPUs have peaked at 60°C and 61°C.

Here are a few images:

I have to say I'm very pleased with the results. The system is 100% stable running at the speed as if I had a pair of 3.0 GHz X5472 processors along with 64 GB of 1600MHz FB-DIMMs.

I suspect that the "Extreme series" X5472 processors are actually 100% identical to the E5420's except they are just binned and labelled as X5472's. Even the TDP ratings make sense:
  • The E5420's are rated at: 80W, 2.5GHz, 12MB cache, 1333FSB and 7.5x multiplier.
  • The X5472's are rated at: 120W, 3.0GHz, 12MB cache, 1600FSB and 7.5x multiplier.

I haven't checked the prices today, but when I built this system the X5472 processors were selling for something like $2000 (Canadian $s) each and 64 GB of 1600MHz FB-DIMMs (16x 4GB modules) would have cost something like $20,000 (or more) for the RAM alone.

I only wish I'd done this earlier. I could have saved a lot of time when running some of those big FEA jobs (I'll have to keep Prime95 running for 24 hours or more to make certain the computational accuracy is still there first though).

EDIT: Actually I did just discover there is one other difference between the X5472s and the E5420s. The X5472's are rated to run at 63°C and the E5420's are rated to run at 67°C. Mine are running (just) below 63°C according to HWMonitor (see images above with Prime95 running on all 8 cores).

Here are the spec's:
http://ark.intel.com/Compare.aspx?ids=33927,34447,

One thing I am puzzled about. When running at stock speeds (2.5GHz), the automatic thermal control system in the motherboard that runs the fans keeps the processors at 65°C during 100% utilization for a long time. When running at 3.0GHz, instead of adjusting the fans to keep the processors at 65°C, they are now being kept at 61°C instead. Why would the fan controller keep the CPUs 4°C cooler when overclocked to 3.0GHz? I would have expected the CPUs, if anything, to run a little hotter.

Edit: I think I figured out the reason why the CPUs are running cooler when overclocked (although this is really a guess). The Northbridge produces quite a bit more heat and this causes the chassis fans to run allot faster. I suspect this means that the air inside the case ends up being a fair bit cooler which results in a cooler CPU temperature.

I had a look at Intel's design guidelines for the 5400 series processors (http://www.intel.com/Assets/en_US/PDF/designguide/318611.pdf) to get a better understanding on what are considered safe CPU operating temperatures for the X5472 (assuming I should now comply with them instead of the E5420 temperatures).

It turns out that the 63°C and 67°C Tcase maximum temperatures for the X5472 and E5420 respectively are actually external temperatures, measured at the geometric center on the outside of the CPU heat spreader.

The digital thermal sensor that HWMonitor is accessing is inside the case, physically inside the processing core itself so it will report considerably higher temperatures than what the outside Tcase temperature is. Also, since there is a certain amount of thermal resistance between the inside and outside of the CPU, even with identical internal chip temperatures, the specified external "Tcase maximum" temperature would need to be lower with the X5472 due to the 50% higher TDP. In other words it is quite possible that Intel's thermal ratings actually result in the same internal core temperature and that internal allowable temperature is likely above 70°C. I wish Intel published a maximum allowable internal temperature. So far I have not been able to find one.

This explains why with the original stock Intel coolers that the reported internal temperatures would get as high as 72°C before thermal throttling would actually kick in (in fact I'm not sure, but I recall thermal throttling might not have actually kicked in until HWMonitor reported temperatures as high as 75°C).

Also, the way the temperatures are actually reported is in degrees Celsius "below" thermal throttling temperature. Once the temperature is above this threshold, regardless of how high the temperature actually climbs it is always reported as just 0. I don't know what HWMonitor is using for the temperature calculation, but since I've seen temperatures in the 72-75°C range, it seems it is calculating the temperature as something like 75°C-reported temperature (HWMonitor may even be using a value higher than 75°C for all I know).

Unfortunately all of this says I don't really know what the actual CPU Tcase temperature is and the only way to truly find it is to measure it directly. What I do know is since I've seen reported temperatures of at least 72°C that when 62°C is reported the CPU is at least 10°C away from the thermal throttling temperature and according to the specification, thermal throttling should kick in when Tcase (external center of heat spreader) hits 67°C with the CPU running at 100% and a standard Intel spec'd cooler in place (so the internal temperature would likely be 72°C or more).

Based on this, my best estimate on the Tcase temperature is roughly 5°C less than HWMonitor's reported internal temperature. In this case it is reporting 62°C max so the Tcase is probably 57°C which is 10°C below the maximum allowed for the stock E5420 and 6°C below the maximum allowed for the X5472. It seems odd for Intel to specify a maximum allowable EXTERNAL temperature, instead of internal, but the way the spec is written Intel's intent is to rely on thermal throttling when required and to just specify an external maximum since this is something that can be directly measured by 3rd parties designing systems around the Xeon 5400 series hardware.

The specification also states the following:
By taking advantage of the Thermal Monitor features, system designers may reduce thermal solution cost by designing to the Thermal Design Power (TDP) instead of maximum power. TDP should be used for processor thermal solution design targets. TDP is not the maximum power that the processor can dissipate. TDP is based on measurements of processor power consumption while running various high power applications. This data set is used to determine those applications that are interesting from a power perspective. These applications are then evaluated in a controlled thermal environment to determine their sensitivity to activation of the thermal control circuit. This data set is then used to derive the TDP targets published in the processors datasheet. The Thermal Monitor can protect the processors in rare workload excursions above TDP. Therefore, thermal solutions should be designed to dissipate this target power level. The thermal management logic and thermal monitor features are discussed in extensive detail in the Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor 5400 Series Datasheet.

In other words the stock Xeon cooler is designed to allow the processor to run at the maximum Tcase temperature when running a typical application and at times it is expected that thermal throttling will kick in to keep the temperature under control (which is what Intel told me when I first contacted them when I first built the system and I felt the CPU temperatures were too high). When running something like Prime95, which produces maximum heat, it sounds like thermal throttling would actually be expected to kick in to keep the temperature under control when using the stock Intel cooler. With the stock Intel coolers this is exactly what I used to experience (so I installed the 6 heatpipe Supermicro 150W Xeon coolers instead of the Intel ones and this dropped the temperatures by about 10°C).

There is also a section in the specification that covers fan failure. The processor is spec'd to operate for 360 hours per year with a failed fan, while being guaranteed to not be damaged in any way (as long as the thermal throttling capability is enabled in the BIOS).

Anyway, although all of this is not as clear as I would like, it sounds like the temperatures I am seeing right now are about right as far as Intel's design guidelines are concerned and are not a problem (even if I actually was using X5472's instead of E5420's). One bit of good news is the CPUs actually run a good 5 or more °C cooler when running heavy duty application (such as Ansys) compared to when running Prime95 so Prime95 produces an absolute worst case CPU load (at least when running a "torture test").
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Why did it get so quiet here?

I've been running it at 400 MHz (3.0GHz CPU) since yesterday and have pushed the system hard with applications, games and Prime95 to test it's stability. So far it hasn't missed a beat. Is a jump from 2.5GHz to 3.0GHz what you guys were expecting? More? Less?

Just now I tried the base clock at 410MHz and the system was STILL stable (although I didn't run Prime95 for long). This hardware overclocks far better than I thought it would, especially since genuine Skulltrail owners often report hitting a wall at between 410MHz and 420MHz.

Do you think the Xeon E5450, X5460 or X5470's would overclock as well as the E5420's I'm using? Instead of a 7.5 multiplier they have a 9, 9.5 and 10 multiplier.

At 400MHz the E5420, E5450, X5460 and X5470 would run at 3.6GHz, 3.8GHz or 4.0GHz.

At 410MHz the E5420, E5450, X5460 and X5470 would run at 3.075GHz, 3.69GHz, 3.895GHz, and 4.1GHz.

Rather than upgrading to a 5600 series system I'm starting to think it might be more practical to just upgrade the CPUs if I want a little more power (especially since 64GB of RAM for the new system would probably cost a fortune).

Are the multipliers unlocked with all of the X-series Xeon processors? Are there any software utilities than can tweak the multiplier once the system is up and running (similar to how I am using SetFSB to tweak the clocks)?
Edited by HTSlider - 2/8/11 at 9:45am
post #18 of 18
Sorry to be so late with dealing with the content of this thread smile.gif

I gave it a good cleaning for you!

Enjoy!
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Pure 1nhibition
(14 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
[i5 3570K] [Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H] [Palit GTX 480] [8GB G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3-1600] 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
[OCZ Vertex LE 50GB SSD | 1TB | 2TB] [A50] [Windows 7 Pro x64] [24" Samsung 2494HM | 20.1" LG Flatron] 
Power
[Corsair 750W] 
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