Squeezing more juice out of an old Xeon and LGA 775 motherboard

So previously I set up my motherboard to support LGA 771 Xeon, and then updated the BIOS with patched microcode, to get CPU properly identified, and now I cleaned up my old graphics card to make it run cooler and capable of hopefully now running on 102MHz PICe bus.

The PCIe frequency is important because GA P43-ES3G or the Intel P43 chipset has some issues that it won’t boot without higher PCIe once you go beyond 419MHz FSB.

So currently running 425MHz FSB and 8x multiplier from E5430.

model name      : Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU           E5430  @ 2.66GHz
stepping        : 10
microcode       : 0xa0b
cpu MHz         : 3400.115

2.66GHz @ 3.40GHz, +28%. With four cores that’s 13.6GHz of Core2Duo architecture and 6MiB of L2 per two cores, total of 12MiB If this now stays stable I am quite happy.

Now the limitation will probably soon come to be the memory which is already running at 850MHz or so. It is 800MHz memory so it won’t do too much higher I would suppose. Design margins cannot be too wide for these.

LGA771/775 mod CPU flag & microcode issue

flags		: fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe syscall nx lm constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts rep_good nopl aperfmperf pni tm2 ssse3 lahf_lm dtherm

No vmx flag there. Not sure if this is because of Microcode or what is going on. Intel Xeon E5430 has virtualization but it is not recognized here.

Microcode is a layer of hardware-level instructions that implement higher-level machine code instructions or internal state machine sequencing in many digital processing elements.

Based on this statement it could so be that if the motherboard does not have correct Microcode in it, it is unable to “feed” or enable these instructions needed to do hardware virtualization. Purely speculative.

But surely enough, after updating my BIOS with patched microcode downloaded from this odd Asian site, Linux now shows all these new flags, and takes full advantage of them as a consequence.

flags		: fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe syscall nx lm constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts rep_good nopl aperfmperf pni dtes64 monitor ds_cpl vmx est tm2 ssse3 cx16 xtpr pdcm dca sse4_1 xsave lahf_lm dtherm tpr_shadow vnmi flexpriority

So the vmx is now there which is perfect.

Gigabyte P43-ES3G LGA 771 mod

I can confirm that E5430 runs very smoothly with Linux and Gigabyte P43-ES3G.

processor       : 3
vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
cpu family      : 6
model           : 23
model name      : Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU           E5430  @ 2.66GHz
stepping        : 10
cpu MHz         : 3352.053
cache size      : 6144 KB

8x419MHz with no settings tuning.

Socket was easy to modify with sharp carpet knife and the board booted right after CMOS was cleared with the jumper.

Some simple tasks such as switching browser tabs are faster and it can play 1080p50fps from Youtube.

This Xeon would definitely do more than 419MHz but with this motherboard and with this chipset it is not worth the hassle.

Was this worth spending 50€? It is difficult to say. My usage is not processing intensive, but while working with large number of tabs open and a lot of going on, the two extra cores help a lot. If you got the heatsink ready it is definitely upgrade worth doing. It will extend the life of that LGA775 system by another year or two. And this isn’t even the highest rated CPU supported by this motherboard so there is still room to squeeze as prices of those higher end Xeons keep dropping in the future.


One core always runs hotter than the rest so not sure what’s with that. It may have gotten damaged as it ran momentarily without heatsink. But the system is perfectly stable and it does not seem to be uncommon to have one core running hotter.

Ideal server

If I am willing to pay 150 € for the server, then the additional upgrades would come in as follows:

  • HP Smart Array P800
    • 50 €
    • The included E200i does not support JBOD
  • 5 pieces of 10K RPM SAS 300GB
    • 270 €
    • 600GB of fast SAS storage plus one spare
  • CPU upgrade to Dual Quad-Core X5470
    • 100 €
  • Intel 320 120GB
    • 40 €
    • To be used as sLOG

So the price of this new server which began as 75 € idea suddenly would cost over 600 €.

But that would then be quite a beast.

And then my home data center would also require UPS which would add another 200 €. It is good to have dreams.

Updated calculations

Still looking for this server but with modified specs:

  • HP Smart Array P800
    • 50 €
    • The included E200i does not support JBOD
  • 3 pieces of 10K RPM SAS 300GB
    • 170 €
    • 300GB of fast SAS storage plus one spare
  • CPU upgrade to Dual Quad-Core E5440
    • 55 €
  • Intel DC S3500 120GB
    • 117 €
    • To be used as sLOG

And the upper limit to pay for locally available pick-up only server — after which it becomes cheaper to get this from eBay — is 135 € and not 150 €.

Intel 320 does not seem to be very available any more so S3500 should replace it. Also some suggest that one could define all the disks in the original E200i controller as RAID0 and use them like that. It would save that 50 €.

So that would be about 520 € server for 22.64GHz of Core 2 Hapertown architecture with 32GB of memory and 300GB of mirrored 10K SAS with SSD sLOG.

Lack of Vt-d support

This is the big question. Am I willing to spend this much money when I would really like to get Vt-d. http://ark.intel.com/search/advanced?VTD=true

The next generation (G6) has additionally DDR3 and probably otherwise quite a bit more advanced as well. Also supports 12 cores. So I might put this G5 on hold because it would regardless cost close to 400 €. Perhaps if I can put in 200 € more I can get the G6.

DL360 G6 setup

The following DL360 G6 would cost about 650 € so only 130 € more than the G5 so the G5 is out of the question.

  • Base server with 8GB of memory
    • 210 €
  • Heatsink for second CPU
    • 38 €
  • CPU upgrade to Dual Quad-Core X5570
    • 50 €
  • Memory upgrade to 32GB
    • 72 €
  • 3 pieces of 10K 300GB SAS
    • 170 €
  • Intel DC S3500 120GB
    • 117 €

Surprisingly cheap. The disk is the most expensive upgrade here and could perhaps be postponed. I need to be on the look for good base on top of which buy the upgrades. That seems to be the cheapest route to go.

Little bit better setup

Replacing the three spinning SAS disks with two OCZ Vector 180 240GB would reduce the cost 6 € but more importantly guarantee superior performance under all conditions. 60GB less space and no spare but also no used disks and all brand new and extremely fast.

There of course was a catch behind that price:

For cost reasons, OCZ didn’t go with full power loss protection similar to enterprise SSDs and hence PFM+ is limited to offering protection for data-at-rest. In other words, PFM+ will protect data that has already been written to the NAND, but any and all user data that still sits in the DRAM buffer waiting to be written will be lost in case of a sudden power loss. (http://www.anandtech.com/show/9009/ocz-vector-180-240gb-480gb-960gb-ssd-review)

So we are back to square one. The alternate solution would be to use the Intel DC S3500 but that would limit the space even further, to 120GB. At which point we come close to being so tight that not all capability of the server can be realized. If you want to test something you must have disk space available to you. 300GB in addition to super fast SSD is for that.

What about aes-ni?

I am glad you asked, because it turns out that the three six-core Xeons supported by the G6 have aes-ni. The downside is that they are 6 cores and 12 threads (and cost $100+ each) and with that there is nothing for me to burn those cycles with. Currently if I do disk IO, all my traffic goes through AES encryption and if that is speeded up, there is really nothing to spend the CPU capacity on.

So that’s a positive problem. At this point it would seem that the best way would be to go and purchase that Intel DC S3500 and use it to greatly increase the performance of my current DL140 G3.

I love this planning but I also hate it because there are so many ways to go.

Eyeing on DL360 G5 server

Looking if I can get one of these for cheap price.


It would be without hard drives but with 32GB of memory and both CPU sockets occupied with something. One other bidder with 25 € and 8 days to go. Not sure if there’s a minimum price, which I suspect there might be, but I would be willing to bid 100 € easily.

And according to this video it is also extremely silent one.

So would make great desktop machine to replace my old one or to replace my virtual host which is X5350, while this could support X5470.

And maximum memory is 192GB so that would be perfect for even commercial system. Apparently supports only 64GB but that would still be double my current maximum of 32GB.

Four SAS/SATA ports would also allow raidz1 + one SSD for caching and would deliver extraordinary performance with 15K disks.

One sad thing is that if my memory serves correctly, 5400 series processors do not support PCI-passthrough so it would not be possible to virtualize Windows on top of Linux and get native graphics support. Same for network but these are minor issues.

Calculating the cost

I am beginning to warm for the idea of paying upto 150 € for this machine as it has 32GB of memory in it which is worth 50-70 €.

The rest of the upgrades to get either desktop of server would cost something like this:

  • CPU upgrade from 4 low-end cores to 8 high-end cores 120 € (X5470)
  • SSD upgrade for desktop/server use 70 € (half decent Corsair)
  • 15K RPM SAS disk upgrade for server 140 € (3x300GB)

So fully eguipped with 32GB for high-performance server use the total cost would be close to 500 €. It would be more cost beneficial to buy two SSDs, put them in mirroring mode and then use cheap iSCSI storage.

That would lower the cost from 480 € to 340 € which is quite a good deal for two SSDs and safety and high performing machine. So I don’t know. If it goes for under 150 € I am quite certain I will take it to myself.


Intel Edison X86 for Internet of Things

For two days I have needed to take a look into this and finally managed to remember.

Key Features

  • Uses a 22nm Intel® SoC that includes a dual core, dual threaded Intel® Atom™ CPU at 500MHz and a 32-bit Intel® Quark™ microcontroller at 100 MHz. It supports 40 GPIOs and includes 1GB LPDDR3, 4 GB EMMC, and dual-band WiFi and BTLE on a module slightly larger than a postage stamp.
  • The Intel Edison module will initially support development with Arduino* and C/C++, followed by Node.JS, Python, RTOS, and Visual Programming support in the near future.
  • The Intel Edison module includes a device-to-device and device-to-cloud connectivity framework to enable cross-device communication and a cloud-based, multi-tenant, time-series analytics service.

Quote on what ever magazine I was reading said $50 which is cheap.

Olimex boards for example go for around 30 € or 50 € and they are much slower Arm Cortex cores I would argue but they do have extra connectivity to outside world via USB and SATA and such which is a minus for this one.

But this hasn’t been designed these sort of things in mind but perhaps for something like being the brains in highly connected system where the end-nodes or leafs or what ever you may want to call them (connecting the sensors and other peripherals) then communicate with the master using ethernet or Wi-fi.

Also not related to this found this really interesting sounding whitepaper from Google Research this morning while commuting to work, titled Power Management of Online Data-Intensive Services.

And apparently describes Google’s attempts to minimize power consumption in WSC systems which do OLDI (Online Data-Intensive) work, and discuss how current hardware does not scale linearly with the load (idle power is not 0% if peak power is 100%, but more like 70% — useless energy expenditure).

And that in fact is a problem, for me too, since I pay electricity bills myself. And am currently drawing close to 600 Watts day in day out.


And to go back to Intel Edison once more; one thing that really interests me in this board is the possibility to do Node.js on it.

And Node.js has large and similar community behind it than say PHP or any other language may have. There are number of extensions and packages and frameworks and tools and what not.

It is fast, even so fast that it compares to C because Google has done great job optimizing its engine (V8) which also powers the Node.

PHP has its place and is not going nowhere in any time soon but the new infrastructure will be built with Node.

RAID Cards

According to Puget Systems article the earlier mentioned LSI 9240-4i pales when compared with Intel RS2BL080 or Intel RS2BL040 both of which cost over 150 € used.


Intel RS2BL040


Intel RS2BL080

Datasheet on Intel website.

I must say the amount of these cards is unbelievable and most of them seem very very good by their specifications.


Dell Perc H310 Adapter 8-Port Internal 6Gb/s SAS+SATA RAID Controller

6Gb/s and PCIe x8 for 67 € and 8 € P&P from China. Brand new.

So how can you choose? Since this one is for Dell PowerEdge servers it probably should be somewhat well performing.

And while taking into account the possibility of these cheaper cards not performing very well with high number of IO request the direct PCIe FLASH memory devices start to sound appealing again.


OCZ Revodrive 3


The Best Solution

I have clearly been thinking too much but I think I have finally reached some sort of conclusion with the best possible performance and it comes with low price and large window for expansion.

My worry was that I have PCIe v1.x which would mean that those cheap x1 cards would run only at 250MB/s which would become bottleneck for an SSD.

And now that I actually looked at it that would have in fact been the case.

Intel 5000X chipset which I have is PCIe v1.1 which is 250MB/s just like the original PCIe is.

So, that rules out any x1 card. And quite a number of other cards as well. In fact, x8 or x16 are the only cards that would provide wide enough bandwidth, say, if I would want to run more than one SSD.

So the only viable option for me are either the expensive NAND FLASH PCIe devices or what I think is much better option, the professional battery backed SAS/SATA RAID controllers.

Exactly like I initially figured.

These usually come in as x8 so that would give me 2GB/s full duplex which would be enough for 4 SSD fully saturated. Situation very unlikely to happen.

I may even sacrifice the x16 for this since I can’t think of any other use for it.



Which would give me 12 SAS/SATA ports. More than enough for anything I can think of.

The 2U rack mount case can’t even accomodate that much extra disks even if SSDs and how small they are so that’s the end of that problem.

But still, could easily fit in at least 6 if I needed. And split the 3-5 watts of power for those off of the two SATA power present.

And it has support in Linux.

Or ASR-2405 which at times are available for less than $30. Lacking battery but could live without one.


RAID-Controller Adaptec 2405 PCI-Express 4x SAS/SATA

I could have either of these. And 4 ports would be more than enough, and would save some money which would buy me more SSD.

But this would be best because it has 6Gb/s per port and 8-lane PCIe so it could handle the SSD speed by the port speed and have it transferred forward at great speed.

There is 4-lane model but it would be just enough for two fast SSDs and might just become the bottleneck.


Adaptec RAID ASR-6805 2271200-R 512MB 6Gb/s SATA/SAS 8i-Port Controller Card

Sadly this costs about 150 €. So the 8-lane 3Gb for 40 € with 375 MBps per SSD or 150 € for full potential of any SSD.

Adaptec product page.

Intel Xeon X5355 SLAEG

If you are planning on buying one you should make sure you buy the SLAEG one.

SLAEG is the only one with I/O Acceleration Technology, according to CPU World

Also seems to have more advances over the other ones.

And G0 will idle at 25W compared to 50 Watts for B3.

Paying attention to all these small details you ensure you get the best possible technology for the least amount of money.

And it’s fun too.