Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

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Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:23 pm

Gerbils,

I have been forced to reach back into the hardware archives that live in my office/machine room to support downsizing (I'm being forceably relocated to a smaller work room as we rennovate the house) and I've come up with several old Socket 604 setups. I've got two Iwill DH-800 boards, more than a few PC-DL boards, a few Supermicro boards and associated Prestonia and Gallatin series Xeon chips to put in them ranging from LV processors to high end 3.6 GHz. Is it worth putting these to use in some form or another as NAS boxes, low end servers, or space heaters? I've probably got most of what I'd need to reassemble them minus some memory (anyone got 1GB DRR 266 ECC Reg sticks hanging around?) but I can't figure their processing power relative to anything today (an Atom?, half an Atom?) since they're so old.

I have a soft spot for old hardware (see the dual Tualatin cooking away in the corner next to the dual Xeon III, next to the dual Althon MP, next to the BP6 for evidence of that), but I'm trying to get a handle on the relative performance of these old pieces of hardware before I try and either donate or repurpose them.

Thanks!
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:43 pm

They're probably roughly comparable to that Athlon MP rig you've got in performance, and should still be significantly better than Atom (the most recent Atoms possibly excepted). Like the Athlon MP, performance/watt will suck pretty badly by contemporary standards.
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:58 pm

JBI - So better than an Atom, obviously worse than anything Core iX based - in the same ballpark with a Pentium or Celeron Sandy?
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:32 pm

conlusio wrote:JBI - So better than an Atom, obviously worse than anything Core iX based - in the same ballpark with a Pentium or Celeron Sandy?


A lot depends on whether they're running Conroe/Wolfdale-based later Socket 604 chips, or earlier Netburst-derived CPUs. If they're Core 2-based and high-clocked dual cores, the performance will be lower than Sandy Bridge-era anything but maybe not disastrously so. If they're quad core chips, they might pull ahead in heavily multithreaded duty, though their power usage will be much higher. If they're Netburst-based, though... D:

Depending on how heavily used they were, you could probably get a few years of (power-thirsty?) life out of them for low to middling overhead server duty. And I would be a bald-faced hypocrite if I told you not to use them just because they're old... Hell, I have a system that's still running a GeforceFX 5900-based PCIe Quadro. Use as you will and at will.
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:39 pm

Your electric utility pricing, cooling costs and climate would have a large impact on any comment I'd make. Old stuff doth not idle worth two spits, just ON and OFF pretty much.

Random made up examples:
Your yard is white 6 months a year and 0.08/KWH? Go nuts!
Warm balmy coast with 0.40/KWH or some kind of use-based tiered pricing? Recycle time! (and do it now before you have to pay, because with current trends how it will probably go in the future)
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:01 pm

I'm pretty sure the 604 was netburst only
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:24 pm

That particular motherboard uses the 875P chipset, which is a Netburst chipset. I ran an 875P along with my Pentium 4 2.8C about 10 years ago.
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:38 pm

Glorious wrote:I'm pretty sure the 604 was netburst only


I thought they were too, but checking Wikipedia's list of Xeon CPUs showed that some number of Conroe/Wolfdale parts were made for the form factor. Surprised me, let me tell you.
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:57 pm

Concupiscence wrote:I thought they were too, but checking Wikipedia's list of Xeon CPUs showed that some number of Conroe/Wolfdale parts were made for the form factor. Surprised me, let me tell you.


I just went back and looked at this. These are consumer grade CPU's, but it does kind of make you nostalgic. Socket 478 was around for 7 years. The early to mid 2000s were a great time to be a hardware enthusiast.
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:22 pm

Concupiscence wrote:I thought they were too, but checking Wikipedia's list of Xeon CPUs showed that some number of Conroe/Wolfdale parts were made for the form factor. Surprised me, let me tell you.


Do you have a link? I could be wrong, but I thought they were only 775.
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:27 pm

Glorious wrote:
Concupiscence wrote:I thought they were too, but checking Wikipedia's list of Xeon CPUs showed that some number of Conroe/Wolfdale parts were made for the form factor. Surprised me, let me tell you.


Do you have a link? I could be wrong, but I thought they were only 775.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_Xeon_microprocessors Start near the Tigerton series. I've never seen one before, but apparently they're out there. They even cranked out a few 45nm Core 2 parts for the socket, if this is to be believed.
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:29 pm

My favourite thing about Netburst was the way that the active processor cooling audibly jumped up several hundred RPM doing something as simple as simply opening a PDF document D:
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:35 pm

Wow, that's crazy. Learn something new everyday!
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Mon Feb 03, 2014 7:26 pm

They're the old Socket 604 Netbust architecture. I've got a wonderful rate deal with the local electric company at .07 kWH so electricity is no big deal. I'll push them back into light server duty, at since some of them have dual onboard gigabit network cards and 64/66 PCI-X slots.

I'm still curious what they would equate to in modern use (yes they're 10 years old). Passmark seems to have something that puts them in line with low clocked B series Pentiums. Anyone have any pointers to anything more conclusive? I can't even do a percentage comparison going back into the CPU archives here on TechReport.

Thanks!
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:16 am

A client of mine still has two of those in their server room, doing nothing thankfully since we've updated them to Nehalem Xeons and then to Sandy Bridge-EP.
I've suggested they repurpose them for router/proxy/firewall duty if they're not going to throw them out.
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:54 am

conlusio wrote:They're the old Socket 604 Netbust architecture. I've got a wonderful rate deal with the local electric company at .07 kWH so electricity is no big deal. I'll push them back into light server duty, at since some of them have dual onboard gigabit network cards and 64/66 PCI-X slots.

I'm still curious what they would equate to in modern use (yes they're 10 years old). Passmark seems to have something that puts them in line with low clocked B series Pentiums. Anyone have any pointers to anything more conclusive? I can't even do a percentage comparison going back into the CPU archives here on TechReport.

Thanks!


There are lots of variables involved. Are these Prescott or Northwood Pentium 4 derivatives? What applications are you testing, and what do you intend to run long-term? At what clock speeds do these CPUs run? For multithreaded integer-heavy workloads they might be more competitive (though they'll be behind all but the pokiest Core i-based anything)...
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Tue Feb 04, 2014 7:38 am

My only experience with Netburst before it was canned was that an AthlonXP 2500+ was generally faster than the Netburst of the day for everyday use, moreso when the Netburst chips started thermal throttling, which was all-too often.
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:49 am

I'm not that familiar with server workloads but its worth noting that anything with SSE2 instructions or better will be far more useful than anything without them. Your Xeons would definitely have SSE2.

For this reason alone, I've had to basically scrap any ideas of repurposing Athlon XP systems. I have an Athlon XP 1700+ overclocked from 1.47 to 2.1Ghz on an Abit NF7-S Nforce 2 board, with an AGP Geforce 7600GS (128bit, DDR3) and 2Gb of DDR as well as a Sempron 3000+ (Socket A, 2Ghz) with a 6600GT and neither can handle youtube HD video due to the SSE2 instruction requirement. Back in the day these systems would have been in a totally different league of gaming performance than a much newer Pentium 4 2.93Ghz (non-HT) with integrated GMA900 graphics... yet the P4 system handles 720P youtube video with relative ease.

Before I did testing in this area recently, I would have considered any Pentium 4s or Netburst CPUs in general to be worthless, in favor of my beloved Athlon XPs... but sadly, its the other way around. :(
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:34 am

ozzuneoj wrote:I'm not that familiar with server workloads but its worth noting that anything with SSE2 instructions or better will be far more useful than anything without them. Your Xeons would definitely have SSE2.

Unless he's planning on using them as compute servers of some sort I doubt SSE2 matters much.
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:24 am

just brew it! wrote:
ozzuneoj wrote:I'm not that familiar with server workloads but its worth noting that anything with SSE2 instructions or better will be far more useful than anything without them. Your Xeons would definitely have SSE2.

Unless he's planning on using them as compute servers of some sort I doubt SSE2 matters much.


One thing I've noticed with old processors, especially just using them as general-purpose internet surfing/video watching machines is that SSE2 really matters in this case. You can watch HD videos pretty easily if the CPU supports SSE2, without it, not so much. That said, I've upgraded from a fairly late-model Netburst (Pentium D, which has two cores even) to a low end Core2 chip, and even in general computing, it's night and day difference in smoothness. It makes me sad, but Athlon XP and anything Netburst is essentially garbage now. :-? I have perfectly a perfectly working Nforce 2 system with an XP 2500+ CPU that I can't bear to junk, but even overclocked it's not very good. It is somewhat usable with Lubuntu (LXDE) and Chrome, but I'm literally getting Core2 era machines for free now - even low end A64 derived Semprons are much more usable.
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:54 am

captaintrav wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
ozzuneoj wrote:I'm not that familiar with server workloads but its worth noting that anything with SSE2 instructions or better will be far more useful than anything without them. Your Xeons would definitely have SSE2.

Unless he's planning on using them as compute servers of some sort I doubt SSE2 matters much.


One thing I've noticed with old processors, especially just using them as general-purpose internet surfing/video watching machines is that SSE2 really matters in this case. You can watch HD videos pretty easily if the CPU supports SSE2, without it, not so much. That said, I've upgraded from a fairly late-model Netburst (Pentium D, which has two cores even) to a low end Core2 chip, and even in general computing, it's night and day difference in smoothness. It makes me sad, but Athlon XP and anything Netburst is essentially garbage now. :-? I have perfectly a perfectly working Nforce 2 system with an XP 2500+ CPU that I can't bear to junk, but even overclocked it's not very good. It is somewhat usable with Lubuntu (LXDE) and Chrome, but I'm literally getting Core2 era machines for free now - even low end A64 derived Semprons are much more usable.


It is a bit sad to think that systems I was so proud to have built only 10 years ago are now bested by some of the more recent cell phones. Obviously you can't expect much from pre-Windows XP systems or machines without any form of DDR memory, but its still shocking to think that a system that would have no problem playing many fairly recent games at low settings can't compete with a cell phone for 1080P video playback.

Slightly more on-topic, I was given an old Gateway dual Socket 603 workstation about two years ago. I looked it over a bit and tested it and it was somewhat interesting to have, but given the size, weight, absurd volume of the fans, and terribly limited upgrades, I ended stripping it of useful parts (huge fans, nice 450W Delta PSU, etc.) and giving the case to a friend who sells scrap metal. I recently stripped a whole slew of nice quality capacitors from the motherboard too. Its just hard to justify the massive power consumption and noise for such limited capabilities. Chances are you could watch ebay or local classified ads, or hit up some yard sales and find a more capable system for $25-$50 that will use a fraction of the electricity.
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:15 pm

I don't have a specific use in mind for them, I was just trying to get a handle on what might be possible for them.

They range from 1.6 GHz LV Prestonia Cores [ MMX, SSE, SSE2, Hyper-Threading] (which I had several clock to 3.6-3.8 stable back in the days of PC-DL overclocking), to 3.6 Nocona [adds SSE3].

If I'm reading what everyone is saying correctly the Prestonia cores are better off going into firewall/light NAS applications on network heavy motherboards, while the Nocona's might make reasonable, if extremely inefficient and noisy file servers / streaming boxes.

I can't resist mucking about with old hardware, so I'll probably be on the forums looking for donations or low cost upgrades so I can put these things to use. I might put some boxes together so my nieces can have something they can have something to mess with software-wise without risking mom and dad's bright and shiny Macbooks.
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Re: Use(less?) for old Xeon machines

Postposted on Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:57 pm

conlusio wrote:I don't have a specific use in mind for them, I was just trying to get a handle on what might be possible for them.

They range from 1.6 GHz LV Prestonia Cores [ MMX, SSE, SSE2, Hyper-Threading] (which I had several clock to 3.6-3.8 stable back in the days of PC-DL overclocking), to 3.6 Nocona [adds SSE3].

If I'm reading what everyone is saying correctly the Prestonia cores are better off going into firewall/light NAS applications on network heavy motherboards, while the Nocona's might make reasonable, if extremely inefficient and noisy file servers / streaming boxes.

I can't resist mucking about with old hardware, so I'll probably be on the forums looking for donations or low cost upgrades so I can put these things to use. I might put some boxes together so my nieces can have something they can have something to mess with software-wise without risking mom and dad's bright and shiny Macbooks.


If you're looking for donations, I might be able to kick a few things your way...
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