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Thread: Socket C32 motherboards

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Default Socket C32 motherboards

    I need to replace some ageing workstations. AMD's recent small server platform, featuring Socket C32, looks promising, as far as number and clock speed of cores, etc. but I haven't found a motherboard to fit my bill yet. One CPU with 4 or more cores at around 3 GHz is what I'm looking for.

    I want server-class features such as fully registered DIMMS, but I mentioned this is for a workstation, not a rack-mounted server. So one of the first things I need is a PCI-express x16 slot for a good graphics card, along with enough other slots for some high end storage and whatnot.

    AMD offers a family of chipsets which are compatible with this socket; the SR5650 has only 22 PCIe lanes, the SR5670 has 30 lanes, and the SR5690 has 42 lanes. Part of the problem is that this being AMD's smaller, lower cost server platform (compared to Socket G34 and the massively parallel CPUs which inhabit it), and so motherboard manufacturers are tending toward the smaller, cheaper chipsets.

    Supermicro offers the H8SCM and H8SCM-F, which use the SR5650 + SP5100. They do not have an x16 slot, only x8 electrical in a x16 mechanical slot. It has a second x8 slot and an x4 slot.

    Supermicro will also soon have an oddity called the H8DCT-F, with an unusual footprint intended for deep rackmounts, and which will not fit in any standard case. It will use the SR5670 and is going to have an x16 slot, but nothing else.

    Tyan also has two options.

    The S8228 is similar in footprint to the Supermicro H8DCT-F, uses the SR5650 chipset, and has a single x16 slot.

    The S8226 dual CPU board is extended ATX (12" x 13")
    It uses the SR5690 and will have two x16 slots, and that's all.
    This is the most promising motherboard I can find for my needs, but is sub-optimal in several ways. I could do without the second CPU socket and the extra large size (although I think it would still work). The two slots are good, but some additional x4 slots or some such would be nice.

    Are there any other manufacturers or any other products out there utilising the C32 socket which I have not mentioned above?

  2. #2
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    Default

    Maybe have a look at the MSI MS-91F7. SR5670 chipset, 1 PCIe x16, 3 PCIe x8 (1 electrical x4), 12"x10.2" form factor.

  3. #3
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    That looks very promising, thank you. I was not aware MSI was in the server mobo market.

    Their math on the PCIe slots seems a bit suspect. The SR5670 has only 30 lanes, but they are claiming x16 + x8 + x8 + x4 if I interpreted correctly.

  4. #4
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    I notice that Gigabyte has a Socket C32 server motherboard, although it is not what I am looking for.

    GA-3DTSL

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrystalCowboy View Post
    That looks very promising, thank you. I was not aware MSI was in the server mobo market.

    Their math on the PCIe slots seems a bit suspect. The SR5670 has only 30 lanes, but they are claiming x16 + x8 + x8 + x4 if I interpreted correctly.
    I've found lane count on most boards to be a little fishy. I had to do a nearly endless amount of research to find the right server board for my purposes- the TYAN S7025. My board has 72 real lanes of PCI express, which accounts for every single physical lane on the board minus the SAS controller. You've no idea how hard that was to find.

    What are your purposes for this? It sounds like the C32 platform is a little below your requirements, you're probably better off with the G34s if you're strictly AMD.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrystalCowboy View Post
    That looks very promising, thank you. I was not aware MSI was in the server mobo market.

    Their math on the PCIe slots seems a bit suspect. The SR5670 has only 30 lanes, but they are claiming x16 + x8 + x8 + x4 if I interpreted correctly.
    That count isn't suspect at all. You simply can't use all the slots to their maximum at the same time... i.e., you get the option of;
    16-8-4
    or
    8-8-8-4
    or maybe
    16-4-4-4
    Possibly 16-8-2-2

    Plus 2 lanes for SAS or something, and you add up to 30.

  7. #7
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    I think for the MSI MS-91F7 you can choose between 16/0/8/4 and 8/8/8/4 (if onboard video is disabled). But check with vendor to be sure.

  8. #8
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    What are your purposes for this?

    It is for a workstation to collect scientific data. Computational requirements are not extreme, but need good throughput to the data collection network and the public network, for sharing of the data.

    Current system:
    Two Opteron single core CPUs @ 2.0 GHz
    4 GB RAM
    2 - Gigabit ethernet ports
    1 - x16 slot for graphics card (dual DVI monitors @1280x1025)
    OS drive = 3Ware (PCI-X) 2-port RAID card with mirrored hard drives
    Data drive - Fibre channel interface (PCI-X) to an external 2 TB RAID unit

    This is handling the load OK, but it is about 6 years old so it is time to modernize. Hoping to build something by the end of the calendar year.

    Requirements for replacement unit:
    1 - CPU with 4+ cores @ ~ 3 GHz
    16 GB RAM RDIMM
    2+ Gigabit ethernet ports (3 or 4 might be better)
    1 - x16 slot for graphics card (maybe single 2560x1600 monitor)
    OS drive - don't have an exact formulation in mind. Probly mirrored.
    Data drive - considering large format SSD, such as OCZ Z-Drive. Probably requires x8 or x4 slot.

    The extra PCI-express slots would handle the data drive, and possibly the OS drive.

    I don't really need the extra cores Socket G34 would offer, and prefer the faster clock speeds of current C32 CPUs.
    Alternatively, I would be willing to look at Intel offerings. My impression there is that Socket 1366 tends to run too hot, and Socket 1156 mobos have the same issue as Socket C32, with most of them not having a good number and arrangement of slots.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrystalCowboy View Post
    Alternatively, I would be willing to look at Intel offerings. My impression there is that Socket 1366 tends to run too hot, and Socket 1156 mobos have the same issue as Socket C32, with most of them not having a good number and arrangement of slots.
    My board is 1366 based, and I don't find my E5520's particularly hot. If you're just looking to modernize and don't -need- multiple CPUs right off the bat, it may be worthwhile looking into the L55xx series of CPUs with a dual socket board. They consume less power and produce less heat than the E55xx CPUs while providing more or less the same amount of oomph.

    Based on your last post, you could probably get a dual-socket board with one E5520 or L5520, which would be a Quad Core CPU with hyperthreading. Hyperthreading increases the efficiency of the chip by reducing the number of cache misses, but even without I think you're going to double or triple your CPU throughput even with just one chip.

    The NUMA Architecture on LGA1366 isn't as sensitive as previous generations either, since the separate banks of memory are managed by the CPUs rather than the board. You could pop another E5520/L5520 (regardless of whether it is a different stepping) or even an entirely different CPU (as long as it is the same process and core) at a later date if you find your new box isn't up to your demands.

  10. #10
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    Found another competitive C32 mobo:
    ASUS KCMA-D8
    dual socket C32
    SR5670 + SP5100 chipset
    1 - PCIe2.0 x16
    1 - PCIe2.0 x8
    1 - PCIe2.0 x4 (x8 physical) ***
    1 - PIKE storage expansion slot ***
    3 - PCI
    2 - gigabit ethernet

    *** the x4 slot is unavailable if the proprietary PIKE storage expansion slot is occupied. PIKE cards include a variety of SAS RAID options.

    The specs are pretty comparable to the MSI MS-91F7; more PCI slots but fewer rear panel USB ports.

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