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 Post subject: Good "low-wattable" mobo for Sempron?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 4:18 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2003 2:02 am
Posts: 26
Location: Finland
Hi there,

I'm a long time reader, but haven't been posting much. The SPCR site (along with the forums!) is invaluable :-)

And now to the point:

I currently have this kind of Ubuntu server setup:
* Duron 600MHz
* ASUS A7N266-VM mobo (way old mATX board)
* 512MB DDR
* a hard drive
* picoPSU (can't remember which one ;-) )

This machine is a fileserver and light webserver. When I need to download torrents, I use it for that also (for most of the time no torrenting is active, though).

It works fine as it is, but I need to upgrade the HDD, and my board does not have SATA (and I don't want to go buy any IDE drives anymore), so it's time to upgrade everything I guess.

I started doing some research, and at first was glad to see news on the VIA Eden ULV processors. Then I read some benchmarks and decided the VIA is not beefy enough for me, or maybe it is but I still want more headroom.

Then I was thinking about the Core 2 ULV processors, but afaik they are not available for consumers, besides they cost serious $$$.

My primary goal is to get *low* wattage.

I need:
A) low wattage (emphasis on the word "low" ;-) )
B) at least two SATA ports, preferably more
C) onboard VGA+LAN

Now, almost anything would be sufficient in terms of processing power. However, I do not want to go the VIA route - I'm getting an AMD or Intel CPU. I was thinking of getting a Sempron (lowest model possible should suffice), and underclock/undervolt it.

The questions I keep searching answers for are:

1. Is the Sempron a good deal here, or should I get something else? Dual Core would be nice of course, but I don't think you can get the wattage as low as with a Sempron?

2. What motherboard should I get? I can easily find a suitable board but I need info about the underclocking/undervolting abilities, which is rarely provided in the pdf manuals it seems...

3. I guess I need underclocking/undervolting via BIOS? (As I'm running Ubuntu Server on it rather than Windows, so RMClock & co are out of the question.) Hmmm, I think I have to check ubuntuforums.org for answers on CnQ or SpeedStep on Ubuntu.


I've been reading the recent "low-wattage" threads and used the forum search but haven't found much info about what motherboards people run their undervolted Semprons (or whatever) on...

Naturally, I'm buying all components second hand - trying to keep our beloved dear lovely planet blue & green :roll:

I don't really mind spending some cash on this, as long as I get very low wattage. But used components are always greener of course.


Suggestions, hints and tips are more than welcome, thanks! :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 4:27 am 
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Location: en.gb.uk
For myself my HTPCs have AM2 Semprons, the motherboards are ASRock AliveNF6G and AliveNF4G respectively. They're pretty decent (and cheap) boards, and allow undervolting to 0.8V in the BIOS (my particular Semprons run at about 1.0V, I forget the precise figure). They have SATA, VGA and GbE onboard, and being NVIDIA the driver support under Linux is pretty decent.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 4:44 am 
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Location: Finland
nutball wrote:
For myself my HTPCs have AM2 Semprons, the motherboards are ASRock AliveNF6G and AliveNF4G respectively. They're pretty decent (and cheap) boards, and allow undervolting to 0.8V in the BIOS (my particular Semprons run at about 1.0V, I forget the precise figure). They have SATA, VGA and GbE onboard, and being NVIDIA the driver support under Linux is pretty decent.


Hi, thanks for the tip! I checked those and they look like good boards.

However, do you have any idea about the power consumption of your systems? I'm particularly worried about the TDP of the chipset.

Is there any real information online on chipset power consumption anyway? For example, I read somewhere that the TDP of Intel's 945GM chipset is 7W, which *sounds* like a low, but I haven't got much info to compare to :?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 5:02 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2007 4:12 am
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That sounds like the Sempron devbox I got running here. Eventually used an Asus barebone: Pundit P2-AE2

Very happy with it (after replacing the default fans)

Edit: Review at Sudhian


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 5:18 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 3:03 am
Posts: 12
Why do you expect the VIA cpu to be not beefy enough?

I have a gentoo linux (no GUI) server based on an 'ancient' VIA C3 @600MHz.
It does, fileserver, webserver, printer server, music server, edonkey downloader, torrent downloader... And it is doing it 3 years non stop now, without complaining. (it even builds the update from souce code, gentoo style) Only noisy part in it, is the HD.

So if you want low noise, low watt. I would reconsider this option.

just my 2cts

Paul


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 5:43 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2003 2:02 am
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Location: Finland
paulka:

Although the torrentflux server is idle (no torrents running) at least 95% of the time, I didn't want the torrenting to affect or hinder file/webserving much.

According to your post, it doesn't - so I will seriously reconsider the VIA route. I'm not running a GUI either, so I guess I'll be fine with VIA. I didn't realize this. I'll see if I can find a nice second hand VIA board somewhere. If it's not beefy enough I'll just sell it and go with Sempron (or whatnot) instead.

Thanks paulka! To me, your above post is worth more than the 2 cents you said... :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 6:42 am 
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Andru wrote:
However, do you have any idea about the power consumption of your systems? I'm particularly worried about the TDP of the chipset.


I think I posted some measurements some time ago, but I can't find it through all my other spamming and ranting.

Off the top of my head I think that the whole system is ~40W idle and ~50W under load drawn from the wall (so probably ~30W and ~40W DC). That's without a hard-drive though.

EDIT: Hmmm, maybe it was more like idling at 50W (see this thread), though I don't recall which of the two systems that measurement was taken from.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 10:21 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:59 pm
Posts: 157
Location: San Diego, CA
I have this system running Fedora 7:

Sempron 3000+
ASRock K8NF6G-VSTA (Socket 754)
1.5GB DDR
2 7200 rpm drives
Seasonic Super Tornado 300 PSU
Extra RTL-8169 GigE NIC (system is a firewall, too)

It idles at 48w (make sure cpuspeed is setup to start and load the cpufreq_ondemand module!). Not undervolted or anything, so not bad considering.

I also have another system:
Via C3 800MHz
512MB
2 7200 rpm drives
Seasonic Super Tornado 300 PSU

This one idles at 35w or something (it's been a while since I measured this one). It also runs Fedora 7, but runs in text mode (low memory) as a mail server, web server, bittorrent server and has enough power most of the time. With a better PSU for the low wattage (like a PicoPSU) power draw would be even lower.

So if this is mainly to be used as a low power Linux server, I would highly recommend a Via system. My second choice would be a Sempron, but I don't have any experience with undervolting.

Make sure you get at least 1GB of RAM, the 512MB I have is barely enough. If I were to get a Via today, I'd get a C7 1GHz or faster.

I hear the AMD Geode systems are supposed to have low power consumption, but haven't heard much about them and don't have any experience with them, either.

Edit: Have a look at this post by gfairbanks, he has a BE-2350, ABIT AN-M2HD, a notebook drive and PicoPSU which idles at 20w running Linux!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 5:41 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 27, 2004 3:54 pm
Posts: 110
Location: Sydney, Australia
My recent build idles at ~ 30W with CnQ enabled but no other undervolting:
AMD X2 4000+ 65W CPU
ASUS M2N8-VMX
2x512MB RAM
1x 2.5" 80GB HD
pioneer DVD burner
pico PSU

The server in my sig idles at ~70W, and the HTPC ~50W - all measured at the wall with a killawatt.

_________________
Server: E8400 (stock speeds @1.0V)7700-AlCu, Nexus fan|G33M-S2H|:HDs WD 1200BEVS 2x WDEACS 1TB|2xdigital tuners|PW-200-V, 80W brick|Antec NSK1300|
HTPC: X2 4000+ (stock speeds @1.0V|stock cooler, Nexus fan)|M2A-VM HDMI|Seagate 40GB 2.5"|PicoPSU120, 80W brick|Silverstone LC02|DVICO digital tuner|


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 11:06 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 3:03 am
Posts: 12
Andru wrote:
Thanks paulka! To me, your above post is worth more than the 2 cents you said... :)


Your welcome. Keep me (us) posted on how it works out for you.

[edit] I'll try to do a power measurement on my via C3 server this weekend. It is a long time ago since I actually measured it. (and I have frequency scaling enabled nowdays) But it must be below 60W because that is PSU (60W DC-DC) I use.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 1:09 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2003 2:02 am
Posts: 26
Location: Finland
Thanks for all the input, I've been looking at the Sempron alternatives, too - but the VIA really seems better (lower wattage, still enough processing power).

So, I think I'm going the VIA way, looking at some Jetway boards, they are way cheaper than VIA boards.

By the way, some CN700-chipset based boards are specified as FSB 133, while others are FSB 400 ... still, most of them use DDR2 memory.

I'm not very familiar with the FSB with VIA. I read someplace that in the past, the FSB has been a bottleneck for the VIA platform. Are the FSB133 versions older and should I avoid the 133 and specifically get a FSB400 board?

Thanks everyone :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 8:17 am 
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Location: Chicago, Ill., USA
I built an Ubuntu desktop system for my fiancee using the Biostar Tforce TF7025-M2 motherboard and an AMD BE-2350 CPU. With one hard drive and a PicoPSU, this system draws 33 W AC idle and about 75 W fully loaded. Note that when idle the OS automatically undervolts the CPU to 1.07 V or so, and underclocks to 1 GHz.

Read this thread. Right now, the nvidia 7025/7050 chipset is probably the lowest power chipset available for AMD. Probably lower than comparable Intel chipsets.

The only downside is that the Biostar doesn't allow BIOS CPU undervolting.

But take a look at the ASRock ALiveNF7G-HDReady. In this thread it's mentioned that the BIOS does allow undervolting, although the degree to which the CPU can be undervolted isn't specified. That question was asked though; hopefully it will be answered.

I also have a Via EPIA 600 MHz system; it has no hard drive (runs off CF) and pulls about 20 W AC. But the performance difference between the AMD and the VIA isn't even comparable.

Plus, I'd bet that if you got a single core sempron and undervolted it down to 0.9 V or so, with the ASRock 7050 motherboard mentioned above, you could probably idle at 20 to 25 W. That's just a guess, but I'm tempted to try.

Let us know what you do!
Matt


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 3:12 pm 
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Location: UK
i am thinking of building the exact same thing as paulka and yourself, perhaps with some wireless router duties too (i'm getting fed up with my wrt54g, even with 3rd party FWs).

you can pick up a s370 motherboard on ebay, with LAN & onboard graphics for virtually p&p. add a c3/ram (as above).

remebering heat out = power in, most(?) s370 boards have no heatsinks, and mine haven't got above warm.*

low power: i have cpu/mobo/ram** run off a picopsu + 12v/2a brick borrowed from an external hdd enclosure, for extended periods.
i have also used a 566 coppermine-celeron with the same setup, which i would estimate (from heatsink temp) has twice the cpu wattage, so with the c3 the system is even less than 24W.*
low cpu wattage also means less stressed vrms, i am not concerned about leaving this in a 0 airflow situation. so far the chips on the ram have actually been the hottest component.*
i know it is half the reason for 'upgrading', but the only challenge would be lack of onboard SATA, but i am hoping that with a cheap add on card, this isn't too much of a problem, i have to check on linux drivers, relibaility etc.
i think getting a mobo that has SATA is going to use more power, and i see little reason to leave 3+ spare pci slots.

very green, not only 'reducing' the production of another cpu/mobo, but keeping another out of land fill. very cheap. very low power.

oh well, have a think about it.

*note, i haven't done stress testing yet.
**with external cd drive.

_________________
i3-530, Gigabyte H55M-D2H, CM hyper212+ | Sempron64 3000+, Biostar Tforce 6100, AC Freezer 7, picopsu. 0 fans.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 12:20 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2003 2:02 am
Posts: 26
Location: Finland
Well, thanks very much for the tips.

My situation is that I'm actually waiting for the Samsung F-series hard drives to appear in shops so I can upgrade. Meanwhile, I am researching my options for the mainboard+CPU combo.

At this point, I think I'm going to choose the VIA alternative.
There is no need to "up the wattage" and go the Sempron way, although the performance would be better. If my 600 MHz Duron is enough for my purposes (described in the first post), so should a via 1.0GHz or 1.2GHz VIA C7 board be.

The TDP for the VIA chipset is only 4 Watts, in addition to the 7 or 12 W of the CPU. I don't think I could come up with a Sempron (or any other AMD or Intel) configuration to beat or even match that. After all, low wattage is my main goal here, in addition to having SATA.

But if there's something I've overlooked in my assumptions, please feel free to correct me :)

Thanks again, I'm glad this forum is full of helpful people!


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 Post subject: ALiveNF7G-HDReady
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 1:08 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 5:29 am
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Location: .cz
matt_garman wrote:
But take a look at the ASRock ALiveNF7G-HDReady. In this thread it's mentioned that the BIOS does allow undervolting, although the degree to which the CPU can be undervolted isn't specified. That question was asked though; hopefully it will be answered.


the lowest cpu voltage in ALiveNF7G-HDReady BIOS is 0.8V...


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 Post subject: a much simpler solution to the original problem
PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 2:05 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 02, 2019 12:44 pm
Posts: 1
Location: Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Yes, I realise that the last post in this topic was twelve years ago but I originally found this topic via an Internet search engine only in the last year or three and was still running Ubuntu on a Socket A tower computer until earlier this year when I moved the 2.5-inch SATA SSD to a Core 2 ULV notebook computer that was given to me, specifically an Asus UL30VT-A1, the version for Canada if it makes a difference. Anyway, all the original poster needed to do was add a SATA host controller on a parallel PCI card to the Socket A computer they already had. Yes, you may have to replace the firmware on the SATA card if the card ships with the RAID BIOS but you need the non-RAID BIOS but that is easy to do too. I successfully did this using an SiI3124 (SiI = Silicon Image) parallel PCI↔SATA 3 Gib/s (AKA “SATA2”) card but I eventually replaced this Socket A tower computer that I originally assembled with the help of my father in early 2002 with the aforementioned Core 2 ULV notebook computer that my father gave me because he no longer needed it only earlier this year because I wanted to reduce the energy usage, fan noise, and waste heat from the two full-size ATX tower computers that were always running in my bedroom at home. Alternatively, the original poster may have been able to use a SATA↔PATA converter to connect a SATA drive to a PATA host controller but I have no experience with this type of converter so I do not know how well it works in practice, assuming that it works at all. I wanted to post my simple and low-cost solution even though it is over a decade after the last post in this topic because I think there must still be lots of old desktop computers without SATA connectivity in use globally so I thought this post may help other persons who, like me, originally find this topic over a decade since it was started.


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