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 Post subject: Biostar A760G-M2+ - 30W barrier broken
PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:52 pm 
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Background: For quite a while now, I've been on the lookout for a motherboard + CPU combination for my ideal fileserver/NAS platform. These requirements are, in rough order of importance:
  • Ability to host at least six SATA drives on a fast bus (i.e. motherboard southbridge, or expansion cards on PCIe)
  • Low power (generally implies BIOS voltage controls)
  • Gigabit network (2x would be ideal, especially with Intel chips, but not necessary)
  • ECC RAM support
  • Free PCIe slot for future upgrades
The ECC requirement conflicts with low power for the Intel platform. I currently have an Intel S3210SHLC (3210 chipset) which supports ECC, but is definitely not low power. Plus, being a server board, it doesn't have any BIOS tweaking options.

One popular NAS motherboard here on SPCR is the Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2. I have this motherboard. It's not bad, but there are a couple things that annoy me about it:
  • No ECC support. In theory, AMD Athlon CPUs are supposed to support ECC (since the memory controller is on-chip), but it still requires BIOS support. The ga-ma74gm-s2 doesn't have any ECC BIOS options to suggest ECC is supported. (To be fair, this is conjecture, as ECC might be supported "behind the scenes".)
  • The PCIe x16 slot is for video only. I tried using a 2 port SATA card in this slot, and the machine would reboot whenever data was written to a disk on this card. I contacted Gigabyte, and they explicitly said that the slot is for video only
  • Four phase VRM. Since I intend to use the least-power CPU and/or undervolt/underclock, fewer VRM phases are better. Fewer phases mean lower power consumption
Enter the Biostar A760G-M2+. This motherboard caught my eye, because it appears to address the issues I have with the Gigabyte board:
  • Three phase VRM (can't use high-power CPUs over 95W)
  • Explicit ECC options in the BIOS
  • EDIT: both PCIe slots can be used with non-video cards (see follow up below)
Anyway, I did some testing today, comparing the idle power consumption of the two boards. The Biostar beat the Gigabyte by a few watts. Common components for the testing:
  • G.Skill F2-6400PHU2-1GBHZ (2 x 512 MB modules, 1 GB total)
  • Boot drive: 8 GB Compact flash via PATA-to-CF adapter
  • AMD Sempron LE-1250 CPU (G2 stepping)
  • PicoPSU 120W w/8.5A EDAC power brick (from mini-box.com)

With default BIOS settings, both boards idled around 30 Watts (that's with PowerNow enabled, and the CPU auto-stepped down to 1.0 GHz and a lower wattage).

I went through the BIOS, and made the following changes:
  • Set base CPU frequency to 200 MHz
  • Set multiplier to x4.0 on the Biostar, and x5 on the Gigabyte (that's the lowest BIOS setting)
  • Disabled sound and floppy
  • Set memory to DDR-533
  • Lowered GPU clock as low as possible: 200 MHz on Gigabte, 150 MHz on Biostar
  • Lowered CPU voltage to 0.85 V

After all the changes, the Gigabyte idled around 27--28 Watts. The Biostar around 22--23. I tried pulling one stick of memory, but that did not seem to make a difference. Granted, this is a bare-minimum setup, but it's indicative of what I would use for a NAS (minus all the drives, of course). Other than the drives, the only thing I would change from this test setup to production is a bigger power supply.

This is another good thread on the same topic (low power motherboards for NAS).

I also have a BE-2350 CPU that I might play with, if I have time. If anyone has any questions about any of this, I'm happy to (try) to answer them!

Thanks,
Matt


Last edited by matt_garman on Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:52 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 4:14 am 
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Great! Thanks for your kind sharings. :D

Though lowest wattage may be appealing, I guess motherboard's fan control plays an important role as well. How about Biostar 760G's fan control? Gigabyte 740G can control two fans which is very good considering its price. Besides, I know MSI's 780G (K9A2GM-FD) is also able to control two fans. Otherwise, most mATX boards within similar price range have no ability to control more than a single fan. All in all, MB makers pay too much attention to OC options rather than improve fan control functions.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:23 am 
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PhenomMsrTweaker may be useful for editing the P-states.

Edit: It's not a Phenom... :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:30 am 
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loimlo wrote:
Great! Thanks for your kind sharings. :D


You are most welcome!

loimlo wrote:
Though lowest wattage may be appealing, I guess motherboard's fan control plays an important role as well. How about Biostar 760G's fan control? Gigabyte 740G can control two fans which is very good considering its price. Besides, I know MSI's 780G (K9A2GM-FD) is also able to control two fans. Otherwise, most mATX boards within similar price range have no ability to control more than a single fan. All in all, MB makers pay too much attention to OC options rather than improve fan control functions.


Good point. To be honest, that wasn't a consideration of mine. The way I look at it, with the CPU undervolted+underclocked and a decent heatsink, I can get by with no fan at all. What I'll most likely do is use my Thermalright SI-128 with a fan that is quiet at full speed (e.g. Nexus D12SL-12 or Scythe SFF21D). That's just my lazy style. ;)

In reality, I probably don't need the fan, but the "downward" orientation of the SI-128 allows all the other motherboard components to get a little bit of airflow as well.

For what it's worth, the Biostar A760G has two fan headers. One is a four pin, and one a three pin. I didn't spend any time looking at BIOS fan control, other than a quick glance. I'm assuming that you are right, and the "smart" fan controls only affect the one four-pin header.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:49 am 
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As a follow-up to my original post: I tested a two-port SATA PCIe x1 card in both PCIe slots on the A760G. Both worked!

The hard drive I used was a Samsung HD103SI. I ran dozens of bonnie++ benchmarks. This is the program I used to reliably trigger a reboot when that SATA card was used in the Gigabyte board in the PCIe x16 slot.

For what it's worth, the idle power consumption with that drive and SATA PCIe card was about 31 watts. (By the way, that drive runs really cool---even after dozens of back-to-back bonnie++ bencharks, the drive never got above 35 degC. And that's with no fan, just sitting on my desk.)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:20 am 
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I guess you could control cpu fan only on Biostar 760G board. Anyway, I usually assemble budget mATX systems for friends, so fan control plays an important role when pairing with AMD stock cooler or AC Alpine 7/64. Furthermore, an additional temp-controlled case fan may improve system thermal dissipation.

As for PCIE X16 compatibility, it's really a hit or miss if you want something other than VGA cards. I knew a few Gigabyte, ASUS P35/P45 boards can't cope with SATA PCIE 4X card.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 10:33 am 
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I hope it's okay to ask a few questions (first post). I am trying to get my head round the exact same subject; low powered always on ubuntu 9.04 headless server.

I need two nics as server/nas will also be a gateway+mythbackend+lots of other services MPD, Jabber etc. Also was thinking of 5050e as this would give me head room if needed. Anybody know what these two changes would do to the idle watts based on Matt's spec?

Another m/b option is a two nic Mini-itx. For an AMD (cheapest) solution (with 4+sata etc) seem to be the Jetway JNC81 (nvidia chipset) or JNC62K (780G Chipset). I am not sure if either would be more or as efficient as Matts solution - Biostar 760G board+extra pci Nic.

Great thread.... thanks for all the links and work to date ... I am reading everything I can.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 11:09 am 
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fredwatt wrote:
I hope it's okay to ask a few questions (first post). I am trying to get my head round the exact same subject; low powered always on ubuntu 9.04 headless server.


Welcome to SPCR! I've received a ton of friendly advice and info from folks on this board, so know that you're in good hands. :)

fredwatt wrote:
I need two nics as server/nas will also be a gateway+mythbackend+lots of other services MPD, Jabber etc. Also was thinking of 5050e as this would give me head room if needed. Anybody know what these two changes would do to the idle watts based on Matt's spec?


If you can wait a few days, I can answer that question exactly. I have a 5050e on the way. I also have a PCIe Intel Gigabit NIC that I can also add to the mix for a power reading.

As a side note, that network card I have has a little heatsink on it, and is probably a couple years old. From previous, informal observations, I believe it actually draws more current than one would expect. So the reading I come up with might be a bit higher than if you use something newer and/or something cheaper.

I just did a bit of research. The PCIe NIC I have is based on the 82572EI chip, which has a max TDP of 2.14 Watts. The newer card I linked above is based on the 82574L chip, which has a max TDP of 0.727 Watts.

fredwatt wrote:
Another m/b option is a two nic Mini-itx. For an AMD (cheapest) solution (with 4+sata etc) seem to be the Jetway JNC81 (nvidia chipset) or JNC62K (780G Chipset). I am not sure if either would be more or as efficient as Matts solution - Biostar 760G board+extra pci Nic.


Pure speculation here: I doubt they would beat the Biostar 760G; both look like they have four-phase power supplies. The one with the nVidia chipset has a fan on the northbridge---that's often a sign that the chip runs hot, which implies it uses a lot of power. Also, for what it's worth, that's an 8200 chip: I have a combined MythTV frontend/backend using the Asus 8300 chipset with a 4850e CPU. Idle AC power consumption is around 50 Watts.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 12:15 pm 
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Matt, thank you. You are an oracle of knowledge...

Quote:
If you can wait a few days, I can answer that question exactly. I have a 5050e on the way. I also have a PCIe Intel Gigabit NIC that I can also add to the mix for a power reading.

This information would be amazing. Yes please and thank you.

Quote:
The newer card I linked above is based on the 82574L chip, which has a max TDP of 0.727 Watts.

This means that there is no reason why I shouldn't use Biostar 760G instead of the Jetway Mini-itxs. (I looked at Mini-itx's as I needed a dual nic, size wise ATX, or MATX is also fine as the new server will be being hidden in a rack under the stairs! )

Quote:
Pure speculation here:...

That reasoning was golden. Unless I look at another chipset for an AMD mini-itx; the Biostar is the better bet. Nice.

Matt do you have any thoughts about an intel based solution. If you ignore the comparable cost of such a build, Would an e7400+ intel mini-itx like Commell LV-678 (Q35 chipset) or G31 biostar m/b be a solid low watt solution?

Obviously it would be more powerful than a Biostar/5050e solution but for a linux server (mythbackend - stream HD, mysql, mpd, jabber, firewall, gateway, samba, mail, apache http) would it be over kill? I know that's a loaded question. (if I could answer that myself I would have purchased :wink: ) I do have another intel/nvidia based HTPC for a mythfrontend, so the server does not need HD graphics or VDPAU, or anything really... just ssh.

I was going down the Intel route, but after reading all the threads on here I thought an AMD solution would be powerful enough for my server's needs. Why buy processing power that might never be used.

Thanks a million for your mind, and research. You are shaping an excellent solution for all of us; and furthering my understanding too.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:24 am 
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fredwatt wrote:
Matt do you have any thoughts about an intel based solution. If you ignore the comparable cost of such a build, Would an e7400+ intel mini-itx like Commell LV-678 (Q35 chipset) or G31 biostar m/b be a solid low watt solution?

Obviously it would be more powerful than a Biostar/5050e solution but for a linux server (mythbackend - stream HD, mysql, mpd, jabber, firewall, gateway, samba, mail, apache http) would it be over kill? I know that's a loaded question. (if I could answer that myself I would have purchased :wink: ) I do have another intel/nvidia based HTPC for a mythfrontend, so the server does not need HD graphics or VDPAU, or anything really... just ssh.


I have a little experience with the Intel Q35 chipset via an Intel BOXDQ35JOE motherboard I used to have. I was using an e5200 CPU. I used this as my fileserver/NAS platform for a few months.

In terms of idle power consumption, it was comparable to the Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2 and BE-2350 CPU, which I also used for a few months as my NAS platform.

In both cases, all components were exactly the same (except motherboard and CPU obviously). I kept a spreadsheet of the power usage numbers, but don't have it handy at the moment. But I do remember that both platforms were roughly the same (within a watt or two of each other).

But note that both boards were running with mostly stock BIOS options (except for obvious stuff, like disabling sound and floppy). In other words, no underclocking/undervolting. Had I spent some time with the Gigabyte board, I probably could have beat the Intel board in terms of idle power consumption, because the Intel board didn't have any BIOS voltage or clocking controls.

That Commell board looks nice. I'd wager that it's power usage is on par with the Intel board I used, probably even lower. But I doubt it has any voltage or clock controls. I'd actually be interested in playing with that (but I've already sunk too much money in all these different boards!).

I don't have any experience with the G31 chipset, but I've seen a number of people on this site build low-power systems with it. Another place you might want to peruse is the Data Storage Systems Forum at Hard Forum. There was a thread not too long ago dealing with low-power. Eventually I'll post my Biostar A760G findings over there. But anyway, I do remember seeing a fair number of folks over there using the G31 chipset as well.

I don't know if it's a requirement for you or not, but one thing you'll give up by going the Intel route is ECC memory support. Only Intel's (power hungry) server chipsets support ECC memory.

As for how much computing power you need, it depends on how much "service" the system will provide. Some random thoughts:
  • mythbackend - stream HD: recording and streaming HD are almost purely I/O loads; even the wimpiest processor will support this. Transcoding obviously takes a lot of CPU power. I don't know about commercial flagging---I know my combined frontend/backend (Asus 8300 + 4850e) can do commercial flagging while we're watching videos and not have any impact. But I've never actually studied the CPU usage while commercial flagging is going on.
  • mysql - if only to support MythTV, this is a very minimal load. Of course, if you want to power a highly dynamic, "Web 2.0" website (e.g. hosting busy forums), it will take some muscle.
  • mpd - negligible.
  • jabber - probably negligible, unless you're running a server to support thousands of simultaneous users.
  • firewall/gateway - negligible, unless you have very fancy/complicated firewall rules, with encrypted VPN tunnels and such.
  • samba - also generally boils down to an I/O load. CPU load is negligible.
  • mail - for a small number of users, very little load. If you have a lot of users and a ridiculous amount of spam you need to filter, this would obviously take more CPU horsepower.
  • apache http - for simple uses (e.g., talking to MythTV), negligible load... unless of course you're developing and/or hosting rich web applications.

Again, that's just my rough, off-the-cuff approximations. But the gist is, for typical home-use applications, I'd really be surprised if the AMD solution was underpowered.

I'm hoping to find time this weekend to do testing with the 5050e CPU.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:42 am 
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Matt, what can I say but thank you for your response. You have gone the extra mile to replying to every detail of my last post.

The Commell board does look great for a server/nas/gateway/serial controller/music player device. But (always is a darn but) it is v. expensive. I have just done some due diligence from a cost perspective. With a rack case, + pico power supply, 2xtb disk, modem + every thing else I need. I am thinking an AMD solution maybe right for several reasons, but I can't rule out a G31/7400 combo more power but more idle watts. (thanks for the heads up about ECC, plus one for the AMD solution).


My current thinking is that AMD maybe the right fit for price/performance/watt usage, and your work has drawn me in that direction. Thank you once more. Why not use the 5050e as it's relatively cheap, the most performant AMD low powered dual core and TDP is 45w. The e7400 will give me more power but more watt (65W TDP) and more upfront cost, maybe I can get the watt < 40 with tuning, as but I have to ask my self what is the use case for the extra CPU cycles ...... and the answer is ... there isn't one at the moment, but I can't rule out a e7400 as like us all I have a limited pot of money.

(EDIT) The article http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/int ... 39-14.html for a 7200 solution keeps me thinking that maybe I should try the same but with a e7400. (e7200 is not on main stream sale anymore with e-retailers in the UK)

Probably like you what I want is an always on solution. 95% of the time it will be idle and it's that reason why I love your 30W solution. I think there should be headroom with the 5050.

Matt, I know I keep on saying it, but I mean it Thank You. And I do look forward to hearing about how you get on with your 5050e when you have the time. Nice work. [/url]


Last edited by fredwatt on Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:31 am 
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I just put in the 5050e. 26 watts idle. And that's not tweaking any CPU clock/voltage settings in the BIOS, just normal Cool'n'Quiet operation.

What I did change in the BIOS:
  • lowered internal GPU clock to 150 MHz
  • Disabled sound
  • Disabled floppy
With idle power this low, I'm not sure how much I can save by underclocking and undervolting the CPU, I'm guessing only a watt or two... but I'll see. This is fun. :)


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 9:42 am 
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I just did a test with my Intel PCIe NIC (based on the power-hungry 82572EI chip).

Note that I didn't change anything (hardware, BIOS or otherwise) except adding the NIC. Idle power consumption barely went up, idling around 26--27 watts. However, the interface wasn't activated. When I activated the interface, idle power consumption went up a bit more, around 27--28 watts.

It got interesting when I started doing network performance tests using the nttcp program. I wasn't so much concerned about network performance as I was watching power usage while doing the tests.
  1. On-board NIC (Realtek 8111C)
    • Sending: 57 watts
    • Receiving: 41 watts
  2. PCIe NIC (Intel 82572EI)
    • Sending: 33 watts
    • Receiving: 40 watts (see note below)

Note on the send test with the Intel PCIe NIC: The power usage kept fluctuating. Most of the time, it hovered around 40 watts. But periodically, it would shoot up to 50 watts for a second, then dip down to 35 watts for a second or two, then go back to 40 watts. I ran all tests several times, and this behavior was consistent.

Just like with the CPU, though, the loaded power consumption of the two NICs probably doesn't make a huge difference, unless you plan to be sending huge amounts of data all the time. Idle power consumption matters most. Just for kicks, I went ahead and ordered that newer Intel PCIe NIC based on the 82574L chip (couldn't help myself :)).


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 11:14 am 
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Power supply swap: I put the PicoPSU back with my MythTV media PC where it belongs. I'm now running the 5050e at stock BIOS settings (with C'n'Q enabled), IGP at 150 MHz, and floppy+sound disabled in the BIOS (i.e. same config as a couple posts ago/first post with the 5050e), but with a Seasonic S12 II 330GB PSU. 29 watts idle, and about 30 with the Intel PCIe NIC.

From here on out I'll be using this power supply for my testing. I'd like to use a PicoPSU in my NAS box, but with four drives (six planned), I think it's too much of a load. (Actually, I'm sure the PicoPSU could handle the idle load, but the startup current draw would probably nuke it. I don't see any BIOS options for staggered drive spin up.)


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 5:01 am 
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Matt,

Been following your thread with great interest, your postings are really informative.

I'm in a similar situation, in that I'm looking to build a low power consumption Nas/Fileserver. I'd like to run all my apps, with the lowest possible wattage. I will use Windows Home Server or Win 2003 with squeezecentre and ps3mediasever running.

The only component I have so far is Samsung F2 EcoGreen 1.5Tb HDD, I was thinking of buying the Biostar A760G-M2+ along with 5050e CPU (extra headroom). I will also have a standard DVD Burner, for archiving from the NAS drive. I dont anticipate more that 3 HDD eventually, maybe even a max of 2, only 1 for now.

My question is what kind of power consumption can I expect with my setup, i.e. OS will run from HDD and an internal DVD burner. Also for this kind of setup, could I get away with the picoPSU ?

thanks


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 8:47 am 
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truckid wrote:
The only component I have so far is Samsung F2 EcoGreen 1.5Tb HDD, I was thinking of buying the Biostar A760G-M2+ along with 5050e CPU (extra headroom). I will also have a standard DVD Burner, for archiving from the NAS drive. I dont anticipate more that 3 HDD eventually, maybe even a max of 2, only 1 for now.

My question is what kind of power consumption can I expect with my setup, i.e. OS will run from HDD and an internal DVD burner. Also for this kind of setup, could I get away with the picoPSU ?


With only one hard drive, the A760G + 5050e CPU, I would anticipate idle usage around 30 Watts, give or take up to five watts for PSU efficiency, whether or not you underclock/undervolt, etc. The DVD burner will make a negligible difference when idle.

With regards to the PicoPSU, what you need to be concerned about is the startup current draw. The motherboard and CPU pull a lot of power when they are first powered on. Likewise, the hard drives will also pull the most current at power-on (i.e. when they initially spin up). With only one hard drive, you should be OK with the PicoPSU.

I'm going from memory here, but with no hard drives on my test setup (i.e. just motherboard + 5050 CPU + CompactFlash boot drive), I think the max startup power draw I saw on the Kill-a-Watt was 80 W. That's AC, of course, so DC power draw is probably around 70 to 80% of that.

So, just to be conservative, we'll say the motherboard + CPU pulls 70 watts DC at startup. Each hard drive you add will take 20--30 watts to spin-up. So, with two hard drives, you've pretty much maxed out the 120 Watt PicoPSU. Three would almost certainly be too much.

However, there may be a way to get the drives to do a "staggered" spin up. This means that, instead of having all drives spin-up at once, they spin up one at a time, to ease the current draw at power-on. I haven't seen an option for this in the A760G bios, though, so it's probably not possible without some deeper hacking.

I think your (and my) ideal would be one of the power supplies mentioned in this thread, although, they don't appear to be available through retail channels right now. Hopefully that will change.


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 Post subject: FSP 250W
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:53 pm 
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Matt,

Thanks for the info. I was thinking of the 150w PicoPSU, but your calculations show that would be still be underpowered.

Its seems that a 250w power supply would be ideal, for a 760G + 5050e pc with 3 green 1tb+ HDD and some headroom.

I've done a quick search, found this PSU and saw it mentioned on the thread you highlighted, it looks interesting :

FSP250-60GHT

http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/37961
http://www.watt-power.co.uk/catalogue/w ... p-351.html

My initial concern is whether a tfx PSU would fit in a micro atx case

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811173013

It looks like it should, as its only about 30 mm longer than a 'standard' PSU, leaving enough clearance for the DVD drive.

I can see that the large fan is at the top of the PSU, am I correct in that I can flip the PSU over and have this fan pointing downwards and into the case ?


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 Post subject: Re: FSP 250W
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 5:27 am 
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truckid wrote:
FSP250-60GHT

http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/37961
http://www.watt-power.co.uk/catalogue/w ... p-351.html

My initial concern is whether a tfx PSU would fit in a micro atx case

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811173013

It looks like it should, as its only about 30 mm longer than a 'standard' PSU, leaving enough clearance for the DVD drive.

I can see that the large fan is at the top of the PSU, am I correct in that I can flip the PSU over and have this fan pointing downwards and into the case ?


My thoughts are that you can probably use that PSU, but regardless of the orientation, you'll at best have to do some drilling, or at worst, create a custom adapter plate. As I'm sure you've noticed, ATX PSUs have screw holes that aren't square (i.e. they are keyed to a particular orientation). I've never used a TFX power supply, but I'm guessing it has something similar, which will require you to drill holes in your case to line up with the mounting holes of the PSU. It's possible that one or or more of the PSU mounting holes go where you have no case material; in this case, you'd have to get a sheet of metal to "patch" your case, and then use that sheet to mount the PSU.

Shouldn't be too terribly hard, as long as you can drill and have access to tin snips or a dremel tool.

If you go through with it, let us know how it goes (even better if you take pictures!).


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 Post subject: Re: FSP 250W
PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:50 pm 
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@matt_garman,

This is all excellent info & data - thanks for the detail!

I'm one of those (those!) using the GA-MA74GM-S2 for my server board. Although it's been ROCK stable, I already see myself exceeding the 6 on-board sata ports. That it cannot take a PCIe x4 sata expander in the PCIe x16 slot is a major setback.

Your Biostar looks like an awesome fit, though. Especially considering the ECC support. Looks like just the right host for a Supermicro AOC-USAS-L8i. Would make a killer little file server.

[EDIT] Looking at the Biostar's manual, it states that ECC memory is NOT supported... ???

[EDIT #2] Never mind - the BIOS manual shows all the ECC options. Don't know why the main manual says it's not supported...

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 10:48 pm 
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Matt, thanks for your research and data re the 5050e with Nic. This is fantastic, amazing.... and really makes computing fun.

PSU 250W 80 Plus (this is what I am thinking of using, But note is 1u low profile not ATX form factor):
http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12015

For my build; I am going to follow Matt's lead 5050e/Copy Matt. But I am finding it hard to find a supplier with availabilty for a 5050e in the uk. Anybody got any good links to e-tailer with availability?

On a avforums.com thread, someone posted that 5050e is at end of life, hence why difficult to find.

[edit #1] I have read about the new range of 45w efficient processors AMD Athlon II X3/X4 (i.e. 405e). I guess if these are about to be released, it makes sense to discontinue the 5050e.

[edit #2] A760G M2+ is listed as compatible with new athlons - AMD Athlonâ„¢ II X3/X4 405e/600e http://www.biostar.com.tw/app/en-us/mb/ ... p?S_ID=394


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:47 am 
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Yes a great thread which I've been lurking since it first appeared. It's a shame 5050e's have disappeared from online UK retailers during the course of it. The closest AMD replacements are the X2 2.7GHz 235e or 2.8GHz 240e 45W Regors. I won't say equivalents because the signs are not so good for power consumption which perhaps will lead to a long ETA.

Meanwhile E5200 seem to be readily available again, clutching at straws I've looked at the stripped down Flex ATX Biostar G31D-M7 (which unfortunately I can't post a link to yet) drawn to its Maximum CPU TDP of 65W and low price.

EDIT: 5050e deactivated on Newegg now.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 6:36 am 
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fredwatt wrote:
[EDIT] Looking at the Biostar's manual, it states that ECC memory is NOT supported... ???

[EDIT #2] Never mind - the BIOS manual shows all the ECC options. Don't know why the main manual says it's not supported...


I too noticed that the A760G manual says that ECC is not supported, in direct contradiction to the BIOS manual (and the BIOS itself!). I'm guessing that Biostar didn't put a whole lot of time and effort into creating and/or checking that document. I also noticed that it's one document for at least a couple motherboard models.

For what it's worth, I found some utilities for verifying ECC function under Linux (scroll down to "ECC utilities" section). I haven't really had a chance to play with these yet though.

It's a shame the 5050e is getting increasingly hard to find. I got mine from ebay.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:42 pm 
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I just read through the manual of the Biostar A760G-M2+ and have a question now: is the default RAM voltage really 1,95V? It seems to be pretty high compared to other boards (1,8V). Or is it just an old bios version? Is it possible to undervolt the RAM or get it at least down to 1,8V?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:55 pm 
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ShinKyo wrote:
I just read through the manual of the Biostar A760G-M2+ and have a question now: is the default RAM voltage really 1,95V? It seems to be pretty high compared to other boards (1,8V). Or is it just an old bios version? Is it possible to undervolt the RAM or get it at least down to 1,8V?


Yes, that's a definite strike against this board, unless someone can figure out how to change it. At least as far as I can tell, the minimum RAM voltage is 1.95V. My RAM (like a lot of DDR2 RAM) is 1.8V rated. So far it works without any issues at Biostar's higher voltage, but it's definitely using more power than necessary.

I'll contact Biostar to see if I can get any further info on changing the DDR2 voltage.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:33 pm 
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Ask the them, if it's possible to let us set the RAM voltage to 1,5V. There are already DDR2 RAMs, which run at 1,5V.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 6:16 pm 
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I was also looking for boards with ECC support, and I found Asus is the only manufacturer that makes non-server boards with ECC support. It's good to know that the Biostar also supports ECC, but it seems it's the only one that has ECC support. I'm planning to go with nvidia 8200 because of their better south bridge, but none of Biostar's 8200 boards seem to have ECC support.

It was getting rather annoying to find all the mobo manufacturer (aside from Asus) not willing to add the extra bit to the memory channel for ECC, but it'd be nice if Biostar would in their future mobos.

I'd like to ask a quick question though. Could you verify ECC is working with Sempron? I was under the impression that newer Sempron LE didn't have ECC capable memory controller on them.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:32 am 
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somename wrote:
I was also looking for boards with ECC support, and I found Asus is the only manufacturer that makes non-server boards with ECC support. It's good to know that the Biostar also supports ECC, but it seems it's the only one that has ECC support. I'm planning to go with nvidia 8200 because of their better south bridge, but none of Biostar's 8200 boards seem to have ECC support.

It was getting rather annoying to find all the mobo manufacturer (aside from Asus) not willing to add the extra bit to the memory channel for ECC, but it'd be nice if Biostar would in their future mobos.

I'd like to ask a quick question though. Could you verify ECC is working with Sempron? I was under the impression that newer Sempron LE didn't have ECC capable memory controller on them.


I agree, I don't know why all AMD motherboards don't support ECC by default. It seems like it wouldn't add too much extra cost, since the CPU itself does all the real work.

I've always been curious, though: even if the BIOS doesn't explicitly support ECC, but the CPU does, what happens if you use ECC memory? Maybe it actually does "just work" behind the scenes? I found this page with some Linux ECC utilities (and I'd be surprised if something similar didn't exist for Windows). It would be interesting to get several "non-ECC" boards and experiment to see if ECC support actually does work.

As for the Sempron, I don't think the CPU supports ECC, so motherboard support is a moot point. I asked about Sempron ECC support here. I was hoping for an official answer from AMD, but my question went unanswered. Based on that, I just assumed that the Sempron doesn't support ECC, so I never even bothered to test it.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:43 am 
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matt_garman wrote:
I've always been curious, though: even if the BIOS doesn't explicitly support ECC, but the CPU does, what happens if you use ECC memory? Maybe it actually does "just work" behind the scenes? I found this page with some Linux ECC utilities (and I'd be surprised if something similar didn't exist for Windows). It would be interesting to get several "non-ECC" boards and experiment to see if ECC support actually does work.


My understanding is that the morherboard has to have extra traces to the memory banks for it to use ECC bits, and I read conflicting opinions whether an OS kernel can make use of ECC with or without BIOS support.

I remember reading a few forum posts where people mentioning Linux detecting ECC errors when their motherboard didn't have ECC option in the BIOS, but I can't remember how well they said it worked.

It's all very confusing to me. So far ASUS is only manufacturer that I know to specifically states to have ECC support(or lack there of), so I'll be buying their board to skip all the guess work. Only if manufacturers spent little more time on writing actual data sheets for their products instead of making all their pretty logos.

matt_garman wrote:
As for the Sempron, I don't think the CPU supports ECC, so motherboard support is a moot point. I asked about Sempron ECC support here. I was hoping for an official answer from AMD, but my question went unanswered. Based on that, I just assumed that the Sempron doesn't support ECC, so I never even bothered to test it.


Thanks for the info. That's what I figured from my looking at the datasheet. I'm still not quite sure if Athlon LE has ECC support, though I'm not sure if that chip saves any further power over something like 4050e.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:18 pm 
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Re: ECC memory ... how do you know if you need registered or non-registered?

[EDIT] Rather, how do I find out what this board accepts? Or does it not matter? ECC nonregistered kits are not expensive at all...

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:40 am 
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Jay_S wrote:
Re: ECC memory ... how do you know if you need registered or non-registered?

[EDIT] Rather, how do I find out what this board accepts? Or does it not matter? ECC nonregistered kits are not expensive at all...


I use non-registered. How I know that... I actually didn't put any thought into it; I already had this Crucial CT2KIT25672AA667 from my previous NAS motherboard (Intel S3210SHLC). :oops:

In general though, I've observed that ECC-supporting AM2 motherboards use unregistered, non-buffered memory.


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