Articles: CPU

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First Boot-Up

Well, now that we are done with the description of our workstation components and assembly tips, let’s move towards some practice. Let’s see how all these hardware monsters work together. When we installed the CPUs, processor coolers, system memory and the graphics card into our mainboard, our system looked as follows:

Frankly speaking, we didn’t expect to face any problems with booting this system. Especially since we used very high-quality expensive components to build it up. Moreover, we would expect the hardware manufacturers to pay special attention to the reliability, stability and compatibility of their server and workstation equipment. However, our hopes didn’t come true.

The system refused to complete the POST stage and hung right after the video initialization, so that we couldn’t even access the BIOS Setup.

We also had some difficulties with finding out what was causing this problem. Our lab POST-controller card with the PCI interface simply couldn’t fit onto the mainboard. The Quadro FX 4500 cooling system took over the entire space over the first PCI slot and didn’t let us install any expansion cards with standing out elements on the back side of the PCB into the second PCI slot. Unfortunately, our POST-controller card had its LED indicator on the back of the PCB, so we had to temporarily replace the Quadro FX 4500 graphics cards with a different graphics solution featuring smaller cooling system.

By the way, the ASUS K8N-DL mainboard we used does display some POST codes on the monitor during system boot-up, however, we couldn’t really take advantage of it, because the system would hang even before the codes started displaying.

Once we faced all that hassle, we first of all supposed that the problem might be in the BIOS. We received the mainboard with the BIOS version 1003, and as far as we could understand this BIOS version didn’t have fully-functional support of dual-core processors. We found a newer BIOS version 1004 on ASUS’ web-site. But how should we reflash the BIOS if the mainboard freezes in the very beginning of the POST stage?

Luckily, this was an easy one to resolve. ASUS K8N-DL mainboard with the BIOS version 1003 doesn’t behave the right way only if there are two dual-core CPUs installed. Four cores turned out to be too much for this BIOS version to handle. If you leave only one dual-core CPU in, the mainboard will boot up successfully. Once we discovered this trick we reflashed the new BIOS version 1004, which proved capable of working fine with two dual-core CPUs of our system.

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