Building a Workstation
In this section we are going to take a closer look at all hardware components used for a workstation based on two dual-core AMD Opteron processors.
The basis of our dual-processor platform will be ASUS K8N-DL mainboard. This solution is based on NVIDIA nForce Professional chipset. It supports not only two Socket 940 processors, but also a PCI Express x16 graphics bus, which makes this platform ideal for a high-performance workstation. At the same time, ASUS K8N-DL doesn’t boast any superior “extras”, which value would be pretty doubtful in our case, and thus it turns into a very attractive solution from the price standpoint. Moreover, this mainboard also offers some overclocking-friendly features, which is a very rare thing for solutions of this kind.
The formal specifications of this platform look as follows:
Dual AMD Opteron for Socket 940
NVIDIA nForce Professional
200-400MHz (with 1MHz increment)
Independently adjustable PCI Express bus frequency;
6 DDR DIMM slots for dual-channel Registered DDR SDRAM
PCI Express slots
1 x PCI Express x16
PCI expansion slots
USB 2.0 ports
10 (4 – on the rear panel)
2 ATA-133 channels (in the chipset)
4 Serial ATA-150 channels controller
ATA RAID support
RAID 0, 1, 0+1 supported in the chipset
8-channel AC97 Realtek ALC850 codec
Gigabit Ethernet (BROADCOM BMC5751 controller)
Award BIOS v6.00PG
ATX, 305mm x 267mm
Before we pass over to the technical details and peculiarities of the ASUS K8N-DL mainboard, I have to say a few words about the NVIDIA nForce Professional chipset, because we haven’t yet dealt with this core logic before. To tell the truth, there is nothing principally new about it: this professional chipset solution is designed from the same building blocks as NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra. The thing is that K8 architecture doesn’t require anything special from the chipset to support multi-processor systems. Opteron CPUs are equipped with three independent HyperTransport busses, which can be used to connect the CPU with the chipset bridges as well as to connect the CPUs with one another. Therefore, chipset bridges do not need any additional processor busses.
Moreover, this dual-processor system architecture allows building a system chipset from two chips with no direct connection between them. These chips may be connected with one another via the CPUs and the same HyperTransport bus.