Tue, 18 Mar 2008
On Friday, my new workstation arrived. My previous workstation was 4+ years old Athlon64 FX-51, one of the first three AMD64 computers here at the faculty (the other two were Odysseus, and our secondary router, which had a mainboard failure a month or so ago). The new computer is Athlon64 X2 (finally a SMP on my desk!) with ASUS M2R32-MVP mainboard. There are some interesting features of the new computer:
- The BIOS can be upgraded from the BIOS itself, no need to create DOS boot floppy anymore - just put the ROM image to the USB flash stick and you are done!
- The BIOS is localized (I have tried to switch it to Japanese for the coolness factor :-).
- My first desktop computer without a floppy drive :-), I have a neat card reader instead.
- The memory controller can interleave the banks not only line-by-line, but also based on XOR of some higher order address bits (something like 10 to 14, IIRC), which allows multiple threads to use the independent memory channels.
- Huge (12 cm?) chassis fans, so the system is more quiet than the previous one, while providing good cooling to the disks.
- The case with the whole front side perforated for better cooling.
- Hardware virtualization support: I will finally be able to test other systems like some *BSDs and OpenSolaris.
There are obviously some drawbacks too:
- I had problems with the SATA controller in AHCI mode, solved fortunately by a BIOS upgrade.
- The graphics card (ATI X1650PRO) does not work in Zaphod mode (i.e. two separate screens, opposite to Xinerama/MergedFB/XRandR, which work). I have temporarily solved this by using an older card (X300 something).