Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

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Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby luckybob » 2016-5-09 @ 07:37

After a DECADE of searching, I think I might have my Holy Grail of computers. For those that do not know, I recently was contacted by a nice person from Russia with an offer I could not refuse. If he decides to share his identity, I will let him do so. I was offered an ASUS P/I-P65UP8 with C-PKND Pentium II daughter card. I got it in the mail just a few days ago now. I would swear it was delivered at least part way via dogsled, but it arrived safely and in working fashon! I also got a few other parts, all arrived in the last few days. I debated finishing the setup and posting that, but I felt it might be a bit more fun if I included all of you in the adventure.

First off, the star of the show; the ASUS P/I-P65UP8, it is the big brother of the ASUS P/I-P65UP5, and I mean that quite literally. The board is a FULL AT size board. I took a picture of the 8 next to the 5. The latter of which is a "normal" baby-at size. Really puts things into perspective. Both boards are fundamentally the same, at least at the core. Aside from the I960, and scsi the up8 is practically identical to the up5. Such is the wonder of the Intel 440fx chipset.

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So now just the board itself:
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The major difference between this board and just about ANY other board, is the inclusion of the Intel I960 I/O processor. (the silver square) It is designed to offload work from the cpu and thus improve performance. Provided the device you plug into it is compatible. The processor was VERY popular. It was used on many multi-channel scsi cards for years. There is a jumper to disable the smart buffering and turn the device into a dumb pci-pci bridge, but that's not any fun! There are two 72-pin simm slots slightly to the right of the I960. These are for the cpu in smart mode and will buffer data and commands. I have been told, between compatible devices, data moving between pci devices on the i960 will in fact never touch the pci bus, nor the cpu! Naturally I'm going to have to test this, so stay tuned. Next to the 2 simms slots is an out of palce pci slot. This was used for some future upgrade of the I960 and I can't seem to find any information regarding its use.

You also might notice THREE scsi channels on the board. One is via Adaptec 7880 and a Symbios 53c876. I haven't done any sort of research on these chipsets as of yet. For the record, the Adaptec is on the 'normal' pci bus and the Symbios is connected to the I960. From what I've found out, the board cannot boot from any device on the I960 in smart mode. So it would seem that Asus included another scsi controller you can boot from. how nice! The onboard video chipset is an S3 trio64v2-tx or something. It is bog standard and is actually pretty nice to have on a "server" motherboard. As of this post, I did install another 2 chips of ram and it is upgraded to an earth-shattering 2mb! Everything else is standard fare. And for the record, the left 4 pci slots are under the I960 and the remaining 3 are normal.

The fun doesn't stop there, the board is not complete without a daughter card!
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I bought the up8 with an C-PKND daughter card designed for a pair of slot-1 Pentium 2 processors. Which are just fine! Everybody loves the Pentium 2! I just happen to like the pentium pro better. Asus designed these moterboards to be interchangeable. The C-P6ND daughtercard is interchangeable with the C-PKND. There also is a dual socket 7 card, but from what I read, the up8 doesn't support it. While some people would be happy with the Pentium 2 card, I am not. The P2 can only cache 512mb of ram. Also the P2's cache only runs at half speed of the cpu. That just will NOT do. So I pulled the p-pro card from my up5, flashed the bios and dropped in a pair of p-pro overdrives. For the record, in addition of swapping the cpu card, you have to swap the bios.

I had mentioned, the P2 can only cache 512mb of ram. And for 99.999% of the population, that would be fine. So I blew my retro-computing budget for the next 6 months and bought 10x 128mb 72-pin simms. 60ns EDO! Why 10? Because I can put the extra two into the I960 slots.

Image

Nothing quite like having 1gb of ram in a dual-cpu system. With that problem solved, You might be asking; "but what about a case and power supply?" Well, I have that covered. I had bought a full-tower AT case several years ago, and it was getting NO use. I had my UP5 board inside but it was little more than a storage case. I did not have a full-at power supply. Something I rectified. As if by some stroke of luck, I found on ebay a PC Power & Cooling SIX HUNDRED WATT power supply. It was also NOS. (New Old Stock) It was shipped from Israel, and even included the origional tag, manual, and an advert describing PCP&C's others offerings. I won't be using the 3.3v rail on this setup, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over that. With 70A on the 5v rail, I feel pretty confident, if something goes wrong, I can at least use the PSU as a welder. :P

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Obligatory post screenshot:
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I ran memtest overnight. 3 passes, no problems.

So, this is where I stop writing for the night. The "plan" is to install NT4 on this beast. I'm going to play a array of games such as Fallout (and 2, maybe tactics), starcraft, diablo (and D2), maybe some Quake 3, and honestly anything else that strikes my fancy. I also intend to use a pair of Voodoo 2's. Mostly for Q3 and D2.

I will update this thread as I go, also answering any relevant questions. I would like some input about the video and sound department. At this time, I'm not going to use this system for any DOS games. I want to keep the scope to the games above. I will also run any sort of benchmark people want. I will test to see if the I960 is worth anything.

P.S. I will entertain any suggestions of a better name for this endeavour.
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby oerk » 2016-5-09 @ 08:06

What a beast! Moar!
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby F2bnp » 2016-5-09 @ 08:36

Oh yes, I've been waiting for this thread. This looks beastly!
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby AlphaDangerDen » 2016-5-09 @ 15:34

I can think of at least one card that has an Intel i960 on it, the Adaptec ATA RAID 2400A, I'm guessing it's compatible since it also uses an i960. If you're in the US then you can usually get them for under $40.
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby mrau » 2016-5-09 @ 18:33

what 2 pci devices do exchange data on a computer via pci? i mean you literally need drivers that make use of the i960, no?
anyway this board is p0rn
its a pity youre not willing to go for a socket7 benchmark too :>
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby luckybob » 2016-5-09 @ 20:37

For example, if you have a NIC and SCSI raid. "supposedly", the data will go from the scsi card, to the i960, then to the NIC.

I dont have the dual socket 7 card, its model number is P55T2D. I'd be happy to do benchmarks if someone wants to donate the daughtercard. ^.^
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby mrau » 2016-5-09 @ 20:47

luckybob wrote:"supposedly", the data will go from the scsi card, to the i960, then to the NIC. ^.^


well, i cant imagine this working, sadly, i mean usually one does not send disk contents straight to the nic, it requires processing and i doubt this is going to happen between scsi,i960 and nic if its not just sending disk contents (yes, only raw disk contents, even to get the file contents like in a file server one needs to work the filesystem, which in turn happens on the cpu;
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby luckybob » 2016-5-09 @ 20:48

well, i'll just have to test it out, won't I?
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby mrau » 2016-5-09 @ 20:50

yes, bob, you're so lucky :D
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby chinny22 » 2016-5-10 @ 17:48

I Like it a lot! High end server board maxed out, love it!
I'd stick with slot 1 as its my favourite, but Pentium Pros are special as they were the 1st Enterprise CPU's that didn't require whole new systems like Alpha's Sun, etc, and you can pick and choose between them anyway!
1GB Ram is a nice round number and I don't think unreasonable for a P2 server class machine but on a couple of Pro's!? They must be thinking wtf?!
Voodoo's in SLI just run better with a CPU each, it just stands to reason doesn't it!
Cant wait to see how this baby goes :)
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby feipoa » 2016-5-11 @ 21:10

Your devotion to top of the line multi-processor motherboards is impressive and this PPro board is no exception. I really enjoyed going through this thread. Some questions.

Why can't you boot from a HDD controller which is under the i960? Wouldn't having the i960 controlling your boot drive be of great benefit?

How much actual benefit does the i960 provide to other systems, such as graphics, ethernet, etc? I have a few extra Adaptec 2400A RAID cards. If you want one, PM me.

Will this board fit in EATX cases?

How much RAM will the i960 take and did you experiment with different amounts to determine their relative performance gain?

Are you able to bench the system with the PPro Overdrive chips vs. that of PII-350, 400, and 450? It would be interesting to see where the meeting point is on this system. Can the PII CPU card work with Deschutes, or only Klamath? What about PIII's?

Is it just the PII on this system which can only cache up to 512 MB? Or was this a Klamath limitation? My 440BX board will cache 1 GB with Deschutes.

What I would really like to see next is a high-end dual 486 motherboard with at least a DX4-100.
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby luckybob » 2016-5-11 @ 21:55

feipoa wrote:Your devotion to top of the line multi-processor motherboards is impressive and this PPro board is no exception. I really enjoyed going through this thread. Some questions.


Why thank you! the Ppro is probably my favorite chip. They were the pinnacle of "things I could never afford" back when they were new. Plus all that GOLD. Yes I know the gold is only on the 256&512 chips, but i don't care. The physical size of these chips was unrivaled until recently.

Why can't you boot from a HDD controller which is under the i960? Wouldn't having the i960 controlling your boot drive be of great benefit?


Most likely a bios limitation. I have an ide/sata pci card. The machine boots fine off of it. if the i960 is in bridge mode (dumb) then it will work normally. however in smart mode, the card still posts, but no longer installs itself into the bios. The card works just fine in the normal pci slots. So its obviously something the bios cant handle.

How much actual benefit does the i960 provide to other systems, such as graphics, ethernet, etc? I have a few extra Adaptec 2400A RAID cards. If you want one, PM me.


No idea. I have half a mind to put a paif of voodoo 2's on it and find out. And I greatly appreciate the offer. I am however short on performance scsi hard drives, I was actually going to do sata. Mostly because I literally have a dozen of fast drives just collecting dust.

Will this board fit in EATX cases?

Not without modification or losing the isa slots. Its actually hard to find 8-slot at cases for the UP5 board. The processor slot takes a MASSIVE amount of room that most cases use for hard drives. Even in this huge tower case, I had to sacrafice the 3.5" drive cage. So i'm probably not going to put many hard drives into this system.

How much RAM will the i960 take and did you experiment with different amounts to determine their relative performance gain?


According to the manual, 256mb, (2x 128mb) and I don't know yet. I'm still fighting with winnt. I will answer thuis question! Very few people will ever have a board like this, but its easy to get a scsi card that does the same thing. Most of those early, massive, multichannel scsi cards had the i960 as a cache / raid 5 engine. Exactly the same principle here applies, but I get to choose what devices are cached.

Are you able to bench the system with the PPro Overdrive chips vs. that of PII-350, 400, and 450? It would be interesting to see where the meeting point is on this system. Can the PII CPU card work with Deschutes, or only Klamath? What about PIII's?


The board is an 440fx chipset, so I'm limited to 66mhz fsb. I have considered testing out other slot-1 setups. However I don't currently have the hardware to do it. At least in pairs. The only pair of 66mhz chips I have are 400mhz celerons, and I don't know if they work as of now. I have a tendancy to fry celeron processors for fun. It will be something I want to do, however it's not very high on my priority list at the moment. If I was to do a dual slot-1, I'd break out my p2b-ds and use that. 440bx > 440fx in EVERYTHING. Hence why i'm usign the pentium pro card.

Is it just the PII on this system which can only cache up to 512 MB? Or was this a Klamath limitation? My 440BX board will cache 1 GB with Deschutes.


From everything i've seen on the internet (and we all know how reliable that is) klamath chips can cache 512mb of ram, where the deschutes chip can do the full 4gb. (like the pentium pro) The 333mhz P2 is deschutes as well as the P2OD. The chipsets will also factor in. 440BX if memory serves, can cache 1gb and the 440GX, 2gb.

What I would really like to see next is a high-end dual 486 motherboard with at least a DX4-100.


Can't argue with that. This p65up8 was the board at the top of my wanted list. Everything else pales in comparison. I was going to settle with an IBM 365, which is also a dual pentium pro, and eventually I will get one, I'm just going to put all my love into this beast. In other news, I've been fighting with NT4 for the last few days. There is nothing quite like NT to show you just how far software has advanced. These kids today will never understand a world without plug-n-play. On the plus side, i have yet to crash this system. Some things won't work, and the program crashes to desktop, but not the OS. I know for a fact, i would have had to reinstall 98 a few times with all the dicking around i've done. Nt just works, and its FAST once its booted. If you have the time and patience to get everything working, its glorious. Getting there makes me feel like Wile E Coyote.
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby feipoa » 2016-5-11 @ 22:21

Do you have a front view of your case?

I am looking forward to your results with the i960. Actually, the Adaptec 2400A is a full length IDE RAID controller, not SCSI. They were normally used in servers.

Your experience setting up NT4 is not unique, but once you've tuned it, the system is fast and stable. How about installing W2K and W98 on separate partitions?
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby luckybob » 2016-5-11 @ 23:28

IDE? neat. I just assumed it would be scsi. I actually have three ide raid cards. I picked up a promise sx4000 last week for this build. http://www.ebay.com/itm/311595567520 I was thinking of putting 8x compact flash cards in a raid for giggles. Sadly, it is not PCI 2.1 compatible (requires 2.2), so its probably going to go unused.
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby luckybob » 2016-5-11 @ 23:37

also photos:

ImageImage

The power switch makes a VERY satisfying *KER-CHUNK* too.
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby mrau » 2016-5-12 @ 04:27

one more small question: the northbridge part of the chipset is on the cpu-daughterboard, right? or what is that chip between the cpus?
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby luckybob » 2016-5-12 @ 21:56

i do believe so, yes. the northbridge is on the daughtercard
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby feipoa » 2016-5-12 @ 23:31

A surprisingly good looking case for a behemoth. Wish the power button was outside the front cover though.
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby chinny22 » 2016-5-13 @ 10:27

3 digit display, big red do you really want to flip this style power switch, so cool!
Could so see this back in the day sitting in a corner and no one allowed near it accept whos job it was to swap out backup tapes
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Re: Bitchin' dual p-pro setup

Postby luckybob » 2016-5-15 @ 01:21

30FPS @ 640x480 in dos quake? YES PLEASE!

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