First post, by feipoa
Share your experience with dual Tualatin setups.
I went with a relatively inexpensive solution from Intel for my dual Tualatin. It is an Intel SAI2 motherboard. They are cheap on eBay, about $30 new, with lots of surplus. In fact, I have as second one NIB in the closet. The board is based on the Intel ServerWorks ServerSet III LE chipset. It has 2 PCI-X, 4 PCI slots, and supports up to 4 GB PC133 RAM. The only drawback is the lacking AGP slot. The board has been rock solid for years with dual PIII-S 1.4's. It is running XP Pro with 2 GB of RAM and a dual-DVI Quadro FX 600. Like my Dell Precision Workstation 410, they never crash.
Through the years, the lack of the AGP slot on the SAI2 board encouraged occasional browsing on eBay for a similar-performance board with an AGP port. I now have two such boards in the closet. One is a SuperMicro P3TDE. Again, dual PIII-S, 4 GB RAM support, and based on a similar chipset, the Intel ServerWorks ServerSet III HE-SL. This board has 6 PCI-X slots and 1 AGP 2X/PRO slot. An added bonus is dual, built-in Ultra160 SCSI controllers. The one small drawback is that the boards is a bit fussy with RAM. All 4 DIMMs must be filled with matching, registered PC133 ECC sticks. A small price to pay for what you get.
The second board I sourced was a SuperMicro P3TDDE. It is now safely in the closet next to the P3TDE. The reason for sourcing this board was that I felt a little behind by the only 2X AGP port on the previous board. The P3TDDE has a 4X AGP port. Unfortunately, I had to let go of the Intel chipset though. The P3TDDE uses a VIA Apollo Pro 266T chipset, but it comes with the AGP 4X/PRO slot. I remember this board being a little less fussy with memory. You loose all PCI-X slots and the onboard SCSI though. I haven't yet tested the stability of this VIA chipset, but if there is any chance of it being stable, it would be in high performance server-class board such as those offered by SuperMicro.
No board seems to have it all, but the combination of these 3 boards does! I'm now just waiting for my wife's Intel SAI2 to die so I can upgrade it to one of these SuperMicro boards. For what my wife uses the Intel SAI2 for, the GeForce 6200 in the PCI form factor has been exceptionally fast. The main bottleneck is actually the CPUs; she does a lot of work with Adobe flash and streaming video. You can probably speed up the PCI graphics card by placing it in the PCI-X slot for 66 MHz operation (instead of 33 MHz). It worked fine there for a year, then I upgraded her graphics driver version, and it stopped working. I had to put the graphics card into a regular PCI slot thereafter. Downgrading the driver didn't fix it either - not sure what happened, but it feels just as fast in a regular PCI slot.
I did quite a bit of research before selecting these motherboards. Most of the boards out there are based on VIA chipsets. I did see one with RAM faster than 133 Mhz, I think it was called RAMBUS (200 Mhz or something like this), but I couldn't find it for sale anywhere. I think it also lacked the AGP port. The ASUS CUV4X-DLS with Tualatin adapters is what I had for my wife before the Intel SAI2 board. It has a 4X AGP port and built-in SCSI. She used this ASUS board semi-reliably for a few years, then it died mysteriously. We had two such experienes with this ASUS board; One was used, and one was an ASUS refurb. sent direct from ASUS. It would output a BSOD after 4 days of uptime, even with Coppermines installed. I still have it in my dead motherboards box. There are no bulging caps. The manual mentions it is based on the VIA VT82C694XDP, VT82C686B chipsets, which I beleive is VIA Apollo Pro 133A. This experience and another bad experience on a FIC super7 board have soured me on VIA chipsets.
These are my success and failure stories with building a reliable dual Tualatin III-S board. I hope someone finds the information helpful. I prefer to just stick with my good 'ole Dell Precision Workstation 410 though. When the time comes, and I hope it never does, I have 3 dual Tualatin boards to choose from. I also have a backup 410 motherboard, revsion A06, incase my existing one dies. If you aren't in a hurry, you can eventually find high-end boards for real deals on eBay, usually from sellers who don't know the value in what they are selling.
EDIT: 19 December 2012
The MSI Pro266TD Master LR, MS-9105...
I have begun to setup a system around this motherboard to upgrade my aging dual 850 MHz machine. I was attracted, probably foolishly, by the 266 MHz bandwidth PCI southbridge-northbridge vlink and the use of DDR memory. It also has a 4x AGP port, but lacks PCI-X slots, and is based on the VIA Apollo Pro266T chipset
I have it setup with dual Tualatin 1.4 GHz CPUs now and have installed Windows XP Pro SP2 without incident, but there were some problems I noticed pretty early on.
If the onboard LAN port is enabled and the onboard Promise IDE RAID port is disabled, you cannot soft-reset or even use the case's reset button. If you do, the board will hang upon reboot just after IDE HDD/CD-ROM auto-detection (even if you have no IDE items). The Intel Boot Agent usually follows at this point in boot, but never shows up. If you power down and power up, it boots fine. Or if you save the BIOS, it boots fine. However, if you leave both the onboard LAN and IDE Raid controller enabled, there is no issue with resetting.
I, however, did not want to use the onboard RAID controller and the CD-ROM drive only works on the standard VIA onboard IDE ports. There is no problem leaving the RAID controller enabled except that it consumes an extra IRQ. But this fact alone bothered me. I don't like having to disable items in the Windows Device Manager and I don't like seeing that red X on disabled items. So I disabled both the onboard LAN and RAID controllers and there is no problem with resetting now. I even tried disabling the Intel Boot Agent FLASH using the Intel bootutil, but it didn't help the issue. It also will boot fine with the RAID enabled and the LAN disabled. The only combination the board doesn't like to reset with is LAN-ON, RAID-OFF. This happens to be the only combination I wanted.
Normally, disabling an onboard LAN controller would also bother me, but this particular Intel controller was sluggish in Windows Explorer and is the second strike against this board. I am now using an Intel Pro 1000 MT controller and have no issues (for now).
I am using the board with a 1 TB SATA drive and Adaptec controller (1420SA). There will eventually be 4 SATA drives on this machine, if it proves stable. For anyone else who is looking for this board, I would recommend the non-LR version because it does not have onboard LAN or RAID. Note that both the NIC and SATA cards are PCI-X, as they were originally going to be used in a PCI-X based Tualatin board, but they also work in PCI 32-bit slots.
Now, 2 months later, I have been using this board without any crashes, and only reboot when Windows Update requires it. I'm using 2 GB of RAM and an AGP Quadro FX 500.
If anyone has any other dual Tualatin 1.4 GHz success stories, we'd like to hear them.