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Supermicro X7DWA-N

Supermicro X7DWA-N Article Author : Movieman
Date : 5th Aug 2008
Comments : 4

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I had the opportunity to spend some time testing and evaluating this motherboard with two sets of CPUs and two types of memory. First using two X5482 Harpertowns (3200/12mb/1600) and 4x2 gig of Transcend DDR2-800 FB-Dimms, and later on using two E5450 Harpertowns(3000/12mb/1333).

This EATX board is built using the newest 5400 Seaburg chipset with 1600FSB support built in. The layout is a typical EATX 12x13Ē design and like previous versions uses 24, 8 and 4 pin connections to the motherboard. With this new series, a 4 pin Molex connector is added to the board for users with higher power needs. There are 8 Dimm slots for quad channel memory support (up to and including DDR2-800 FB-Dimms) for a maximum of 64 gigs. The board comes boxed with 6 SATA cables, I/O shield, IDE cable, and an excellent manual and Cd with all needed software and drivers.

The big improvements of this board over the previous series is the new 5400 Seaburg chipset and its support for 1600FSB and DDR2-800 FB-Dimms. There is also the new ver2.0 PCI-e that gives you two X16 signal PCI-e slots so you have the capability to run 2 high end Video cards in crossfire. You are still stuck with using ATI based cards as SLI isnít supported on boards with Intel chipsets. Hopefully Intel and nVidia will iron out their issues on that problem soon and we will all benefit.

The previous boards, like the X7DAE, X7DA8, etc, used the 5000X or Greencreek chipset that supported 1333FSB and from what I saw maxxed out at close to 400FSB when over clocked, while the new X7DWA-N will hit over 450FSB with good memory. Also add in some of the enhancements to the 5400 chipset vs. the Greencreek: Larger snoop filter; 24 MB to match the 24 MB of L2 cache of the dual Harpertown chips. Better snoop filter architecture: split into four 6 MB groups, each mapped to a specific 6 MB CPU L2 cache to alleviate the negative interaction seen in Greencreek. Bottom line, better overall performance particularly in high performance computing applications

What does this mean to the end user on a day to day basis? It means that you can run a system with the new 45nm Harpertowns at a higher speed, with a faster FSB and using less electricity - all while generating less heat than in the previous generation boards using Clovertown processors. You also get the added benefit that with less heat generated you need less AC to remove that heat, which incurs associated costs. Add in that the clock for clock performance is much better, and whatever work you're doing will be done in a shorter period of time.

Thatís the overview of this board, letís look at some specifics. First a picture of the board itself and what comes in the box:

Then there are the supported CPUs. This board will run anything from dual core Woodcrests and quad core Clovertowns to the newer 45nm based dual core Wolfdales and Quad core Harpertowns. With a board like this it seems a waste to run 2-dual cores, and since I do like to see what the limits are I managed to borrow a pair of X5482 Harpertowns (these are 150w 3200/12mb/1600 45nm CPUs). Huge performance but at a rated 150w they require top cooling, especially when pushed beyond the default speeds. On this board using SetFSB to increase memory speed I was able to push those CPUs to a max of 3603/12mb/1800 and run SuperPi1M at that speed.

The one thing I was starting to see was that this board liked to be pushed. Supermicro builds boards that are designed to last for years while working hard every day, and even with top processors there is a large margin built in to make sure they perform and last.

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