GA-K8NXP-9 Server Birth Pains 

It's time for some new servers. Andrew and I each build a server based on the GA-K8NXP-9.

Eventually we have 2 stable machines, but getting there was fraught with pain and anguish.

Why do I need a new server?

Nick's Server Bits

The bitsHere's the parts list for the server I built. All bits ordered from my good friends at Scan.

Update the bios!

I updated the bios - the dual core processor was not recognized by the original bios.

Do you have to? Yes, update the bios. Yes, install a floppy drive. You'll need the floppy when your adding device drivers when installing Windows too!

Don't boot into DOS and try to flash the bios. It won't work. I will do only half the job. It won't tell you it's done only a half baked job. Yes, the revision number will change. No, it won't work. Will it work? No, it won't work. It will be flakey: it will fall over and die. Don't boot into DOS and try to flash the bios. Am I making myself clear?

Use the bios option to perform the flash. That seems to work.

Then update all the other bioses! SATA, DVD...

Could not find a 64 bit driver for SATA - so running 32bit Server 2003. (PDC in September: Bill says use 64 bit! )

Which SATA ports to use?

I've got 5 drives. The motherboard has 8 sockets. 4 sockets that chug along at 150MHz: and the other 4 that whizz along at 300MHz.

I do the obvious thing and connect 4 drives to the 300MHz ports, and 1 to the 150MHz.

Identify the SATA ports on the motherboard.

Which SATA ports? Yellow = 300MBpsReferring to the motherboard manual page 23 and trying to deduce what connectors are what may leave you confused!

The title correctly reads:

9) S_ATA0/1/2/3_SB (Serial ATA II Connectors, Controlled by nForce Ultra)

10) SATA0/1/2/3_SII (Serial ATA Connectors, Controlled by Sil3114)

But there is potential confusion: the 2 'I's on the end of "SATA0/1/2/3_SII" doesn't NOT mean they're Serial ATA II. NO!

In summary: Serial ATA churns along at 150 MBps (1.5Gbps). Serial ATA II whizzes along at 300 MBps (3.0Gbps).
The Serial connectors near the IDE headers are SATA II.

I can't even say "The yellow ones are the fast 300MBps sockets." Andrew's mother board has different coloured sockets!

Disable the bios RAID

One of the aims of getting the server was to play with Microsoft Server 2003. Part of that is fiddling with disc configuration. I don't want the bios presenting one drive to the operating system.

Really not obvious. From the bios I disabled the "SATA RAID-5 Function." This is the lower list option, not the similarly named "IDE/SATA RAID function" that appears higher up the list. (You will note the inconsistent capitalization of the word "function". Who reviews this shoddy code? Shows lack of care to detail!)

First bios screen...Second bios screenThe bios seems to be a hotchpotch of drivers.

The 4 drives controlled by nForce Ultra 300MBps ports appear first.

The solitary drive controlled by Sil3114 150MBps port appears on the second bios screen.

Dodgy daughter board.

Nick Despises...

I despise the bodge daughter card that plugs into the motherboard. It falls out!
I despise the scrolling saturated coloured text the bios signs on with. So 1980s!
I despise the misspelling of "Mhz" and the text "No Aviallbe Devicves".

"The bios is worse than reading spam!"

Andrew Also Despises...

Andrew despises the bios update code that doesn't work from DOS.
And he despises the Nvidia firewall that doesn't work.
And the Sil3114 drivers that ship on the CD ROM that don't work.
And the bodge card 12V connector that is miles away from the main power connector so the power supply cable doesn't fit.
 

Disc Management

Partitioned in splendour

C: 2 * 4GB Mirrored.
D: 5 * 368GB RAID-5 Single parity.
E: 3 * 4GB swap file.

Conclusion

The servers are running well, haven't fallen over yet!

Having over 1TB store online is cool.

Links

Summer 2005 16x DVDR Roundup I'm amazed cheap DVD r/w drives actually work too!