Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Motherboard replacement

By now, I've replaced three computers' motherboards, two of them were brand new and the third was actually relocated from one box to another. I have used a couple of cheap Pentium D 2.66Ghz to equip the new ones (around 115 Euros each taxes included). The motherboards came with this nice install video. So if you wonder what's all this thing about LGA775 socket you may have a look at it. In case you wonder LGA stands for Land Grid Array and it is type pin-less chip carrier, similar to BGA but where the balls have been replaced by flat conductive pads. So now the pins are on the socket instead of on the chip and you have to exercise caution not to damage them (or you'll need a new motherboard).

As usual the replacement of the motherboard of a computer (and sometimes also the graphics card) is not without problems: All my systems had some version of an AMD K7 processor, so the change meant a new CPU type, new chipset and in one case, new graphics card (as the Asrock775Twins-HDTV comes with its own ATI X200 embedded graphics card). In two systems MS Windows XP refused to work at all, so a "Repair install" was required where new chipset drivers were installed. Ubuntu Linux worked in both cases, but without taking advantage of the new dual core processor. SuSE Linux however did not work with the 775Twins card till "noapic" command was added at system boot. At any rate, all the systems required me to install the new graphic drivers whenever graphic card was changed. It was not that bad but it kept me busy.

Now I have added SMP support by adding linux-image-2.6.15-25-686 that can actually handle Pentium Pro/Celeron/Pentium II/Pentium III/Pentium IV with SMP support. It just worked and now I have the two cores working. The system feels much more responsive when playing a video and opening a spreadsheet at the same time (not that I think this is specially useful but you get the idea).

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