Sunday, May 13, 2012

new pc, new toy

It's been already 5 years ago since i bought my last desktop PC. Now i bought a new one. A few months ago i've started to think about my new system. Basically i don't wanted anything special, there was just one thing which i definitely wanted to try out: xen with vga passthrough. Therefore i couldn't choose just anything because you need hardware support for vga passthrough and not every vendor does support it.

Anyway, last month i finally had everything i needed and thus bought my new system.

A big change with the new system was to choose amd over intel. For years now i went with intel, but this time i decided to take amd. The main reason was because amd/ati started to release documentations about their graphic cards years ago. That's something i wanted to support.

Well, this is now my new system:

AMD FX 8150 8-core processor 3,6Ghz
Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5
2x OCZ Vertex 3 120GB
Lian Li PC-6 Aluminium Case
NEC PA301W 30" Display
Scythe Grand Kama Gross CPU Cooler
Seasonic Xseries 760W Power Supply
PowerColor Radeon HD6850 (passiv)
XFX R7970 Radeon H7970 Black Edition
Corsair DDR3 1600MHZ 16GB DIMM

The system runs on gentoo amd64 testing (of course). Since i have two gpu's and xen, there is a virtualized windows 7 64bit for gaming too.
The HD7970 is for windows, while the HD6850 is for gentoo. I also additionally pluged in 2x 22" Lenovo l220x running on the HD6850 on linux (from the old pc). Mouse, keyboard and the audio system is still from the old pc.

This is my desktop right now:

The motherboard supports iommu which is needed for vga passthrough in xen. Nonetheless i updated the bios to the latest version first. On the cpu it's called amd-vi (the cpu flag is called svm) which the amd 8-core also supports. GPU support isn't a hardware feature and has been already implemented for almost every gpu so i didn't had to look for a particular one.

Setting up the system wasn't a big deal. Below are the most important changes while i set up the system.

* i had to change the primary output in the bios so that the system would show the output on my hd6850.

* i also had to enable iommu in the bios (for xen).

* to get eyefinity working i had to download x11-drivers/radeon-ucode and enable the firmwire blobs in the kernel under Device Drivers --> Generic Driver Optinos (howto)

The harddrives running in both raid1 (for the boot partion) and raid0 (for the system/home). Since all the important files are on my server file inconsistency is not  that important. Windows is virtualized and thus just a file on the hard disk.

So far the system is pretty stable. I have a few minor problems with xen but nothing serious. I'll gonna blog about my xen setup anyway.

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