Pros: 2Mb of cache, 800Mhz FSB, advanced SSE3 instructions
Cons: Poor motherboard choices leave a SATA 150 hard drive limit
The hardest and most important thing to choose for your Socket 604 motherboard is the processor. With a wide range of Intel processors on the market, you can quickly become confused with all the meaningless specifications that vendors can sometimes assign them. The Intel Xeon 3.4Ghz, 2Mb cache, 800FSB processor was the choice that I made and have lived with for three years now.
How much faster will the Xeon 3.4Ghz Processor run at a blistering 3.86Ghz?
Read On To Find Out!
What Makes The Intel Xeon 3.4Ghz 2Mb So Special In The Socket 604 Lineup?
The processor was often regarded by many in the performance computing community of SETI@Home as the best of its line for both the raw power and low thermal output. Starting at 3,400 Mhz with a hefty 800 FSB (Front Side Bus), we were able to overclock this computer chip to speeds in excess of 4,000 Mhz on just an air cooling setup. The 2Mb of on-chip cache meant that the SETI workunits could be almost completely stored in the processor rather than the memory which meant fewer wasted clock cycles.
For most medium sized or smaller companies these processors will be all you could every really need in a domain controller or database configuration. I would advise against using this as a Microsoft Exchange mail server since the low front side bus speed will result in frequent server lock ups. The reason for this is that the motherboard offerings for this processor are mostly SATA 150 based which results in reduced file I/O bandwidth. If you are looking for a machine that can handle these loads, I recommend considering the Hewlett Packard ProLiant DL360 G5 (490666-001) Server with a single Intel Xeon DP Quad-Core E5450, 3.00 GHz (BX80574E5450A) Boxed Processor.
The Intel SL7ZD processor is also unique on the Socket 604 motherboard because it offers SSE3 instruction sets. Properly compiled applications can utilize these instructions to get as much as 50% more speed. I use the Irwindale processor on my SETI@Home workunits for this reason.
Installation Of Your New Socket 604 Xeon Processor
The installation of a Socket 604 processor is not complicated at all. Unplug the power supply and put an anti-static wrist band on your arm. Now, open the ZIF socket by lifting the handle. Place the CPU on the grids and gently press down while closing the ZIP socket by pushing the handle down again. Now apply a liberal amount of Artic Silver 5 heat sink compound on the entire processor surface.
All heatsinks for Intel Socket 604 computer processors are designed to be mounted onto the backplane of your motherboard. The good news is that this gives you a metal surface to torque the processor down against. The bad news is that these screws can get loose due to the vibration of the computer chassis as time progresses. I generally use a thread locking computer for this purpose when installing any through board heatsink. The compound will seize the bolts in place and prevent the need for frequent monitoring of fittings.
You have many options beside the all copper heatsink that this product comes with. I choose to use a Thermaltake Heat Pipe cooler since it can elevate the heat dissipation of the processor away from the capacitors on the ASUS NCCH-DL motherboard.
To give you an idea of the performance of this processor, I used three different benchmarks: Super Pi and the BOINC Manager Benchmark, POV-Ray 3.7 Beta and MCS Benchmark 2008. My test system consisted of an ASUS NCCH-DL motherboard, two Intel Xeon 3.4Ghz 2Mb Socket 604 processors, with 3 Gb of Dual Channel RAM installed and Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition Service Pack 2. Each of these benchmarks stresses unique aspects of the processor and are heavily dependent on the supporting hardware around the processor like the memory, hard drive and motherboard chipset.
As a special bonus, since I no longer needed this system, I decided to overclock the processor to its maximum potential. After every benchmark result below, is a second run that was made with the system set to maximum allowable overclock. The BIOS on my ASUS NCCH-DL allowed me to increase the FSB to 225Mhz which results in a 3,825 Mhz processor clock speed. Limitations like the Adaptec 2410SA Hardware Raid card kept me from going higher because the system would not boot with higher clock speeds. If you want to reach the highest possible potential with your system, it is recommended that you remove all PCI cards and turn off as many on-board devices as possible. Doing so will reduce hardware bus conflicts that occur with higher clock frequencies.
Super Pi V1.1 is an application that extrapolates the specified digits of PI into a text file. Since the task is both processor and file system intensive it can give you an idea of how fast your cpu is. Processors with large on-die cache sizes and high bus speeds tend to do better in this benchmark. The problem is the calculation is single threaded in this version so you only see the performance of one processor. The test results are quite impressive for this processor. The Intel 3.2Ghz 512Kb Pentium 4 was only able to do complete this benchmark in 1 minute 17 seconds.
Here are the results of three runs at 1,000,000 digits of PI at 3.4Ghz:
#1; 39 seconds
#2; 39 seconds
Here are the results of three runs at 1,000,000 digits of PI at 3.825Ghz:
#1; 34 seconds
#2; 34 seconds
The Boinc Manager benchmark is designed to stress every available thread on your computer to see how many computations per second it can perform. With the results, the Boinc Manager automatically assigns distributed computing projects to your processors. The benchmark has been improved by scholars at academic institutions over the period of several years and is now a very reliable metric of modern computing performance. The Intel Celeron 356 3.33Ghz processor achieved 1725 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 2735 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu but those results were done on a single thread which maximized the memory performance. Regardless, comparing these two processors we see that memory performance was hindering the peak abilities of the Intel Xeon.
Here the results of three runs at 3.4Ghz:
#1; 1540 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 2770 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu
#2; 1547 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 2763 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu
Here the results of three runs at 3.825Ghz:
#1; 1740 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 3058 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu
#2; 1742 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 3162 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu
POV-Ray 3.7 Beta
A new version of the freeware 3D animation utility has been released that offers multi-core processing. POV-Ray will stress the floating point capabilities as well as the memory bandwidth of the computer chips bus. In fact the peak memory usage of the raytrace image was 33,756kb which is more than the on-chip cache so we know that direct memory calls were executed.
Using the benchmark.pov file at 512x384 NO AA, I ran the following traces at 3.4Ghz:
#1; 18 minutes 4 seconds
#2; 18 minutes 9 seconds
Using the benchmark.pov file at 512x384 NO AA, I ran the following traces at 3.825Ghz:
#1; 16 minutes 3 seconds
#2; 16 minutes 5 seconds
MCS Benchmark 2008 V6.30
The MCS CPU Benchmark 2008 will test the entire system to give you an overall score based on CPU and file system performance. I used an older version of this software because it has been used on a wide variety of processors for my other reviews.
Here are the results of two runs at 3.4Ghz:
Here are the results of two runs at 3.825Ghz:
Care Of Your Desktop Or Server Based Xeon System
One common trait of all Socket 604 and Socket 478 processors was their tendency to slow down when overheated. The effect was a system that would get steadily slower but never warned you about it. After awhile, you would simply shut the computer off and until it overheated again, you would continue using it with no understanding of why. To solve this problem, case-modders installed larger cooling fans and heatsinks on their Socket 604 processors. With the modification in place, your system would never slow down and we often found that the system benchmarks were much faster.
Another trick we found with these Xeon systems is that their Northbridge would often overheat if two physical computer chips were installed. To solve this problem, several manufacturers made chipset coolers with integrated fans. Of course installing these products would cause the systems to run faster as well.
If you are wishing to overclock your Xeon processors, then you will need at least a 650Watt power supply to keep their voltages from dropping to low while loads are being applied on them.
Processor Core: Irwindale
Die size: 90 nm
CPU Cores: 2 (includes hyper threading core)
Hyper threading: Yes
Frequency (Mhz): 3400
Bus Speed (Mhz): 200
Rated FSB (Mhz): 800
Clock Multiplier (Mhz): 17
Socket 604 mPGA
Level 1 cache size: 16 k execution trace cache
Level 2 cache size: 512 Kb on-die cache
Instruction sets: MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, EM64T
You can find this processor under the following Intel part number: SL7ZD, BX80546KG3400FA, RK80546KG0962MM, NE80546KG0962MM
While much of this review is just a trip down memory lane for most of us, the Intel Xeon 3.4Ghz 2Mb processor can still make for a formidable business server. I have been using it in a dual processor configuration for the past three months as a stand-by server for my company and find its speed an invaluable resource in my stable of machines.
I paid $234 apiece for these processors several years ago. Today you can find this for a little as $99 from several of the retailers listed below.
In all I would give the Intel Xeon 3.2Ghz 2Mb 800FSB processor two thumbs up among the Socket 604 lineup.