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Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:27 am 
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Very nice craftsmanship there!

I too have been doing a bit of research into MIPS based systems and the short answer is there are no real PC like MIPS boards out there. The closest are the NetLogic ATX hardware dev kits for their XLR processor. The XLR has four 10GBE ports and quad channel memory as well as a hypertransport interface. Its possible one could engineer a motherboard using the XLR with a HT-PCIe bridge for I/O and/or possibly use an AMD southbridge. The problem is the Video card BIOS code is expected to run on an x86 CPU so any video card in that system would need to have a MIPS BIOS. Same goes for bootable storage cards (SCSI, SAS, SATA etc.). The XLR is pretty damn sweet, up to 8 cores, each 4 way threaded (like the Sun UltraSPARC T1).

As of 2009 there is a 1GHz Loongson quad core but I don't know of any ATX motherboards based on it. The future Loongson CPU is supposedly going to be a "4+4" 8 core MIPS64 processor with a clock speed of 1GHz. An there will be a 1.5GHz+ 16 core in 2012 (supposedly). They all have Hypertransport which is like NUMALink so building an SSI system with over 100 cores would not be a problem :D . Of course an ATX board is quite limited when it comes to CPU expansion, ATX is dumb :( .

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Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 11:11 am 
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ThaddeusW wrote:
Of course an ATX board is quite limited when it comes to CPU expansion, ATX is dumb :( .


It does what it is supposed to. Origin3000 is a great architecture for what it is supposed to do as well, but probably not the most convienient for a simple desktop use, as it would need 3 or 4 bricks (C-brick, I-brick, V-brick, maybe n-brick).

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Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 11:58 am 
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SAQ wrote:
ThaddeusW wrote:
Of course an ATX board is quite limited when it comes to CPU expansion, ATX is dumb :( .


It does what it is supposed to. Origin3000 is a great architecture for what it is supposed to do as well, but probably not the most convienient for a simple desktop use, as it would need 3 or 4 bricks (C-brick, I-brick, V-brick, maybe n-brick).


I don't disagree with you that ATX gets the job done but I would like to see more flexibility. I just really dig the modularity that NUMAlink offers. If you look at Hypertransport, it functions in the same manner. Smaller bricks could easily be made that either stack on top of each other or boards that plug into a back plane inside a standard sized desktop/deskside case (like a blade rack but smaller). Plenty of off the shelf HT silicon and connectors/cables do do all of that. One can keep dreaming huh? :D

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Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:42 am 
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ThaddeusW wrote:
One can keep dreaming huh? :D
Fortunately nobody's figured out a way to tax dreams (yet), though legislators and bureaucrats always seem ready to pass laws mandating acceptable topics...

On the HT/mini-brick-or-board angle, I wonder about the silicon licensing from AMD that skywriter (I think) mentioned earlier. Literal bricks might not be cost-effective, but a pluggable backplane might be interesting as a thought experiment.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 1:27 pm 
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smj wrote:
ThaddeusW wrote:
One can keep dreaming huh? :D
Fortunately nobody's figured out a way to tax dreams (yet), though legislators and bureaucrats always seem ready to pass laws mandating acceptable topics...


Sure, why not, Australia is about to pass a tax on air... no seriously. :shock:

R.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:00 pm 
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^ uh-oh it's on for quite some time guys, "they" just changed the wrapping paper (it's not the irs/taxman anymore). no dreams. just debt, bitching and depression. apathy is ...


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Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:49 am 
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All,

Sorry for the delay in updating you all with this project... work has started on the Indigo case with the front panel almost done. In trying to use a small grinder to clean out some of the extra aluminum gunk between the grille, I have actually damaged some of the grille edges (doh!). I will have to fill those in with something and sand it all to restore the panel.

Anyway, here are some really bad pictures of the basic form of the box. Once this comes out of the shop, I'll take better pictures with a real camera and post them here.

Image

Image

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Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:30 am 
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Ok! So now for some better pictures of the current status:


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Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:15 am 
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That is looking fantastic! Time to start thinking about internal layout and supports for the peripherals, PSU, motherboard(s), etc.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:36 am 
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Thanks a lot, smj! It's only our friends on nekochan who can understand this obsession with resurrecting a 20-year old SGI design :-)

I have begun thinking about the internal layout. Looking at the back of the case, the power supply resides at top left to take advantage of the intake holes in front. A mini-itx motherboard (main controller) attaches to the right wall (top right). A metal rack with room for four Pico-ITX systems goes below that, and an 8 port 1Gbps switch goes to the bottom left. The drives will fit in on a small rack mid-left (where the drives went in the original system). That's what I'm thinking... roughly. Will also add a fan to the back panel.

This will essentially end up being a 5 node cluster running Linux, with 4 slave nodes PXE booting, RAID config on 2-4 drives, 5dwm and my sw load balancer. I will xhost + the controller so I can run progs from all four slave nodes and have them appear on the display connected to the controller system.

It's coming together :-)

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Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:41 am 
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Superb! 8)

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Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:57 am 
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I wonder what sort of performance this would end up with? Presumably as the case is one big heatsink, you could over-clock those x86 CPUs if needs be...

I just want one on my desk, though - this is beyond awesome for a hobbyist project!

What's next, a blade-based Crimson with OpenCL compliant GPUs? :-)


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Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:12 pm 
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Thanks chancehooper and Ian! The encouragement is greatly appreciated! Makes me feel this is really something worthwhile :-)

ch: Yes, the entire case has heat-sink potential. The front panel is aluminium but the "box" is mild steel. Both have good heat dissipation properties though aluminium is generally 2X as good. The size and surface area of the steel box, though, will make up for the relative inefficiency of the material itself if I end up using it as a sink.

Work progresses on the project, albeit not as rapidly as I would like. Will provide another update in the next few days.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:15 am 
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Oh look! It multiplied...

More front panels are in the works. This way I get to build a cluster of Reborn Indigos and even try different colour schemes and finishes :-)


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Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:19 am 
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And here are the front panels... You can see the doors and one of the disk cavity covers lying on the floor.


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WP_000588.jpg
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