Saturday, June 13, 2009

The traffic lights turn blue tomorrow...

Ok, maybe not the traffic lights, but my office is emitting a lot of blue light right about now.

That's actually a good thing, because the little offspring of Big Blue just got finished, and it's working rather well - considerably better than my expectations.

Lest we forget, I replaced these humongous copper/steel heatsinks and plastic wind tunnel shroud:

With these waterblocks, in an effort to reduce CPU temperatures and the noise associated with the fans trying to maintain temperatures below 140 degrees Fahrenheit:

Once everything was installed, and the system filled, burped, and leak-tested, it was time to go live with the show. I started 4 concurrent examples of "Toast" to get all 4 processors running at 100% utilization, making it as hot as I could possibly get it, and let it run in that configuration for another 12 hours:

The results? CPU temperatures never rose above 38 degrees Celsius the entire time. Considering I had been over 58 degrees Celsius prior to the water cooling upgrade, that's pretty darned spiffy!

Xeon #1's temperature, as displayed by the system's control panel:

In fact, the hottest component measured by the 3 temperature probes attached to the Exos system is the motherboard's air-cooled Northbridge chip, which reports around 41-42 degrees Celsius via Probe #3. Probes #1 and #2 are attached to each Xeon CPU, and they appear to be quite happy living in their new, cooler environment.

I'll call it a success, for now. There are some questions that remain to be answered over time, however, before I commit to calling it an unqualified success.

1. Does the special blue coolant (Which smells a lot like antifreeze) actually prevent galvanic corrosion between the aluminum radiator and copper waterblocks?

2. Do I change that pretty blue coolant at yearly intervals as the manual states, or sooner?

3. Do those tiny millimeter-size bubbles circulating at high speed in the tubing ever really go away?

4. Will the gurgling in the reservoir diminish over time?

5. How often do I blow the dust out of the radiator?

6. If an Exos 2.0 can dissipate 750 watts of heat, does that mean it would behoove me to eventually migrate to an Exos 2.5 with 1000 watt capability to drop Monolith's temps even lower?

7. Should I add Northbridge and video card water cooling? Adding more waterblocks to the current loop will only raise CPU temps...

I'm sure there are more concerns, but for now, the system's working pretty well. It doesn't look too shabby, either. Here it is all buttoned up, sitting on the rack with its CI Design SCSI hard drive tower, keeping my 1948 Tucker company. Note the 41 degree Northbridge temperature, and the Datum/Symmetricom programmable time system master clock for the entire home network:

Now I have 4 other identical workstations scattered about the house to modify accordingly. The fun never ends!

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