Saturday, 24 October 2009

Intel Memory Configuration Tool – Relieve That Pain!

One of the most significant brain busters with Intel’s new Core i7 architecture as well as the new Intel Xeon Processor 3400 Series and 5500 Series architectures is trying to get a straight answer on how to come out with a certain amount of RAM in the system.

This is the Intel Server Board S3420GP Xeon 3400 series memory page out of the product’s technical product specifications manual:

image

There are more pages both before and after this one that get into how to configure memory for this particular server board without really making things entirely clear.

There is the Intel Server Configurator Tool that will only allow certain RAM part combinations during the configuration process, but it does not tell us why it allows or does not allow us to choose a certain amount of RAM like 24GB for one box.

In comes Intel’s new Memory Configurator Tool:

image

We are looking to have a Xeon 3400 series server configured with 24GB. This tool will actually show us the how/what/where/why of getting there.

The tool at least takes some of the guess work out of configuring servers.

The above 24GB configuration request yielded the following result:

image

It says we can do 6x 4GB Registered DIMMs at 800MHz up top with the bottom right quadrant indicating the DIMMs can be Single, Dual, or Quad Rank when it comes to the memory chips on the DIMMs themselves.

Now, is the tool right?

Well, we will find out in short order since we have an SR1630HGP 1U server system based on the S3420GPLC series server board with six 4GB Kingston quad ranked registered ECC RAM sitting in the shop waiting to be built.

When we run through the Intel Server Configurator Tool and come to the memory configuration portion, we get the following:

image

The Configurator indicates up to 4x 4GB Registered Quad Rank DIMMs which does not meet our 24GB need. So, we shall see soon enough which one is right.

Philip Elder
MPECS Inc.
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

*Our original iMac was stolen (previous blog post). We now have a new MacBook Pro courtesy of Vlad Mazek, owner of OWN.

Windows Live Writer

8 comments:

Josh Gay said...

Well, I think I have bad news, based on what I've found (not in the TPS mind you but in some Intel Videos and other info) there is a limit on Quad Rank Modules for architecture reasons, even in 55xx boxes.

You have 3 channels per Processor, but you can only address up to 8 Ranks per channel, thus 2x QR DIMM == 8 Ranks == FULL This is why when you go Quad rank you run at 1066 with 1 per channel and 800 with 2 per channel.

Josh Gay said...

(I was trying to figure this out about 2 weeks ago, and almost pulling out my hair, until I found the details in odd places at Intel, since otherwise Intel doesn't call out the QR issue, but Kingston did, but not as clearly as they do now...
"Reg ECC DIMMs run at 1333MHz with two or four DIMMs installed, 1066MHz with six DIMMs installed.
ECC UDIMMs run at 1333MHz with two or four DIMMs installed, cannot populate last bank (up to 4 DIMMs only).
Quad Rank DIMMs run at 1066MHz with two DIMMs, 800MHz with four DIMMs, cannot populate last bank (up to 4 DIMMs only)."

Philip Elder SBS MVP said...

Josh,

Kingston must have changed that very recently because the information was not there before.

Thanks for pointing that out as it is a bit of a stick in the mud since 8GB QR DIMMs are quite expensive right now. So, getting the magic 24GB number we are looking for will jump the cost of the server up significantly ... if we can get the Samsung 8GB modules.

Philip

Josh Gay said...

I would assume so, I'm pretty sure its been more then a week since I was looking at info that wasn't that complete, but mentioned that max with 8gb modules was 4 modules.

It is scary expensive when you look at the price of the box doubling to double just the RAM.

Josh Gay said...

I don't know if you've noticed, but pricing has come down significantly in the few months since this topic (50-60%), and some of the smaller ones have gone up at the same time (well as of the 31st I haven't checked this week)

Philip Elder SBS MVP said...

Josh,

Yeah, I have noticed that the Samsung 8GB parts have dropped from 1,400US-1,200US down to about $425/Stick!

Hopefully that means that Kingston and Crucial are pretty close to releasing their own versions of the product.

Philip

Adam said...

The image you have at the top has the "D3" designator in the memory manufacturer number.

Does this not mean it is Dual rank?

I would like to know because I have 16GB of Quad rank ram that I do not think I can use because I think Quad rank is incompatible with the motherboard.

I hope I am wrong.

Philip Elder SBS MVP said...

Adam,

What is the part number for the RAM and the server board you are looking at? I can take a quick look.

Philip