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Scratch Build – Complete (Completed) Codename WarpDrv ▒▒❚❚❚❚╫

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by thomasz, 3 Jun 2017.

  1. thomasz

    thomasz New Member

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    [​IMG]

    Hello community! As a beginner here I present you a workstation I built for my own use: Codename "WarpDrv". It is already completed. I am going to slowly post pictures before tagging it as "completed".

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    Hightlights:
    • Made use of a server board with unconventional form factor and cable pinout (volt modding). The design can be generalized to this type of boards.
    • Highly compact (18L) yet hosting load of parts (2 CPUs, 16 DIMMs, 2 SSDs, 4 HDDs).
    • No part was made solely for aesthetic purpose. The aesthetic feeling was achieved by choosing and organizing basic hardware.
    • No hi-tech was involved in building this. Any people (like me, a campus dweller) can do it in their dorm in spare time.

    In summary, what I am presenting is not a piece of artwork (if it pleases your eyes, thank you!), but a novel layout or category of customized computers, which I hope is worth adoption and further development.

    Here are some finish pictures:

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    Dimensions:
    • Main body: 50.9cm * 16.7cm * 17.8cm (w/o HDD) / 21.6cm (w/ HDD) = 15.13L / 18.36L
    • Cover (fairing): 60.0cm * 21.0cm * 23.3cm = 29.36L

    Part list:
    • Motherboard: Dell PowerEdge C8220 server board
    • CPU: 2x Xeon E5-2680 (16C32T)
    • Memory: 256GB (16*16) DDR3 ECC REG
    • Storage: 2x OCZ Deneva 2 400GB SSD + 4x WD RE4 2.0TB HDD
    • Graphics: ATI Radeon 5450
    • PSU: Corsair RM650x (full modular)
    • Cooling: 2x Zalman CNPS9900 DF + 1x 200mm Corsair case fan
     
    Last edited: 1 Jul 2017
  2. thomasz

    thomasz New Member

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    Before I expand please meet WarpDrv's predecessor (noname yet). It's based on a comparably shaped motherboard - Supermicro X8DTT. And it is likely world's first overclockable X8DTT (I voltage-modded it). Look how small and slim the machine is! I placed it on the bookshelf.

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    This type of motherboard is common in the server world. It doesn't have an official form factor name. It can be called as "Twin", "Half-width" or simply "Proprietary". Obviously, it's very slim, yet powerful! On top of your fireplace is the right work location for this little beast. The only challenge, is that how to get it work like a regular home computer, without hooking the entire server rack and the much bigger dust free central airconditioning system onto it.

    The story all began in summer 2016, when there was a wave of retired Dell PowerEdge C8220 series server board seen on eBay. The price tag was like 150 USD or less. This triggered interest among people who wished to own a superb beefy workstation with minimum budget.

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    In the ServetheHome forum, @drabadue from Indiana, USA initiated a thread Dell PowerEdge C8220 Build and Questions. Since then multiple people had been sharing experience in attempting to get that board running. Little by little, people discovered many, but far from all, necessary procedures.

    The first challenge is this 18-pin main power connector. They are Molex Micro-Fit 3.0mm sockets, smaller than those of the regular ATX power connector. The pinout is apparently unique and unknown.

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    Then there comes the 12-pin signal panel (pitch: 2.0mm, smaller than that of regular signal panel which is 2.54mm). In order to power up the machine one needs to mimic electronic signals from the master controlling system of the entire server block.

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    And there are lots of non-conventional interfaces, non-conventional placement of interfaces (look at the two PCIe slots), and lack of conventional interfaces (no fan connector on board!)

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    Let me state here that the credits for finding how to boot this board should be given to @Wictar and @drabadue in that thread. I just followed the guidelines kindly shared by them.

    Here is the cable plan of my machine (Yes I used Corsair RM650x):

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    Please feel free to try!
     
    Last edited: 16 Jun 2017
  3. storm-83

    storm-83 Member

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    thats really cool!
    how are temps?
     
  4. HandMadeAndroid

    HandMadeAndroid That's handy.

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    I love this kind of thing, well done.
     
  5. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    :clap: For putting up with Dell's proprietary electrical bullsh*t, you deserve a medal.

    If you have a resource on their PSU cable color codes. I'd love to see it.
     
  6. thomasz

    thomasz New Member

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    @storm-83, @HandMadeAndroid and @Cheapskate, thank you!! :clap: The temp is about <40C idle / < 65C load. I am quite happy with it^^

    Basically the main power connector is a row of +12V and a row of ground. There is no +5V and +3.3V. Servers don't need them.

    All cables were handmade.

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    The server board requires a +12V stand-by input instead of +5VSB seen in consumer's mobos. This is a problem since RM650x doesn't have that. I serialized a XL6009 voltage step-up module to convert +5VSB into +12VSB.

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    Sealed the soldering joints with liquid plastic coating.

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    Here is the entire power cable set.

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    For the signal panel, short-circuited pins #4 and #5, and connected pin #6 to PSU's PS/ON socket (green).

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    So it worked!

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    Actually the signal panel's pinout is still largely unknown. People had to short every combination of pins, measure with a multimeter and guess what it does. Some people fried their boards, including @Wictar who first booted the C8220 board, and me (so you may see two slightly different boards in my pictures).
     
  7. thomasz

    thomasz New Member

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    Thank you!! I played with several Dell boards and PSUs. Haven't seen a clear clue. For their multi-rail PSUs, each +12V have different colors: yellow, blue, white or combinations of them. Below is a chart I drew of my Dell 750W workstation PSU, based on previous people's work, tested and working.

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  8. thomasz

    thomasz New Member

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    My Corsair RM650x PSU. I love this thing because its edges are filleted. One of the only two problems is that it has some "sensor" sockets in addition to the regular ones. So I had to search Internet to find them out.

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    The posterior side of the motherboard is where the PSU could sit. I designed and 3D-printed a set of holders.

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    On the ventral side of RM650x there are four screw holes. I like this design.

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    One of the four screw holes was sealed with a sticker, saying "... warranty .... void ...". Wait, what did it say? Anyway I already broke it. :rolleyes:

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    Now the PSU stood up firmly.

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  9. thomasz

    thomasz New Member

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    I did cable management using artist's wire.

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    Look!


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  10. thomasz

    thomasz New Member

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    Below the PSU is where graphics cards can go, with a left-angle PCIe riser. There isn't much room. But as I measured most low-profile cards and short ITX full-height cards (like some GTX 1050 Ti) can fit.

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    GPU compatibility on this C8220 board is a huge question. Me and other people tested multiple GPUs but haven't got a very certain answer which models would work. Here are some working samples.

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    I thought that maybe the PCIe slots don't have sufficient power supply. So I desperately tried multiple external approaches to provide juice to the card. Unfortunately none of them worked. Fortunately the board didn't fry!

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    Eventually I chose the oldest Radeon HD 5450. Why? The PCB is green, and matches the motherboard.

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    The stock cooling fan blows down the air, which may conflict with the PSU fan, which blows up. So I replaced it with a homebrew passive heatsink.

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    -

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    Now this thing solely relies on the PSU fan to bring away hot air. But there is a problem. The Corsair RM650x is known for the fan not spinning below certain threshold of load. This isn't good for me. I need it to spin all the time.

    So I opened up the PSU and soldered the fan power connectors to the output circuit.

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    Now it spins!

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    I also replaced the stock chipset heatsink with a taller one.

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    Here is how the rear half of the machine eventually looks like.

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  11. kim

    kim hardware addict

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    stunning workstation... I am also impressed by your electrical modding on Dell's server borad, but really, with that unusual form factor and the Zalman fans, I personaly find it very aesthetic...
     
  12. thomasz

    thomasz New Member

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    @Kim, thank you! I had this aesthetic envisioning in mind before choosing the motherboard and the coolers. They were born to fit each other!

     
  13. thomasz

    thomasz New Member

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    The two CPU sockets are elegantly aligned in the middle line of the motherboard, apart from each other at an elegant distance, thus allowing most cooling options. This isn't common in the world of server boards.

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    CPUs are two Xeon E5-2680's, each with eight cores (16 threads) and 20MB cache. They together should overpower any latest high-end consumer's CPU (before the release of AMD Threadripper).

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    Then I was going to build up the coolers.

    I have been a big fan of Zalman's circular heatsinks. Here are pictures of my previous builds. I feel that they look much better when they are paired up in a dual CPU rig. And they should look even better in a symmetric, longitudinal machine.

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    Here are my Zalman CNPS9900DF coolers.

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    The heatpipes and fins are nicely coated with nickel, generating a mechanic feeling.

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    The fans (120mm and 140mm) can be detached and adjusted.

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    Things look very different when four of the turbo fans line up :lol: .

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  14. David

    David Take my advice — I’m not using it.

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    Forgive me, but did you switch boards?

    The boards pictured here...

    ...appear to be different from here:

    notice the SATA ports near the end of the board?

    It isn't a criticism, I'm just interested - I think the project design is fascinating. :)
     
  15. thomasz

    thomasz New Member

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    Hi @David, your observation is very careful and correct! Yes I switched the board, because the first board was fried in a failed voltage modding. I mentioned that accident in the end of #6. You can find more details in this thread.

    The newer board has two extra SATA ports and anterior ports for hooking extra SATA/SAS plates. I don't have them anyway. Some people did try them.


     
  16. thomasz

    thomasz New Member

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    The C8220 motherboard doesn't have any 3pin or 4pin fan connectors. To control fan speed I installed an external temperature negative feedback circuit.

    This very simple module has two 4pin PWM sockets, two thermal sensors, one high-temp alarmer, and three buttons to set up a proper temp-speed function. When temp goes up the fan will spin faster.

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    I coated the thermal probes with soft silico thermal pads and inserted them in between CPU coolers' heatpipes.

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    And fixed the module in between two CPU sockets.

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    I have been pleased with the actual thermal control effect. In my office the CPU temperature floats between 35C (idle) and 65C (load). I can barely hear any sound from the fans.

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  17. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Thanks for the picture. :D That's going in my reference folder.
     
  18. thomasz

    thomasz New Member

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    The size and shape of the motherboard is precisely enough for covering four HDDs aligned laterally. This maximizes saving of space. This is among the reasons I like half-width server boards. :naughty:

    I made an HDD rack underneath the motherboard. It's one of the very few parts that I actually scratch-built.

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    Materials: aluminum bard purchased at HomeDepot.

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    Cut and drill.

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    Long pieces formed the rails / stands of the entire motherboard.

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    Small pieces became HDD holders.

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    Anti-vibration pads.

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    Screwed through the rubber pads to fix the drives.

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    Made four pairs of them.

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    Finish!

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    I was too lazy to drill 32 extra screw holes, so I just sticked the drives on to the stands.

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    All four drives aligned nicely!

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    Also customized power cables.

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    For both SSDs and HDDs.

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    Finish!
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  19. SiZZiGY

    SiZZiGY Nano Evolution in progress...

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    Its a very cool "turbine" design with all thoses fans mont at serial, not the most efficiant but for sur enough.

    About the HDD, they may be noisy bcs they are all at the same plate without any enough efficiant vibration counter mesure, if they starts to vibrate all together, that can be an bad issue.

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    Thoses simple pads never does a great job, better that nothing but don't expect anything more from them. I think you can add another ones between your HDD holders and the bottom aluminium rails to have 2 steps to contain the vibrations.

    There is a homemade solution works fine is to use "ping pong offensive rubber over 2mm and about 35 hardness" they stop very well vibrations, alot better than many pads.
     
    Last edited: 18 Jun 2017
  20. thomasz

    thomasz New Member

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    Hi @SiZZiGY Thanks! Actually there is a 2nd step pad between the HDD holders and the rails - the stickers. They are thin, but they should still do some anti-vibration job. When the whole machine runs I don't feel any issue from the HDDs.

    Thanks for sharing the trick with ping pong rubber! How large (area) is it supposed to be? I assume that it can't be cut to the size of a bolt, does it?
     

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