So last week was actually an anniversary I didn’t know about ’til just now. It’s been two years since Colette started doing server duty; the first time I reference such a thing is in Episode d155. The IP URL obviously doesn’t work anymore; I switched Colette over to our ATT line way back when Comcast said it was going to impose their 250GB cap on whatever service we have (don’t really know if they ever did it or not), so she’s been on a dynamic IP for a year now. The ATT line isn’t as fast, but it works, and that’s good enough.
Theoretically, it should also be Motoko’s second year too, but I’m pretty sure I was running my old P4 box back then. Motoko probably doesn’t attain her current state until… well I dunno… January 2008, maybe?
Colette actually has a pretty checkered history, and I didn’t know about it too recently. In her original state (Abit AN7 & Athlon XP 3200+), I think she was bought by a certain Mr. Spirtos I knew quite well (too well maybe) in elementary school, and some of high school. Sadly, he’s moved to Chicago these days. At any rate, it must have been a very high-end configuration back then; I’m pretty sure the 3200+ was like $500 at launch, and everyone knew that Athlons were better than Northwood P4s. But going on…
Somewhere along the way – it must have been 2005 or 2006, Colette got “donated” to the Pinewood robotics team because we intended to use her for CAD work (which we never did because it really was impractical for a small school like us). I’m pretty sure Mr. Spirtos intended to get her back at some point, but after the season finished, she either went home with team captain Mr. Wang or the great Generalachoo. At any rate, when the 2006-2007 robotics season started – I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but it musta been something stupid like CAD again – she changed hands again.
This time it was to me. I don’t know how much of the original kit I got (it was probably just the board, processor, and heatsink by now), but it wasn’t much. It’s interesting because in the present, the only part the current Colette shares with the original Colette is the AN7 motherboard; every single other part has changed, right down to some of the jumpers on said motherboard. Hell, even between now and when I got Colette from Generalachoo, all the parts have changed. I’m really surprised I didn’t write about this; I do mention that I’ve owned a custom desktop in d136, but that’s really it it seems.
You know, while we’re here, let’s talk about overclocking, cuz that’s what I tried on Colette shortly after I put her together, and I’m also surprised I didn’t write about it. The Athlon XP 3200+ doesn’t really have any OC headroom, though. I had to put an obscene (relatively) amount of additional voltage onto the CPU core to get, oh, 200 extra MHz from the chip, and really an unnoticeable amount of extra performance. Rule of thumb is that you need at least 10% more clockspeed to notice; 200MHz was like 8%. Kind of a fail.
The 2500+ I’m currently using could probably do 20 to 25% given a reasonable voltage bump, but by the time I got that chip, I didn’t care anymore. I mean, I’m at least 75% a laptop user, and one with pretty vanilla usage patterns (internet, video, music, etc); I don’t need a lot of juice from a laptop. I’m way, way more concerned about low noise, low heat, low weight, long battery life, and so on. Performance wise, I just want something that’ll do HD video with an SSD, and I’m set. Most dual-core chips made in the last couple years will do the trick, there’s no need to squeeze every last extra MHz out of the system.
But where’s the fun in that. Overclocking is also about getting the most out of a given piece of hardware, and who doesn’t want the best value possible?
Whereas the Athlon XP doesn’t have much OC headroom, the E2140 has a ton of it. The E2140 is pretty much Intel’s slowest dual-core processor, but 100% overclocks aren’t totally uncommon. In fact, you can get a decent overclock pretty much on the stock voltage of the chip. When I first got my EP35-DS3R (man what a clunky name) and E2140, I just raised the FSB to 1333MHz, and it ran with that. Nothing else needed. That takes the clock speed from 1600MHz to 2666MHz; a 66% increase!
Recently, after installing Windows 7, I took the time to tweak this setup a little more. I was able to take the voltage down a full 0.1v (that’s like 8% when the stock voltage is 1.3v) with the 66% overclock, indicating that the chip could probably hit 3GHz if I raised that voltage a little. But it’s really not that important, and I think 2.66GHz with a small undervolt is a good power/performance balance. At the very least you’re riding that fine value line where a little bit more clock speed or a little bit less voltage will cause system instability. I know because I tried. I was down another couple millivolts at first, but it didn’t pass a 24hr run of prime95, so I had to push it up a bit.
And then I found out my memory actually had some OC headroom as well! I got 1066MHz from nominal 800MHz memory, and I didn’t have to touch the timings or the voltage. Memory bandwidth really doesn’t do much for performance, but really, what the heck. If someone gives you five dollars, are you going to take it or ask if it’s fake? (I’m trying to quote that one comic page here, but I don’t think that was it)
Ok, that’s that for today.