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kaon Desktop Architecture

kaon is the name of my new system. The purpose of this writing it to explain a bit behind the architecture of the system. Mainly the display configuration.

The system consists of three Samsung P2250 displays, each one driven by its own Asus ENGTX465 video card. These little cards are plugged in to an Asus P6T7 WS Supercomputer motherboard. It took me a while to select all the right parts for this system due to a few things I wanted to be sure of.

  1. I wanted three displays
  2. All three displays had to be equal (all the way out)
  3. The system as a whole had to have a future

To accomplish items one and two required a bit of homework. Most people who get a hardware list from me on this one say it is a waste, that it could easily be done with two cards, maybe even one. This is true but using two cards has a major drawback, dual head cards often leave one head with a handicap. That or more importantly driving two heads at the same time makes both heads suffer a major performance hit. This hit in either case was unacceptable. As for a single card driving three displays with good performance is just not going to happen. so three cards was the only answer and the Asus ENGTX465 from Newegg fit the bill and budget.

The displays were a bit easier. I am fond of Samsung screens and wanted something decently small with full HD. While these are not the best one can get in that range, they are good and reviewed well on (once more…) Newegg. Plus they were a decent price.

Something a bit more difficult was what I was going to plug the three video cards into to get data from. Due to item number 2 this meant 3 PCIe slots at x16 or x8, with a definite lean for the x16 for obvious reasons. When I did my shopping there were very few options that even came close to this. Only one stood out, being from a manufacturer I trusted from several previous builds and meeting the electrical specs needed. Stepping up to the plate is the Asus P6T7 WS Supercomputer motherboard. Equipped with a pair of N200s it sports full x16 on 4 of the PCIe slots. More than enough.

I have yet to find a block diagram, connection diagram or anything else to explain to me how they are getting all those x16 PCIe lanes around. There are a few forum posts or reads on the web that suggest they are backed up to the 36 lanes from the X58, which would be a massive bottle neck if true. If only Asus would give the world something to reference…

At any rate, the cards perform very close to dead equal. The gap, margin or whatever you want to call it can easily be chalked up to slight variances between identical hardware due to manufacturing and normal electrical variances. A 5 ohm resistor is never dead on at 5 ohms and the part made right after it is never dead on with the part in front or behind it.

I won’t bore anyone with more details that what is already in here. The system is of course a Linux only workstation for my primary use at home. to show the numbers, here is a screen capture with glxgears running on each of the three displays with several lines of output to make sure things are settled.

As a side note, that last x16 slot… well it is filled with a x1 PCIe-to-MiniPCIe adapter to hold an Atheros based SR-71E from Ubiquity networks. I would like to know why it is the industry has decided that there is no longer a need for PCI or PCIe WiFi cards in the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands! More on that one later though.

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