Atermiter x79 Mini-ATX Xeon bundle

I needed to get some new PC’s for some temp workers, and I didn’t want to spend all that much. At the same time they need to work with fine Chinese programs like WeChat and TaoBao, which means they have to load up on all this spyware that bogs down damned near everything.

The old Celeron J3455 just wasn’t handling the load, and then I saw this cheap bundle, the Atermiter x79 Mini-ATX motherboard E5-2620 v2 Combo:

The kit includes the board, processor, and 16GB of matched DDR3 ECC RAM. And I was able to get the kits for 450 RMB ($65 USD) as I was ordering more than one. I don’t know if this kind of negotiations are available to anyone outside of China. Although I don’t know if doing this would be some kind of service to resell? It’s crazy enough that I already employ someone to help buy stuff, maybe I should turn it into a business.

Anyway, scoring the Celeron J3455 vs the Xeon E5-2620v2 shows that the Xeon is 2x as fast per core, and with 6 cores / 12 hyper-threaded vs 4 cores on the Xeon. So this should be great.

Atermiter Mainboard, Born for Gaming

The board showed up the next day, granted it’s because it’s from the province adjacent to Hong Kong, Guangdong so it didn’t have that far to go.

Box contents

Contents were pretty bare, the memory nice foam packed, a SATA cable, and a heat sink adapter to sit on top of the LGA 2011 socket to let you use other more common heat sinks. I went ahead and used a LGA1151 3 wire fan kit I had lying around.

Mini-ATX Xeon 2011

The board is TINY. It really is Mini-ATX. I don’t have any spare M.2 storage on hand, so that’ll have to be for another day, instead I just have a disk & SSD from the old Celeron, which booted up just fine in this board. Naturally bring your own CR-2032 as they are so scared of shipping lithium ion batteries for some reason. Xeon’s don’t have iGPU’s so you will need a graphics card. And I just used a super cheap NVIDIA Quadro FX 580. Not an awesome card, but you can see what you are doing, so it’s more than enough for back office work.

E5-2620 v2, 6 cores, 12 threads, 16GB of RAM for $65 USD!

So yeah. Another China Xeon special. I know it’s not that exciting, I should fire up the other one and see if I can get XP x64 on there. I have a GTX 970, it’d be a killer HL2 machine!

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the office

Not a peripheral was stirring, not even a mouse;
The new motherboard was strewn on the floor in dismay,
In hopes that this crap Jingsha board would finally work;

The processors were nestled all snug in their sockets,
While visions of posting danced in their heads;
But motherboard back in her antistatic bag, and I in my cap,
Had just settled on giving this thing a long winter’s dirt nap…

Contents of the box

On the surface this board seemed like quit the bargain. The Jingsha x79 dual socket board features 8 memory slots unlike the 4 in the Huananzhi board allowing me to go from 64GB of RAM to 128GB! In addition the board also has a native M.2 storage slot! All for the low low price of around $100 USD!

Neat!

While I did find that upgrading my power supply to the bigger 850 watts which certainly didn’t hurt stability, I thought that it’d be more than enough power for this new board.

And I kind of liked the idea of having a management engine that might out for ‘lights out’ when I’m traveling.

But no, it was nothing but grief. Most of the time I was stuck with error 99 which apparently has something to do with not enough power on the PCI bus? Granted I was rocking my RTX-2070, but it was running fine in the Huananzhi! Putting in the lowest & dumbest video card I had got it to boot windows up, quickly followed up with a crash.

IRQL NOT LESS OR EQUAL

Now for the best part, I pull the disks, as I’ve had this install going from my old Mac Pro, so maybe the HAL is stale or something else is going on like that old bootcamp error. So I make an install USB stick, with NO customizations, using the Microsoft tool. AKA stock.

And I get the same crash.

IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL

What the Fuck. I don’t even know. Considering it’s crashing on install media it’s clearly the boards fault. The processors worked fine in the old board, and putting them back along with the memory and it’s working fine again. Something is wrong with the board.

So back into the bag, back into the box, and onto the shelf. Can’t say I’m such a happy elf.

Anyway it’s getting late. I’m off home, but a quick stop to the grocery store to try to remember how to make eggnog or something to at least make me forget this wasted sideline.

Huananzhi X79

So I picked up this board on AliExpress for about $200 USD. Natrually the x79 chipset is NOT a dual CPU chipset, so yeah it’s one of those ‘not exactly 100% legit’ Chinese motherboards.

One thing about Chinese companies that many don’t sell directly to consumers, instead they sell on Tao Bao, Alibaba, or to foreigners, AliExpress. The company’s site is http://www.huananzhi.com, as they had written on the box. Yes you need the www. portion of the name, as again many things are… well dated on the Chinese internet.

The product page is currently http://www.huananzhi.com/html/1/149/150/256.html, if anyone cares. It lists the technical specs as:

  • Support for Xeon E5 series processors
  • High-speed DDR3 four-channel memory slot: support 1333/1600/1866MHz, maximum capacity 128G memory slot
  • Desktop general purpose memory
  • X79 dual motherboard supports 5.1 channel ALC887 chip
  • 8-layer PCB backplane, 7+7 phase power supply
  • High-speed USB3.0, SATA3.0 interface transmission speed is increased
  • PCI-E expansion slot*4
  • RJ45 Gigabit LAN interface
  • North Korean heat sink with HUANAN logo

Yes, I don’t get the whole Korean heat sink thing either. Anyways I thought it’d be fun to try so I ordered the thing. It took 3 days to get to my office in China, and an additional week to get from China to Hong Kong. I hear these things can take upwards of a month to arrive in North America.

Also worth noting is that they will not ship with a CMOS battery, so you need to supply your own CR-2032 battery, otherwise the board will not operate correctly.

The contents of the box are VERY minimal, but they did include 2 SATA cables, some CPU thermal paste, a very bare and … well not very good manual, a CD which I haven’t even tried to read, along with an IO shield.

Oh and for visitors of the future, here is a poorly scanned copy of that manual. It really is 2 pages. For what it’s worth it makes as much sense in English as it does in Chinese.

I decided to pair this with a pair of E5-2620 v2‘s that I got for $40 USD shipped, as I didn’t want to initially spend a lot of money in case all of this just exploded or something. These were the ‘widest’ and cheapest processors I could find, I wanted a v2 E5 as they are faster then the first generation.

Also worth noting is that the board is only capable of driving v1 & v2 E5’s. And they need to be the E5-2 type, which support operating in pairs, unlike the E5-1 set. I have no idea if the E5-4’s aka 4-way part would work in a pair. Although it may be an interesting experiment to try.

The board apparently doesn’t support overclocking or anything that fancy.

Although it reports itself as an x79 based motherboard, it is in reality an Intel C602, based chipset. I don’t know if they are harvesting them off of recycled servers, or if they have located a giant cache of repair parts that have been pushed beyond 5 year warranties, so they are prime candidates for being re-purposed as end user motherboards. Nice things about these boards vs standard server boards is the inclusion of a Realtek HD Audio chip, VIA USB 3.0 controller, and even the nice spacing out of the slots so you could really use all the slots.

Since this is a dual processor board you really want a PSU with dual 8 pin power connectors, however as mentioned in the poorly translated manual, you can take a PCI-E 6 pin adapter, and place it into the 8 pin socket, just position it backwards so that the 12v+ pins are facing inwards.

It may look strange (well more so as I’m using an extension cable that is sadly more focused on aesthetics than function, but heh it was cheap), but rest assured it works!

Another thing to keep in mind is that since this board uses a server chipset, not a consumer one, just as it is using server processors, you will need server grade memory. In this case it’s REG ECC DDR3 based memory. I went with 1833Mhz parts, which are the fastest DDR3 parts they made. Although the processors I chose have a maximum frequency support of 1600Mhz, but the memory works fine when underclocked.

Another gotcha is the CPU fans. These need to fit the Intel Xeon 2011, but have support for the 2011 motherbards. Which unlike the consumer versions don’t have a separate plate to bolt to the underside, rather they screw in all from the top. I had purchased a pair of cheap heatsinks that were about the right size, but didn’t include any of the mounting hardware for a 2011 board. I picked up these GELID Phantom Black CPU’s for about $80 for the pair.

They are quite big, and include a pair of fans for each processor which will make the end build look a little crazy.

I didn’t want to spend a lot, and went with the cheapest PSU I could find to output more than 450 watts. Although it did turn on and run with the lower PSU the machine did shut off overnight for no apparent reason. I’ve been okay with the larger and cheap Antec NX 650 PSU.

Although, this is the older style ‘bundle o cables’ type of PSU which I’m not such a fan of.

If I had charged up a cordless screwdriver this would have taken a few minutes, but screwing in the heatsinks was a chore, and they really do dominate the boards real estate.

Almost completed build

I thought I had a case, but it turns out that it was for normal ATX sized boards, and this is an E-ATX board so it simply will not fit.

view from above

Another nice server like feature is that the board has an LED readout for early post codes, as booting this board will take some time. I think with 32GB of RAM it’s almost a minute.

I took the SSD & Hard disk out of my MacPro 2010 and put them into the new machine, and it booted up right away. Once connected to the internet Windows 10 picked up the new hardware and downloaded and installed the board drivers as needed. Interestingly enough Windows 10 also wanted a new activation code as the CPU/Motherboard was changed, although it didn’t complain about it.

When it comes to jobs that can run in parallel this is an incredible build. Obviously single core performance at 2Ghz is. well. terrible. I know going to a 4Ghz max E5-2667 v2 won’t be exactly magic either, but there is something nice about having 32 threads. Running stuff like parallel compiles, compression and video encoding is a dream on these massively parallel machines.

Games, are ‘okay’. I get 60fps with Fallout 76 on this current 2Ghz build on medium settings with the 1050 video card.

I do plan on getting faster CPU’s after the Chinese New Year, as right now basically everything is shut down (it sucks being the only person in the office building, literally), and shipments wont’ resume for at least another week.

Go back to classic Gmail

going .. back!

So yeah I”m not a fan of the new layout, it somehow manages to only render properly at a high resolution, and display farless.  “Suprpsingly” the top option on the far right is to “Go back to classic Gmail”.

Out in Hong Kong people are a buzz that Google has a secret deal with Beijing where they are not only going to build a search engine with CCP’s blessing, but they will also be moving people’s data out here into Chinese datacentres.

Then I got this email:

Due to a new agreement between WhatsApp and Google, WhatsApp backups will no longer count against Google Drive storage quota. However, any WhatsApp backups that have not been updated in more than a year will automatically be removed from storage.

This policy will come into effect for all users on 12 November 2018, although some users may see the quota benefits earlier. To avoid the loss of any backups, we recommend that people manually back up WhatsApp before 12 November 2018.

So WhatsApp is the #1 chat app out in Hong Kong.  So now presumably all our chats are going directly to the CCP. Yay.

I can’t say I’m all that surprised, when I logon from Europe or the USA all my data of course goes through the CIA via Canada, or FBI/Interpol.. So there is no escaping any of this, but the reql question is what changed to get these kinds of deals in place.

I donno what to make of any of it.

And yes, it turns out that even if you opt out of the Google tracking, they still track.  Does this mean it’s time to actually go back to an abandonded / pay platform like Windows Phone/Office 365?

Speculate wildly!

Merry Christmas from China!

Well it is that time of the year again!

I’ve been insanely busy at work, and the few hours I do get home I end up spending sleeping

vivo Christmas

Of all things it was some ‘critical update’ nonsense on my phone that suddenly set the mood. As a personal rant I think it is kind of funny that in China we can say “Merry Christmas” without any impunity, nobody threatens my livelyhood just because of uttering two words. Over in the middle kingdom I don’t have to hide behind “seasons greetings” or any of that other PC tripe. Who would have thought 30 years ago that living in some Communist dictatorship would actually be more free. Oh well, it’s more bizarre as I had that blitz trip to the United States where Christmas is all but outlawed by the PC police, and so many Chinese were hoping to see big public displays that just simply don’t exist, just as where I contract for reminded everyone that Christmas is banned in name.

If this were twitter I would no doubt face harsh criticism for writing such a thing, with actual consequences. The ‘tolerant’ left is anything but.

I can only imagine the manufactured outrage over something like the Commodore Christmas demo for the Commodore 64 in these modern ages.

But here, I rent my own server so I can write whatever I please.  Lest we remember in the dawn of “fake news” it really is more so a war on unacceptable news, as we further burrow into our “truth silos” where any option that challenges our world view must be removed.  Naturally people find government censorship of this level intolerable, but oddly enough find no qualms about having corporations do this for them.  And corporations will gladly defend themselves from the ‘fake news’ while serving endless and misleading native ads, as long as consumers keep buying.  It is an interesting shift driven in the media space, as companies struggle to stay relevant in the crybully and offended Olympic age.

I guess if anything I’m still just amazed how big Christmas is in places where I’d never traditionally find it, as the commercial aspects of it are being absorbed in a cargo cult like fashion, but in retrospect in the west 30 years ago Christmas was pretty much a cargo cult holiday, saying and doing the motions for that precious cargo, aka going through the massive catalogs of the time, and hoping  Santa would buy the right thing, which of course for the most part they did not…

So yes, enough of the old man rant, and Merry Christmas!

DDOS fun…

Well it seems at some point China has decided they don’t like me, and they are now DDOS’ing my server… Or they have some bot net that is OBSESSED with Windows NT 3.1 servicepack 3 for the i386…

So as much as I don’t want to, I’ll end up blocking China, Taiwan, Hong Kong from my server…. Oh well.

One can only speculate what on earth they find so interesting.

If anyone is interested, you can find a script here, that’ll add a list of ip addresses into a block list for IIS.

Then it’s just a matter of downloading a table of ip addresses. I’m using these guys right now… I just downloaded the csv version, ran it through access, and used that to create some queries for some tables, then ran that data through some minor C program I ended up writing to massage the netmasks into something the script would like. It’s not “nice” but it works. Then afterwards since they keep on downloading the same file, I just extract my IIS logs into access which has the ip address set as a primary key, then I’m just making /24’s of each one that does so….

Sigh, I don’t get why they are doing it, but they are getting a whole lot of 403’s now.