Abit BP6 Dual Socket 370 Motherboard

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“My Experience with the BP6” – Peter Baitz – 4/7/00.

THE NEED:

At my home office I have an HP Pavilion 8560C (C for Celeron 500). Since I installed RedHat Linux 6.0, I added my own video and sound boards and a different network card. That took up all three PCI slots in that box. Also, I had only two DIMM slots, also used up to get 128MB RAM. I further had the need to run VMWare 2.0 for Linux (lets me run Windows 98 in a virtual machine). VMWare said their program would make use of one of the two CPU’s should I have a dual-CPU motherboard. So, my quest began.

THE SOLUTION:

I found the Abit BP6 via MicroSourceUSA.com and after verifying it will suit my needs and alleviate the issues I had, I immediately bought it, along with one additional Celeron 500 and fan/heatsink/heatsink-compound.

THE OUTCOME:

The BP6 motherboard fit perfectly into the HP Pavilion 8560C chasis, including screw holes, etc. Even the ports matched up for
keybd/mouse/2serial/1parallel/2usb. (I did some research on this beforehand, but it worked out as expected.) Only thing I needed to do was split the connector for the Power/HardDriveLED/PowerLED into two parts with a quick snip and re-position the two PowerLED connectors.

I should not forget to mention that I installed my original Celeron 500, and added the newly purchased Celeron 500 as the 2nd CPU. With all PC hardware hooked back up, drives and all, RedHat Linux booted flawlessly. Note I used the UDMA/33 rather than UDMA/66 (to keep it
the same way as the original HP motherboard, and because I need to research UDMA/66 support under Linux).

Since I already had the SMP Kernel installed (RHLinux 6.0 kernel 2.2.5-15 which is already outdated) I made a quick adjustment to the LILO boot loader, and reboot got me SMP support. Linux’s XOSVIEW utility and the BP6 BIOS show both CPU active. VMWare 2.0 install went 100%, and Windows 98 loaded up within VMWare, bridged network and all.

Being a LAN Administrator, I could not imagine an easier time of it. The CPU temps stay around 37-38C and system temp about 39C (also note that the BP6 comes with Gentus Linux 6.1 which is Gentus’ remake of
RedHat Linux 6.1 geared for the BP6).

THE COST:

My HP Pavilion was $999 (I already had a monitor so I do not include that price). I also had added a new video/audio/network cards for Linux, total about $100. New Abit BP6 $145. Second Celeron 500 was $110. Fan/heatsink/thermal-grease-heatsink-compound $16. RHLinux itself was $39 but I had that already. Total $1409.

Now if I had never bought the HP, but instead purchased a computer chasis ($64) and CDROM+Floppy ($200) the price of my computer
would have been $674!!! Either way, you cannot buy a dual-CPU system on the general market for either price.

This is a huge bargain for the do-it-yourselfer, especially for those who already own a Celeron system and want to upgrade. Rather than a new PIII system, a dual Celeron 500 will be faster under Linux, and save you the cost of a complete new computer system.

Peter Baitz.

Joe’s Review 10/13/99:

Skip reviewed the BP6 back in July (below) – liked it then and likes it now. I don’t like to buy stuff when it first comes out – inevitably there are a few bugs here and there. Here it is October, the time is ripe, so I pick one up at a local computer show at a real good price – $120. Skip’s comments still hold – this is one fine board; I’ll go further and call it the Ultimate Celeron PPGA Motherboard.

Not to throw around accolades lightly, I reached this conclusion based on its stability (I can run C366s at 584 MHz, 2.0 v), features, upgrade potential, overclocking-friendly approach and a great paper manual. Even if you use this as a One-CPU board, you can’t go wrong. Using it now as a One-CPU board and upgrading to two CPUs for Windows 2000 is not a bad strategy, providing you have the two CPUs in hand (can’t run different CPU speeds).

OBSERVATIONS

As I unpacked the BP6, two things popped out: One, this is a large board (probably based on the BX) so there is no cramping for space, and Two, the size of the “greeny” heatsink that covered the BX chip. It is twice as tall (about 10 mm) as the standard one you see on almost all BX boards. I read about these chips running hot on the BP6 (turns out all dual boards run this chip hot). I am using two C366s running at 550, 2.0 v, with Alpha Socket 7s. It’s a snug fit for these and impossible for the Global Win FDP32 – the FEP32 will fit but is inferior to the Alphas.

I slipped my temp probe under the BX heatsink and fired it up. As I watched it climb past 35 C just booting up, I shut it down – too hot for my taste. Per my review of the TennMax Lasagna, I took the greeny off (no grease), applied some grease and slipped on the Lasagna. I ran some temp tests on the BX under both W98SE and NT4 SP5. What I found was surprising: NT is a hot OS – literally! The following table lists temps using the same CPUs running CPU Mark to stress the CPUs:

Speed CPU 1 Temp CPU 2 Temp BX Temp
Windows 98 SE      
366 MHz 32 C 28 C 31 C
550 MHz 37 C 28 C 33 C
Windows NT4 SP5      
366 MHz 35 C 33 C 32 C
550 MHz 39 C 35 C 34 C

CPU Mark ranged from 27.9 under W98 @ 366, to 43.8 under NT4 @ 550; NT 4 was faster than W98 by about 5%.

What struck me are the higher temps under NT4 compared to W98. I am also struck by the BX chip temps – the temps in the table are for an actively cooled chip; the stock greeny with no grease is begging for cooling and temps would have run much higher. For those of you thinking of or running duals under NT, cooling is more of an issue than under W98 – this is a surprise to me. The temps above are for a board that is not in a case – the ambient temp was 23 C. Inside a poorly ventilated case, these temps will escalate to very uncomfortable levels leading to recurring stability problems.

During this testing, I also felt around the board for hot spots. You will see nine power transistors and four coils below the CPU sockets – these generate heat, so aiming a small 50 mm fan at them would not hurt.

CONCLUSION

ABIT’s BP6 is really a stunning accomplishment. Some are calling it the Ultimate Gaming Machine (I am gaming challenged). Whatever your tastes, the ABIT BP6 is one board that should remain current (speed-wise) for some time. Cooling is really key for stability, and actively cooling the BX chip is required, not optional.

Skip’s Review 7/19/99:

Update 7/19/99: I was notified by a reader that there are other Multi-CPU aware operating systems available namely BeOS. I’m sure there are others I didn’t mention (Sun Solaris X86 comes to mind) so I’ll say there are other Multi-CPU aware operating systems available other than Windows NT and Linux.


Review 7/18/99: Every once in awhile a Manufacturer surprises us with something totally unique. Abit has done this with the BP6 Dual Socket 370 Motherboard! Thanks to PCNUT I had a chance to play with one of these the past few days. I also had an opportunity to play with a bunch Week 26 Celeron 366’s.

This board is an Overclockers dream! There are more Bus Speeds than Taxi’s in Chicago (and that’s a bunch!). These boards are well suited for the higher multiplier locked Celeron 400’s and above. Bus speeds available below 100 are: 66, 68(Turbo), 72, 75, 78, 80, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, and 99. This should be able to squeeze every Mhz out of that high multiplier Celeron. For 100 FSB and above we have 100, 103(Turbo), 104, 106, 108, 110, 124, 133.

The board also has UDMA 66 (2 ports for 4 devices total) and UDMA 33 (2 ports for 4 devices total) which means you could have a total of 8 IDE devices on this board as you can use both UDMA/33 and UDMA/66 at the same time. There is also temperature monitoring with one probe located under each CPU and the internal System Temp in the Winbond chip. One nice touch is Abit didn’t mount the under chip probes flush with the board but they are stood off the board a bit so you can carefully bend them up a bit to actually contact the underside of the CPU. On the BM6, they are/were flush mounted so you only actually measure the air temperature under the CPU.

Since the only currently available operating systems that are Dual Processor capable are Windows NT and Linux, this may turn some people away as some games and such are not too friendly under Windows NT. I have found, however, that this is an awesome board even if you only run one CPU, which it is very capable of. This way you could run single CPU now with Windows 98 and then when Windows 2000 comes out, you could then upgrade to 2 CPU’s.

Stability:

After playing with a bunch of week 26 chips on this board, I have found it to be a very stable board with the C366’s at 550. The only thing I have found is if you run it with 2 CPU’s that are stable in single mode at different voltages. Say 2.0 for 1 and 2.2 for the other. MOST of the time, even though you can set the voltages separately, you will have to run both CPU’s at the higher voltage. Also I have found that even with 2 matched CPU’s that run at 2 Volts, You sometimes have to run them at 2.1 to be completely stable. These findings are preliminary and I will test further on this. Overall, This is a pretty stable board for a Version 1 board.

Conclusion:

This is definitely a must buy board even if you only plan on running in single CPU mode. The UDMA/66 and the numerous bus speeds are enough of a reason alone if you are running a 400 or above Celeron. You could buy this board now and run single CPU and later when Windows 2000 is released and they make more applications and games SMP aware, then you could upgrade to 2 CPU’s. Remember, even if you run an SMP aware operating system, the application you are running must ALSO be SMP aware to make full use of the Dual CPU’s. Just because you have Dual CPU’s, does not mean you will have a faster machine!

Skip….

NOTE:

In order to use Alphas you MAY have to gently bend the arm on the socket lever down a bit. I did this using 2 pliers and very carefully bending it just a tad. One of my socket arms had to be modified, the other was OK. Check to see if this arm is higher than the top of the CPU before mounting ANY Heatsink. If it is, it may keep the heatsink from contacting the CPU fully causing the CPU to run hot.

 
This review and comments are just my personal observations and opinion. As with any products and services, please research throughly before making any purchases. The reviewer and overclockers.com shall not and will not be held liable for any damages cause by products reviewed in this article.


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