Trouble Installing OS on "Gaming Server"

FireDemon

Limp Gawd
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Messages
239
Really would appreciate some help with this one guys. Not sure exactly what the issue is. Here's the scoop:

Out of boredom, I decided to put together a "gaming server" out of some old hardware I had laying around. System specs are:

- Supermicro H8DCE rev 3.1 motherboard
- 2x Opteron 285
- 16GB ECC PC3200
- PCP&C 700 watt PSU
- 4x Kingston 120GB SSD in RAID 0 (Don't read into the RAID part too much because I tried it with a single drive in standard IDE mode as well and had the same issue)
- Single 768MB GTX460 (I will be tossing 2x 960GTX cards in later but for installation purposes, I am using the single 460)

The issue is I can't get a damn OS to install onto the system. I have tried maaaannny many many many different versions of Windows 10 both Pro and Enterprise including the latest October 2020 release downloaded directly from Microsoft's website. I use Rufus to install the image to an SD card and then boot the system from the SD. With every single one, the same thing happens. It will begin to boot, display the windows logo for a minute while the activity LED shows that it is loading files and then either hang indefinitely at the logo or just BAM reset as if you pressed the reset button. I even tried windows 8.1 and it did the exact same thing that windows 10 did.

For S&Gs, I tried downloading Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. It boots, shows the purple loading screen for a second and then falls back to a command line showing the error "Kernel panic - not syncing: IO-APIC + timer doesn't work". I know for a fact that this board supports ACPI 2.0 and APIC and both are enabled in the bios.

Things I've tried to no avail:

- Using a single drive in IDE mode vs RAID as indicated above
- Trying a different release/version of windows as indicated above
- Flashing the BIOS to the latest version of 1.1c
- Loading both optimized and failsafe defaults within bios
- Using a USB drive instead of and SD reader and using a USB port located directly on the board
- Using a different USB port
- Booting into memtest86 and completing the test twice with no errors
- I tried hitting it with my purse! (That's an easter egg for you guys who also build automotive engines)
- Clobbering the 4U rackmount case with the $10 Walmart keyboard I was using and sending 3/4 of the keys flying in all directions. Unfortunately asserting dominance did not correct the issue.

Please note that watchdog has been DISABLED both in the BIOS as well as physically through the jumper setting. When writing the bootable media I also wrote it in MBR mode as this board does not support UEFI, so we can eliminate that as a possible cause.

Any ideas guys? I'm eager to getting this system up and running so I can see how slow DOOM3 and Cemu run with the 16gigs of blazing fast PC3200!!!
 

FireDemon

Limp Gawd
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Messages
239
Does it do it with a Linux install? Just to check, when you format your USB are you doing it in FAT32..
The latest Ubuntu distro gives the error I detailed above where it shows the loading screen and attempts to install but falls back to the kernel/apic error.

When I make the bootable media, With Ubuntu it is FAT32. With windows it only gives me the option of NTFS.
 

MrGuvernment

Fully [H]
Joined
Aug 3, 2004
Messages
19,777
Use Universal USB creator or Rufus if you have a windows box...it should work for a WIn 10 ISO image, should let you choose FAT32 or NTFS, but if it does it with Ubuntu as well, thinking it must be hardware related.
 

FireDemon

Limp Gawd
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Messages
239
Use Universal USB creator or Rufus if you have a windows box...it should work for a WIn 10 ISO image, should let you choose FAT32 or NTFS, but if it does it with Ubuntu as well, thinking it must be hardware related.
Just to clarify, it will boot and display the windows logo but in the middle of loading files, it just instantly resets. That's the part I can't figure out.
 

ND40oz

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jul 31, 2005
Messages
12,004
Have you tried installing a less modern OS, like Windows 7? Could be lack on instruction set support on the Opteron.
 

FireDemon

Limp Gawd
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Messages
239
Have you tried installing a less modern OS, like Windows 7? Could be lack on instruction set support on the Opteron.
You might be onto something there. I was just able to get 7 Ultimate to boot into the installation screen. I'm going to try a more updated version of 8.1 before I attempt a full out install with 7. It's been years since I've used that version but I remember it being a very good running version.
 

ND40oz

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jul 31, 2005
Messages
12,004
You might be onto something there. I was just able to get 7 Ultimate to boot into the installation screen. I'm going to try a more updated version of 8.1 before I attempt a full out install with 7. It's been years since I've used that version but I remember it being a very good running version.

IIRC Server 2012 R2/Windows 8.1 is where they required support for some of the newer instruction sets on the x64 releases.
 

Jonnycat99

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 9, 2006
Messages
188
I know you said it passed memtest, but try moving the memory around, try just one stick, and try it in each slot one at a time.
 

bigdogchris

Fully [H]
Joined
Feb 19, 2008
Messages
18,265
Looks like that is an nForce chipset. Good luck.

If you can find 64 bit drivers that work, you could try installing 7 64 bit then trying to upgrade to 10. Or just try a 32 bit OS. Either way, you'll need Professional OS or better to support dual sockets.

And the performance on this is going to be atrocious. You'll probably only be able to play XP era titles.
 

FireDemon

Limp Gawd
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Messages
239
Figured I'd give everyone a little bit of closure on what the ultimate outcome was.

JFC, that was a battle and a half trying to get this system to take an OS. I ended up going with Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit. During the install, it would recognize the SSD RAID array however it would give some generic error when trying to format it through the GUI. I had to use diskpart through a command line to prepare it for writing and to make matters even weirder, if I had all 4 of the disks in the array, it wouldn't work. I had to drop it down to 3 disks, install the OS, then backup, add the 4th disk and restore the backup image to the rebuilt array.

After getting it up and running, I attempted to upgrade to Windows 10 while booted into the OS and I think I figured out why I had so much trouble trying to boot into the installer. I was greeted with the error message "This PCs processor doesn't support a critical feature (CompareExchange128)". I then tried Windows 8.1. Same thing. Looks like the last stop for this build is 7 Ultimate. Updated it all the way to EOL and just went with it.

Performance-wise, I am very surprised with how well it's doing. I only had older, less demanding stuff such as FlatOut, FEAR and some low level emulators in mind. However, even with the lower end system hardware, the 960s and the SSDs are definitely taking up the slack. 2010ish era titles are running in 1080p at 60+FPS. Even emulators such Dolphin are running full framrates at 1080p. Just for shits and giggles, I copied the 2016 release of DOOM off my main gaming rig, turned the settings up and put the resolution in 2k. I was getting full, playable framerates that were not discernible from my FX8320 setup. The one area where it shows a serious performance degradation are with high level emulators such a CEMU, which is understandable due to the low-end processing power and DDR1.

I have a few more minor details such as some fans/brackets to button up and will probably disable ECC and attempt to tighten the memory timings up but here it is in all of its socket 940, PC3200 glory.
 

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B00nie

[H]F Junkie
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8,652
Most likely the only way to get a modern OS on that box is to install linux and run your games through Steam/Vulcan.
 

FireDemon

Limp Gawd
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Messages
239
Interesting project. Always cool to see older hardware repurposed.
I really thought that this thing was going to top out at 2005ish era titles like FEAR and Doom 3. Ahhh I remember those days quite fondly. An Athlon XP overclocked to 2.5Ghz and 2GB of dual channel DDR400.

REALLY surprised me what the old hardware is capable off when paired with some decent SSDs and GPUs.
 

tived

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 31, 2006
Messages
177
Wow, Opterons brings back memories - glad you got it up and running. I had very fun memories with Dual Opteron's on my Tyan motherboard, i think it was K8WE ;-)

great you are bringing it back to life! I was going to say you probably would have to resort to windows 7 which came out around the same time.

Happy gaming
 

Icecold

Weaksauce
Joined
Jul 21, 2013
Messages
119
I had a dual core Opteron 185 (single socket) back in the day that I really liked. Somewhat regretting selling it(but I had gotten a good price for it at the time). Going a generation or 2 newer than this now I'm really curious how the G34 'magny cours' processors would work on modern games(probably not enough to try it, but I am curious). Looks like the CPU's themselves are like $5-$10 on eBay. The clock speed is low but in a 2 socket build you'd have 24 real cores.
 

B00nie

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Nov 1, 2012
Messages
8,652
Most games today (still) are clock speed dependent and can't multithread too well. That's why I could continue to game until now with an overclocked 2-core Pentium G3258. War Thunder and WOT ran fine on it at 2560p. Now I upgraded to a i5 4690k @4.5Ghz from my sons leftovers and it's smoother but nothing earthshaking.
 
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