Vakkotaur (vakkotaur) wrote,
Vakkotaur
vakkotaur

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When is a Sempron not a Sempron?



When you unlock a second core and it becomes an Athlon X2. In my case, an Athlon II X2 4400e. The unlock was automatic and almost trouble-free. Getting there was not. Gigabyte makes a great motherboard. Unfortunately NewEgg is shipping the Revision 1 board (in my case) with the very first BIOS version on it. The sixth version is in beta right now, so I upgraded to version five. The board has a very nice means of doing an upgrade: put the file on a FAT{12,16,32} formatted USB flash drive and go into the BIOS setup menu and point their tool, QFlash, at the flash drive.

That was simple enough, once I had the needed file. The file downloaded from the Gigabyte web site is not the needed file. It's a Windows executable: a self-extracting zip file. So the QFlash didn't see it and couldn't use it. Nowhere did anything say that .exe was a self-extracting zip file. Nor did anything say just what it was. I was therefore leery of simply running it on the laptop. JMaynard ran it in a virtual machine (where it couldn't do any real damage if things were amiss) and got the needed file out. A lot of mucking around that could have been avoided by simply using obviously cross-platform compression (like, say, a plain .zip file!) or by just letting folks download the only slightly larger than compressed file in its uncompressed state. The one downside of Gigabyte that I'd read in reviews seems to be true: the silly assumption that everyone runs Windows.

Once that hurdle was cleared, the update itself was almost trivial. The second was unlocked automatically. I had to reset to "safe defaults" to get a fully working system (there was some pointer trouble) and right now I'm running without any changes save the second core being enabled. I may spend some time tweaking things (not clock speeds or voltages) and making sure things work after every single change. Tedious, but would isolate any problems.

I let the system run several hours doing little more than top to check things. It didn't do anything weird. So I gave the system some work to do, and one process will take up more than 100% CPU - so it's using both cores. That's been running for 12 hours now. I seem to have two properly working cores. Good, that takes off some pressure to upgrade to a fancier (more expensive) CPU. Which means that the hard drive change will likely be the next major hardware change. Some new cabling might be a minor hardware change soon.

I expect I will eventually, regretfully, go to Xubuntu for the 64-bit ability and a couple other things it has. Why regretfully? Because PCLinuxOS does so much better than Xubuntu, as I've rediscovered. I can hardly wait for a 64-bit version of PCLinuxOS. Any changes won't be immediate. I'm still checking things out.

Tags: athlon, computers, sempron
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