Vakkotaur (vakkotaur) wrote,

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Hardware and Software changes

When I built up the new belgian in something of a hurry last Winter, I skimped in a few places. I bought just a little fairly slow memory (by today's standards....) and the cheapest CPU I could fit in the motherboard. I re-used my hard drive and a video card jmaynard was no longer using. A while back I changed to a nice new 1 TB Hitachi UltraStar hard drive.

A little less farther back, I upgraded the RAM from 2 GB of 1066 MHz to 16 GB of 1600 MHz, though it turns out I can only reliably run it at 1333 MHz due to motherboard limitations - I think. The good news there is that the response times are such that there's no real loss of speed.

The change was noticeable right off: belgian seemed to boot up faster and I have yet to hit swap - which can really bog things down.

And the latest change is removing the Sempron and replacing it with something much fancier. It did not all go well:

A:Bzxzxzxzxzxzxzxz... whirrrrrrRRRRRR- ***silence***"
Q:What are sounds you do NOT want to hear after just installing an expensive CPU?

Wednesday my new processor arrived. For those who know the fiddly bits: AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition. For everyone else: I went from 2 slow cores sharing some cache (slowing things down), to 6 faster cores each with its own cache. Or simply: Whee! More, and faster, computer!

Thursday morning I installed it. Or thought I did. Everything looked good. Then there was a raspy uneven buzzing - for a moment I though a cable was brushing up by some fan blades. Then the fan audibly increased speed: louder and louder, higher and higher pitch. Then silence. I had managed to somehow not properly attach the heatsink assembly and it fell partially off of the processor. This is not a sight making for relaxation. It makes more for worry and cussing.

The good news: The thermal protection on the motherboard works. It shut things down before any real damage could occur. After securing the heat sink, and being REALLY sure it was indeed secure, things worked as hoped, much to my relief.

The only downside so far is that the fan is (more than just) a bit noisy and has a nasty, high-pitched note. When everything is idle it's not too bad but is still noticeable. When I start using the system some, it gets louder and more annoying. Thus I now am looking at getting a different CPU cooler. The price range is quite something. At little at $30 or so, up to over $75. And even the fancy, expensive ones have a potential problem (even beyond being so big they won't fit some cases): They might interfere with one of the DIMM sockets. I'll be measuring things before buying anything. I am not reducing the amount of RAM I am running. It's so very easy to get used to having 16 GB and not seeing the system hit swap, even when I throw about everything I can at it.

While on IRC with yakko to ask about cooling solutions, I mentioned a problem I had with streaming audio in Second Life (with Phoenix - I have yet to hear any streaming audio at all out of Firestorm on 64-bit Linux). That was, while I finally had streaming audio working and it didn't clobber other audio (such as that from youtube) until the next system restart, the fix somehow caused all SL audio to be delayed about 20 seconds. For streaming audio this is not a big deal. For user interface audio it's annoying as the sound happens well after the triggering action and seems unrelated to anything.

Yakko suggested running Phoenix via padsp. That, with rollback of some edits to the Phoenix startup script, got things working right. Now, at last, I have UI audio that makes sense, streaming audio that is near instant (adjust volume with a 20 second delay sometime... yeah, I used the system audio control to get around that one), and I still have other audio.

How it's done on 64-bit Xubuntu (I figure it should work on about any distribution):

Instead of invoking Phoenix with something like this...


by itself, do this:

padsp /usr/bin/phoenixveiwer/PhoenixViewer-i686-

This is, of course, a thing set in the menus so normally there's no need to worry about it unless a version upgrade happens. The key to making the sound actually work is then to edit the startup script (named snowglobe by default) and uncomment one line. At least in my case that is all that's needed:

## - Avoids using any OpenAL audio driver.

And that's it. I used to have one or two other lines regarding sound faults uncommented, but with padsp, those changes aren't needed and might even have been causing me some trouble.

Tags: amd, computers, memory, padsp, phenom, phoenix, sempron, streaming audio
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