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Hardware Hacking

Custom Motherboards? 120

Posted by Cliff
from the when-everyone-else-just-isn't-good-enough dept.
Druegan asks: "I've been rooting around on the net lately checking out all the latest and greatest in new PC parts, plotting out the design for my next build. I'm finding lots of neat stuff, but I can never seem to find a main board that has just the right combination of features. Therefore, I want to Ask Slashdot: Is there any way your esteemed readership knows as to how a person might get a main board custom made?"
"I don't know how practical this is, BUT I'm looking for a mainboard that supports a dual processor configuration for the AMD64 FX 55 processor, built around the nVidia nForce 4 chipset. I'd like two full x16 PCI-express slots with support for the nVidia SLI, as well as room for at least 2gb of dual channel DDR, and SATA Raid support. I also am looking to be able to overclock the bejeesus out of the whole mess.

This is only a test case, but there currently is no such mainboard available. I'd like to know if there is some way to get one custom built though, even if it is ridiculously expensive.. (yes, this might fall into the 'more-money-than-brains' dept.)

I'd just like to build the system to see how it'd work."
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Custom Motherboards?

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  • Doy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Apreche (239272) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:47AM (#12313814) Homepage Journal
    The reason that you can't get a board that meets your needs is because your needs are unmeetable. IIRC the Athlon 64 FX can't be paired in a dual processor configuration. That's what the Opterons are for.

    However, if you come up with requirements for a motherboard that are possible and you want to have one made, good luck. There are many companies that can do it for you for an extremely large pile of money.
    • Re:Doy (Score:3, Informative)

      by OAB_X (818333)
      It cant be paired, you need the operton 2 series. Its basically the same as an FX, just with it being able to be used in multi-cpu configs.
      • Re:Doy (Score:2, Informative)

        by davez0r (717539)
        when you said "it's basically the same as the FX", i'm reminded of my dual athlon XP computer from a couple of years back. AMD said that you need athlon MPs for SMP. but the MP and the XP were essentially the same processor. the only differences were that the MP had added testing done, and the XP had some traces cut on its surface to prevent SMP capability. some conductive paint fixed that. is that the case here? or does the opteron actually have additional functionality that the FX physically lacks
        • Well, there is the significant factor of the extra pin in the 940 slot architecture. I'm reasonably certain it's not for nothing.
        • Re:Doy (Score:4, Informative)

          by scheme (19778) on Friday April 22, 2005 @01:05PM (#12314637)
          when you said "it's basically the same as the FX", i'm reminded of my dual athlon XP computer from a couple of years back. AMD said that you need athlon MPs for SMP. but the MP and the XP were essentially the same processor. the only differences were that the MP had added testing done, and the XP had some traces cut on its surface to prevent SMP capability. some conductive paint fixed that. is that the case here? or does the opteron actually have additional functionality that the FX physically lacks

          Yeah, the 2xx opterons have the capability to setup a single coherent hypertransport link. You need coherent hypertransport links to get processors talking to each other without managling each other's memory.

          • I'll just extend on that...

            The Athlon used an external bridge chip that connected directly to each processor (the 760, as used on the Thunder K7 [tyan.com]).

            The Opteron processors connect directly to each other, and one (or more) of them also connect to the rest of the computer. It's glueless, like in this board [lambcutlet.org]. Good thing, too, because one chip that connected to 4 or 8 processors would have so many pins on it that it would be incredibly expensive.
        • by OAB_X (818333)
          >is that the case here? or does the opteron actually have additional
          >functionality that the FX physically lacks

          As mentioned, it does have aditional functionality, but the FX and Opertons have a thermal spreader on them, so you cant even get to the top of the chip where you can complete these traces.

          Even if you do, there is no gaurntee that it would work. Its better to just get the dual operton board.
    • Re:Doy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DetrimentalFiend (233753) * on Friday April 22, 2005 @01:12PM (#12314690)
      I'd hate to say it, but this Ask Slashdot is retarded. The most pci express channels that I've seen any consumer chipset support yet is 20x, and 2*16 = 32. Soon, there should be dual core FX's, but you'll need to go opteron if you want dual 64bit cpu's. That much ram is no issue and can be found on nearly every mother board, but this guy FOR SURE has more money than brains.
      • Re:Doy (Score:2, Interesting)

        by sharkey (16670)
        The most pci express channels that I've seen any consumer chipset support yet is 20x, and 2*16 = 32.

        Tyan offers a dual-Opeteron board with dual x16 PCI-Express slots. http://www.tyan.com/products/html/thunderk8we.html [tyan.com]

      • Re:Doy (Score:2, Funny)

        by cavemanf16 (303184)
        Indeed. In fact, he's not even concerned about the SLOWEST component of the entire system: the hard drive! Get a custom-built 20,000 RPM hard drive and the entire system moves faster. Get that 2GB of memory cached on board the CPU chip die and the system moves faster. He just wants to throw money at a poor solution to his computing "needs" to compensate for his less than l337 computer hacking skills. He should just resort to having num-chuck skills and be happy.
    • by ameoba (173803)
      This is all that needs to be said - the discussion can stop here.
    • by cowbutt (21077)
      The reason that you can't get a board that meets your needs is because your needs are unmeetable. IIRC the Athlon 64 FX can't be paired in a dual processor configuration.

      That said, there were a number of 486-based SMP machines around pre-1995. The 486 wasn't SMP-capable, but the custom chipset used made such usage possible.

      To the original poster, the cheapest way to have your own custom motherboard is probably to buyout Giga-Byte, or Asus or ECS, or something. :-)

    • I couldn't agree more with parent.

      AFAIK nF4 doesn't handle dual processors or 32 PCIe lines.

      If poster drops both (and he has to unless he wants to drop nF4 and move on to an Opteron based system), i'd recommand the DFI Lanparty nF4 SLI-DR
      • Up to 4Gb memory with dual channel (i'm running mine with 2Gb dual channel as 2*1Gb)
      • SLI (obviously)
      • Overclocking bitch (able to feed your RAM with 4V, or raise FSB into the high 300s)
      • Extremely complete packaging
      • 2*PATA + 4*SATA2 raid 0/1 + 4*SATA1 raid 0/1/5

      It's

  • Most processors now have so many pinouts that you need multi-layer boards just to house all of them. Not even double sided boards would work. So any 'custom motherboard' would have to be made in a really expensive factory cranking them out by the thousands. However, you can sodder off the connections you don't use (like the built-in audio) and pretend you don't have them :P.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "Not even double sided boards would work"

      You just made my day! That's one of the funniest examples of "n00b miscalculation of complexity" I've seen in a while.

    • The number of pins per device or layers oer board isn't the hard part. Current technology has some really fast stuff happening, and the timing and impedance matching will be the truely hard things to cope with.

      I majored in computer engineering in college but we didn't take any EM fields classes. I would love to know this stuff today, but textbooks on the subject aren't easy recreational reads... Does anyone have recommendations for good books or web pages or courses that are good for those who are interest
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Wow. You mean you can't just buy a resist pen and blank copper-clad at Radio Shack and do your own motherboard? Who would have guessed! I guess you could go reeelly high-tech and wire-wrap it. Just need to pind a CPU thats in a DIP package.

      Sorry kids. This is only funny if you're over 30. Just humor me.
  • by Jjeff1 (636051) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:48AM (#12313824)
    Someone check me on this, but the FX series of chips don't support dual CPU.

    And the Nforce 4 isn't a dual CPU chipset. So you'll never find what you're looking for.
    • You would need a nForce Pro 4 chipset ofor dual CPU.
    • Actually - the PCI-Express Chipset for AMD (The NForce) IS just a HyperTransport - Device chip... It will work for either a single, a dual, a quad, or for that matter an 8 way motherboard.

      You can have two of them in your dual proc system (or 4 of them for that matter) and get your multi 16x.

      Don't look for any manufacturer to produce such a thing, and frankly - doing a custom motherboard is probably out of your reach unless your first name is Bill and you don't mind throwing down a few million for a custom

  • Cool. (Score:3, Funny)

    by TsukasaZero (850187) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:53AM (#12313883)
    Enjoy your new, non-realistic, motherboard.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:54AM (#12313889)
    Unless we're talking about thousands or tens of thousands, it's not economically viable. This is not a system-on-chip design, so it requires considerable debugging. Prototype manufacturing costs are always high as well.

    My advice as an electronic engineer: give it up, your idea doesn't make sense.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "My advice as an electronic engineer: give it up, your idea doesn't make sense."

      Now maybe people will realize what software people have to put up with.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You're an electronic engineer? Wow, all this time I've been using the old-fashioned biological kind.
    • by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd@harr[ ]onfamily.org ['els' in gap]> on Friday April 22, 2005 @02:15PM (#12315301) Homepage
      What the parent says is correct, but let me elaborate. Let's assume that you DID have the knowledge and education to undertake this. Here is what you would need...

      1) A complete schematic capture system with a really good board layout tool. My company provides one for me, so I do not know how much they paid. But I would guess that for one license, you would have to spend $10K or so. Certainly more than $5K. Note that there are budget packages out there ($2K or so), but you get what you pay for.

      2) You will need to get the board manufacturered. Expect at least $2K or so for a handfull of boards (probably closer to $5K). Since you will not get it right on the first try, you will have to get multiple revisions made.

      3) Buy parts. Some items have a minimum buy quantity. You might need to get entire tape-n-reel packs.

      4) Get the board built. This is not something that you can do yourself, unless you have $100K equipment lying around. Contract this out. My best guess is between $1000 and $5000 for small quantities. I am not sure about this part, though.

      5) Debug. You do have test equipment, I hope. Minimum equipment will be a good logic analyzer and oscope. The minimum that I would recommend would be an Agilent frame with a good analyzer card, pattern generator card, and o-scope card (tektronics make awesome scopes, but I do not like their logic analyzers). Expect to drop at least $30K on this. You can rent, though, if money is tight ;) Now, if you want to make your job easier, you might want to get some specialized equipment. Special analyzers exist which analyze one type of interface. You should probably have one for HyperTransport (assuming AMD), one to analyze the DRAM channels, one to analyze PCI, one to analyze USB, etc. You get the idea. This stuff will be used a lot less, so you should rent it.

      6) Let's assume that the hardware works. Did you want a BIOS with that? License it. I have absolutely no idea how much this costs. You will likely have to costomize the BIOS for your board. You might be able to do this with open-source tools. Expect to spend some time on this, though.

      7) You want that done this year? While you hold down a day job? Expect to spend $10/day on no-doze and Jolt cola.

      As you can see, there is a LOT involved. The only reason that you can get a motherboard for $100 or so is that they make a LOT of them. The first motherboard is incredibly expensive. The second one is dirt cheap.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        "As you can see, there is a LOT involved. The only reason that you can get a motherboard for $100 or so is that they make a LOT of them. The first motherboard is incredibly expensive. The second one is dirt cheap."

        Translation: Production costs are way more than distribution costs, and "economics of scale" are important. Now if we could only get the "information wants to be free" crowd to read your post?
        • Production costs are way more than distribution costs, and "economics of scale" are important.

          I hope you're not equating scale economics with scarcity.

          Now if we could only get the "information wants to be free" crowd to read your post?

          Information has a development cost. So does a motherboard (as its schematic is information). Information does not have a marginal cost of production, as its existence in unit form is not tied to scarce resources (unless you consider a human brain a scarce resource). A mothe

      • And don't forget that it needs cup holders, wings and bubbles. What good is a motherboard without all of those things? I mean, really!?!?!?!?!
    • The short version (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816)
      Put it another way: it costs almost as much to build one motherboard from a particular design as it costs to build the thousands (anybody know a more precise figure?) as it costs to build just one.

      It's sort of ironic: most of us depend for our livelihoods on the fact that computers are cheap. Computers would not be cheap without economies of scale [wikipedia.org]. Yet few Slashdotters seem to grasp the concept. They're always complaining that nobody bothers to port their favorite game to Linux or Mac, or that off-the-she

  • by CarnivoreMan (827905) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:55AM (#12313897)
    Go ahead and pay me $10,000 to my PayPal account and I'll get started right away. It'll be in the mail real soon! I can even through in a nucular mobo battery and wire it with a turbo button.
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:58AM (#12313940)
    has something very close to what you want in their Thunder K8WE. You need Opterons though because the AMD64 doesn't support dual CPU, and the chipset is the NVIDIA nForce(TM) Professional 2200 and 2050 series, which is needed for dual CPU and PCI-X.

    • about how the Athlon XP, which costed significantly less than the MP, could be modified (with a pencil, I beileve) slightly to achieve multi-processor capability?

      I don't know if its possible in this case, but has anyone looked into modifying the FX to do the same thing?

  • Not a good idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by photon317 (208409) on Friday April 22, 2005 @12:03PM (#12313989)


    Aside from what others have already pointed out, namely that your chosen CPU and Chipset don't appear to support dual processors to begin with, the idea of having a custom motherboard made is silly.

    Motherboards are extremely complex peices of equipment. An enormous amount of work goes into getting them production-quality, it's a lot more than just wiring the rights pins of the right chips and sockets together. There's all the EMF and heat effects to consider, trace lengths and their effect on signal propogation, etc. Then ocne you have a baord that's even capable of functioning reliably, you have to make a BIOS for it and get all the right parameters tweaked correctly to initialize the board the right way - there's a lot of values tuned by the vendor for the board in question that you never see in your little BIOS setup screen.

    Even among commercial boards, as we've seen on review sites, there are varying levels of success at building a rock-solid stable board. It requires an enormous amount of engineering man-hours to go through the design and testing process, and sometimes they still can't get it quite right, and half the boards are a little "flaky" under the wrong conditions.

    So even if you wanted to drop some enormous sums of money (very enormous, I would imagine, orders of magnitude more than the cost of any custom built PC), it would be unsupported by other vendors (drivers, etc), and likely be plagued by little one-off problems like so many new boards are. Usually the vendor can see the trends in the problems based on numerous end-user bug reports, and fix it in the BIOS - but with just one user, good luck.

    Chances are that if you actually made a competent choice about what motherboard features and components really suit your needs, you'd find they already make it anyways.
    • Amen!

      Computer design is not an exact science. The current hardware and software development processes use the end user as a test fixture, and rely on the sheer quantity of end users to help fix bugs. A one-off bespoke solution is not an option.

      Accept the things you can not change, This is one of them.

      --Mike--

    • Re:Not a good idea (Score:4, Interesting)

      by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecrans@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday April 22, 2005 @01:35PM (#12314872) Homepage
      Uhh, This is one of the hundred or so "me too posts." The Asker has no idea what he is doing.

      That said... When I glanced at the headline, I assumed it was about somebody doing a custom 8 bit or 16 bit system, and was looking for some resources to make his tricked out Zilog box look more professional.

      So, I'd love to hear from some experts about just what level of custom board would be doable for a hobbyist? How about a dual 8080, or maybe (joygasm) a dual 386 custom board? What free/cheap tools are available, and who does cheap low-volume PCB runs? Let's all pretend that a useful question was asked, and answer that!
      • Let's all pretend that a useful question was asked, and answer that!

        Damn, where's my mod points when I need them? Parent: +1 Insightful
      • Re:Not a good idea (Score:5, Informative)

        by HeyLaughingBoy (182206) on Friday April 22, 2005 @02:29PM (#12315556)
        So, I'd love to hear from some experts about just what level of custom board would be doable for a hobbyist?

        Depends on your definition of "hobbyist."
        I'm an electrical engineer who also does hardware/software design & development both as a hobby and for pay as a side job. You can build pretty sophisticated hardware these days: it's never been easier.

        I use the free version Eagle CAD to do PC boards under Linux, and there are plenty of shops that will build prototypes for under US$100. Most of the important parts manufacturers will either give you free samples, or sell small quantities off their website. My compiler of choice is gcc, also free.

        My biggest problem is usually coming up with a cool project that's (a) worth doing, (b) doesn't cost an arm and a leg, and (c) can be done by one person who's married with a small child in less than a lifetime (i.e., 6 months or so :-)

        As a result, my most interesting projects tend to be from the people who pay me to design something they need, but have no idea how to do.: generally people with plenty of expertise in fields other than electrical and software engineering.

        The stuff I come up with on my own tends to not get finished; OTOH, knowing someone's waiting on me to deliver (and is paying) is a huge motivator to get done on time.

        HTH :-)
  • Tyan Thunder K8WE (Score:5, Informative)

    by DeadBugs (546475) on Friday April 22, 2005 @12:06PM (#12314037) Homepage
    http://www.tyan.com/products/html/thunderk8we.html

    - Dual AMD Opteron(TM) 200 series processors
    - DUAL PCIe x16 with FULL SPEED x16 lanes
    - (8) DIMMs for Reg'd DDR400 memory
    - U320 SCSI and SATA-II with NVRAID(TM)
    - Dual Gigabit Ethernet with ActiveArmor(TM)
    - FireWire and USB 2.0 ports

    • Can I put two dual-core Opterons on that and have it work to my advantage? I'm waiting for 64-bit Windows and more multi-threaded applications before replacing my recently upgraded AMD Athlon SMP machine.
  • I can (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 22, 2005 @12:08PM (#12314049)
    Give me lots of money and time. I will need to learn all about the processor's power requirements, the connection to all the other chips, their power requirements, their datasheets, until I know everything about every part that's gonna be needed.

    Then you need to pay a licence for a schematic-capture to PCB suite with simulation and auto-routing. I think a few 100K$ for the Cadence suite should do it. Oh, you thought that someone who thinks two-layer boards are a challenge and uses Eagle could do it? Nope.

    You'll need someone to procure small quantities of the parts you want, that is, get to know all the reps in your area and squeeze them for samples. In between the badgering phone calls, you still have to order all the other parts, while trying to find a local PCB assembler to handle your parts. Don't forget to supply the pick-and-place file and keep in mind the constraints when building your parts library. Oh, you thought you can just buy parts and the software automatically draws them for you with the IBIS model already connected? Nope.

    Advise the fab of your PCB ahead of time of the layer count and size of the PCB so they can at least get the materials and open up a time slot for you. When you start the layout, you should be able to estimate a completion time, so it's not a problem, right? You did think of the stack up BEFORE laying out, right? You didn't just use any thickness you felt like, right? You know the difference between pre-preg and core, right?

    Anyways, once you've done all the placement, assigned all the properties to the nets (unless you did all that on the schematic and configured the packager to forward the properties to the board), set up the DRC rules and routing areas and keepouts, and defined your via technology, and routed the critical paths, you can unleash the auto-router.

    While Specctra is churning away, you can go back to the BOM. Are all your parts going to ship at the same time? Will you receive them at the same time? Will you ship them to your assembler or will you want to look at them first? Anyways, you should be able to tell them when to open up a slot for assembly so they can schedule it.

    After the auto-router is done, it's clean up time. Check the artwork carefully. Create the assembly drawings, mechanical drawings, drill files, pick-and-place and IPC files. You *will* want to electrically test the PCB before tossing it to your assembler, right?

    So the layout is done, you can start sending gerbers to your fabricator for DFM checking, and you can send the pick and place and solder stencil files to the assembler. While the DFM checking is done, you can extract the layout into Signal Explorer and run some simulations to see if there are any signal integrity issues. What's that? You want to run those tests BEFORE actually getting the board built??

    Well, it's already been a year since the project started, and no one can wait anymore....

    Dude, what you're asking for is the single most ridiculous thing I've ever heard on /. Even more outlandish than the "can I use a laptop LCD on a desktop?"-type questions.

    • I agree that the request is rediculous, but all that stuff you mentioned is why he wants to hire a company build the thing for him. It's not like he asked how to build one himself.
      • Re:I can (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The submitted obviously doesn't know anything about the complexity of a motherboard. So the grandparent response here should be very enlightening.

        Personally, I get the feeling that the submitter is a 15 year old spoiled rich kid.
    • Re:I can (Score:5, Informative)

      by John_Booty (149925) <johnbooty.bootyproject@org> on Friday April 22, 2005 @01:01PM (#12314589) Homepage
      "Dude, what you're asking for is the single most ridiculous thing I've ever heard on /."
      -----

      I agree completely.

      I've been posting on Slashdot for around 7 years and I think this is my first "me too"-style post. Please forgive me. It's just that this question was so. fucking. ridiculous. Literally the stupidest thing I've ever seen posted on Slashdot.
      • Re:I can (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Read some of his other posts - he's wondering why he's having problems breaking into IT. Maybe it's because he's so utterly clueless. Maybe.
    • Re:I can (Score:5, Funny)

      by amigabill (146897) on Friday April 22, 2005 @01:15PM (#12314713)
      >Dude, what you're asking for is the single most ridiculous thing I've ever heard on /.

      I'd like an Amiga laptop computer. Now that I just made this guy look totally sane, go get to work and build his totally sane motherboard for him... :)
      • Oh. His request CAN be done. Advance payment of $100K required. Total bill is likely to be in the %500K range.

        You can do almost anything with enough money. Man went to the moon in 1969. The only reason that we don't do it today is that it is terribly expensive.
        • You are absolutely right. I could probably manage the request, even, but it would take years and require a lot of equipment that I don't have (and can't afford). The task isn't so much difficult (in the sense of complexity) as it is massive and expensive.

          $100k up front, $500k by the end sounds about right.

      • by booch (4157)
        Wow, that sounds amazingly close to the Chewbacca defense [wikipedia.org].
    • Once I've done all that, could you give me some tips on designing my own processor? I like those Intel and AMD ones but what I really wanted was a four core chip with a built in USB controller.
  • by jamey.v (311718) <(slashdot) (at) (ajvester.com)> on Friday April 22, 2005 @12:11PM (#12314073)
    The only way I could see this happening is if you bought a controlling interest of a MB manufacturer stock. Think of it as an investment.
  • by j-turkey (187775) on Friday April 22, 2005 @12:19PM (#12314153) Homepage
    even if it is ridiculously expensive

    You're asking for quite a bit. A few people here have pointed out that FX 55 does not support a multi-cpu configuration (so you're already asking for a custom CPU/chipset), however, taking it a step further, the development process that goes into hardware development (especially for mainboards) is astounding. From reference chipset design (as well as testing and manufacture), to OEM's implementing that design (again, testing and manufacture). It's a big deal, and the process costs millions from end-to-end.

    If you can afford this kind of solution, and are willing to take it on for personal use, I think that you're right that the discussion is quickly exceeding the more-money-than-brains department and entering the more-money-than-god department. Hell, if you can justify the cost of not only one, but two FX55's for a personal machine, you may already be in the more-money-than-brains department.

    Check out the AMD roadmaps at Anandtech.com. You may just want to wait for the next FX chip release with dual cores, and an NF4 SLI nForce chipset. The dual core chip is as close as you'll get to true SMP, SLI will provide your 2 x16 PCI-e slots, the NF4 will provide support for dual-channel memory. These systems also come with SATA raid support, but IMO, an external controller is best (especially if you can find one with a battery backed cache). You'll have plenty of cash leftover for a badass liquid cooling system to overclock the crap out of that sucker. You will lose the exclusivity of having a super-custom system that nobody else can get, but hey -- it'll still be badass, and you will save $millions over custom hardware development.

    As an alternative, if you're after exclusivity, you can start a hardware review website, gather a large readership, and then ask manufacturers for pre-releases of the latest greatest hardware for testing purposes. You'll get better-than-consumer support, and will have a machine that none of your friends will be able to buy for at least a few months.

  • dude (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 22, 2005 @12:25PM (#12314207)
    you're a retard. custom motherboards..? what do you want next? a girlfriend?
  • easy answer (Score:3, Funny)

    by jenkin sear (28765) * on Friday April 22, 2005 @12:51PM (#12314472) Homepage Journal
    The easy answer- just buy ABIT. Not the board. The company.
  • by justforaday (560408) on Friday April 22, 2005 @12:57PM (#12314534)
    Dear Slashdot,

    I'm looking for a videogame system that will play every game that's ever been made out there. I don't care how much it costs. I want it to be able to play every imaginable format, all through a single universal slot. Oh, and it can take any sort of controller ever made too. And while you're at it, make sure it can play every type of audio and video format (I'm planning on using it for my 1337 home theater setup). And don't forget to make sure that it'll be able to play everything that comes out in the future, too. I realize I may be asking a bit much, but I'm pretty sure it's doable...
    • Just give the MAME developers enough time 8-)
      • No, I want to be able to use the original media! And remember, it has to be able to play wax cylinders, 8-tracks, vinyl, cassette, MD, etc all through the same single slot that it uses to play games...
    • Mr. Compatibility by Tom Payne from the tape Vince Emery Presents The Funniest Computer Songs Would you put this system together for me some I ordered by mail and parts I got free. The pieces all work, except two or three. Please, Mr. Compatibility. Now with my Amiga, all I want to do is running MacDraw underneath OS/2, to write all my data on ROM-type CD, and display EGA on projection TV. I'd like to plug hypercard into my VAX, run my parallel printer on standard coax; Use it all under MS-DOS version 3
  • Step 1: Pay major mobo mfg about $1,000,000

    Step 2: ...

    Step 3: Profit!

  • by amigabill (146897)
    Well, you could get licenses from the chipset vendors and hire up a layout guy to do the dirty work. Realize that one vendor refusing to NDA can toast the whole idea though, and Nvidia doesn't have a reputation for signing with just anyone that applies. A few years ago I asked them for an NDA that would allow my employer to develop proprietary (not open-source) drivers for their graphics chips, and they never even bothered to write back with a polite "no" answer. Good luck...

    And this may not be a totally i
  • The same person who wants to buy a one-of-a-kind custom motherboard has to use a free e-mail address from Yahoo: Druegan2001@yahoo.com. Now that's funny!
  • Why not just get Iwill's 8 way opteron system, load it with 8 dual core optersons, put in two nvidia 6800 pci-e cards in sli mode, and put in a terabyte in scsi raid 5 storage as well as a well one or two scsi raid 1 arrays for the system and scratch disks. You can do this and still come out about $10 million ahead of your custom motherboard with dual fx-55 support. Besides why use a dual cpu solution when you can have a 16 cpu monster ready to do your bidding.

  • What in the hell. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Earlier this morning I posted a very serious "Ask Slashdot" regarding getting advice on requirements for a remote "store and forward" system I'm trying to design for physicians in very remote areas of third world countries. It's good to see that my topic gets ignored while ass-drippings such as this get air-time.
  • Posted by Cliff on Friday April 22, @10:30AM
    from the we'll-publish-any-fucking-question-from-any-retar d -we-can-find dept.

    Fucktard asks: "I've been rooting around on the net lately checking out all the latest and greatest in new PC parts, plotting out the design for my next "Ask Slashdot" post. I'm finding lots of neat stuff, but I'm a whiner and I want something twenty times more technically sophisticated than anything that has ever been made by mankind. Therefore, I want to Ask Slashdot: WTF n00b? W
  • easy answer (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Seeing as how this guy has a degree in religion, the answer is totally obvious. If he simply prays hard enough, God will give it to him.
  • Id like to build a custom handheld computing device, with.......

    While anything is possible, i dont think you realize the costs/time involved. And if you have to ask here, i guarantee you dont have the funds or the expirence.
  • Turn off the features you don't want.

    Insert PCI cards with features you do want.

    Looks like cost is no object, so try the K8WE, a pair of Opteron 275s, Dual 6800 ultras, and 8 GB of ram.

    That will give you a quad with dual video cards for 4 monitors or one monitor in SLI mode.

    firewire? check.
    dual gigabit ethernet? check.
    Any raid across 4 sata II disks? check.
    SCSI320? check.
    PCI-X, PCI-Express? Check.

    The absolute fastest workstation on the planet right now.

    http://www.tyan.com/products/html/thunderk8we.h t
  • Motherboards are supposed to only be cpu socket, chipset, and other sockets and connectors. You're supposed to add/remove cards and devices in a custom fashion.

    Apart from the obvious non-dual nature of Athlon FX55, you'll find motherboards that meet your demand.

    I personally am looking for a simple nforce3 or nforce4 motherboard with large number of memory and pci slots. I mean more than 5 slots, if 10 slots are possible in that space, great, else a pci brige chip/riser card could be used.

    And would be awe
  • He could easily afford a x8 or x16 cpu machine from a big vendor. One that has been thoroughly tested, rather than an engineer's first prototype. With his pick of actual SMP-capable cpus, no less.

    So how about a less dumb motherboard question?

    Q) I need as many PCI slots as possible, with at least a few being 64bit. 4-6 slots isn't nearly enough, I'm a guy that could fill 10+ easily. And a few (read:2-3) ISA slots would be nice also.

    I'm not so picky on other things, but a wishlist in order of priority is as follows:

    #(10+) PCI slots
    dual cpus
    64bit cpus
    amd cpus
    dual onboard gigabit
    #(1-3) isa slots
    dual onboard serial ports

    I think that a passive backplane is the answer I'm looking for. Things like the Magma PCI expansion system (where 7 pci slots sit in their own rackmount case) aren't quite what I need. I understand enough about backplanes now, to know that I need a PICMG single board computer. Is it the right answer for what I want?

    What price range are we talking, working up through modest configurations, up to the ones that meet all of my wishlist items?

    Am I overlooking some other (presumably lesser known) options that would meet most of these needs?

    Are there any pitfalls in installing and using linux on such a system?
  • ... I could use a custom CPU. Since I'm left-handed, I'd like something like an athlon64, but the leftshift instruction should shift right and the rightshift instruction should shift left. I'd be willing to pay an extra $50 for that!
  • Go to Taiwan (Score:3, Informative)

    by Matt_Bennett (79107) on Friday April 22, 2005 @02:26PM (#12315504) Homepage Journal
    Seriously- if you wanted to build your own custom motherboard, do what the big guys do- go to one of the motherboard makers in Taiwan. You'll need them because they already have relationships with all the CPU and chipset companies. You (or the company that makes the motherboard) would very likely have to use something already released, or enter into some *very* restrictive NDAs to get pre-release silicon, and that would be only if you can convince the silicon manufacturers that they should use up some of their very limited pre-release silicon on you and your project.

    It will cost millions and take 6 months to a year to get a good, stable system. Making a motherboard is far from the "just plug it in" stage, particularly when you get to new-ish technology (say, stuff released in the last 3 years). Everybody is still learning how to connect things up right and view the secrets of the development and testing as proprietary.

    On the other hand, there is a big problem in what you're asking for- as far as I am aware, The chipset you specify doesn't support 2 x16 PCI-E slots, and opening it up to other chipsets, there are none that offer capability for 2 x16 slots (available now)
    • The chipset you specify doesn't support 2 x16 PCI-E slots, and opening it up to other chipsets, there are none that offer capability for 2 x16 slots

      So add more:

      From Game PC [gamepc.com]:

      "Tyan's Thunder K8WE utilizes a combination of three individual chips onboard to allow for so much onboard connectivity, the nVidia nForce4 Pro 2200 primary chip, the nForce4 Pro 2050 secondary chip, and the AMD 8131 PCI-X controller hub.
      The nForce4 Professional 2200 is the "primary" chip of the nForce4 chipset, as this chip supports
      • I wasn't aware of the K8WE- but it is still not a true 2nd x16 slot off of the chipset- it is a second root-hub/north-bridge that hooks up to a 2nd processor- the only way that the primary processor has access to it is through the second processor. I'd like to see how it actually performs- from my non-SMB expert view- it looks like you still have a major bottleneck- the benchmarks aren't that stupendous.

        I'm a bit leery of nVidia's chipsets- I'm working with some people that have a couple of the Tyan dual
        • No it is actually another Chipset that hangs off the nVidia 2200. It does not hook up to the 2nd processor as far as I know and even if it does, i believe the HT bus would help alieviate that problem. Not only that but it is the only board I have seen that provides 2 FULL x16 slot, so you saying it is not a true x16 slot makes me wonder if you even checked out the board.
          • Umm... I think you're the one that is mistaken, I did look at the datasheet on the board- I looked at the block block diagram [tyan.com] that Tyan has on their website- The 2050 is off of the secondary CPU, and the 2nd x16 and 1 Gb Lan port (page 2 of the pdf)- everything else is off of the the primary northbridge (2200). Which kinda messes up my idea of what SLI is- I thought the PCI-E cards could talk to each other directly- actually, they have to make hops over 3 different hypertransport links (PCI-E x16 to 2200
            • It is quite possible for me to be mistaken, and thanks for the link to the PDF.
            • Ok after checking that out I have to admit your right. I wonder how much latency that introduces or if their is a more efficient way of creating this connection. Agreed it does change how I thought SLI actually worked.
  • The tyan s2895 (thunder k8we)
    http://www.tyan.com/products/html/thunderk8we.html [tyan.com]

    (just preordered one myself),

    The Iwill DK8EW and DK8ES
    http://www.iwillusa.com/product_2.asp?p_id=91&sp=Y [iwillusa.com]

    However, the Athlon-FX does not have enough coherent HT links for multiple cpus, so you will have to use the opteron 2xx series. As for dual 16x vs dual 8x, there is no real world performance diff.

    Also, there are number of other mobo makers with similar boards on the way based on the nvidia 2200, 2050, and amd
  • what really gets me with this request is that he is skimping on memory and HD...

    Why go for the gold with a motherboard and limit it to 2gb ram and only sata raid? Lets get some real memory in it, at least 8 gb. And why not ultra scsi raid. Enough space so you can have a raid 5 setup.

    I mean, if you are going to dream, dream big.

  • For instance, a board where certain components are replaceable and upgradeable.
    Starting even at a basic level like some of the boards in mass produced systems, where the basic board might only have 2 PCI slots, but you can slap on an additional card to extend the PCI bus. Or add-in legacy devices, such as serial, printer or PS/2 port so they would need to be on the base board. Most of this could probably be accomplished with PCI-E x1. Perhaps, their needs to be new standard or new extension of ATX for thi
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday April 22, 2005 @02:48PM (#12315863) Homepage Journal
    1. Contact AMD and have them fab you a pair of FXMP chips.
    2. Contact Nvidia and have them make a custom nForce4 chipset that supports MP and 32+ channels of PCIe
    3. Contact Asus and have them fab you the actual board.
    4. Contact Award for the custom Bios you need.
    5. Enjoy your custom MB and you claim to the title of King of the mods.
    Total Cost... about 1 billion dollars. Okay maybe not but many million.

    Good grief how did this make it on Slashdot?
  • by bergeron76 (176351) * on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:23PM (#12319328)
    After a few years, you might be able to build an embedded system using an ARM processor or something. From there, you'll couple your USB, etc. chips.

    In about 10 years you'll be able to create your perfect board, however, technology will have advanced so far underneath you that you won't be interested in such a board anymore.

    Basically, for all the work involved, it's not worth it. Buy 2 computers and get a KVM switch; or share the resources on a network, etc.

    But for heaven's sake, don't try to create your own desktop mobo - it's just not practical.

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