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Hiatus
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Out of spec Z600

HP Recommended
Z600 C2
Microsoft Windows 10 (64-bit)

Hi all

I have a couple of upgrade related issues (or non-issues depending on viewpoint) that I have been unable to find any documentation for (official or otherwise).


Usually, I stay within HP´s specifications whenever I upgrade HP hardware and usually I find the solutions for my issues by searching this or other forums whenever I get stuck. My problems tend to be pretty generic...

This one, however, Is a bit left field and all my searches for answers takes me to listings on eBay, Amazon or aliexpress...

So. Here I am with my stupid questions hoping not to make a complete idiot out of myself by asking you guys for some guiding.

 

My personal workstation is a Z600 C2 (Boot block 01/07/10) with BIOS v3.60 currently running a single Xeon X5650.

Nothing strange so far.

But when it comes to the RAM, things get a bit strange. Just a bit, but still...
My Z600 runs two sticks of 16gb RAM in dual channel for a total of 32gb with one CPU installed. Both sticks are recognized by the BIOS and by Win10pro.

zpuid.png

According to the official specifications, The Z600 should not run on any kind of 16gb dimms. According to the lovely rep at HP´s phone support it shouldn´t even boot in this configuration according to hes spec sheet... But as you can see, it does.

I bought this workstation to do actual work on it and it does everything I need it to do. My software (graphic design/CAD-stuff) is from the same generation and utilises the hardware quite well and the dual channel instead of triple has not been an issue for my workload. My actual needs are fulfilled with this setup, But my inner 12-year old's needs are not.
The RAM oddity stayed in the back of my head and now, when prices are low, i really want to see how much performance i can shoehorn into the original case. Like when I used to browse the server parts catalogue as a kid, Circling the parts i wanted but could never afford. Well, Now I can!

OK. that's the background. Now to my questions.
Has anyone here bought one of those maxed out Z600´s of eBay or Amazon (or upgraded by your self) with 96gb RAM and do they actually work? I can't see why they wouldn't knowing what I know, But then again, The HP spec says 48gb max.

 

Has anyone actually got a dual 130 watt CPU setup running with Z800 or Z400 performance heatsinks (or after market ones)?
I've seen the posts and I've done all the research. I know about the fifth pin jumper wire and that the Z800 heatsink is really expensive and that you can't close the lid with the Z400 ones installed. I've read all the threads about it and they all end in the same way. with nothing concluded other than it should be possible. I found a french guy who seemed to have got it to work 4 years ago with water cooling from a Z800, but he was french and wrote in french using french words made for french people and he did'nt specify the CPU's...
But everyone seems to get stuck on the same CPU power related error on bootup and then the posts stop. So are there any examples of this upgrade actually working in the real world?
The world where 2x16gb RAM is working on a Z600, that is...

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No takers, eh?
Figured as much, at least regarding the over powered CPU part of it...
As i wrote in the previous post, there seems to be a lot of dreams and plans but no actual results (other than errors during post).
There's a good example over att the LTT-forum.
This one guy posts on January 9 2017 bragging about his rig.
"Hp Z600 with two xeon x5690 cpus, 24gb (12gb per cpu) of ecc ram. It has an rx 480 8gb nitro+"
The same guy starts a new thread asking for advice in an other matter a couple of months later, on March 9.
"i am soon going to replace the xeon l5638 cpus with two xeon x5690  cpus."

He then goes on to ask about case modifications. No worries about the 130w CPU's and he never replied to the queries about his success and no one called him out about previously lying about his upgrade...

Someone else on LTT wrote:
"HP Z600 boards only support up to 95 watt cpus so a X5670 is the highest you can go. 5680s and 5690s are 130w cpu and they will blow the cap on your board if you try to use them. They are also the highest variant supported by the board itself."

So, that should be it, shouldn't it? This guy was serious. No smileys, no nothing.

Well, the soup thickens.
While browsing through the holy QuickSpecs, as one does from time to time, I came across a line that I previously missed for some reason.
Exhibit A:

quickspec.png

Nota bene. Marked in mustard in Ms paint is the good old Xeon X5647. Straight from the horses mouth. I can see where people get the idea about the 130w CPU upgrades.
You can pick one up today:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-Z600-Workstation-2x-X5647-2-93-GHz-12GB-1TB-FX380-Windows-7-Pro-/1824318...

So a Z600 can obviosly run dual 130w CPU's without "blowing the cap on your board if you try to use them" as suggested by the guy who knew everything about the caps and the watts and the birds and the what not's...

Deeper down the rabbit hole I find another one of those guys who knows everything. The wizard of everything explains that HP has a "white list" embedded in the BIOS containing all the compatible CPU's, and if the glove don't fit it doesn't really matter what heatsink you choose...

Where do we go from here?
Could it be that the second guy is right about the list? Why would one 130w x56XX-processor work and not the others?
For me personally, it's not even about the upgrade anymore. I want the truth. It has to be out there.
Let me know if you don't care and I'll keep this to myself.


I've got more out of spec questions. But i'll let this one sink in first.

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SDH
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Here is my real world experience:

 

There is no doubt that the version 2 (with the later boot block date in BIOS) Z400 can run the X5690.  I know this because I upgrade all our version 2 Z400 workstations to a X5690 and those have always worked just fine.  I've also had access to multiple version 2 Z600 workstations.  Any I've tried a X5690 in never booted.  I have seen no trustworthy report of the X5690 working in the Z600 version 2 for years now.  I know the Z800 version 2 can run the X5690 because it is approved in the QuickSpecs for that workstation.  The guy you reference was untruthful.

 

The X5690 has never been officially approved for the Z400 version 2 but it works... for years now.  I don't have access into the "microcode" section of HP BIOS to see the approved processors white list, but believe the X5690 is absent from the Z600 v2 and present in the Z400 v2's white list, but that for some reason HP never revealed that.  The X5690 still works in a v2 Z400 with the latest BIOS.

 

You need to have a "Performance" heatsink/fan for the higher wattage processors to work in the Z400/Z600/Z800.  They are cheap and easy to find for the Z400.  They are rare and hard to find for the Z600/Z800.  The expensive rare ones for the Z600/Z800 are identical.  The one for the Z400 is different, taller.  You can spoof a "Mainstream" heatsink/fan to look like a Performance one but this is unwise unless you just will be doing light duty work like email and surfing the web.

 

So, yes you can run the higher wattage processors in the Z600 but they need to be on the approved white list in the microcode, plus you need a heatsink/fan that at least has the same wiring as the Performance heatsink/fan.

 

The spoof:  The CPU heatsink's fan has 4 wires coming from it whether it is Mainstream or Performance.  The white fan plug end has 5 holes..... in Mainstream hole 5 is blank.  In Performance it is occupied by a ground jumper from pin 1 to 5.  Pin 1 is ground, pin 2 is 12VDC, pin 3 is RPM feedback from rotor to motherboard, pin 4 is PWM control from motherboard to rotor, pin 5 is blank or ground jumper.  You can monitor your CPU temps in many ways, including watching for smoke.

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Regarding memory.... the latest official info from HP on the ZX00 version 2 workstations in terms of memory is from the latest QuickSpecs for the Z400/Z600/Z800, which ended being published by HP 11/13.  The Z800 officially had 16GB sticks of ECC Buffered DDR3 DRAM listed, but the largest the Z600 had listed were 8GB sticks.  This does not mean that 16GB sticks won't work.  I'd personally choose only the 16GB sticks HP approved for the Z800 if I needed 16GB sticks in our Z600 version 2 workstations.

 

HP approves specific parts after extensive testing.  If they don't test it they don't approve it.  That has never meant we cannot do our own testing to prove within reason that something works for us.  We do that quite a bit here.....

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SDH, I was hoping you would answer. I've read your posts on the subject before and your inputs seems to be based on real world experience rather than a mindset of "it should work, so I'll tell everyone it works".
Your knowledge has been very helpful in my sifting through facts and fiction! I was hoping for further progress in your research since the last post, though...
I think I'll put this matter to rest now. I've got my eye on a matched pair of X5675 from Hong Kong. Free shipping... They'll do.

But one resting matter leaves room for others.
Next out of spec question is RAID-related.
According to the almighty QuckSpecs, the Z600 supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 for up to 4 drives.

raid.png

There are 6 SATA ports on the motherboard and with my LSI 3041E 4-Port SAS 3.0 Gb/s RAID Card I get another 4 for a total of 10 SATA ports. I realize that internal  real estate is the big limitation here, but I was wondering about the specification once again. I guess HP only counts OEM-style instalations with the two hotswap bays, one 3.5" HDD in the bottom of the ODD bay and one right underneath the slim DVD drive for a total of 4.

 

Is the 4 HDD limit based on actual limitations in the BIOS or just the fact that HP didn't foresee a guy like me who has an empty 5.25" bay and an adapter for six SFF drives running on dual molex's and a mission to make a dream of filling a HP case to the brim come true?

 

The short question. Could I use more than the specified 4 HDD's in the built-in RAID?

For instance. Could I run six 1TB disks in IME in a 2x3 configuration from the onboard SATA ports while running my boot SSD and three "deep storage" HDD's from the SAS-card?

 

I don't know if this is a good idea or not. I know i can fit more discs. But could I RAID them...? 

Guess I could run one 3-disc IME on the built in RAID and one on the SAS-card. But still. I want to know about the spec!

 

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SDH
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Well, I have to disappoint you.  I don't do RAID..... I could but I don't.  It was a conscious decision to keep things simple, and then reinforced by the long life and speed of backup high end SSDs provide.  So far so good.

 

Hey, do you have one of the HP TI USB3 cards in there?  That is a worthwhile upgrade to think about.  

 

p.s.  Good choice on those two matched processors.  See if you can get identical sticks in each of your 6 memory slots..... they are synergistic when you do that.  6 x 8GB would be nice.  You can run ECC unbuffered to get a bit more pop if you want.

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About the memory.
The reason I got a bit confused was initially that I could not figure out how to mix different sizes of RAM.
I thought 6x16 for 96GB was a bit overkill and since I already have two sticks of 16GB, I thought I might fill the rest with 8GB sticks instead.

But once again there's no spec. How would one place and number those dimms. There's no spec for different size RAM and dual CPU for Z600 and I cant figure out what combination would work, if any...
Te boot load order is:
ram1.png

etc.

The same is true for the Z800, however, the Z800 has 6 Dimms per CPU, but I guess the principal stands anyways...
When mixing 8GB and 16GB in a Z800, the QuiskSpecs specifies placing them as follows:

Screenshot 2013-10-24 09.59.01.png

So here's my problem. On the Z800 the boot order and the spacing between the different sizes gives me headache.
When I try to translate that into the Z600 world I find myself wanting to put 2x16 (dimm 1+2)+1x8 (dimm 3) in the CPU0 bank and 1x16 (dimm 1) and 2x8 (dimm 2+3) in the CPU1 bank?

Am I loosing my mind here?!
Three channels, six dimms. According to the color coding on the Z800-dimm slots, the boot order and the spacing between the sizes, the Z800 would read 16-16-16, 16-16-16, 8-8-8, 8-8-8. The big ones first, then the smaller ones in groups of three.

On a Z600, the order jumps from 0 to 1 in the same way, but where does that leave me? I also have three channels. But no way of knowing how to configure this based on the boot order.
With one CPU (CPU0), three channels run on dimm 1(CPU0),2(CPU0),3(CPU0). How does it split the dimms between the channels with dual CPU? Just the same as with one? One bank at the time from 1 to 3? Or like the Z800?

Dimm 1(CPU0),1(CPU1),2(CPU0),2(CPU1),3(CPU0),3(CPU1)?

The little hair I had left on my head... I'll leave it at that.


I guess I'll just buy 4x16 and try to learn to live with that if I can't figure this out...

I live near a used server shop...

 

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@SDH wrote:

Well, I have to disappoint you.  I don't do RAID..... I could but I don't.  It was a conscious decision to keep things simple, and then reinforced by the long life and speed of backup high end SSDs provide.  So far so good.

I've never crawled down that hole before either. Not sure if I would like it down there but I feel like I have to try...

-Backups are always cheaper than time machines. Old native Swedish saying.


Hey, do you have one of the HP TI USB3 cards in there?  That is a worthwhile upgrade to think about.  

No, my Z is filled with wifi-card, Quadro FX4800 and a RAID-card. Since i don't really use the RAID-card I might as well look into one of those USB3 cards. I've seen them before but I always wanted to try using my RAID-card before throwing it out since I probably payed good money for it...

What do you use USB3 for that USB2 lacks? Is it just the transfer speed?

My external backup drives runs in USB3 cabinets, but the discs them selves are quite slow...

My wireless HP keyboard stutters when I plug it in to my laptop's USB3. So does all my old favourite logitech USB2 mice, so I haven't really looked in to it since my quadro takes up two rows, one pci socket is lost and i need wifi and my Quadro.
I guess I could get a USB wifi-dongle and make it work...

 

p.s.  Good choice on those two matched processors.  See if you can get identical sticks in each of your 6 memory slots..... they are synergistic when you do that.  6 x 8GB would be nice.  You can run ECC unbuffered to get a bit more pop if you want.


The local server shop has dirt cheep memory on the shelf. The exact same matching sticks that's already in my computer. So i'll probably go for the ridiculous 96GB in the end... To add 4x16 would be cheaper than 6x8 i think. Maybe I could trade him my 16's...
Is the difference between buffered and unbuffered memory noticeable on a win10pro workstation running Solidworks, Adobe Creative Suite 6, two virtual machines (openSUSE and macOS<-not really. Of course I don't, Officer. That would be illegal!) and firefox with about 5 million tabs open?
Remember that you are talking to someone who doesn't think hes suffering from running dual channel...

 

Give it to me straight doc. Am I missing out?

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