Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NVidia in da house (er, new server)!

So I've been on a quest to get a modern PCI Express card working in my new Dell SC1430. With this goal in mind, I had ordered a PCI Express 8x to 16x Adapter like this one off of eBay:

The SC1430 has 8x connectors (running 4x speed PCI Express). In the hopes that it would work in the box, I bought a BFG Geforce 8500 GT PCI Express 256MB card from BestBuy. I checked and it is cheaper on Amazon.

Here's a good article from Tom's Hardware on PCI Express scaling:

I figured that even if the card didn't work, I'd use it later in the next box I build. Now, I understood that the adapter would raise the card in the slot. The Dell has a hinged metal door that holds all the expansion cards in place, but I noticed that that little door can be left open while the case is closed. This would allow me to use the card for a while until I had the chance to machine a new bracket for the card.

Last night, I attached the adapter to the new BFG card (with a satisfying "click", no less) and put it in the first PCI Express slot (SLOT1_PCIE) of the Dell. I left the hinged door open, but was able to close the case. I hooked up my FP1901 to the digital output and my FP1907 to the analog output. I can tell you I was quite surprised when I started the server and the FP1901 that was connected to the digital output came to life!

I booted into runlevel 3 (nongraphical, multiuser mode) in Fedora and grabbed the latest NVidia driver installer for my 64-bit OS via lynx. I ran the installer. There was not a default kernel module for my particular kernel, so the installer created one and then asked if I wanted to create a new xorg.conf for the X Windows. I said yes and the installer finished. I was elated to see X startup with the NVidia splash screen! I soon had Twin View setup and GLXgears gave me 6200FPS! Unlike the ATI card I had running in the box previously, mplayer and xine ran my HDV videos like champs! Hoohah! Cinelerra runs well, but I've decided to not compile OpenGL just yet, as it did cause some instability on my previous box.

I tell you, NVidia drivers are an absolute joy to setup and use. As I've reiterated many times on this blog, most recently here:

ATIs Linux drivers are riddled with bugs; hence, I returned the ATI card, a VisionTek x1550, to the store.

In sum, the BFG Geforce 8500 GT PCI Express 256MB card works in the Dell with a PCI Express 8x to 16x adapter card. If you use a PCI Express adapter, be aware that the card will be raised in the slot when it is seated.

the mule

ps - Now I just have to debug and fix a nagging audio noise with Fedora and the Dell and I will be one happy dude.

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