Dual Core Processors Rock!

Today I took delivery of a shiny new ABit motherboard and a shiny new dual core AMD64 (and, incidentally, a new power supply and 2Gb of RAM). I got home from work at 9:00pm and now, just over four hours later, I've finally got everything working satisfactorily in both Win2K and FC5. The CPU and motherboard I replaced were nearly four years old so this is a fairly significant upgrade to my processing power!

Most of the process was straightforward, I remembered to reset my IDE interface to the windows default before installing the new motherboard, but since the new board has a similar VIA chipset to the old one it seems like I needn't have bothered. The main difficulty was that the default settings on the motherboard ignore USB keyboards, so I had to find a PS/2 one to get into the BIOS settings. Having got everything installed and turned on with the correct lights flashing the first major obstacle turned out to be that I could only see one CPU instead of two :( This in itself took me a while to figure out, it used to be top would tell you how many CPUs you had but it doesn't seem to do that anymore, eventually I realised the obvious place to look: cat /proc/cpuinfo

Part one of the solution was upgrading the BIOS, for some reason ABit are shipping the board with a BIOS from early 2005 which doesn't support the dual core chips. Playing it straight and following through their website support pages led me to a lot of stuff about updating the BIOS from DOS, which is not a procedure I was keen about, not least because it would involve finding a floppy disk. Some further rummaging led me to a tool called 'FlashMenu' which purported to upgrade the BIOS from windows, unfortunately when I downloaded it I find that 'I must use a newer version of FlashMenu'. At this point I went to Google, which I should have done in the first place, and found the latest version of FlashMenu on their US website.

After another brief detour with the PS/2 keyboard, because, of course, flashing the BIOS resets everything to defaults, I was booting into windows and expecting to see two CPUs but was disappointed. The fixes were getting easier though - Win2K doesn't automatically install the second processor but there's an easy fix to install the second CPU yourself.

So that was windows sorted, now onto Fedora Core. I manually downloaded the SMP kernel and installed it: rpm -ivh kernel-smp-devel-2.6.17-1.2157_FC5.i686.rpm kernel-smp-2.6.17-1.2157_FC5.i686.rpm. Then I had to manually download the fglrx and NTFS modules from livna and install them too. A reboot and everything seemed to be working OK, until I opened up two applications and tried to copy and paste some text between them and suddenly things started to lock up and I had to Alt-Tab to get the windows to accept input again. The solution for this (so far) is to add lapic to the boot options in /grub/menu.lst - and now I'm happily dual processing :)