Getting Ready for the Big Show

by Don Marti

That's right, the SMP Athlons are here. Features of interest on the new Tyan board include two 3Com Ethernet interfaces, a 266MHz FSB, up to 4GB RAM, 64-bit PCI slots and on-board Adaptec SCSI (two channels of Ultra 160, the equivalent of an Adaptec 39160 card). You can use the built-in VGA if you want to make a 1U rack mount server, or the AGP slot if you want to build a workstation. Now wouldn't you drool, too? Jeff's new box has two 1.2GHz Athlons.

A webmaster who has tried another vendor's dual Athlon board based on the same chipset says it is "sweet" and it "rocks". With a sweetness and a rockitude both maxing out at 1.0, further benchmarks are in order.

Even though a dual Athlon board will make a fine Linux workstation (at about two grand, Jeff estimates) for the discriminating elite, the real market for them is in servers and cluster nodes. So Jeff, king of the smart shoppers in the Linux box building business, has made a deal to buy an easy-open, well-cooled 1U chassis that he'll be able to build out either as a 3-disk hot-swap RAID server or in a compute node configuration for Beowulf clusters. This is for those of you who need to solve the problems of protein folding, build your own nuclear weapons or render super-realistic 3d real-time 'toon porn.

Jeff has been sending Intel salespeople away lately, since he has found that Pentium IV with Rambus memory is a "dead solution". Corporate politics weenies might remember that Intel has mandatory employee drug testing, while AMD does not. Maybe Intel needs to find out what AMD has been smoking and pack a bowl for their engineers, too.

The Linux Journal booth is set up, no thanks to my laziness, and we're all set to hand out lots of free copies of Linux Journal and Embedded Linux Journal to the ravenous hordes starting tomorrow morning. Our neighbors are ZF Linux Devices, cosponsors of our "Hack Embedded Linux For Fun and Prizes" contest, for which we'll be announcing the winners of 100 embedded Linux systems on Thursday.

We also have bunch of "OPEN: DRM Free Technology" stickers, which people can use to show their belief that essential technology, like hard drives, shouldn't be infected with the taint of DVD-like "Digital Rights Management" (as Intel and IBM tried to do late last year.) We have an informal contest going to see who can stick the most OPEN stickers on IBM and Intel employees at the show. Winner gets a free subscription. Freedom good, DRM bad. Press room closing, free beer flowing, more later.

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