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Low Profile PC's with High-End Video Cards?

Cliff posted about 14 years ago | from the small-box-large-graphics dept.

Graphics 10

tsetem asks: "We have an application where we have to deliver 7 PC's running Linux, all capable of doing higher-end OpenGL Accelerated graphics, being rack mountable, and being able to fit into a trailer. My plan was to get either a 1U or 2U system, or a complete PCB with a decent graphics card on it. I've been looking all over the Web, and on various websites to see if there are any Slimline PCs that are capable of running high-end Video Cards (like Matrox, 3dfx, or NVidia). All of the systems I've seen are the Intel, C&T, or some other chip which is fine & dandy for 2D, but 3D acceleration isn't there. Has anyone run across a 1U or 2U system, with a high-end video chip built into it, or with an AGP slot so I can use my own?"

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Micro ATX motherboards (3)

ArcticChicken (172915) | about 14 years ago | (#748640)

I'm not sure if this is really what you're looking for, but I happened to be looking around yesterday for low-profile options for a firewall/router setup. Not being able to afford a rack-mount system (in terms of price or space), I wound up looking at two "Micro ATX" form-factor motherboards from ASUS:

ASUS P2E-VM microATX motherboard [asus.com]
This one has a built-in AGP 3D Graphics Accelerator (ATI Rage Pro), along with on-board audio, etc.

ASUS P2E-M microATX motherboard [asus.com]
This one drops the on-board stuff and has a standard AGP slot instead - which gives you better flexibility for your video demands. You lose a PCI slot though which kinda bites.

I can't remember what the requirements/possibilities are for rack-mountable cases, so whether either of these two boards would be of use to you I can't say. This "build-it-yourself" option might save you some money though - if you can find the appropriate mounting/casing hardware.

One potential drawback: the maximum processor speed these boards support is 333MHz (not an issue for what I have planned, but it might be for you).

[In case you have some flexibility on the rack-mount system, I found a really small, impressive micro-ATX case from In-Win [in-win.com] (the best standard case manufacturer around if you ask me). You can drool (optional) over some pictures of the IW-D500 [in-win.com] .]

just done this myself (sorta) (1)

turtleshadow (180842) | about 14 years ago | (#748641)

I have just done this myself with an NLX format case.

There are many challenges in tweaking out low profile cases.

First is card length (typically the X dimension from monitor connector to end of PCB) my NLX case needed a card under 7.5 inches to fit the case without bumping into the CDROM enclosure. Often this value is very hard to get from the manufacturer info. Except for Voodoo5 which seems to be long enough to generate a special section in the FAQ for the card. The Y dimension is fairly standard. If anything card manufacturers tend to go so short. IE the new midget mini-pci standards.

The second challenge is Z dimension.

Many high end cards have fans and heatsinks. I had to place mine on the lowest PCI slot to give it clearence and breathing space.

|------------ SCSI

|

|------------

| [-------] VOODOO3 + heatsink

| less than .5 inches of clearence

|

|

=====Mother Board============

3rd is heat.

My Box is running just under the specs of thermal tolerance. I've beefed up the CPU cooling solution and done everything but remove the disk to keep the box cool. I guess as cash registers these things weren't made to get worked up to such an extent (*Grin*)

My setup for reference :

NLX Asus MES-N + 500Mhz Celeron + elanvital b5n case

20 GB drive

Slim DVD-ROM

256MB RAM

Voodoo3 3000 PCI (6.5" long)

Golden Orb Heatsink

SCSI Card

SuSE 6.4 w/ Win98 booting off a Jaz disk

Great LAN party machine -- Just need to have a friend spare their 2nd monitor when I come over

Good Luck

Yes, actually... (3)

pb (1020) | about 14 years ago | (#748642)

A little searching revealed these babies [gorilla.net] ; they're U2, and it looks like they do AGP.
---
pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [ncsu.edu] .

Re:90 degree angle? (1)

toast0 (63707) | about 14 years ago | (#748643)

ooooh two pcs in 2U sounds like a very cool idea

depending on how much power they ate, you could possibly run them off of one power supply (or off a single redundant power supply system)

that'd be neat :)

Yet more Micro ATX motherboards (1)

ArcticChicken (172915) | about 14 years ago | (#748644)

In case anyone's still reading this discussion, check out the following Tyan page:

Tyan Tomcat motherboards [tyan.com]

You'll notice all 3 motherboards are the Micro ATX form-factor, and the last one outright states that it's "Rackmount Ready".

In some ways I like the look of these Tyan boards more than the ASUS ones. These aren't limited to a 333MHz maximum, and they also skip the lame ISA slots to give you more PCI slots. The only downside is the lack of an AGP slot (darn!).

Re:Barely high-end... but acceptable ? (2)

unitron (5733) | about 14 years ago | (#748645)

You may find that the AGP is built on to the motherboard but there's no actual AGP slot. Compaq is big on proprietary form-factor stuff that makes any attempt to upgrade "an experience".

Good old PCI (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 14 years ago | (#748646)

Why not just use a PCI card? There are several good ones, including cards using NVidia and 3D Labs chips. Some of the high-end ones that have their OpenGL pipeline completely implemented in silicon also come as PCI cards. MaxVision had their Titan II, which was a real performer, but I can't find anything about it on their website anymore. You might want to contact 3D Labs. They don't make PCI cards anymore, but they may now of companies using their chips that still do. I hope this helps. A. Coward

Barely high-end... but acceptable ? (1)

twisteddk (201366) | about 14 years ago | (#748647)

In the beginning of the Year I was involved in the purchase of a 2U rackmounted system (with a lotta gadets) from Compaq. It had a Matrox graphics card, but hardly a highend card. However, according to the NT diag, there's an AGP slot on the board, so I guess Compaq makes these (Compaq is usually available worldwide, and You can get a pretty good service deal). If You need more info on model or whatever, let me know.. Even thgouh Im pretty sure Your local Compaq dealer will be able to tell you.

What you need is an AGP Riser (2)

scotpurl (28825) | about 14 years ago | (#748648)

Any motherboard will do. A 2U case will take most any CPU, but you may run into cooling problems on the 1U units.

Anyway, here's the first link that popped up on Google:

http://www.adexelec.com/agp32.htm

Lotsa right-angle-AGP bending gadgets. They also make them for PCI, ISA, and more other things than I can remember.

NLX (2)

The Iconoclast (24795) | about 14 years ago | (#748649)

NLX is the slim version of the ATX specification. If the 1U/2U cases are NLX compliant, you and get AGP video cards with NLX backplates which are much smaller than normal ATX backplates. I've seen NLX Matrox cards.
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