Subject: Re: Motherboard Experiences?
To: Gary Duzan , None <>
From: Richard Rauch <>
List: port-amd64
Date: 01/07/2004 02:41:40

I picked up a Gigabyte motherboard based on the nVidia nForce3 chipset.
I'd heard some positive noises about the nForce2 chipset for i386.

Basically, it's okay.  There are some issues:

 * You will want to turn off ioapic and build a new kernel.  Doing
   this seems to have fixed numerous problems for me.  I'm not sure
   exactly what ioapic is supposed to do, but with it turned on, I
   was having problems with lost interrupts and crashes.

   A GNU/LINUX user tells me that nForce2 had some similar
   ioapic bugs/problems for GNU/LINUX, and that the issues were
   well-discussed (so I gather a lot of people were bit).

   I am also told that GNU/LINUX 2.6(.?) has fixed this, so the
   issues are fixable.

 * No BIOS clock.  Well, there is one, and BIOS can find it.
   But when NetBSD comes up, it says that it can't find the
   time, and it uses the filesystem to make a guess.

   I have my system use ntpd, and one of them syncs over the
   Internet to some other clocks.  (NTP was already set up,
   anyway; it's just more important with this system.  (^&)

 * Motherboard IDE does not support DMA ("no driver support").
   This limits local "bonnie++" benchmarks to about the same as
   I get via NFS---except that NFS doesn't puch much of a CPU
   strain on me.  (I could put a pseudo-spare PCI IDE controller
   card in this box, I guess...)

 * I don't think that either USB 2.0 or Firewire is supported,
   though the chipset provides those.  (The USB chips do work for
   USB 1.1 or 1.2 or whatever.)

 * The motherboard ethernet is apparently a RealTek 8169(?), which
   NetBSD does not support---but FreeBSD has a driver, I'm told.
   I haven't felt enough impetus to try to port that.  If you want
   ethernet, you will probably need to use cards.

 * The AGP slot only supports 4x or 8x video cards.  If you that
   old video card that you wanted to use on the Athlon 64 is an
   AGP card, it had better be a 4x or 8x if you want this mother-

I can't tell you the name of the motherboard, offhand.  I think
that there are a couple of similar ones from Gigabyte, but I
would assume that they have similar issues re. ioapic, clock,

Given that it's a new CPU, a new NetBSD port, and a fairly new
chipset, I'm not too upset, though the above problems are
irritating.  You can probably get a better system for the same
or less, if others have happier experiences to report.  (^&

  "I probably don't know what I'm talking about."