DK8N: conclusions so far
have not yet had any stability or reliability issues with our DK8N:
any problems were directly caused by iffy components [ie bad memory]
or deliberately pushing the boundaries to see what would happen [ie
two questions at the beginning of this review were:
the DK8N better at the things Opterons already do well than existing
AMD-chipset based dual-channel motherboards?"
- & -
are the hassles & downside (if any) with being an early adopter
of a platform based on a new chipset from a manufacturer with little
or no track record in the workstation world"
our answer to the first is a resounding yes. Any
dual-Opteron system has remarkable performance; but if
you take a quick scan of web-reviews of the Iwill DK8X & Tyan
Thunder K8W you'll see the DK8N shows consistently higher memory
performance; together with the opportunity to easily install a
32-bit NUMA-aware version of Windows & gain a fascinating
insight right now into any performance advantage this might allow your
to the second question; we were surprised by the maturity of Iwill's
unique implementation of NVIDIA's brand new NFORCE3 Pro/250 chipset.
The integrated USB2, IDE, sound & firewall all work acceptably
well; more importantly, they install then work without fuss.
DK8N's BIOS is flawed: we were disappointed by the non-functional
USB device emulation; & were concerned by the loss of AMI's
bootblock rescue; above all, the lack of accurate temperature &
voltage monitoring, together with no shut-down control, are vital
issues needing urgent attention.
32-bit Windows drivers & utilities have three weaknesses for use
in a professional workstation where stability, reliability, &
compatibility are paramount:
IDE drivers are often incompatible with common burning applications,
we recommend using the default Microsoft drivers;
firewall configuration utility, while detailed enough to amuse
system administrators, has a misleading & inadequate 'wizard'
tacked on, unhelpful to the general user;
'system utility' needs to be have full DK8N temperature &
voltage monitoring enabled - & needs this right
having said this: we feel the driver-package was pleasantly
& gimmick-free, & emphasised the impression of coherency
& maturity we gained from the DK8N.
. . . as to whether NVIDIA have or can develop the right sort
of corporate culture to satisfy typical DK8N customers . . .
it will be interesting to see how many weeks it takes NVIDIA &
Iwill to sort out the above issues.
are already well advanced in the design of a family of future dual-Opteron
NFORCE-chipset motherboards using PCIe developments of the Crush4
family. The DK8N is a forerunner of these future motherboards; but
is itself an orphan - we have heard no industry rumour of other
Opteron motherboards using the NFORCE3 Pro/250 chipset.
DK8N, if & when the above BIOS-issues are fixed, will be a
thoroughly competent advance on existing dual-Opteron motherboards,
& should benefit both from NVIDIA's constant updating of their
driver suite common to all NFORCE-based motherboards, & from the
development effort being put into future NFORCE multiprocessor
are working now to expand & update this review, using a second
rev 1.x DK8N to minimise any sample-error. We will also test
& analyse those features not covered to
Matt & Leo at
Iwill - unstuffy, open, & helpful: Theresa
at AMD - again, remarkably frank & helpful
& collaborators: Laurence
go to page 7 for our DK8N troubleshooting guide -