Planning Field Marshall Melchett

VGA. Do not want

General Melchett is my current PC ride of choice.

Self-build, and crafted and greatly loved: it is a beautiful workstation. Quiet, too.

There have been four significant changes from the initial build: Q9300 processor, 8Gb of DDR2 RAM, NVidia 8800GT video card and most recently a Western Digital Velociraptor 300Gb 10,000 RPM boot/C: drive.

The next leaps are some months away: probably even as late as this time next year:

  • Intel Nehalem
  • DDR3 RAM. 8Gb or more? With some new motherboards, its a 2 banks of 3.
  • Appropriate Motherboard for DDR3 and Nehalem
  • 20,000 RPM Drive?
  • Approprate Video card for the time

The next few months it will be interesting to see the developments in these technology bits.

General Melchett goes 45nm


Time to save some electrons. On yet another whim, I purchased a new Intel Q9300 processor for General Melchett, replacing the venerable Q6600.

The CPU temperature seems to have dropped by 9degC, whilst the performance (12Gb video encode using Expression Encoder) is within a margin of error the same. The Q9300 is 4% faster. I think there might be something else at play as the benchmark results from xbitlabs seems to show 11% or so improvement.

Installation: 10 minutes; and 6 minutes of this was spent chasing screws around before I relented and grabbed a magnetised screw driver. The Zalman fan makes CPU replacement a little more difficult.

I expected that the General would have dust throughout. None. The first rear fan’s filter has grabbed the dust bunnies and holds them steady. w00t!

The strategy is to overclock the new Q9300 a little; with a lower temperature starting point it’s all upside from here!

Project General Melchett. Stage 1.

Boxes arrive

Project General Melchett is my own, roll your own, home built Intel Core 2 Quad box for home.

Ordered yesterday, and delivered in pieces yesterday. Started the build at 10.30am and completed major parts at 1.00pm.


A big part of the decision process was should I install a new 45nm Quad Core Extreme. The current price difference between processors is a massiveAU$1000. Whilst having a processor that knocks your socks-off benchmark did seem attractive the price difference is too massive.

Instead, purchasing a motherboard that could install a 45nm processor in the future seems like a better plan. When there are more choices.


The build was easy: the Corsair modular power supply was an good choice; the hardest part of the overall install was (a) installing slippery screws whilst bleeding from the finger tips (b) snapping in the heat-sink fan into the motherboard with the right amount of pressure. The fans, once turned on, were relatively quiet. Many pieces of rubber insulated metal-on-metal vibrations.

Motherboard in case

The cables are not housed in their final positions. The video card and external SATA connections remain.

Tomorrow is Vista Ultimate x64 install and tuning/tweaking/right-clocking. And waiting for the rare-as-hens teeth 8800GT video cards.

Moore’s Law, More Horses, Less Chaff

A major change in the fabrication process, changing a 40+ year old process to make transitors that are 45 nano-meters large/small. At this level, atoms become significant.

Scoble has released a new video detailing the new 45nm process at Intel. What does this mean? Two things: Moore’s Law still applies, and there are going to be more speed using way less power in your PC sometime in 2008. Oh, and they’re already onto development work of the next 32nm process.

On a similar topic, Andrew sent me a link from some crazy Italians who have overclocked a Pentium to 8Ghz.

OK, so we’ve got the hardware processing for the next couple of years sorted. What are we going to do with this power? Intel is not just making processors and shipping across the river to Google (although I am sure Google will be pleased they don’t have to make a Fusion Reactor to power their singularity).

There are two emerging rules of the last 30+ years: don’t bet against Moore’s Law, or against the Internet.

Do we really just need faster HTML rendering and video? Herein lies the fun – software. There’s a myriad of unsolved software problems – time to get back onto the horse.