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XServe Xeon CPU Upgrade

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by MacTower, May 5, 2011.

  1. macrumors member

    Hello all,

    I'm writing with the hope that someone here will have tried what I want to try, or will at least be able to give some insight into it.

    I have a 2006 model Xserve, with (2) Xeon 5130 (Woodcrest) dual core CPUs @ 2.0GHz, giving me a total of 4 cores.

    I have the chance to get a pair of Xeon E5335 (Clovertown) quad core CPUs @ 2.0GHz for next to nothing, potentially giving me a total of 8 cores. These are the SL9YK model, B3 stepping.

    Clovertown is a drop-in upgrade to Woodcrest, but since this is a piece of Apple hardware I'm afraid things might not be that simple. I've read plenty of reports (some here at MR) of people dropping in Clovertown CPU into Mac Pro towers with great success. Apple themselves began 'dropping in' Clovertown 3.0GHz CPU into Mac Pros as a BTO option later in the Mac Pros life, but they only offered the 3.0 GHz speed.

    This almost has me convinced, but I've also seen brief mention that only certain steppings of Clovertown can drop in successfully to Mac Pro. I've not seen mention anywhere about CPU upgrades on XServe, but I'm hopeful that someone here can lend some insight.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can offer some technical insight, or, better yet, experience into my potential upgrade. Thanks!
  2. macrumors 6502a


    This might work, but there is a possibility that it wont work. The 2006 xserve had only B2 stepping cpus in it, since the E5335 is a B3 stepping it might not work. Depending on the price, i would just buy and try and see if it works
  3. macrumors member

    Thanks for the reply. The price is minimal, but I've come across a set of 5160 Xeon CPUs for a fraction of what the E5335's would cost. The 5160's I found are SL9RT, B2 stepping.

    I'm thinking there is a better chance that the 5160's will work, and the performance gain from those 4 cores @ 3GHz will benefit me more than the gain from the E5335's 8 cores @ 2GHz.

    I'm curious, where did you find the information about the 2006 Xserve having the B2 stepping? I couldn't seem to find any info pertaining to steppings used by Xserve equipment.

  4. macrumors 6502a


    5160s will work, anyways all BTO CPUs for the Xserve were b2 steppings
  5. macrumors member

    Thanks for your input! I think I'm going with the 5160's. Cheaper, (almost) guaranteed to be compatible since they were a BTO option for this server, and more performance in the long run.

    Now, if I can just find a copy of Apple Xserve Diagnostics (AXD) somewhere... 3 Xserves and we seem to have misplaced the original discs for all of them. :confused:
  6. macrumors member

    Found it. Seems they changed the name to 'Apple Server Diagnostics' since we have Mac mini and Mac Pro servers in the mix now.
  7. macrumors 6502a


  8. macrumors regular

    You said you were going to go with the 51xx series, but I wanted to chime in on my own experience for the sake of other readers. I just dropped a pair of E5335s into my Mac Pro 1,1 and it worked like a charm. A big difference in many apps going from quad to octo even at the same clock speed.

    Xbench doesn't seem to give me a huge increased score (actually a little lower?) but this is refuted by my track count in Logic Pro 9 doubling.

    I got the CPUs on eBay for just under $200 USD. There were others at higher clock speeds, but the price jump was unjustifiable.
  9. MacTower, May 13, 2011
    Last edited: May 13, 2011

    macrumors member

    Nice! Thanks so much for your input. You're right that the E5335s can be had for very cheap.

    Could you please share what SPEC code and stepping your E5335s are?

    Do they show up correctly in System Profiler?

    I ended up going with the 5160s because I wasn't able to figure out whether or not the E5335s would work out. Also, they ended up being 75% less than a pair of E5335s. I think the 4 cores @ 3GHz will serve better than 8 cores @ 2GHz for my purposes.
  10. macrumors member

    To update anyone following this thread:

    I just completed the upgrade from dual Xeon 5130 (2.0 GHz) to dual Xeon 5160 (3.0 GHz) in a Late 2006 Xserve. Everything went great, and the machine is now much faster. It's still slower than my quad 2.26GHz Nehalem Xserve, but it will now be able to serve for a few more years, probably until it dies of old age. Or, until Apple releases something new with LOM, hot-swap drives and redundant power supplies (must-have features for my purposes).

    Also, and much to my surprise, the 5160s are actually idling 8-10 degrees lower than the 5130s were. I initially thought the Xserve might be overcompensating by running the blowers faster, but I compared the speed readings from the blowers to various logs I made before the upgrade, and the speeds are similar enough to call negligible. This may be due to the fact that I used Arctic Silver 5, as compared to the slop Apple puts on by default.

    I'll post a new thread soon with a step-by-step and some photos for anyone else interested in doing this upgrade.
  11. macrumors 68030


    MacTower, did you ever get a chance to do a writeup on this process?
  12. macrumors newbie

  13. macrumors 68030


    I had found this guide in the mean time, but also found that the XServe1,1 has no 64-bit EFI implementation, which makes them unsuitable for my needs... a shame. They are great servers.
  14. macrumors member

    Wow this thread is right up my alley.

    I have a MacPro1,1 that I recently upgraded from it's two 2x2.66GHZ processors, to two 4x2.66 processors. They dropped right in and life was good.

    AND i'm currently contemplating an Xserve1,1 to replace my G5 Xserve. And I also want to know if these same processors will drop right into the Xserve, so my Xserve will go from 4x2.0 to 8x2.66?

    Does anyone have an answer to THAT question?
  15. macrumors regular

  16. macrumors member

    So you've also put 4-core processors in an Xserve1,1 in addition to your MacPro1,1? And are you saying it worked?

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