transforming a 2009 Quad to an Octo?..

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by fat binary, Sep 2, 2009.

  1. fat binary macrumors newbie

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    Sep 1, 2009
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    #1
    If I ever wanted to upgrade my 2009 Quad to an Octo sometime in the future, is it as "simple" as getting hold of:

    1. Processor x 2
    2. Heatsink x 2
    3. Processor Board (8-Core)

    and then just installing it in the Quad?..

    I realise that the cost of such an enterprise might not be justifiable, but still..

    Thanks.
     
  2. inigel macrumors regular

    inigel

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    #2
    Seems do-able. Also seems much easier to just buy an octo if that is what you need.
     
  3. fat binary thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    :)
     
  4. flatfoot macrumors 65816

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    Aug 11, 2009
    #4
    It was stated somwhere around here that the daughter-card the CPU is mounted on in the Quads has just one CPU-slot; so you'd have to replace this card, too...
     
  5. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    near Cambridge
    #5
    "getting hold" of the parts would not be easy or cheap (unless you got them from a second hand octo that had other parts damaged).

    The processors for the octo do not have cases (bare chips) and you can't buy them (except in large quantities from Intel) as far as I know. You can fit standard processors but that is not straight forward - search the threads for details.

    Apple charge a lot for their propriety logic boards and no one else produces them. I'd guess the same is true for the heat sinks. (Though, having said that
    I think there is an article mentioned in other threads where Anatech? upgraded the processors, damaged the board in the process, and managed
    to get a replacement board for about $400 but that was through someone working for Apple.) I would guess that to buy the parts would be at least
    $400 for board, 2x$350 for 2.26 Xeons and 2x$100 for heat sinks maybe $1400.

    And, of course, you'd have no warranty.

    All in all, I'd say the only reasons to do it would be either to rescue parts from a deceased octo or because you enjoy a challenge:)

    ps I have a friend whose car's rear windscreen wiper motor went. Being an engineer he took it to bits, found the coils were burnt through and found a small engineering shop that would
    re-wind them. It was a feat of engineering but took hours of time and cost much more than a cheap replacement motor. Still it gave satisfaction and he at least knew that what ever
    other bits of the car went the rear windscreen wiper motor would keep going! If you enjoy such challenges then go ahead and plan the upgrade!
     
  6. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #6
    The daughter board would be the real problem. W5590s with 3,33GHz can be purchased on the open market making your system faster than anything Apple ever released. The additional heat spreader can be accomodated for with some extra care in the replacement procedure. So I say this is only feasible if you want to go for huge performance and have deep pockets. The W5590s or W5580s cost 1500$ a piece.
     
  7. Wotan31 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
    #7
    Are you serious? That's your response? He's asking for technical details and definitive yes/no feasibility and you give this bs answer that essentially says "sure whatever i have no clue what i'm talking about but i'll make something up".

    Thanks for your contribution. :rolleyes:
     
  8. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    England
    #8
    MacPalace had the daughter boards for sale I think, they were quite cheap like $350 or so. But it isn't clear what else you'd need so you'd want to get hold of the service manual to find out.
     
  9. ntux macrumors member

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    Jan 29, 2008
    #9
  10. fat binary thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #10
    Hi all,

    Thanks a lot for your informative answers!

    The idea of turning a Quad into an Octo was just something that struck me this morning, but I realize now that it's too much of a hassle/risk taking, and too expensive...

    Better then to hold of for a year or so and get a 16/32-core monster...

    (By then, hopefully software engineers and programmers will have learned to love Snow Leopard's Grand Central... We all want those cores busy!)

    Thanks.
     
  11. tobyg macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2004
    #11
    It's interesting that the 8 core board is only $329. That's not bad.

    So I'm thinking the reverse might be fun. Supposedly you can run the 4 core board with non-xeon processors. So if I can get my hands on a 4 core board (single processor board) and a cheap i7 processor, I could swap out my 8 core board with the 4 core board and run faster single threaded applications/games and then go back to the 8 core board when I need the threads.

    I looked but didn't see the 4 core board as a replacement part on their site.
     
  12. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    Vancouver, BC
    #12
    The easiest way to turn a quad into an octo is through craigslist! :p
     
  13. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816

    Dr.Pants

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    Jan 8, 2009
    #13
    I thought that even though the daughterboards used the same physical connector, there were more connections on the 8-core compared to the 4-core.
     
  14. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    #14
    Well I can't imagine the daughter board serves any purpose other than to reduce manufacturing costs, so I would expect no difference.
     
  15. inigel macrumors regular

    inigel

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    #15
    He isn't asking for technical details, read the post again.

    :rolleyes: back at ya.

    Edit: It appears your contribution was just to point out that I am an arse. And and idiot. So thanks for your contribution.
     
  16. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #16
    The daughter board design is Apple's answer to Intel's move away from dual core Xeon CPUs. Intel took the dual cores out to reduce complexity for their Workstation/Server offering knowing they would upgrade the high end with 6 core CPUs.

    The move was too early for Apple's marketing. They needed the Quad/Octad scheme to differentiate their product/pricing structure. That left them with the alternative to design two logic boards or have an empty socket on the Quad. They did not like both alternatives. Two logic boards was against their complexity philosophy and modularity ideas.

    An empty socket would undercut the exclusivity and would lead to customers self upgrading easily. So the daughter board was the design compromise. It only works if the interface between the daughter board and the logic board is the same for Quad and Octad.
     
  17. matthewtoney macrumors regular

    matthewtoney

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    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    #17
    Actually, I think *this* is the only reasonable way for someone to turn a quad into an octo - find someone with an octo that thinks they overpaid and don't ever use all those cores and offer them some bucks to trade their octo board w/cpus for your quads. :)
     
  18. AZREOSpecialist macrumors 68000

    AZREOSpecialist

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    Mar 15, 2009
    #18
    You can use Xeons with heat spreaders in the 8-core processor board, but you have to be extra careful not to over tighten the heat sink which could cause the chip to shift and bend the pins in the CPU socket. Because the heat sinks will sit slightly higher than before due to the IHS (integrated heat spreader), you will need to add additional silicone thermal padding to bridge the gap between the heat sink and thermal sensors on the motherboard. There must be physical contact.

    AnandTech already did this upgrade, but fried their CPU daughterboard in the process due to over tightening the heat sink. If you want the fastest 8-core, you can get two new 3.32 GHz Xeon CPUs for approximately $1,500-$1,600 each. DO NOT USE CORE I7 - THEY DO NOT WORK IN DUAL CPU CONFIGURATIONS! Core i7 works fine in the Quad.

    It makes no sense, from a practical point of view, to swap out the entire CPU subsystem just to run some software. Eventually you'll bend or break a pin on the daughterboard or motherboard connector and then you'll be SOL.
     
  19. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    #19
    That seems odd speculation to me. Apple already offered a single quad on a dual socket board. I imagine it has far more to do with a single Xeon 5550 in a dual socket board increasing their cost $700 while offering no more performance.

    Why have a daughter board system when you make everything custom anyway other than to reduce costs? It's a good cost saving device if half the "guts" will serve Apple longer. And by that logic it makes no sense to have them incompatible across differing boards. I expect the next lot to just plug in too.
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #20
    I understand your logic here, but I can't agree with it. Umbongo has a good point.

    To me, it would have to do with cost savings. They don't share the same chipset between Quad and Octad, and it allows the primary logic board to remaing the same, regardless of the model. Basically in between complete separate boards. More of the same part, tends to reduce the costs. Then customize the daughter board per CPU quantity. It makes sense to my way of thinking (experience), but even this can be chalked up to speculation. :p
     
  21. tobyg macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    I would never sell the original parts. I would only do it to play games or do something that needed faster speeds but less cores.

    Agreed. I don't think I'd really do it, as every time I've taken it out I've been super worried about bending a pin (only took it out twice so far, once to look at and once to change memory). I remember back in the days of SCSI with those 50 and 68 pin external connections. I remember bending pins on those a few times and not having fun trying to bend them back. I wouldn't want to risk swapping boards in and out just to speed up some programs by a few percentage points. It was just a thought, and in hind sight, an irrational thought. :)
     
  22. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #22
    That doesn't make sense unless the rest of what used to be the chipset sits on the daughterboard. That is obviously not the case. So the remaining chipset features (after removing memory management to the CPUs) are part of the same logic board and the logic board has exactly the same interface to the different daughter boards. The daughter boards are only different in the number of 1366 sockets and memory slots.

    Of course cost saving is the the primary issue right behind marketing needs. But Apple are obviously taking an integrated look at that. They minimise the total of manufacturing and complexity cost by their approach. The complexity costs are mainly in firmware and driver development and partly in the number of purchased components that are not common to quads and octads.

    I don't know what you are talking about. The G5 quad was dual socket with dual core CPUs. In that product generation they made two different motherboards where they left out one socket for the DC machine. That was probably giving them very low numbers of logic boards in that run. An empty socket doesn't cost much if you can use the same board. Manufacturing wise it would have been the much cheaper solution, but it would enable customers to make cheap upgrades.


    I agree with that part. They may be able to use the current logic board for a 12 core machine with Gulftown. On the other side they could also drop the quad and go to 8 and 12 cores only. Lots of options.
     
  23. jonnysods macrumors 603

    jonnysods

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    #23
    What is the highest clock speed for the quad core? Would I be able to replace it later on down the line once they get a bit cheaper?
     
  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #24
    The chipset is on the daughterboard. :) This is why the logic board is the same for both models. It just gets flashed with different firmware and SMC firmware. ;) It's in the forum somewhere. :D
     

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