The Water Cooling War...#

There's a certain contingent of folks (and you know who you are) who are living their water cooling dreams vicariously through me, and they’ll all be happy to know that I put aside some time to try and clean up my water cooling problems and finish some machines.

When last we left my intrepid bout of fiscal and productivity irresponsibility, I had hit a wall with reliability regarding my 800Mhz FSB machines. These are the high performance units that get damn hot. The problem, near as I could figure, was in the RAM. The two machines I set up for water cooling would periodically hang, and careful study of the occasional Blue Screen of Death seemed to indicate RAM problems.

The first time I got a hint that the RAM might be trouble; I stuck my finger on one of them and left the fingerprint behind. Yeah, they were hot all right. My theory (and I mentioned it on DotNetRocks some time ago) is that with the reduced airflow in the case caused by removing all those fans and replacing them with water cooling blocks, the RAM no longer gets enough air circulation.

My first attempt at a solution is to put heat spreaders on the RAM. These are copper plates at strap to either side of the RAM. Presumably they reduce the amount of heat in the RAM itself, giving the heat more area to wander to. So far I’ve notice that the heat spreaders are just as bloody hot as the RAM. I’m going to try adding a low velocity slot fan in the back of the case to try and draw more air through, seeing if that will help.

Of course, the wonder of periodic failures is that you never know if you got it right or not. You’re waiting to see if a presence is absent… in this case, the fact that I don’t get a Blue Screen of Death for six months will be my only proof that I was right.

Also, the crazy water cooling machine, the one with the Orbital Matrix controller in it to vary fan speed by temperature, had a leaky pump. I slathered the pump with silicon, but it leaked again. Then it stopped leaking. Then it started again. Then it stopped. Then I realized I was fighting with a hundred dollar part on a two thousand dollar machine and bought a new pump. So that had to go in.

And finally, since I had been noodling with this bloody machine for so long, a new cooling plate had come out for the ATI 9800 XT Pro I had, so I had to buy that too.

So, here’s a detailed record of the entire process:

1. Shut down machine.
2. Remove the cap from the reservoir.
3. Disconnect the highest point in the water loop, which for this machine is the top plug of the radiator, being careful to make sure the water line is drained (which is why you remove the cap from the reservoir, so some air can get in).
4. Unplug the ATX power connector from the motherboard.
5. Plug the bypass plug into the ATX power connector.

6. Squirt water around the room as the power comes on for the pump.
7. Switch off the power supply so the pump turns off.
8. Get water catcher (aka – the yogurt container), position so that removed hose is aimed into container.
9. Switch power supply on again.
10. Stare in confusion as the pump does not turn on.
11. Fiddle with bypass plug, switch position, try to find combination that works.
12. Go play Unreal Tournament 2004 for a half hour because blowing up digital stuff is less expensive than beating this stupid machine with a sledgehammer.
13. Return post-destruction to discover that no combination of power switch and plug will make the pump turn on.
14. Test with another power supply (What? You don’t have a spare power supply? What kind of geek are you?)
15. Pump still won’t start. Unplug pump.
16. System powers up without pump using either power supply.
17. Test power supply with replacement pump, the replacement pump works fine.
18. Devise a bulb pump to remove the water from the system without the pump.
19. Put cap back on reservoir before water comes flying out from the pressure of the bulb pump.
20. Drain majority of water from the system using bulb pump.

21. Stand machine up on its side, drain balance of water.
22. Remove side of the case in order to extricate pump.
23. Disconnect hoses, pull off reservoir, remove pump.

24. Mop up additional water spills from pump removal.
25. Pull video card for additional cooling block installation.

26. Remove existing water connect from A side cooling block already mounted to video card.
27. Add water interconnect to A side cooling block to allow B side to plug in.

28. Remove existing nylon screws holding A side cooling block on.
29. Put conductive goop on the backside RAM chips of the video card.
30. Place B side cooling block onto card, pressing interconnect into place.
31. Insert nylon screws through B side block, card, and into A side block.

32. Discover that video card will no longer go back into the AGP slot; the B side cooling block hits the hoses coming off the Northbridge chip.
33. Play some more Unreal Tournament 2004.
34. Install pump.
35. Install reservoir on pump.
36. Re-install hoses onto pump.
37. Remove the water block from the Northbridge chip.
38. Rotate Northbridge water block 180 degrees.
39. Reinstall Northbridge water block.
40. Install video card.
41. Reroute plumbing to deal with rotated Northbridge and moved connector on video card.
42. Replace pressure fit water flow sensor with screw down type.

See? Easy. Just follow this simple 42 step process!

Man, does the inside of that machine look like R2D2 barfed or what?

Monday, August 30, 2004 11:42:27 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [6]  | 


Allchin lays down on Longhorn#

Man, I'm a huge fan of Jim Allchin. He's straight talking, serious and kicks ass. My current favorite quote from Jim: “Malware. I want it dead.” And follows that by saying that he hadn't been able to deliver that 100% for XP SP2. But they're still plugging away.

But the topic of the day was Longhorn. Most people know that the name comes from the Longhorn bar that sits between Whistler (the code name of Windows XP) and Blackcomb (which was supposed to be the next version of Windows). But the reality of Longhorn is that it has grown to be an amazing and complex version of Windows. The highlight peices have been Avalon, Indigo and WinFS. Microsoft has promised a stunning amount of new functionality in Longhorn, and Jim is promising to deliver on it, just in a different form.

What's happened is that the Windows team is fixing the date of Longhorn - for “holiday time 2006.” To do that, they are breaking up the delivery of all these different features.

The exciting part is that versions of Avalon and Indigo are going to be made available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. This is great news for developers, we're going to get a chance to build software utilizing the capabilities of these subsystems without having to have Longhorn. We don't have to drive our customers to the latest OS to take advantage of this new technology.

WinFS is being pushed back, to be delivered after Longhorn. The way Jim talked about it, it sounds to me like WinFS is growing in scope - the more they realize the power of object based data storage, the more development they need to do. Jim said they realized they don't want to ship the WinFS client component without the server component, and that means they need more time. It makes sense to me, it sounds like its going to be worth the wait. And it doesn't sound like its going to be long after, either. Jim says that WinFS will be in beta when Longhorn ships. That pretty much means that WinFS must ship in 2007 - Microsoft rarely ever goes over a year in beta.

The obvious question is “what's left for Longhorn?” and the answer is plenty. Sure, Avalon, Indigo and WinFS have been the highlight elements, but there is plenty more in the plan. A vastly more advanced search system is key, along with better functionality all around. The new display driver model of Longhorn is going to make a huge difference, I don't think we'll see the full power of Avalon until that is in place. A vastly improved deployment engine is going to make a big difference to anyone handling more computers than they can reach easily in one room.

In the end, the room applauded Jim, not just for being forthright about the realities, but because I think everyone here realized that this new plan is a better plan. Waiting for a massive shipment of all new code is not the best way to go - break the important bits down and get them out the door. That way we can kick the tires, explore the capabilities, and feed back into Microsoft to make them better. When the whole comes together, it'll be vastly superior to what we originally came up with at the beginning.


Friday, August 27, 2004 12:46:42 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [1]  | 


Evangelism Concentration Camp#

I'm down in Redmond at the Evangelism Airlift, also known as the Evangelism Concentration Camp.

We're all in the same hotel together, all sessions are run in the hotel, and the sessions run from 8am to 9:30pm every day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is included, such as it is... bagels and fruit for breakfast, various catered lunch objects, and dinner has a focus on meat popsicles.

The concentration comes from the non-stop, high-density content about what the next generation (2005) tools can do, should do, and how it should be taught.

For the most part its all Microsoft employees in the audience, but there's a small, but rather vocal (as if they came in any other form) contingent of Regional Directors. Steve Forte (the vocal part), Kim Tripp (the SQL Goddess!) and Chris Kinsman (local dude) are all in the room with me...

Thursday, August 26, 2004 12:37:39 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [4]  | 


Touring Toys...#

Kim Tripp, Clemens Vasters, Goksin Bakir, Christain Weyer and I all went out yesterday (Tuesday) to take a look around Seattle. The weather was just plain nasty, so we went for indoor type things.

In the end, we went to the Museum of Flight and did a tour of the Boeing 747 factory in Everett.

Kim Tripp, the Gadget Girl herself, has this groovy navigation system in her SUV... the discussion turned to making a business out of improved voice communication for navigation.

Clemens is an advocate of the sexy female approach, so that when you miss a turn, the system says “Don't worry baby, I know you'll get us back on track.”

Kim is on the mother-in-law side of things... “You idiot! Turn around right now! I'm not calculating another route for you!”

Methinks this week's ToyBoy spot on DNR is going to be over the top...

Drivel | Toys | Travel
Wednesday, August 25, 2004 10:20:00 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [2]  | 


Toy Boy hangs with Gadget Girl...#

I'm down in Redmond hanging with Kim Tripp, aka The Gadget Girl.

Microsoft is throwing an evangelism party, and all us crazy evangelistic RDs are invited, along with lots of Microsoft folks.

Kim was nice enough to invite a few folks out for a day before the show started, and offer to put me up for the night... since I'm only a couple of hours drive away, I didn't have to fly, which is always good.

Apparently I'm not the only one that's toy crazy. We're having fun comparing our various gadgets.

More to come, I'm sure.

Drivel | Toys
Monday, August 23, 2004 10:51:27 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [0]  | 


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