Okay, lets start with my system's specs:
- AMD 64bit CPU 3200+ (clocked at 2 Ghz); Venice Core; 128kb L1 cache
- ASRock 939Dual-SATA2 Motherboard; ULi 1695 Chipset; Onboard sound/ethernet; USB 2.0
- Hitachi Deskstar 7K250 160GB SATA/300
- 512 MB DDR-400 PC3200 CL3 RAM
- Updated: Upgraded to 2x1024 MB DDR-400 PC3200 CL3 RAM
- Geforce 3 TI
- Updated: Upgraded to XFX PCIe Geforce 7600GT Extreme Edition
- LG DVD-RAM GSA-4163B
- Samsung BF930 19" TFT monitor
- Zoltrix Nightingale soundcard
First and foremost: I wanted a PC for playing Enemy Territory at the highest possible resolution. Given the above specs .. I sort of exceeded that goal a bit .. Secondly, I was fed up with my laptop's resolution. Hearing others bragging about their huge screens made me wheep now and then. And last but not least, I wanted this new PC to become as quiet as possible meaning QUIET.
I ordered almost all the parts at Cyberport a pretty reliable German online store for all the technical goodies you need these days. For the Geforce 3 TI, that one I bought through eBay for 10 Euros. Also, I got the RAM at a cheap local store. Granted, they are just some no-name chinese bars but I have a three year warranty and the store is just about around the corner. For the quietness, after all one major goal, I also got my hands on a Zalman VF-700Cu for the Geforce, an Arctic Cooling Silencer 64 Ultra TC for the CPU and a be quiet! Blackline 420W power supply.
Harddrive and DVD drive
Now, you might say: Hey, a harddrive's plug'n'play .. and I say: Hell no. While I plugged in the drive correctly (using the SATAII certified onboard port) the harddrive would show up as SATAII capable device in the BIOS but not under Linux. It was just running at half-speed (1.5Gbps). Of course, 1.5Gbps is more than enough .. but then I could've bought a regular SATA device. I wanted the full speed. So I wrote to the linux-ide mailinglist to find out wether it was a) the driver b) the board or c) just me. It turned out to be d) .. the harddrive itself.
Apparently, Hitachi forces each drive to run at a mere 1.5Gbps as otherwise the drive could malfunction of loose data if it was run at 3.0Gbps without the right controller present. Now, I think thats actually a pretty good default setting as most of today's computer users don't really know how to handle such stuff. And after all Hitachi even provides an excellent utility for their Deskstar line of harddrive .. and even boot CD images! I was taken by surprise and in an instant. Nice going Hitachi. Now the harddrive sports at 3.0Gbps (often called SATA-II/SATA2) and I even managed to enable other convenient features like accoustic- and power management. The drive has become noticably quieter.
The LG actually was plug'n'play. As it is a regular IDE/ATAPI device and I didn't have any jumpers around I just hung it on the primary IDE controller and booted up. No damage here. The drive was recognized correctly running in UDMA-2 mode under linux. Everything seemed alright. Until I tried to burn a CD recently.
The burning process started to become sluggish and slow and so I figured that there had to be something wrong with the IDE driver or the DMA settings. And indeed, the drive's DMA capabilities weren't enabled. Trying to enable them failed. So I sat stuck for about 20 minutes googling for an answer until I found out that my chipset (M5229) was supported by the kernel IDE driver labeled 'uli_15x3'. Just, there is absolutely no pointers to that. Neither does the version number of the driver correspond with my chipset's identification nor does the help text for that particular driver state that it supports the M5229. Someone's oughta fix that. After having the right driver compiled into the kernel it was no further doings needed to get a fully DMA accelerated DVD drive .. and therefore burn CDs at notable speeds without errors.
To be continued