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DIY Taiko Extreme

  • Price 10,000.00 USD
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I am considering selling my DIY Taiko Extreme server to free up some space and financial resources for new projects. 


Those reading the "Building a DIY Music Server" thread are likely familiar with my build. I purchased four HDPlex H5 chassis and managed to build a homemade passive cooling for the dual Intel Xeon 4210 CPUs as described here. 

On 5/25/2020 at 1:03 PM, Nenon said:

Asus SAGE / dual Xeon CPU passive cooling


Below is what I did to passively cool the dual Intel Xeon Silver 4210 CPUs in the Asus SAGE motherboard. 


I could not find a solution to passively cool the Intel Xeon Silver 4210 CPUs. Streacom, HDPlex, and some of the other common passive computer chassis do not provide a solution for LGA3647 sockets. Also, most of them are limited to 65W TDP or 95W TDP. Cooling down two 85W TDP CPUs is quite challenging. Turemetal UP10 looks like a really nice case, but the ASUS Sage motherboard (12'' x 13'') does not fit inside according to their specs. And even if it could fit, the mounting on the LGA3647 sockets is very unique. You need very precise parts to be able to mount the CPU without damaging anything. 


The first thing I did to get started was to buy 2 x Noctua NH-D9 DX-3647 4U CPU coolers. Those are active CPU coolers, but I wanted to make sure everything was working properly. The motherboard posted, both CPU tested well, so I started looking for a way to do the passive cooling. 


The LGA3647 comes in two variations - narrow and square. The Asus SAGE motherboard uses the square version. After some research, ordering some parts, returning some, I decided to use the Dynatron B9 CPU cooler as a base. This is how it looks - top and bottom:





We don't need the fan, so that can be removed. But we need the mounting mechanism for the socket. After removing the fan, we end up with a heatsink that can be used as a base.


The surface area on those Xeon Silver CPUs is much larger than a typical consumer CPU such as Intel Core or AMD Ryzen. I would need two HDPlex passive cooling kits to cover one CPU. I ended up getting four HDPlex H5 chassis for this project. 


An explanation of the process with pictures follows below.


I started removing some of the material to make space for the HDPlex cooling kit.



Now we have enough space for the copper HDPlex cooling block.



We need the surface to be as smooth as possible. Sanded with 400 grit sandpaper, followed by 600 grit, 1000 grit, and 2000 grit. I used wet sandpaper from an auto parts store and some soap water. Here is the result.



I did a little more fine sanding and polishing to prepare the surface. It's now ready to install the 2 HDPlex copper blocks. They fit perfectly. My research time was well worth, and the Dynatron B9 looks like the perfect solution. 



The next big research was on thermal epoxy. I needed to glue the two HDPlex copper blocks to the B9 with glue that would transfer the heat from one material to another as efficiently as possible. I picked the MG Chemicals 834HTC-A High Thermal Conductivity Epoxy for that. 


Cleaned the surface with 90% alcohol, let it dry, and applied a thin layer of the epoxy. I used two heavy duty clamps and let the epoxy cure in my oven on a low temperature for a few hours. All done with that part. Here is the final result. 



I repeated the same process for the second CPU. With two in place, it's time to install them. 


Here comes the second problem. No passive cooled chassis is designed to cool two CPUs. The HDPlex H5 (and most others) has two heatsinks, and typically only one is actually used for CPU cooling. The idea is to use one heatsink for each CPU. In order to do that, I had to buy new cooling pipes, a pipe bending tool, and learn how to bend them. I had to do some reading on cooling pipes, learn how they work, learn about the different designs, different materials, etc. I did not know any of that stuff before this project. 

There are quite a few things to consider - the shape, the materials, the quality, how you bend them, etc. They are filled with liquid and you can't cut them. Also, you have to be careful not to crack them when you bend them. The bending radius can impact the performance. They come in different lengths and some are better quality than others. I liked the products a company called "Advanced Thermal Solutions" makes.


Bending pipes is a skill that I need to practice more. Here is my first attempt - looks ugly but it worked great.



The CPU on the top uses the stock HDPlex cooling pipes. The CPU on the bottom with the six longer ugly-bended pipes is what I did. 

To my surprise when I turned on the computer, I realized that the bottom CPU's temperature is lower than the top CPU. One was in the low 40's after a couple of days of playing music and the other was in the high 40's. That's degrees Celsius obviously. We have to be careful with a dual CPU configuration, because one CPU could be hotter because it is doing more than the other. I made sure that was not why the top CPU was a few degrees hotter. 


I decided to replace the stock HDPlex cooling pipes with new ones. I did much better job with the bending, but I don't have a picture handy. You will have to trust me on that one :). 


One problem with the HDPlex cooling kit is that the pipes are short and don't cover the entire cooling block. I'll refer to this post for more info / picture:


By replacing the stock cooling pipes I had the chance to use longer pipes and cover more surface. 

Not sure if the cooling pipes I used are better than the stock HDPlex or it was because they covered more surface area, but I saw about 7-8 degrees lower temperature with the new pipes. I am guessing it's both - better quality pipes and more surface area. 

In fact, now the top CPU is about 1-2 degrees cooler than the bottom CPU. 


The thermal epoxy also takes about a week to 10 days to settle completely. It gets more efficient over time. Overall quite happy with the result. CPUs stay in the 40's depending on room temperature. It is 84F degrees in Chicago today, and I saw them running as hot as 49C. I'll go deal with my A/C now that I am done with this post. 


The current version of the server is powered by a Taiko ATX and a v3 of the unregulated LPS as shared here:

On 5/16/2021 at 10:44 AM, Nenon said:

Unregulated LPS update


I am pretty much set on the 3 designs. As I explained in an earlier post, we simply add more parts to each design. You can start with v1 and then go to v2 and then to v3. As you are going up the ladder no parts remain unused. 


The first version (aka v1) is very simple. You have an IEC inlet --> Fuse --> Soft start --> Transformer --> Mosfet rectifier --> Output connector. The version gives you very clean, fast, and transparent sound, but it does not have the body and the full expansive sound as the other two versions. Can too transparent and too fast be a problem? I think it's way too fast and transparent, hence the additional components in the other two versions. But it's all about personal taste. Some may like that version more. 


The second version (aka v2) consists of: IEC inlet --> Fuse --> Soft start --> Transformer --> Mosfet rectifier --> Mundorf HC 22,000 uF (bypassed with VCAP ODAM 0.1 uF film cap) --> Hammond choke --> 3 x Mundorf HC 22,000 uF (each bypassed with VCAP ODAM 0.1 uF film cap) --> Output connector. This is an improvement over v1 in my opinion. It gives you a bit more of everything and is the sweet spot. This is what I have been running for months (until I tried v3). You have about 5mV ripple with this version. You get about 2.3 mOhm output impedance but that's influenced by the wiring you are using and could be higher if you use thin wires or bad connectors.


The third version (aka v3) consists of: IEC inlet --> Fuse --> Soft start --> Transformer --> Mosfet rectifier --> Mundorf HC 22,000 uF (bypassed with VCAP ODAM 0.1 uF film cap) --> Hammond choke --> Mundorf HC 22,000 uF (bypassed with VCAP ODAM 0.1 uF film cap) --> Hammond choke --> 3 x Mundorf HC ( 2 x 47,000 uF + 1 x 22,000 uF, each bypassed with VCAP ODAM 0.1 uF film cap) --> Output connector. This version gives away some of the "clean" sound you have in v1 and v2 but is fuller, bigger, massively expensive. Amazing 5uV ripple and nearly half the output impedance compared to v2 - ~1.2 mOhm + the impact of your wiring. 


I don't have the prices of the Noratel transformers and the Taiko rectifier, but just to get some idea, let's assume they are $200 each. Here is what I have for the bill of materials with somewhat rounded prices:



This is just ballpark pricing to get an idea. Leave it to me, and it would get much more expensive as I would add thick pure copper busbars, multiple runs of expensive wire, exotic connectors, footers, etc. I would also have Modushop fabricate the cases for me, so it's easier to install everything. That also adds to the cost. However, if you see how massive v3 is, it would easily compare to the power supplies of very very expensive amps. If this thing was a commercial product (or a part of a commercial product) in the dealer's network I'd expect it to be over $20K. This is the beauty of DIY :). And as far as R&D goes, the amount of time spent here is on par with many commercial products to say the least. 


If you are impatient and don't want to wait anymore, you can order a 24VAC 400VA Toroidy Supreme transformer, get a rectifier of your choice, and get this going. Not my favorite rectifier but something like the Vishay GBPC3504-E4/51 could do the job for the time being, assuming it would be replaced with something better in the future. 


That was the easy part of the post. It gets quite complicated from here. As with anything else in life, there will be people with all kinds of different preferences. Some would like cheaper. Some would like better where cost is no object. Some would prefer easier to make. Some would prefer someone else to make it for them. Some would have existing parts they would like to use. And so on... It's hard to cover all possible cases, but here are some random notes to begin with. 

  • If you are on a budget, the above can be made a lot cheaper. You can use a cheaper chassis, cheaper IEC inlet, cheaper connectors, cheaper transformers, cheaper capacitors, etc. You can really make this a budget LPS. It would probably still be better than most linear power supplies on the market (most of them use cheap components too). 
  • If you are on the opposite end of "on a budget", you can make this even better. You can use even better chassis. You can add good feet to the chassis (i.e. the Gaia I use). You can fabricate copper busbars to screw in the Mundorf caps to (something I am looking to do for myself). You can use the Mundorf copper terminal rings. 
  • If you are not handy with drilling/milling we can have Modushop predrill all the holes on the rear panel and the bottom panel. That adds to the price - from their price list guessing around 25 Euro for the rear panel (less than 10 holes) and another 35-45 Euro (more the 20 holes for v3) for the bottom panel. BTW, I have not received this chassis from Modushop yet, so I am just speculating that v3 would fit in it at this point. Pretty sure v2 would fit. But you can also use a smaller chassis for v1 and v2.
  • Taiko does not have many mosfet rectifiers, so we have to decide if another batch is needed, if Emile is even willing to run another batch. There are a lot of complications with that... We need to see what the lead times would be. We need to know how many to order. Or we can look for some other alternatives. There is something else I have in mind but would require a PCB. 
  • There is a guy in the US and a guy in the EU who are willing to make these unregulated LPS's for other people. The labor fee negotiated was $500, given that the chassis has all the holes pre-drilled. I will make a couple myself just to get the process started and documented.  
  • We haven't discussed wiring. I am still making some tests but so far I am leaning towards busbars for the capacitors and a custom OEM copper wire I managed to procure with the Mundorf lugs (which are quite pricey by the way, but I like them). 


There is a global shortage of materials. Some of the products mentioned above may be hard to obtain. I mentioned doing a potential group order in the past. I can try to organise that and get the entire BOM. If anyone is interested in that, please contact me on PM before the end of May indicating if you want v2 or v3 and if you want someone to build it for you.


Okay, let's keep it at that for now. I can probably keep writing this post the whole day but have other things I need to do now. 


(seems like some parts of this post including prices need updating )

This is the best way to power up this dual CPU server that I am aware of. 


Some of the components inside this build:

- Asus SAGE motherboard
- Intel Xeon 4210 CPUs
- Intel Optane 900p card
- Intel 665p NVME - 2 TB
- Supermicro PCIe to M.2 card
- Taiko ATX
- JCAT XE card
- HDPlex chassis
- v3 unregulated LPS
- Windows LTSC license
- EPS cables
- ATX cable
- Cable feeding the Taiko ATX
- Gaia feet for LPS and the computer chassis
- Custom Apacer RAM


I have invested over $13K in this build and endless hours building and tweaking it. Looking to get around $10K to recover some of the parts cost. The rest plus all my R&D time is free to a lucky owner. I can also customize it if you have any special requests. 

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