Boxed Intel® Xeon® Processor-Based System Integration

Last Reviewed: 25-Sep-2017
Article ID: 000007677

Where do I start?
The following overview and installation instructions are for professional integrators building systems that use Intel® Xeon® processors with industry-accepted motherboards, chassis, and peripherals. It contains technical information intended to aid in system integration. Boxed Intel Xeon Processor product information can be found in the processor product brief and related material.

The Boxed Intel® Xeon® Processor

Processor overview
The Intel Xeon Processor is based on the Intel® NetBurst™ micro-architecture and includes several performance enhancing features. The Intel Xeon Processor with 512k L2 cache also introduces an exciting feature, called Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology. This technology makes more efficient use of the processor resources and can increase performance in multi-threaded, multi-processing aware applications.

The Intel® NetBurst™ micro-architecture and Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology enable the Intel Xeon Processor to achieve breakthrough performance for visual computing, concurrent application environments, and the future of the Internet.

The Boxed Intel Xeon Processor includes a thermal solution for use in system integration where a thermal solution has not been provided. The thermal solution consists of a passive heatsink and thermal interface material, an active duct solution, called the Processor Wind Tunnel (PWT), and a special retention mechanism designed to attach the heatsink and the PWT directly to the chassis. This is different from the reference solution from Intel because it has chamfered corners to allow the PWT to fit around it. The PWT has a single piece retention mechanism with arches on either side. The main housing accepts the fan either on the side or the top. The Boxed Intel Xeon Processor at speeds of 3 GHz and above includes a fan cable adapter designed to allow the fan to draw power directly from the power supply. Finally, there are retention clips and screws to give integrators a complete thermal solution. See the Integration section for full instructions on installing the solution for processors at speeds up to 3 Hz and for processors at speeds of 3 GHz and above. In addition, for Boxed Intel Xeon Processors purchased prior to September 2002, there is a slightly different PWT. The Integration section includes instructions for both PWT style.

Included with the Boxed Intel® Xeon® Processor

  • Intel® Xeon® Processor
  • Thermal interface material (in applicator)
  • Passive Heatsink
  • Processor Wind Tunnel (heatsink housing, fan housing)
  • Fan (25mm for 1.8GHz-2.8GHz speeds, 38mm for 3.0GHz speeds and above)
  • Fan Cable Adapter (38mm fan only)
  • Retention mechanism, clips, and screws
  • Installation Instructions and Certificate of Authenticity
  • Intel® Inside logo label
Figure 1: Boxed Intel Xeon Processor Components

Figure 1: Boxed Intel Xeon Processor components

400 MHz Front Side Bus processors and 533 MHz Front Side Bus processors have different pin configurations. The Intel Xeon Processor with a 400 MHz Front Side Bus is packaged in the 603-pin OLGA On Interposer (OOI) package. The Intel Xeon Processor with a 533 MHz Front Side Bus is packaged in the 604-pin Flip Chip-Micro Pin Grid Array 2 (FC-mPGA2) package. Both the Organic Land Grid Array (OLGA) core and Flip Chip-Micro Pin Grid Array 2 (FC-mPGA2) package are covered by an Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS) that helps heatsink dissipation to a properly attached heatsink.

The Intel Xeon Processor with a 400 MHz Front Side Bus (603-pin) will fit into the 533 MHz FC-mPGA2 package (604-pin) and will functional normally, i.e., it will drop the board frequency down to 400MHz. The Intel Xeon Processor with a 533 MHz Front Side Bus (604-pin) will NOT fit into the 400 MHz Front Side Bus (603-pin) socket and will damage the processor. Attempting to fit the Intel Xeon Processor with a 533 MHz Front Side Bus (604-pin) into the 400 MHz Front Side Bus (603-pin) package may void the warranty.

400 MHz Front Side Bus processors and 533 MHz Front Side Bus processors have different package types that result in different heights. This change requires a separate clip. See Figures 1A and 1B. The correct clip will be shipped with the processor.
400MHz 533MHz
Figure 1A: 400 MHz FSB Processor Clip Figure 1B: 533 MHz FSB Processor Clip

Identifying a boxed processor
Boxed processor test specifications (or S-Specs) marked on the underside of the Intel Xeon Processor identify specific information about the processor. Using the Product Specifications and Comparisons tool and the information marked on the processor, a system integrator can verify the appropriate speed rating, stepping, lot number, serial number and other important information about the processor. The numbers marked on the processor should match the numbers on the processor box label.

Once the boxed processor is installed into a system, the markings on the processor are not visible, and the processor will need to be removed in order to see the markings. In order to avoid this step, there is a sticker provided with the Boxed processor that can be removed and placed inside the chassis. If the processors are upgraded, the markings you've attached to the chassis should be replaced, removed or obviously marked as obsolete to avoid confusion.

Platform requirements
System integrators building systems based on the boxed Intel Xeon Processor should use chassis, power supplies, and system boards that are specifically designed for the Intel Xeon Processor.

Selecting a system board
Workstation boards using the Intel® 860 Chipset and Server boards using the Intel® E7500 chipset support the Intel NetBurst micro-architecture 400-MHz system bus. Boards using the Intel® E7501 chipset and the Intel® E7505 chipset support the Intel NetBurst micro-architecture 533-MHz system bus. It is important to verify that the specific system board model and revision support the specific Intel Xeon Processor frequency being used. A BIOS upgrade may be required in order to properly recognize and support the latest stepping of the Intel Xeon Processor. System boards must meet the electrical and mechanical specifications of the Intel Xeon Processor as documented in the datasheet. Intel tests system boards for basic compatibility and documents passing boards on a reference list for the Boxed Intel Xeon Processor. There is a source list available that lists that vendors shipping boards to support the Intel Xeon processor. There is also a tested platform list that contains board and chassis combinations that have been submitted to Intel and passed thermal testing.

Workstation boards based on the Intel 860 Chipset follow the ATX form-factor specification and utilize power supplies that follow the Intel Xeon processor workstation power supply or the EPS12V power supply design guide. Boards based on the Intel® E7500 chipset, Intel® E7501 chipset, and Intel® E7505 chipset only use the EPS12V power supplies. In addition, boards that support the boxed Intel Xeon Processor directly attach through the processor retention mechanisms (supplied with the boxed processor) to the chassis back plate (see Selecting a Chassis). Four holes located around the processor socket allow four screws (supplied with the boxed processor) to attach the retention mechanisms to four removable chassis standoffs (supplied with the chassis).

Most boards built for the Intel Xeon processor will contain two sockets for processors. Therefore, a chassis should contain a minimum of eight removable standoffs to be used with the Intel Xeon processor. Workstation and Server mounting hole locations are different, so make sure to select the proper chassis for the board you are using. System integrators should follow system board installation documentation when integrating a system board into a chassis. General installation procedures (below) may be useful to review prior to building an Intel Xeon processor-based system.

Heatsink support
The boxed processor includes an unattached heatsink specifically designed to provide sufficient cooling to the Intel Xeon Processor when used in a suitable chassis environment. The boxed processor also contains the PWT, which includes a fan. The fan power cable must be connected to the system board power header as shown in the processor installation notes (included in the boxed processor package).

The system board 3-pin header uses two pins, one each to supply +12V (power) and GND (ground). The fan uses the third pin to transmit fan-speed information to system boards that support fan-speed detection. The system board must have a 3-pin fan power header located close to the socket. Refer to your system board manual for the location of the power header.

Fan cable adapter
If you received a fan adapter cable with your Boxed Intel® Xeon® processor, follow the instructions on the flyer included with your boxed processor. Boxed Intel® Xeon® processors shipped after August 2004 no longer require this cable.

If you have the fan power adapter cable: The fan plugs into the adapter's 3-pin male connector and the 3-pin female connector on the adapter plugs into the 3-pin header on the system board and is used to transmit fan-speed information to system boards that support fan-speed detection. The system board must have a 3-pin fan power header located close to the socket. Refer to your system board manual for the location of the power header.

Selecting a chassis
Systems based on the Intel Xeon Processor must use chassis that comply with the SSI specification (revision 3.0 or later) and have the Intel Xeon Processor specific mounting support. This mounting support includes eight additional holes located in the base plate of the chassis, and eight removable standoffs.  
Note See SSI specification and additional information.
The chassis must also support a lower internal ambient temperature than many standard ATX desktop chassis. The internal temperature should be maintained at less than 10° Celsius higher than the air temperature outside of the chassis. Most chassis designed for the Intel Xeon Processor use extra internal chassis fans to improve airflow. Intel tests chassis with the boxed Intel Xeon Processor and enabled system boards from third-party manufacturers for minimum thermal requirements. These chassis meet Intel's processor specifications with the boards on the Workstation Board Reference List. The Server list will contain both boards and chassis since the boards will be tested in specific chassis only, not every chassis available.

It is strongly recommended that system integrators perform thermal testing on the chassis selected for each configuration of Intel Xeon processor-based systems, even when using a chassis on the Tested Chassis List.

Warning: Failure to use a chassis that provides adequate cooling may void the processor warranty.
  • Items Supplied with Chassis Intended for Intel Xeon Processor-Based Systems
    • Eight Additional Holes in the Chassis Base Plate
    • Eight Additional Removable Standoffs
    • One Intel Xeon Processor Workstation Power Supply or EPS12V Power Supply
    • Additional Thermal Management (Example: System Fan)
Chassis that ship with installed power supplies must support the Intel Xeon Processor Workstation power supply or EPS12V power supply design guidelines (see Selecting a Power Supply).

Selecting a power supply
Power supplies must comply with the Intel Xeon processor power supply design guidelines and supply additional current on the 12V power rail through a new 2x4 connector. All Intel Xeon processor-based systems require the 2x10, 20-pin ATX power connector as well as the new 2x4, 8-pin 12V connector. Consult the system board documentation to determine power supply requirements. Intel tests power supplies to determine a minimum level of electrical compliance to the Intel Xeon processor power supply design guidelines. Refer to the Tested Power Supply List for more information.

Integrating an Intel Xeon Processor-based system
System boards supporting the boxed Intel Xeon Processor include a manual with installation instructions. Consult this manual in addition to the boxed processor manual before building an Intel Xeon processor-based system. In addition, the following information can aid system integrators in successfully integrating a boxed Intel Xeon processor-based system.

System board installation
To begin system installation it is critical to verify that eight removable standoffs, which will be used to attach the system board and retention mechanisms, are installed in the chassis base plate.
Figure 2: Chassis Before Standoff Installation Figure 3: Chassis After Standoff Installation
Figure 2: Chassis Before Standoff Installation Figure 3: Chassis After Standoff Installation
After completing all other chassis preparation, install the system board into the chassis. Install two retention mechanisms per processor (provided in the boxed processor) to the system board and chassis using the long screws (provided in the boxed processor).

Figure 4: Installing the Two Retention Mechanisms
Figure 4: Installing the Retention Mechanisms

With the new PWT, the RM needs to be installed in much the same way as the old ones. There are 4 screw holes in the RM which must be aligned to the same holes in the board and chassis as the 2-piece RM's.

Figure 5: Installing the New Retention Mechanism
Figure 5: Installing the Legacy Retention Mechanism

Processor installation
Open the processor socket handle (see Figure 6) and align the processor using the pin one markings on the processor and socket for reference. The processor pin one marking on the interposer of the OOI package should be aligned with pin one mark on the socket. Markings on the integrated heat spreader should not be used for installation alignment. Insert the processor into the socket and close the socket handle.

Critical step: Use the thermal interface material applicator provided in the boxed processor box to apply all of the thermal interface material to the center of the processor's integrated heat spreader (see Figure 7). Center the heatsink over the socket and retention mechanism assembly and allow the heatsink base to compress the thermal interface material over the surface of the processor's integrated heat spreader. Next, install the two clips onto the heatsink and retention mechanisms. To do this, first attach the center tab on the retention mechanism and heatsink. Second, while holding one side of the clip down over the retention mechanism interface tab, push the other side of the clip down over the symmetric retention mechanism tab.

It may be necessary to use a flat head screwdriver to complete the clip installation (see Figure 8). This step is performed the same way for either set of retention mechanisms. Once both clips are installed, verify that the heatsink is securely retained and that the clips are properly engaged with the retention mechanisms.

Figure 6: Open Socket Handle Figure 7: Apply Thermal Interface Material Figure 8: InstallHeatsink and Both Clips
Figure 6: Open Socket Handle Figure 7: Apply Thermal Interface Material Figure 8: Install Heatsink and Both Clips

Processor wind tunnel installation
Once the processor and heat sink have been installed, it is possible to install the Processor Wind Tunnel (PWT). The PWT is an optional active fan duct which will provide proper airflow for the Intel Xeon processor. If the chassis already provides adequate airflow, then this piece is unnecessary. However, if you are unsure, it is safer to install the PWT.

See the bottom of this section for instruction on installing the new PWT housing and fan. Read through this entire section to understand the differences between workstation and server board installation steps.

First attach the main housing to the retention mechanisms installed around the processor socket. This is most easily done by slightly flexing the housing outward so it can be lowered over the heatsink and around the tabs on the retention mechanism. There are slots on the bottom of the housing that should align with the tabs on the retention mechanism for a firm attachment.

The next step is to install the fans. With workstation boards, because of board layout and the wide fan housing, the two processors require different PWT configurations. Consequently, on the primary processor (the one closest to the front of the chassis), the fan needs to be installed toward the front. On the secondary processor, the fan needs to be installed toward the rear. Air flows out of the fan in the direction of the label on the fan's hub.

Important: Airflow must be maintained in a uniform direction: from the front of the chassis to the rear. Therefore, the fan for the primary processor must be installed with the airflow toward the heatsink, and the fan for the secondary processor needs to be installed with the airflow away from the heatsink. In this way, both fans will be pushing air from the front of the chassis towards the back.

This is much easier with server boards. Both fans should be mounted toward the front of the chassis, with the airflow being directed across the heatsink toward the back of the chassis. To actually insert the fan into the fan housing, flex the bracket on the housing outward to allow room for the fan to be inserted. It should snap in place onto the posts and the brackets should hold the fan securely in place. Now the fan housing can be attached to the main housing. To do this, press on the tabs on the fan housing flex them inward. Now insert them into openings on the proper side of the main housing. You should now be able to slide the fan housing down and it should click into place.

The next step is to install the end retainer. This is attached in the same way the fan housing is, but on the opposite side.

New PWT installation
With the new PWT, the fan can be mounted on the side or on the top of the main housing. Either orientation is acceptable as long as it fits, but your chassis or board may dictate how this must be done. The new style allows the fans to be mounted prior to attaching the main housing to the RM. This is the recommended method since chassis interference may make mounting the fan afterward more difficult. In Figure 9 below, the side-mount attach point is to the right. It cannot be mounted on the left side. The installation step is the same as the old style. Fan direction will depend on the board this is being installed into, but must always go from the front of the chassis to the back.

Figure 9: The New PWT Housing
Figure 9: The New PWT Housing

Notice the top of the housing is removable. This must be removed for the fan to be mounted on the top. It is only attached at two points, so it can easily be removed by rotating it until the piece snaps off. Proper airflow will still be achieved even in the side-mount orientation if this piece is removed.

Figure 10: Removing the Top
Figure 10: Removing the Top

To mount the fan on top, no extra connector is required. Simply push the fan onto the bracket and it will snap into place. The fan airflow must be pointing downward for proper cooling. Mount the fan so that the sticker is pointing downward.

Now that the fan has been mounted, it is time to attach the housing to the RM. There are ridges on the sides of the housing that will slide into the grooves on the inside of the RM arches. The RM arches tilt inward to hold the housing in place. The easiest way to attach the housing is to align one side, push outward, and then align the other side. Once both sides of the housing are inside the RM arches, the housing can be pushed down toward the board. It should snap into place easily. Make sure that the housing is sliding on the outside of the heatsink. Once this has snapped into place, it should be snug and not move. To remove, bend the arches outward, and pull up on the housing.

Figure 11: Aligning the Housing

Figure 11: Aligning the Housing

Critical final step: Plug the fan cables into the appropriate CPU fan power headers. Consult your board documentation for the location of these headers.

Figure 12: Connect Fan Power

Figure 12: Connect Fan Power

The fan included with 3 GHz processors and above requires 1.5 A of current. Some boards may not be able to provide this current. An adapter cable has been provided with this boxed processor that can be used to draw power directly from the power supply. Refer to Figure 13 and use the following installation procedure.
  1. Attach connector A from the power supply to connector B on the adapter cable.
  2. Now attach connector C from the adapter cable to the fan cable connector.
  3. Attach connector D to the CPU fan header on the server board so that the board can monitor the fan operation.
  4. Connector E is a pass-through in case it is needed to power other peripheral devices. It does not have to be connected. Make sure to use it with devices that are in close proximity to the processor, so that the cables will reach.
Figure 13

System memory installation
Consult the system board manual for information about system memory installation. The correct placement for the system memory may vary by system board manufacture. Be sure that the memory is completely seated in the memory connectors.

Maintaining and upgrading an Intel Xeon Processor-based system
Processor removal
Every time the heatsink is removed from the processor, it is critical that more thermal interface material be applied to the processor's integrated heat spreader in order to ensure proper thermal transfer to the boxed processor fan heatsink.
Note Heatsink attach clips apply force to the heatsink base to maintain desired pressure on the thermal interface material between the package and the heatsink, and help to hold the heatsink in place under dynamic loading. The clips may be susceptible to deformation during any rework or upgrade procedure where the heatsink assembly is disassembled. Intel's clip design was validated with unused clips that were not subjected to an assembly-disassembly cycle. New clips should be used for every installation.
To order new accessories for your Intel Xeon processor, visit Spares Support  
If you find that considerable force is required to remove the boxed processor assembly, consider wearing gloves to protect your hands and take care to keep your hands away from any metal edges on the chassis when removing components.

To remove the boxed processor from the system, first make the processor area accessible and unplug the processor fan heatsink power cable from the system board connector. Remove the PWT using the reverse steps from above. Remove the two clips from the retention mechanisms. This may require the use of a flat head screwdriver to pry the clip away from the retention mechanism. (Be careful not to damage the motherboard, when using the screwdriver.) Remove the heatsink from the processor and retention mechanisms. Slightly twisting the heatsink back and forth in the retention mechanisms and heating the sink may make the heatsink easier to remove by lessening the surface tension force of thermal interface material between the processor and heatsink. Once the heatsink is removed, lift the processor socket handle to release the processor pins from the socket and carefully lift the processor out of the socket (being careful not to bend any of the processor pins).

System memory upgrades
When upgrading system memory, it is preferable to match the memory speed and type of the memory installed in the system. For example, a system with PC800 RDRAM should be complimented with more PC800 RDRAM. Although certain combinations may be supported by the chipset (i.e. different memory speeds that default to the lower speed of the two installed), it is critical to verify system board support for any memory combination used (speed, type, size).

Software and operating system considerations
The Intel Xeon Processor is a completely different micro-architecture from Intel's prior microprocessors that were based on the P6 micro-architecture. The Intel NetBurst micro-architecture supports the entire IA32 instruction set including Intel's MMX™ technology and the Streaming SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) Extension. It also includes 144 more instructions called the Streaming SIMD Extensions 2 or SSE2. The SSE2 instructions compliment MMX technology and SSE instructions by supplying increased computation capability, support for larger data types (e.g. double-precision floating point numbers and 64-bit packed integer numbers), and several data handling and conversion instructions. In addition, the Intel NetBurst micro-architecture enhances the P6 micro-architecture's floating-point unit. For more information on how to optimize your Intel Xeon processor-based platform, refer to the Intel® Pentium® 4 and Xeon® Processor Optimization Reference Manual

Operating system support
Nearly all modern operating systems designed for the Intel Architecture have support for the Intel Xeon Processor, although some may require specific versions or processor support files. Many Microsoft* operating systems like Windows* 98 SE, Windows NT* 4 with Service Pack 5, Windows* 2000, and Windows* ME, support the Intel Xeon Processor. Linux* distributions based on the Linux* 2.4 core support the processor. Also, many other vendors have support for the Intel Xeon Processor in their operating systems. System integrators should verify that the operating system they have selected supports the Intel Xeon Processor.

All operating systems that support the SSE instructions that were first introduced with the Intel® Pentium III processor will also support the SSE2 instructions introduced with the Pentium 4 Processor and Intel Xeon processor. To experience the power of the SSE2 instructions, it is critical that system integrators install drivers and software that has been optimized for the Intel Xeon Processor's SSE2 instructions. For example, for maximum system performance, system integrators using Microsoft operating systems that support DirectX* should load DirectX 8 or higher.

Software optimization
With specific drivers that use the SSE2 instructions, graphics accelerators, audio hardware and software, and other system resources can experience substantial performance gain. It is critical that the system also uses APIs that use SSE2 instructions to achieve maximum performance. Two examples are Microsoft's DirectX 8 and higher and Open GL 1.2 and higher. Most major graphics accelerator vendors have optimized drivers that use the SSE2 instructions. Graphics card vendors typically highlight support changes with new driver releases. Download and install the latest drivers (dated later than October 2000) from the vendor's web site. Also, verify that the driver version contains optimization for the Pentium 4 Processor or Intel Xeon Processor.

Many applications also use the SSE2 instructions to experience the breakthrough performance of the Intel Xeon Processor. System integrators should contact software vendors to verify support and determine version information.

System performance is greatly affected by proper operating system and driver installation processes. For example, it is important to install the latest Intel® Chipset Software Installation Utility immediately after installing most Microsoft operating systems to ensure proper drivers for the chipset are installed prior to installation of other drivers. System integrators should confirm boxed Intel Xeon processor-based systems are optimally configured and integrated.

Boxed Intel Xeon processor-based systems require proper integration. System integrators that follow the guidelines in this document will experience higher customer satisfaction by providing higher quality systems. This document has explained the new requirements for:

  • Mechanical support through the chassis
  • Electrical support from the Intel Xeon processor workstation or EPS12V compliant power supply
  • Thermal dissipation from the heatsink and system fans and/or the Processor Wind Tunnel
  • Software support and optimization