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Upgrading PXIe-8105

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I'm in the process of upgrading a PXIe-8105 controller since the cost of a new controller is very prohibitive (academic labs have limited funds). I have successfully increased the RAM to 4GB by purchasing compatible Crucial RAM, upgraded to Windows 7 (32 bit) and will be migrating the OS to a KingSpec 128GB PATA SSD once it arrives. I'm now researching the other options available for improving the performance of the controller. It appears the controller is based on an Intel i945GME (rev 03) chipset with a 82801GHM (ICH7-M DH) southbridge. Now, my understanding is as follows:

 

  • The 945GME chipset from Intel has a bug in addressing RAM that restricts the total usable memory to approx 3.2 or 3.3GB. Therefore, there is very little benefit to upgrading to a 64 bit version of Windows 7. Is this a correct assessment?
  • One could upgrade the CPU to a faster one. It's clear the chipset supports the Core Duo family, so one could theoretically upgrade the T2500 processor to a T2700 processor. However, one can usually drop in a Core 2 Duo mobile processor into the same socket on most motherboards. Dropping in a T7600 would give a fairly significant performance booste (e.g., up to 20% for single-threaded applications). Is there a reason I might not be able to replace the Core Duo processor with the Core 2 Duo processor? CPU upgrade has a list of compatible CPUs, but apparently it partially depends on whether the BIOS supports it or not. http://www.cpu-upgrade.com/mb-Intel_(chipsets)/945GM_Express.html#cs

Edit: Added link to cpu-upgrade website listing compatible CPUs.

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Hi bburan-ohsu,

 

NI does not support upgrading the processors or motherboards of our boards, so there is not any officially supported information about the process. I am not too familiar with the Intel bug, so I cannot advise about the 64 bit Windows 7 upgrade.

 

The manual of the PXIe-8105 outlines the process of upgrading RAM on page 2-15.

 

PXIe-8105

http://www.ni.com/pdf/manuals/371755c.pdf

 

Regards,

 

Finch Train

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Accepted by topic author bburan-ohsu

I was able to upgrade the CPU in the controller from a T2500 to a T7600 and got a very nice performance boost. I realize this isn't a supported upgrade, but the PXIe-8105 is so old that it's no longer sold by NI. At that point, does it really matter? However, if you are on a budget you can find this controller on EBay for less than $500. You can then toss in a SSD, 4GB of RAM and a T7600 CPU (approx $150 total) and get a very nice controller that compares well with newer ones at a fraction of the cost.

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Well, from a CPU perspective the T7600 is much slower than current options. 

 

In my experience putting a SSD into the controller makes the largest difference, even really old controllers are perfectly usable with enough RAM and a SSD.

 

Glad you got it working Smiley Happy

Craig H. | CLA CTA CLED | Applications Engineer | National Instruments
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Yes, the SSD made the biggest difference in this system (along with upgrading to Windows 7 which outperforms XP).

 

I don't disagree that current options have faster CPU, RAM and I/O. They certainly will outperform my system by a large margin. However, if one's needs are simple and they can get by with ten year old technology, the $4,000 in savings can be applied towards other things (i.e., more research). I'm posting this as a reference for anyone who's in a simliar boat. If you scan the forums, you'll see that there are others who want to upgrade their current controllers but can't afford the cost of a new one (even with academic discounts).

 

In general, I find that most of the advancements in computer technology in the past few years have primarily related to multitasking. As long as someone isn't trying to run multiple programs at the same time, the system should be up to par for most experiments.

 

EDIT: It's also important to note that the CPU is upgradeable in some PXIe controllers. So, even newer controllers may benefit from the idea of trying to upgrade the CPU.

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While it may be possible to upgrade the CPU you need to keep in mind a few things:

  • You're likely voiding the warranty by trying to change the CPU.
  • Be aware of the chips TDP, don't try and put in a chip with a higher TDP than the CPU that was in there, the heatsink is designed for a certain thermal load and increasing that could damage things.
  • Some controllers have lots of dissassembly needed to separate the two boards and actually get access to the CPU socket, this can be difficult and potentially damage the boards (some have delicate flex connectors between them).
  • We only test our BIOSes with the CPUs we ship with the controllers, there shouild be no expectation that they work with any other CPUs (even though it might work is besides the point).
  • Don't expect NI support to help you with this if something goes wrong! (a failed swap could easily turn into an RMA of the controller).

Changing the RAM or Hard Drive is usually a much simpler operation than the CPU (though it does vary by controller).

 

In your case it sounds like resourcefullness and luck in light of a limited budget carried the day Smiley Very Happy

Craig H. | CLA CTA CLED | Applications Engineer | National Instruments
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Agreed. I would never try this with a controller that's under warranty and one needs to know what they're doing (e.g., verify CPU wattage and know how to carefully disassemble a controller).

 

As for out-of-warranty items, I find that the cost of an out-of-warranty RMA is generally so high that it's cheaper to just buy a replacement on EBay. That assumes one can find it on EBay though.

 

Granted, this is from an academic perspective. We have to be resourceful to make our funding dollars (i.e., taxpayer money) stretch as far as possible. From an industry perspective, companies probably care more about ensuring that there are no hidden deficits and/or glitches that may come with used equipment and have the funds to pay for brand-new stuff with warranties.

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