When One Processor Is Not Enough

If your workstation needs a little more Intel processing power than a single processor machine can provide, then the P133 Doubleshot from Diamond Flower (DFI) may be what you're looking for. The Doubleshot takes advantage of Windows NT Workstation's symmetrical multiprocessing (SMP) capabilities to provide extra power with only a marginal increase in price. Although many mainstream programs have not been written to take full advantage of SMP, more and more software is being rewritten with SMP support including, for example, Adobe's new 32-bit Photoshop.

The test Doubleshot machine came equipped with two 133-MHz Pentium processors, a 256KB pipeline burst cache, 32MB of RAM, a 1.6GB IDE hard disk, a 4X IDE CD-ROM, a 2MB PCI video card, a 3 1/2" floppy drive, a PS/2 keyboard and mouse, and NT Workstation. All this is housed in a 10-bay (front access: six half-height 51Ž4", one 31/2"; internal: three 31/2") full-tower case with a 250-watt power supply. The system board supports up to 512MB of RAM and 1MB of cache, and includes two PCI Enhanced IDE connectors, a floppy controller, two 16C550 high-speed serial ports, one parallel port, and PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports on the board. There are three dedicated PCI slots, three dedicated ISA slots, and one shared PCI/ISA slot.

The Doubleshot uses a 160-pin cache module instead of the typical on-board cache. This provides the flexibility to easily upgrade your cache from 256KB to either 512KB or 1MB. Because there is only one socket for cache on the board, however, your two processors must share a common cache pool (currently only 256KB). DFI says that shared cache isn't a problem for systems with only two processors and that the company will soon upgrade its standard cache to 512KB.

To bring your display to life, DFI includes its own PCI accelerator board with 2MB of DRAM. This board incorporates the S3 Trio64 chip set and can support resolutions up to 1280 x 1024 with 256 colors. If you need more than 256 colors, 16.7 million colors are available at resolutions up to 800 x 600. This board proved to be more than adequate when running the Photoshop tests. NT drivers for this board are included.

One area where the Doubleshot came up short is in its lack of SCSI support. In a system designed to be a high-end workstation, a role it seems very capable of filling, I would expect to find an on-board SCSI controller instead of two EIDE controllers. What I'd really like to see in the higher-end systems is both PCI SCSI and EIDE controllers built into the system boards, much like the Hewlett-Packard Vectra XU 6/150 (see the review in the January Windows NT Magazine). With three available PCI slots, the Doubleshot leaves room for you to attach your own SCSI card, but the additional expense must come from your own pocket.

At a retail price of $5856, the DFI is not the cheapest dual processor available, but it functions well and comes with numerous standard features, including a one-year on-site warranty. DFI has promised that dual 150-MHz Pentium systems including a standard 512KB cache will be available by press time. DFI doesn't sell systems directly, but the customer service department can give you contact information for the dealer closest to you.

All in all, the DFI Doubleshot is a solid, reliable system that performs very well. If you've outgrown your single Pentium 133, it's definitely worth a look.

See the sidebar "Buy the Numbers".

DFI Doubleshot
Contact: Diamond Flower * 800-808-4334
Price: $5856 (one-year on-site warranty, without display)