Just a few days ago I put the finishing touches on the homegrown Ultra40 project. In response to many folks who mentioned that while the Ultra40 was quite an impressive workstation, you could build one for far less. So I did.
I chose solid server-class parts, since that's really what this system required, with the obvious exception of the video card. Antec's Titan550 case seemed the best bet to fit the large Tyan Thunder K8WE mainboard, and included the TruePower2 550W power supply. Two dual-core AMD Opteron 285s fit the bill, along with two Zalman CNPS9500LED CPU coolers. Disk was handled by a pair of Western Digital 250GB SATA drives and a Sony 16x DVD-RW drive. Following this I threw in two gigs of DDR400 registered ECC RAM and a SoundBlaster Audigy2 Platinum Pro soundcard to provide the 5.1 and SPDI/F support. Completing the picture was a brand-spanking new nVidia Quadro 3500 PCI-X video card. Mix well with a fresh installation of Fedora Core 5 and serve.
I've been running this system for a few days and it's been perfectly stable and incredibly responsive. The nVidia Quadro 3500 is the newest in the Quadro line, and simply blew me away. It's driving two 21" Sun GDM-5410 CRTs at 1920x1440, and pushes glxgears at 1,200fps at 1920x1440x75. At 640x480, it's well over 6,000fps. Using the nVidia Linux x86_64 driver version 1.0-8756, I ran into a little bit of trouble, since they deprecated IgnoreEDID in favor of UseEDID, causing the card to step down to the max resolution claimed by the monitors, which is 1600x1200. That just wouldn't do. Setting
Option "UseEDID" "false" cleaned that up nicely. The only other problem here was the cursor animation flicker that's a known bug in the nVidia Linux driver. Setting
Option "SWCursor" "true" helped a bit, but that's not a great solution. Hopefully this will be fixed in a later rev of the driver.