After a few weeks of using this box, Corsair sent in 8GB of DDR400 ECC Registered RAM in 2GB DIMMs -- ah, the good stuff. When I dropped it in, I played a bit with BIOS settings to eliminate the 4GB memory hole. On the Tyan Thunder K8WE, the BIOS pulls nearly 1.3GB of RAM out of play to account for PCI device address space. Obviously this needed to be addressed. Flipping the memory hole remapping bit in the BIOS to "Hardware" allowed the 2.6.16 kernel to address all the RAM without issue. Using "Software" I found that the box became unstable.
While I was doing this I considered updating the BIOS on the mainboard. Since time immemorial, this process has required one or more floppies and a floppy drive. Since I didn't bother with a floppy drive in the workstation build, I had to find an old one -- and find a working 3.5" floppy disk, Win98 boot disk, etc, etc. What a pain. It's not terribly difficult to write an on-line BIOS flashing utility, or provide a bootable ISO image containing the appropriate BIOS update, or even a USB flash drive image. Why must I be digging around in the closet for 3.5" floppies to update the BIOS on an ultra-modern mainboard?
Of course, after going through several elderly floppy disks and finding sector and I/O errors in abundance, I punted and forewent the BIOS upgrade since it wasn't that pressing an issue. Sigh.