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I'm buying a barebones server. The motherboard has slots for two processors; do I have to use them both, or like RAM, can I add another CPU when I need it? I don't want to spend $500 on another CPU if I don't have to.

Here is the board: TYAN B7002G20V4H and here is the Xeon E5620 CPU

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This depends on the exact motherboard and chipset, but generally for modern hardware that's similar to desktop architectures (e.g. Gulftown Xeons, which I'd guess you're looking at given the tags on the question and price point you mention) the answer is 'no, you don't have to'.

(If you could be more specific about the hardware you're looking at, this could be a firm answer.)

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Answer updated to reflect hardwre being used –  Calvin Froedge Jul 19 '11 at 19:38
    
@Calvin - Basically what I had in mind. I would recommend reading the manufacturer's documentation to be sure but there's no reason it shouldn't be single-processor capable, since that's standard for that sort of hardware. I just did a quick scan of the manual for that unit myself and it gives recommendations on how to channel memory with only one processor installed, so it should presumably work fine. –  Shinrai Jul 19 '11 at 19:45
    
Thanks for the feedback and help = ) –  Calvin Froedge Jul 19 '11 at 19:50
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@Calvin: One thing to keep in mind is that many multi-socket systems either strongly recommend or require that both CPUs be as identical as possible (not just same speed/cache/etc., but also same stepping and S-Spec). Buying CPUs one at a time makes it much more difficult to ensure that. I'm not sure if this is the case with the latest CPUs, but it's something you need to consider. –  afrazier Jul 19 '11 at 20:11
    
What @afrazier said. As a rule of thumb, don't mix CPUs. –  Shinrai Jul 19 '11 at 21:36

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