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Build suggestion for number crunching computer

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September 13, 2006 5:07:38 PM

Hi,

I’m making a build for a scientist friend that mostly will use the computer for numerical optimization and simulations in matlab (that is CPU intensive stuff). It should however also be possible to relax with a good game now and again and to run Windows Vista. Also it is important that the computer is not too noisy. Have about 1200€ (excluding monitor) to spend; the parts have to be bought in Finland which is about equivalent to spending 1200$ with US prices.

I have never built an Intel system before - but it seems the right thing to do now - so comments on the build are very welcome. I was thinking something like

CPU: Intel Core 2 duo E6600 (need the processor power) 340€
Graphics: Asus EN7600GS SILENT/HTD/256M PCI-E 150€
Motherboard: Suggestions please
Memory: Corsair Twin2X 2x1GB DDR2 300€
Hard drive: Hitachi Deskstar T7K250 160GB 70€
PSU: Antec True Power II 480W 100€

I’m thinking if it would be a good idea to also buy a small fast hard drive for the page (swap) file, any suggestions?

More about : build suggestion number crunching computer

September 13, 2006 5:23:16 PM

me personally don't like hitachi drives, but they are fast, but i would prefer western digital or seagate, the swap file ideia it's very nice indeed if the program allows the relocation and if you have the money.
September 13, 2006 6:09:36 PM

What kind of simulations? Are they memory intensive? In any case I would strongly suggest running Windows without a swap file. At least in Windows XP. I used to have 2GB RAM and run XP without swap file, then upgraded to 4GB. If you know exactly how much memory your simulation needs, just make sure you have that amount of RAM.

I run some simulations on my computer (Athlon64 X2 4600, 4GB RAM). Mostly finite element and potential flow analysis for aircraft structural and aerodynamical calculations. I always "fit" the simulation in less than 3GB RAM. Some of the software is multithreaded and makes use of dual core CPUs. If your simulations use multiple cores, just make sure you get the motherboard that will be capable to get one of the quad core Intel CPUs if you want to upgrade in the future. Most of the new motherboards that support Core 2 Duo should support the quad, but I'll double check.

Then comes Vista. Pretty much 2GB ram is the minimum for a professional computer running Vista. You'll want to go 4GB RAM if you plan to run memory intensive simulations under Vista. The OS consumes too much resources.

Peace,
Lav
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September 13, 2006 8:44:32 PM

The simulations are in econometrics, that is different data generation processes for financial assets and sometimes you generate data under the statistical null hypothesis when there is no analytical solution for the finite sample distribution.

Right now for example we are simulating daily returns for 3000 stocks during about 100months which requires about 3000*22*100*# simulations runs random numbers. The fastest way to do this is to generate as many random numbers as the memory allows, do the computations, save the necessary statistics clear the old random numbers and generate new.

In short, more memory would allow us to write a faster program but the program can be written so that very little memory is needed.

Thanks for the advice on the quad core boards.
September 13, 2006 10:37:15 PM

Definitely more CPU hungry than memory hungry. E6600 should take care of that. That's probably what I would buy too if I were to build today. Matlab makes use of dual cores and probably quad cores in the future as well...About Intel Core 2 Duo motherboards...I'm not very familiar with these, I know more about AMDs. You should check some reviews, maybe somebody would give you a straight answer. From my limited knowledge there are two chipsets from Intel that are C2D compatible: 975 and 965. Actually 965 is newer and is "designed" for C2D, as opposed to 975 which was first made for P4s. But it seems that 975X overclocks better. I don't know if you plan to overclock...Maybe it's not that good of an ideea especially for simulations that run for hours and require the memory to be stable and not give you memory errors.

I would suggest going to Newegg.com and see the P965 and P975 chipset motherboards and pick one that has lots of reviews with an overall of 4-5 stars that also has a good price and the features you need. Should be around $150 for a good non-sli motherboard. Double-check with the manufacturer it will accept quad cores. You may probably want to buy the motherboard from Europe though. The memory prices are so expensive in Europe...It's true the prices went up in the last month, but still the memory prices in Europe are insane.

Peace,
Lav
September 14, 2006 8:33:19 AM

Quote:
Definitely more CPU hungry than memory hungry. E6600 should take care of that. That's probably what I would buy too if I were to build today. Matlab makes use of dual cores and probably quad cores in the future as well...About Intel Core 2 Duo motherboards...I'm not very familiar with these, I know more about AMDs. You should check some reviews, maybe somebody would give you a straight answer. From my limited knowledge there are two chipsets from Intel that are C2D compatible: 975 and 965. Actually 965 is newer and is "designed" for C2D, as opposed to 975 which was first made for P4s. But it seems that 975X overclocks better. I don't know if you plan to overclock...Maybe it's not that good of an ideea especially for simulations that run for hours and require the memory to be stable and not give you memory errors.

I would suggest going to Newegg.com and see the P965 and P975 chipset motherboards and pick one that has lots of reviews with an overall of 4-5 stars that also has a good price and the features you need. Should be around $150 for a good non-sli motherboard. Double-check with the manufacturer it will accept quad cores. You may probably want to buy the motherboard from Europe though. The memory prices are so expensive in Europe...It's true the prices went up in the last month, but still the memory prices in Europe are insane.

Peace,
Lav


Thanks for the suggestions. I think I have everything nailed down by now. Think I have to buy from Europe even though memory prices are high. Newegg e.g. do not deliver internationally and also you have to add 25% VAT when you order from USA to Finland plus possibly some additonal customs tariff.
September 14, 2006 9:30:44 AM

If I am not mistaken, there are some mobos with intel 945 chipset that can rune C2D but I wouldn't go there even if it saves you 50.00 $. Might as well get the latest technology when building a new rig.
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