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Server box setup: 16GB RAM!

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February 17, 2007 2:03:14 PM

A friend of mine is considering the following server:

2x Intel Xeon 5335 (2.0Ghz, 1.33Ghz FSB)
Intel Server Board S5000PSLSATA
8x 2GB Corsair DDR2-667 FB-DIMM
4x Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB SATA HD
Highpoint RocketRaid 2320 4x PCI-e (8-port SATA RAID controller)
Enermax Galaxy 850W PSU
SilverStone Tenjim TJ07 (Black)

What do you guys think?

Also, has anyone here ever built such a machine? We need some tips regarding OS's. I think we might need to get SuSE Linux Enterprise or RedHat Enterprise for this... Has anyone tried doing something this size? Any comments will be appreciated! Thanks. :) 
February 17, 2007 3:43:22 PM

I think if your friend gave it an 8800GTX, I'd be bidding.
Only 7-9 copies of Oblivion at once with that amount of ram though. I always like running about 13 copies at once. However, your friend may be struggling with hard drive space... as 1.3TB never seems to be enough 8O

...*cough*
February 17, 2007 4:11:01 PM

If this is for home use, or some use that is not primarily as a server (but I recognize you could do mixed use, of course), and even if it is..... I'd want a OS that would have a great, intelligent swap process, so that oftentimes it would not be swaping at all (not using a disk much --Window's XP is an example of the worst case: every few seconds). I don't know about these operating systems, but I'd read about their swap behavior as one main factor for choosing.
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February 17, 2007 5:55:34 PM

I know what you mean... but actually, this is for a number crunching machine that will also have relatively heavy disk I/O. The RAID depends on budget availability, but the core of the system - mobo, CPUs and memory - are already set: they're those alright. 8)

Mind you, this is not for a home desktop computer...
February 17, 2007 9:47:06 PM

You're right. With 16GB, the system really shouldn't swap at all. Data can all be kept in system memory.

But actually, I'm kind of worried that a typical Linux distro won't recognize the hardware and/or won't install an appropriate multithreaded kernel for this machine. Will all 8 CPUs be recognized with, say, a typical Ubuntu or SuSE 10.2 Install??? That's the big question here...
February 17, 2007 10:17:22 PM

You might want to try out the 2cpu.com forums. They have a sizable community of SMP users and should have answer and advice available for you.
February 17, 2007 10:40:35 PM

Silly question what type of number crunching?

Are we talking database queries or scientific calculation.

Depending on what type of number crunching there may be better alternatives.

On that sort of hardware you may find a more mainstream operating systems gives you better performance. (2003 Server + Oracle or SQL will enjoy that sort of config as long as the I/O is up to the job).

What you plugging it into? A local SAN, a external array? big server + bad I/O normally = bad server unless your doing something that doesn't require much I/O.
February 17, 2007 11:00:13 PM

Quote:
I think if your friend gave it an 8800GTX, I'd be bidding.
Only 7-9 copies of Oblivion at once with that amount of ram though. I always like running about 13 copies at once. However, your friend may be struggling with hard drive space... as 1.3TB never seems to be enough 8O

...*cough*


Just 13? I don't play unless I can run 20.
February 18, 2007 2:34:17 AM

Taco???
FB-DIMMS are ECC.

Watercooling and overclocking a SERVER? I hope you are kidding. Thats a disaster waiting to happen.
February 18, 2007 3:02:33 AM

Quote:
I think that you need ecc ram to start off with, but anyways, it's a pretty nice build, but 400gig drives are about the same price of 320gig drives now, so you may want to get some of those for the same price, and I have no experience with linux, but what I suggest doing is getting the 1.6ghz clovertown, water cooling it and overclocking it, then I suggest getting more ram in case he is doing some serious number crunching (otherwise I think 4gigs is more than enough)
:lol: 
February 18, 2007 9:29:18 AM

Quote:
I think that you need ecc ram to start off with, but anyways, it's a pretty nice build, but 400gig drives are about the same price of 320gig drives now, so you may want to get some of those for the same price, and I have no experience with linux, but what I suggest doing is getting the 1.6ghz clovertown, water cooling it and overclocking it, then I suggest getting more ram in case he is doing some serious number crunching (otherwise I think 4gigs is more than enough)


Overclocking freaks, doesn't matter what people say the config is and what it is intended to be used, some guy ALWAYS come up with "you shud over clocking it" - "you should get a watercooling and over clock it" Do they do anything else for the day rather than overclock something? bad advice. :lol: 
February 18, 2007 12:48:04 PM

Quote:
It's only going to save you some money though, the 1333fsb xeons are over 1k a piece, while the 1.6ghz xeons are only $3xx a piece, gee, I wonder where you can save save some money here. If you don't think it's a good idea, than you say so, no need to get into name calling


I think if he has the cash to dash out on 16GB of RAM, why would you recommend overclock a lower end piece??
February 18, 2007 2:55:02 PM

Quote:
Watercooling and overclocking a SERVER? I hope you are kidding. Thats a disaster waiting to happen.


Ditto.



Sounds to me like what you're trying to do is overkill. Most importantly, WHAT are you going to be running on this thing? Does it run on both Linux and Windows? If it's I/O heavy, why are you using SATA? That seems bass-ackwards to me.

What is the application currently running on? What are the current benchmarks/diagnostics telling you that you need?
February 18, 2007 11:27:35 PM

It's custom number crunching. It's state of the art scientific calculation, and massively parallel at that: that's why my friend is shooting for 8CPUs and 2GB of memory per CPU. He'll probably use only custom code with Intel's C++ and Fortran compilers, plus the occasional packages. The 16GB of memory will (hopefully) enable his programs to simulate systems of previously unthinkable complexity and size.

Plus, the many users this computer will have also explains this apparent "overkill".

Anyway, this computer isn't actually a "network server": it will not require high bandwidth with the outside world, and it will probably only use GigE connectivity.

Also: OCing is not really an option. If this were a desktop, maybe, but even then, this is a scientific production environment and we don't want any unnecessary risks. It's just not the right place to consider OCing.

About the SATA RAID: well... actually, I wasn't at all sure about this. It's not included in our original idea, I just posted so I could get some input on this new idea. But honestly though, SATA RAID is still a lot cheaper than SCSI, and while there is some need for I/O bandwidth, there's no real need for quick response times or a lot of concurrent accesses...

We have some preliminary benchmarks of some typical code this computer will be running, but they're a bit vague and because these are scientific calculations, the benchmarks and applications themselves change pretty often. We only know that disk and memory bandwidth are important, as is amount of processors: the applications are statistical in nature.
February 19, 2007 4:00:55 AM

If it's massively parallel, and you're looking for raw number-crunching, perhaps I can suggest buying an 8800 and investigating in CUDA. You're talking about 50 gigaflops per 2 XEON 5300's, versus > 1,000 gigaflops with 2 8800 GTX's. If you're talking parallel performance, you're talking about 256 individual units of calculation with the 8800s, versus 8 with a pair of XEONs.


On the note about SATA and such, I do agree that a nice SATA card with 128MB of cache or more will go farther than a SCSI array for you $$$$, as long as you're not doing a lot of random operations. Keep in mind, though, that SCSI drives are designed for a much higher workload than SATA, and will provide more throughput and reliability. Unilke IDE, though, SATA is a good contender for server IO. I'd recommend a prototype so that you can benchmark and know what you need before you buy the production server.
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