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Urgent Help from the CAD crowd (Building a Workstation).

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June 14, 2007 12:46:23 PM

Hello to all,

just registered to get some help on building up a workstation for the 3D design department of our company; you see, I'm the IT Tech guy that makes decisions on specs, what to get within our budget etc. I know this has been asked before and I have used the search thing, however I've fancied asking this myself and hopefully getting some answers first hand.

Right, first things first - we have a budget for 3 Workstations which is about 15,500 Euros (that's including 19% VAT), so that works out at about 4,300 Euros-ish (excluding VAT) per machine.

I'm told that our 3 engineers do heavy 3D work with massive files that have to be manipulated in real-time and so on and so forth - you know the drill. The software they're using is from Softimage and costed 11,000 Euros - streuth!!! If we've spend that much on software, then we better get some decent hardware - right?

Now, I've played around with the configurator tool in the Dell site (I do trust Dell, so now you know) and I'm certain only about mem at the moment. 4 gigs is what XP 32-bit sees, so I go for 4x1GB expandable to 16 gigs, just in case a 64-bit OS is to be used in the future. More on that later...

Now, as far as CPUs go - I'm facing the same dilemma others have in the forum as well. Do I go for a Xeon CPU or a Core 2 Duo, Quad whatever... Mind you, I may have trouble justifying the latter cause these are for the consumer market, so I don't know if they are in fact taken seriously for this kind of application. On the other hand, I did read things like the Xeon technology is now obsolete compared to C2D and also things like price/performance ratio considerations, heat & power consumption - so I'm not sure.

Second thing that puzzles me, is the graphics card. Again on the same agenda - if it's wise to get an 8800GTX or a Quadro FX card. I was thinking of the 4600 card, but it is very expensive.

Now, it's the crucial question. If say, I settle for the Xeon - do I get better performance in Softimage with a 5130 chip which runs at 2.0GHz & a Quadro FX 4600 or with a 5160 chip clocked at 3.0GHz & a Quadro FX 3500? That's a 100 dollar question there - only people with years of experience in 3D probably know which is the best setup.

As far as storage is concerned, I haven't decided yet. I'll probably get the recommened DELL setup with a SAS RAID system or maybe a 2 disk system (a SAS 15k drive of 36 gigs for the system & a 300 one with same specs for the data).

Not sure if the monitors supplied by DELL are sufficient for 3D work either; I always thought that Eizo monitors are the best (I think the CG211 one is great, but very expensive), so I have to think about that as well.

Last but not least, do you know if the Softimage app is compatible with x64 versions of Windows? If it is, are we going to get any boost in performance out of it - cause it's going to be hell for the rest of the apps any user may try to run for fun. Examples - InCD, QuickTime, defrag apps etc.

That's about it really; I have tried to make this as specific as possible and I'm pretty clear on what I want, I think. I'd really appreciate any feedback I can get and needless to say, I do trust the nice people in here to get the best advice possible.

Cheers
June 14, 2007 1:27:58 PM

I am not familar with the software package you are asking about.

Have you tried e-mailing the software company and asking their opinions about these questions? It's what I usually do. Usually I can get beyond the min/recommended configuration and get the information I was looking for.
June 14, 2007 1:37:38 PM

I've had quite a bit of experience with the CAD industry myself and i'd go with the better graphics and slightly slower cpu, but having said that 1.0GHz is quite a bit.
Related resources
June 14, 2007 2:14:33 PM

Interesting problem. There are pros and cons for either way you go, but to best determine additional information is really needed to answer your question. Is the software being optimized to utilize the additional cores and will it be able to use the rendering capabilities of the video cards. Some software needs pure speed to work best, some will use the additional cores, some both. Also some software does need the features of the pro graphics cards to work properly (read fast) check that out also.
Investigate this first.
I know a lot of people have shifted from the "work station" setups to the C2D quads and 88XX cards and are very happy, obtaining a substantial increase over what they had before. Others I know (me included) use the X1900 series of cards as some of the software I use will take advantage of the computational rendering capabilities of the card.
But as I said, you need to evaluate the software to see what works best.
June 14, 2007 3:31:04 PM

Look at the SOFTIMAGE|XSI Hardware Certification Program for supported hardware. Then analyze the specs of those machines and work forward from there.

Also check out SGI for serious graphics workstations.

And you may want to dump Windows in favor of native 64 bit LINUX.
June 14, 2007 3:37:16 PM

As the guy above me said, its really software dependent. Some software is designed with the intent of being able to utilize multiple cores or the extra power of a GPU. But my own personal response, bored at work, I went to the Softimage site, to see what kind of software you are dealing with, now i'm more of a Video editing guy myself, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the Avid is the parent company of Softimage. Instead of making a paragraph long post talking about what I read, I will post links and provide a few quotes about the software, assuming you have Softimage|XSI 6.x.

System Requirements: no official Vista Support
http://www.softimage.com/support/xsi/system_requirement...

Compatible Graphic Cards:
http://www.softimage.com/support/xsi/graphics_cards/def...
WinXP Pro Cards - http://www.softimage.com/support/xsi/graphics_cards/v5_...
WinXP x64bit Cards - http://www.softimage.com/support/xsi/graphics_cards/v5_...

Certified PreBuilt Workstations:
http://www.softimage.com/support/xsi/workstations/defau...

Hope this helps with peoples help, and gives a direction to look.
June 14, 2007 4:19:50 PM

Quote:
Also check out SGI for serious graphics workstations.

And you may want to dump Windows in favor of native 64 bit LINUX.


As for SGI, you may want to check that page again. There are no workstations listed except for remarketed systems. We've dumped all of our SGI equipment, as it is just too costly to maintain, especially since their conversion to Intel hardware. Same goes for Sun with AMD.

As for 64-bit Linux, that won't work:

Note: There is no support for running XSI on 64-bit Linux machines.
a b à CPUs
June 14, 2007 4:26:15 PM

ExtremeTech had a recent article on building a content creation workstation that you might find helpful:

http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,2145632,00.a...

While the machine they ended up building cost $12K, quite a bit more than yours, you still might find some of the discussion and benchmarks helpful. You might also want to consider if your budget is too low and not cost effective, depending of course on your work and how it is organized.
a c 110 à CPUs
June 14, 2007 5:09:21 PM

I can't help you with the 64-bit Softimage app but if you upgrade to it I would make sure the every other app on the 64-bit OS is compatible. Here are my other humble opinions . . . . :p 

Quadro has gone to crap since nVidia bought out Elsa. I think the best investment for an OpenGL card would be a FireGL V7200 for around $700US but with the money you have to spend a V7300 for around $1,100US must be given consideration.

Also - until you can purchase a 120MHz LCD with the native resolution at which your guys want to work, I'd stick with CRT's. As an example:

ViewSonic G225fB
155Hz @ 1024x768
118Hz @ 1280x1024
102Hz @ 1600x1200

If your company is TOO CHEAP to have someone professionally calibrate the displays, at a minimum purchase and use Displaymate.

2 21-inch CRT's & 1 FireGL V7300 per workstation is about 40% of your unit cost (yeah, I know . . . I picked the expensive one - LOL - but it's your money!) and at this point I would be less concerned about specific mobo/cpu combos than I would the remaining infrastructure. Dual gigaLAN for each workstation and gigaLAN switches on your network . . . SCSI/SAS controller cards as opposed to on-board controllers . . . . do your IT thing!

You basicly have around $3,500US left for each workstation. Twelve 300Gb SATA drives ($.25US/Gb) for your data RAID arrays has got you down to $3,100US left for each unit.

Now I would call Dell and tell them you are buying 3 HP xw9400 Workstation rigs with 2 AMD Opteron 2218's @ 2.6 GHz per rig for $2,900/each
June 14, 2007 5:36:37 PM

Quote:
Hello to all,

just registered to get some help on building up a workstation for the 3D design department of our company; you see, I'm the IT Tech guy that makes decisions on specs, what to get within our budget etc. I know this has been asked before and I have used the search thing, however I've fancied asking this myself and hopefully getting some answers first hand.

Right, first things first - we have a budget for 3 Workstations which is about 15,500 Euros (that's including 19% VAT), so that works out at about 4,300 Euros-ish (excluding VAT) per machine.

I'm told that our 3 engineers do heavy 3D work with massive files that have to be manipulated in real-time and so on and so forth - you know the drill. The software they're using is from Softimage and costed 11,000 Euros - streuth!!! If we've spend that much on software, then we better get some decent hardware - right?

Now, I've played around with the configurator tool in the Dell site (I do trust Dell, so now you know) and I'm certain only about mem at the moment. 4 gigs is what XP 32-bit sees, so I go for 4x1GB expandable to 16 gigs, just in case a 64-bit OS is to be used in the future. More on that later...

Now, as far as CPUs go - I'm facing the same dilemma others have in the forum as well. Do I go for a Xeon CPU or a Core 2 Duo, Quad whatever... Mind you, I may have trouble justifying the latter cause these are for the consumer market, so I don't know if they are in fact taken seriously for this kind of application. On the other hand, I did read things like the Xeon technology is now obsolete compared to C2D and also things like price/performance ratio considerations, heat & power consumption - so I'm not sure.

Second thing that puzzles me, is the graphics card. Again on the same agenda - if it's wise to get an 8800GTX or a Quadro FX card. I was thinking of the 4600 card, but it is very expensive.

Now, it's the crucial question. If say, I settle for the Xeon - do I get better performance in Softimage with a 5130 chip which runs at 2.0GHz & a Quadro FX 4600 or with a 5160 chip clocked at 3.0GHz & a Quadro FX 3500? That's a 100 dollar question there - only people with years of experience in 3D probably know which is the best setup.

As far as storage is concerned, I haven't decided yet. I'll probably get the recommened DELL setup with a SAS RAID system or maybe a 2 disk system (a SAS 15k drive of 36 gigs for the system & a 300 one with same specs for the data).

Not sure if the monitors supplied by DELL are sufficient for 3D work either; I always thought that Eizo monitors are the best (I think the CG211 one is great, but very expensive), so I have to think about that as well.

Last but not least, do you know if the Softimage app is compatible with x64 versions of Windows? If it is, are we going to get any boost in performance out of it - cause it's going to be hell for the rest of the apps any user may try to run for fun. Examples - InCD, QuickTime, defrag apps etc.

That's about it really; I have tried to make this as specific as possible and I'm pretty clear on what I want, I think. I'd really appreciate any feedback I can get and needless to say, I do trust the nice people in here to get the best advice possible.

Cheers


Well, first, SoftImage was bought by Microsoft and then by AVID and it supports as many procs as Windows and it also supports 64bit XP.

Truthfully, because of the additional bandwidth, tasks like these favor Opteron processors unless you get a Quad core. If I were you I'd try to wait until July or so when there should be more concrete info about Barcelona perf.

If it is as good as they say, it will be the choice of content creators. Again. (Opteron/Quadro was responsible for part of EpII, all of EpIII, War of the Worlds and Over the Hedge, which were AMAZING).
June 14, 2007 6:08:32 PM

I appreciate your time on this guys and I'm sure I'll get more.

Need time to digest your views WiseCracker, but it was an interesting detour on the usual sort of feedback anyone gets.

No way for the CRT thing there though; not a chance. I get the point, but nobody buys that nowadays.

Cheers
June 14, 2007 9:05:35 PM

Quote:
I'm told that our 3 engineers do heavy 3D work with massive files that have to be manipulated in real-time and so on and so forth - you know the drill. The software they're using is from Softimage and costed 11,000 Euros - streuth!!! If we've spend that much on software, then we better get some decent hardware - right?


...that's such a relief, so often the attitude is 'they've spent all the budget on software, we'll have to get cheap hardware'...

I don't know anything about Softimage, but you need to speak to your apps engineer/sales rep. Find out how much their software makes use of multiple cores (or if not, does some upcoming release of the software make use of multiple cores), find out what graphics cards lead the ranks in their internal benchmarking (don't worry about performance on other benchmarks; worry about performance using the app that you are targetting), find out how much memory they think you need.

You may think that you are asking a lot of your supplier. Look at how much you are spending. You aren't asking much, at all, in these circumstances (although you might have to remind them of exactly what the circumstances are).

Quote:
Now, as far as CPUs go - I'm facing the same dilemma others have in the forum as well. Do I go for a Xeon CPU or a Core 2 Duo, Quad whatever...


If it was me, I'd go for Xeons. Not 'a Xeon' but two dual core Xeons. That assumes that there is some likliehood of 'more cores, better' with Softimage. If you can wait for a while, you might want to wait for the Barcelona core Opterons to come out, if only because there may be a 'the empire strikes back' price cut reduction from Intel.

Today, I'd put together pricing based on what is available today, on the understanding that you can change (improve) the spec. if improved price/performance becomes available in the interim.

BaronMatrix writes:
Quote:
Truthfully, because of the additional bandwidth, tasks like these favor Opteron processors unless you get a Quad core. If I were you I'd try to wait until July or so when there should be more concrete info about Barcelona perf.


OK, there is a bit of a pro-AMD position behind this, but AMD are essentially saying 'trust us, Barcelona will be good' (but we won't provide numbers). A lot of people don't trust them because they won't provide numbers.

Either way, when you have to spend, you can only consider it at deadline day. If it ain't available by then, you can't consider it. And then, only if it gives you a better bang per buck are you going to do anything about it.

Quote:
As far as storage is concerned, I haven't decided yet. I'll probably get the recommened DELL setup with a SAS RAID system or maybe a 2 disk system (a SAS 15k drive of 36 gigs for the system & a 300 one with same specs for the data).


Have you considered a RAID/NAS box? And given the money that you are spending, the data must be valuable to you, so think about backup.

Quote:
Not sure if the monitors supplied by DELL are sufficient for 3D work either; I always thought that Eizo monitors are the best (I think the CG211 one is great, but very expensive), so I have to think about that as well.


I've got an Eizo CRT and its a good monitor, but:

- CRTs use much more power than TFTs. TFTs save much more power than CRTs when the screen blanks. So, if your company is worried about greenness/power consumption, that's an argument for a TFT

- TFTs are 'sexier'

- CRTs are better for 'accurate' colour rendition. So, if accurate colour reproduction is important to you, prefer CRTs.

-TFTs can have problems with quickly changing pictures

with all this in mind, find out what the real requirements are. Ask the users, they will have clear preferences.

Quote:
Last but not least, do you know if the Softimage app is compatible with x64 versions of Windows? If it is, are we going to get any boost in performance out of it - cause it's going to be hell for the rest of the apps any user may try to run for fun. Examples - InCD, QuickTime, defrag apps etc.


I note that the support from Softimage for OSs is really a bit behind the times, whether for Windows or Linux.

Quote:
Now, I've played around with the configurator tool in the Dell site (I do trust Dell, so now you know) and I'm certain only about mem at the moment. 4 gigs is what XP 32-bit sees, so I go for 4x1GB expandable to 16 gigs, just in case a 64-bit OS is to be used in the future. More on that later...


I believe, technically, XP 32 bit has a 32 bit address space. What this means is that when you plug in other memory mapped peripherals (say a video card...), you have to lose some of that space. So, you always actually get less than 4 G that you can actually use. Again, you want to get Softimage to give you a roadmap, so you can see when they intend to release a 64 bit version.
June 14, 2007 9:13:05 PM

SoftImage XSI is available for X64 now.
June 14, 2007 10:35:42 PM

you go with the Xeon 53xx quad cores. they cost the same as the dual cores. No one is sure about what AMD barcelona is going to deliver or when.
a c 110 à CPUs
June 15, 2007 1:50:49 PM

Quote:
I don't know anything about Softimage, but you need to speak to your apps engineer/sales rep. Find out how much their software makes use of multiple cores (or if not, does some upcoming release of the software make use of multiple cores), find out what graphics cards lead the ranks in their internal benchmarking (don't worry about performance on other benchmarks; worry about performance using the app that you are targetting), find out how much memory they think you need.


From: 12x Rendering Power Explained

Quote:
...with XSI Advanced, you can have two master computers for rendering, and each master computer can use up to 6 CPUs to help render frames (2 * 6 = 12). Each of the master computers can use up to two local CPUs for rendering, and up to four satellite computers to help render frames.

Note that multi-core CPUs (dual-core, quad-core) are considered as a single CPU for licensing purposes, and XSI will use all cores on the CPU.


If the Quad Zeons deliver they deserve serious consideration in the 'plan' but I have no idea how they scale in this matter.

With the 12x license/2x masters I see:

Quad Xeon = 6 rigs = 48 cores
Opty = 4 rigs = 24 cores (possible upgrade to 48?)

Tough call . . .

If yah go green I'd be tempted to look at the 68w Opty HE's but what I am really interested to know is how well the OP can play the HP/Opty workstations versus Dell/Xeon workstations Bidding War.

And of course, "Will hardstuff buy the beer?"
June 15, 2007 2:40:53 PM

AMD Opterons use cheaper DDR2 ECC ram or DDR2 ram with a 4x4 system.
Intle systems use high cost FB-DIMMS and have a lot less pci-e lanes.

you may want to wait for the socket f+ boards to come out as right now there are just socket f boards also intel will have new exon chip set out with more pci-e lanes and it may use DDR2 ECC.

http://www.supermicro.com/Aplus/motherboard/Opteron2000...
http://www.supermicro.com/Aplus/motherboard/Opteron2000...

http://www.tyan.com/product_board_detail.aspx?pid=163
June 15, 2007 2:54:55 PM



Thanks for the link WiseCracker; that was very useful indeed.

It's pretty obvious that the softimage app is multi-core optimised; so I reckon a quad core Xeon is the way to go.

I've made my mind on the Quad Core Intel® Xeon® E5345 (2.33GHz,1333 MHz,2x4MB Cache) which costs about the same as the Intel® Xeon® 5160 (3.0GHz,1333,4MB).

I'm also going for the cheaper nVidia Quadro 3500 as well; saw some benchmarks comparing it with the 4600 and the huge difference in cost is not justified at all.

That's it; I'll submit my report & findings on Monday. Guys, you've been tremendous help - thanks a lot.

Cheers
June 15, 2007 3:22:00 PM

Hmm... well I do some CAD stuff myself so I'll try to be as helpful as I can.

So I'm looking through this Softimage site and if you're considering linux it says here that they only support RedHat distros, so you're a bit limited on that. Otherwise you can get XP Pro x64 and install the 64-bit version of the app on there.

Now onto the specs. If you are looking into the here and now I will say this very clearly: Just get dual xeon 53xx series, and a boatload of RAM. The way CAD works (or at least from what I was told in a previous forum, but I'm not here to debate this) is basically that the CPU(s) crunch away at all the calculations while the GPU just maps out their progress. So as long as you have some pretty powerful CPUs you should be fine. Now... an 8800GTX, that is an interesting card. I know it has great DirectX performance but... this program only supports up to DirectX 9b. My guess is that you'll have to do a bit of research to see how it performs in DirectX, but you might be fine getting that 8800.

Anyways, for HDDs, if you can back up I'd recommend getting a RAID 0 setup, if not then RAID 10 would be your best option, but you'd have to talk to Dell about all of your options.

Monitors, I'm all for bigger-is-better, but if your budget is limited try sticking around 20 inches, just look at reviews to tell you what's the best buy for your money.

Hope this helps, if you need anything else just let me, or everyone for that matter, know.
June 15, 2007 3:24:25 PM

As some of the others have indicated - you absolutely must get together with the end users and the software manufacturer to determine the expected useage and thus the hardware requirements. Not sure about Softimage, but most manufacturers provide training or at least a visit from a rep but that depends on how many chairs you purchased.

You've also got the option of purchasing 1 "monster system" to use when massive amounts of rendering are required. It's all going to depend on the actual useage.

I'm not in the IT end but frequently hear our engineers complain that project complexity sometimes overwelms the hardware used for SolidWorks. Not allways - just for some big projects where multilpe drawings come together for real time 3D visualization. One option was to have the individual workstations feed "the monster" for final drawing integration.

There's nothing more frustrating than providing good software and then not having the hardware capability to run it. Sort of like giving someone a race car but no gas!
June 15, 2007 3:49:17 PM

Softimage is OpenGL based, Quadro and FireGL cards are the way to go interms of graphic cards. Now as the one poster said, most software is CPU based, and rarely uses GPU cycles, but in the case of this software since they have an active list of OpenGL compatible cards it may actually utilize the GPU more so then the CPU's... but even then you still want a nice powerful CPU so all the suggestions so far are what you should aim for. Definitely need to get into contact with someone from Softimage and figure out how the software works with Quadro/FireGL cards, because depending on much GPU is used by software can help determine what level of card you need.

But before that, talk with your engineers and find out what size of files you will be dealing with. Growing up around Photoshop since it came out (mom works in advertising) I know for a fact, loads of RAM and a good CPU is needed on large image sizes (4gb-20+gb).
June 15, 2007 4:45:49 PM

I used to spec out Engineering CAD systems for my old compnay that built buses. Typically what I found with these systems that were running Unigraphics and Iman were the following;

RAM: 2GB is the BARE minimum, I went to 4GB even with the limitations of XP Pro eventually we would upgrade Windows.

Processor: I found that Dual CPU or Dual Core worked the best though CPU didn't seem to limit the performance of the application. Not sure if that is the case with SoftImage. AMD or Xeon makes no difference here, though if I were buying today, it would be either Dual or Quad Core Xeon's.

Video Card: After trying ATI, Nvidia, and 3DLabs hardware, the Nvidia Quadro and Quadro FX line were the best performers. DON'T go with a gaming card, one the drivers are probably not certified to run the application. Sure it will work but if you have a problem the first thing the support people will ask are you using the certified drivers. Only the Quadro cards from Nvidia have certified drivers. Secondly, gaming cards are built for speed, Designers don't need to rotate or manipulate a part at 300FPS, they need precision, The Quadro cards all do precision graphics over speed. They are still fast but the pixels and models will be closer representations to the real thing if thats important to you.

RAID: If your company has a backend having raid on the desktop means nothing, Fast SCSI or SATA single disks work fine, or you could do a hardware mirror for redundancy. If the data is stored locally which I highly doubt you could do a RAID 0 as a scratch/virtual memory disk set, have the data stored on a mirrored set of disks probably the same disc as your system resides on.

Controllers: We used Spaceball 5000 and good quality optical mice.

Network: If the data is on network server Gb ethernet or better. Jokingly we were discussing fibre to the desktop, but someone thought it was a good idea and tried to put it through. Too expensive.

Monitor: Dual LCD is great if you can swing it. 20" or bigger

This is what I used at the Bus Factory and for the most part the machines were in the $3500 - $4000 CDN Range. Albeit we spread the cost over 5 years and all that financial stuff.
June 17, 2007 3:37:32 PM

What I meant was that Only the Quadro Cards from Nvidia are Certified none of the other Nvidia cards are.

Sorry for the confusion, though I wouldn't use an ATI Fire GL card, they suck.
June 17, 2007 4:33:48 PM

I've noticed that most respondents have concentrated on the CPU and GPU. For future proofing I advise you to seriously consider a 64 bit OS as that way you will not be limited with the hard barrier of addressable memory.

Your engineers/designers will be working with ever bigger models and those will lead to bigger files. Those files need to reside wholly in main memory when open, not in virtual. I have had to work on machines that were under-specified regarding memory and the loading times ate heavily into productivity. The only cure is more memory and that will only happen with a 64 bit OS. Whether you go with XP64, Vista64 or *nix I leave to you.

Q
June 17, 2007 4:48:35 PM

This is a good idea, but from what I saw on AVID's site this software isn't 64-bit compatible. Now don't get me wrong, hell, I'm running a 64-bit OS, but if his software can't use it, it's kinda going to waste. Now if it'll run on a 64-bit OS then by all means yes.

@OP Try to find out from AVID if the software will work on a 64bit version of Windows, because you might be able to get more life out of those comps that way.
June 17, 2007 5:06:43 PM

I'm sure there was an earlier post with a link that showed that this software was 64bit compatible.

Q
June 17, 2007 5:37:48 PM

Well whadaya know... there it is right there... hmm... now how'd I miss that? Meh.

Ok, OP. Are ya there?
June 17, 2007 7:16:18 PM

I'm not familiar with the software, but do have some experience with your problem. First thing we need to know is, whats the budget. If the skys the limit then we'll can splurge on some seriously good stuff, otherwise you'll have to pick and choose.

CPU, Mobo, RAM:

This is the where you should invest the most you possible can. A dual socket system is the way to go. Intel's are great but cost a little more due to needing FB-DIMM memory. You can choose from either a dual Skt 771 (Xeon) or a dual Skt 775 (C2D) system. AMD offers dual and quad Skt 940 system that use dual core Opteron's (and they require FB-DIMM memory) and they also have a dual Skt 1207 system for enthusiast and pros. AMD's QFX platform can use Skt 1207 Opteron's without the need for FB-DIMM memory but the thing is like a jet engine loud and hot. Either way both setups are capable of handling this stuff.

VGA:

This is a toss up. SLI is strongly recommended either way you go. The 8800's IMO would beat a FX5500 Quadro any day but the 8800's are optimized for DX10 not OpenGL 2.0.

PSU:

PC Power & Cooling 1kw SR PSU. The best PSU on the market for any system.

Cooling:

This often gets overlooked or sacrificed for cost and speed. Alienware offers workstations with liquid cooling and sound dampening cases to reduce heat and noise of the PC. If possible try to get a sound dampened case like the Antec P180 and go with a high end quiet air cooling system or liquid cooling all around.

HDD's:

Modifying files in real time will strain even the fastest SCSI drives, but SCSI for its cost is almost obsolete. I would think that 4 150gb Raptors in RAID5 or RAID10 would do fine. Or you try 2 Seagate 750gb drives in RAID0. The only thing I have against SCSI is that it requires an additional $1000 controller card for big setups.

Peripherals:

Don't forget your FDD, DVD drive and stuff like that. Try and get 2 nice widescreen monitors or a good 4:3 and a widescreen.

OS:

Windows XP Pro SP2 32-bit or 64-bit

Other than that you should do fine. Hope this helps.
June 17, 2007 9:30:01 PM

Quote:
I'm not familiar with the software, but do have some experience with your problem. First thing we need to know is, whats the budget. If the skys the limit then we'll can splurge on some seriously good stuff, otherwise you'll have to pick and choose.

CPU, Mobo, RAM:

This is the where you should invest the most you possible can. A dual socket system is the way to go. Intel's are great but cost a little more due to needing FB-DIMM memory. You can choose from either a dual Skt 771 (Xeon) or a dual Skt 775 (C2D) system. AMD offers dual and quad Skt 940 system that use dual core Opteron's (and they require FB-DIMM memory) and they also have a dual Skt 1207 system for enthusiast and pros. AMD's QFX platform can use Skt 1207 Opteron's without the need for FB-DIMM memory but the thing is like a jet engine loud and hot. Either way both setups are capable of handling this stuff.


You are way off there is no dual skt 775 systems and 940 use DDR1 ECC stk F is DDR2 ECC and AMD 4x4 is DDR2.


Quote:

VGA:

This is a toss up. SLI is strongly recommended either way you go. The 8800's IMO would beat a FX5500 Quadro any day but the 8800's are optimized for DX10 not OpenGL 2.0.


There are 8xxx based Quadro cards and there is not exon based sli system right now they don't even have the pci-e lanes.

Quote:

PSU:

PC Power & Cooling 1kw SR PSU. The best PSU on the market for any system.

Cooling:

This often gets overlooked or sacrificed for cost and speed. Alienware offers workstations with liquid cooling and sound dampening cases to reduce heat and noise of the PC. If possible try to get a sound dampened case like the Antec P180 and go with a high end quiet air cooling system or liquid cooling all around.



HDD's:

Modifying files in real time will strain even the fastest SCSI drives, but SCSI for its cost is almost obsolete. I would think that 4 150gb Raptors in RAID5 or RAID10 would do fine. Or you try 2 Seagate 750gb drives in RAID0. The only thing I have against SCSI is that it requires an additional $1000 controller card for big setups.

You don't want to be doing that kind of work on board software raid chip most high end boards have on board hardware SAS raid now days.
SCSI is old SAS is new.

Quote:

Peripherals:

Don't forget your FDD, DVD drive and stuff like that. Try and get 2 nice widescreen monitors or a good 4:3 and a widescreen.

OS:

Windows XP Pro SP2 32-bit or 64-bit

Other than that you should do fine. Hope this helps.
June 17, 2007 11:56:54 PM

Quote:
> You are way off there is no dual skt 775 systems

Good point there! I thought that was an error,
but wasn't sure.

Thanks for the clarification.

In general, LGA-775 is being engineered
for quad-core CPUs in single-socket motherboards.

Xeon CPUs are being engineered for
multi-socket motherboards (as far as
I know).


/

not as good as the amd set up the FSB is more of a choke point then with a AMD system where the ram is linked right to the cpu. also the intel quad-cores each dual-core needs to use the FSB to talk to each other.

Also they may be more of a chipset choke point as it needs to handle cpu to ram loads as well cpu to SB link, cpu to io, cpu to pci-e.

also in amd multi-socket motherboards in socket can talk to each other with not needing to use the chip set.
June 18, 2007 12:22:03 AM

Quote:
I'm not familiar with the software, but do have some experience with your problem. First thing we need to know is, whats the budget. If the skys the limit then we'll can splurge on some seriously good stuff, otherwise you'll have to pick and choose.

CPU, Mobo, RAM:

This is the where you should invest the most you possible can. A dual socket system is the way to go. Intel's are great but cost a little more due to needing FB-DIMM memory. You can choose from either a dual Skt 771 (Xeon) or a dual Skt 775 (C2D) system. AMD offers dual and quad Skt 940 system that use dual core Opteron's (and they require FB-DIMM memory) and they also have a dual Skt 1207 system for enthusiast and pros. AMD's QFX platform can use Skt 1207 Opteron's without the need for FB-DIMM memory but the thing is like a jet engine loud and hot. Either way both setups are capable of handling this stuff.

VGA:

This is a toss up. SLI is strongly recommended either way you go. The 8800's IMO would beat a FX5500 Quadro any day but the 8800's are optimized for DX10 not OpenGL 2.0.

PSU:

PC Power & Cooling 1kw SR PSU. The best PSU on the market for any system.

Cooling:

This often gets overlooked or sacrificed for cost and speed. Alienware offers workstations with liquid cooling and sound dampening cases to reduce heat and noise of the PC. If possible try to get a sound dampened case like the Antec P180 and go with a high end quiet air cooling system or liquid cooling all around.

HDD's:

Modifying files in real time will strain even the fastest SCSI drives, but SCSI for its cost is almost obsolete. I would think that 4 150gb Raptors in RAID5 or RAID10 would do fine. Or you try 2 Seagate 750gb drives in RAID0. The only thing I have against SCSI is that it requires an additional $1000 controller card for big setups.

Peripherals:

Don't forget your FDD, DVD drive and stuff like that. Try and get 2 nice widescreen monitors or a good 4:3 and a widescreen.

OS:

Windows XP Pro SP2 32-bit or 64-bit

Other than that you should do fine. Hope this helps.


@SPARTAN-117 Please excuse the harshness, but I am in two minds about whether to write this post.

You seem to be very confused about the number and type of sockets and available boards. Also, for the kind of work that I have done using a 'workstation' for graphical construction, your concept of the utility of SLI seems flawed. It seems from your post that you are confusing the DX 10 needs and associated speed requirements of games with the graphical accuracy of the commercial use of OpenGL.

@ the OP - I suggest that you be wary of the above quoted post. After having built both games and work oriented machines in the past, it appears that the quoted post is a little too games oriented.

Q
June 18, 2007 4:58:54 AM

Hey Hardstuff,

The Baron would prefer that you not even hear of Woodcrest. You see that would lead you away from his AMD recommendation.

Please see my sig.

I would suggest that you review both the dual core version of the Opteron and Woodcrest Xeons. The woodys are a Xeon based on the C2D tech.

Since I do not expect you tp believe me or the Baron I will just provide Linkage for you to review for yourself and hopefully make your decision.

TechReport Review of the Woodcrest Xeon vs. AMD Opteron processors.

Please be advised that there is very limited information on the Barcelona processor which he also makes mention. If you were to go on the early reports you would find actually the opposite of what the Baron has stated.

Again here is some Linkage for you to review yourself (however I would steer clear of making any pro/con judgments about Barcelona for the moment as there is just too little info for anyone to decide either way.

Anandtech article for your review.

I suggest you review all suggestions with a grain of salt unless they are providing linage for you from reputable entities.

Good luck in your search..
June 18, 2007 3:58:34 PM

Quote:
Hey Hardstuff,

The Baron would prefer that you not even hear of Woodcrest. You see that would lead you away from his AMD recommendation.

Please see my sig.

I would suggest that you review both the dual core version of the Opteron and Woodcrest Xeons. The woodys are a Xeon based on the C2D tech.

Since I do not expect you tp believe me or the Baron I will just provide Linkage for you to review for yourself and hopefully make your decision.

TechReport Review of the Woodcrest Xeon vs. AMD Opteron processors.

Please be advised that there is very limited information on the Barcelona processor which he also makes mention. If you were to go on the early reports you would find actually the opposite of what the Baron has stated.

Again here is some Linkage for you to review yourself (however I would steer clear of making any pro/con judgments about Barcelona for the moment as there is just too little info for anyone to decide either way.

Anandtech article for your review.

I suggest you review all suggestions with a grain of salt unless they are providing linage for you from reputable entities.

Good luck in your search..


Although, I've made my mind more or less - as mentioned in my last post and considering our budget - I'll do some more reading. Thanks for the links.

I'd also like once again to thank everyone contributing in here - thank you very much indeed.
June 18, 2007 4:22:03 PM

Sorry Hardstuff,

I missed your response about the quad Xeons!!

I just did not want you to stray down an individual path because of one persons comments.

Good luck with your build!!
!