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fastest machine money can buy

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June 25, 2007 1:22:58 PM

I need to spec out a fast desktop number-cruncher at work with the following criteria:

1) runs Win XP Pro, SP2
2) 15000 rpm SCSI HDs
3) 64-bit processor
4) Max RAM at max speed

The following items should be kept in mind:
1) Because this is a business machine, no extreme overclocking (e.g., liquid or gas cooling); I would probably me able to do some "safe" OC at the BIOS level, though
2) The application(s) that I will be running depend heavily on: RAM speed and physical capacity; CPU clock speed (program is currently being revised to run as 64-bit app); and HD speed (writing data to disk and virtual memory)
3) Graphics speed is NOT an issue (machine won't be used for any multi-media purposes.

I am not up to speed on 64-bit processing so I am kind of in a bind. Thanks in advance for your response.
June 25, 2007 2:50:53 PM

Whoa. This being an enthusiast forum, I'm not sure it's the best place to ask. Many people overclock here of course, but those that use their PCs mainly for games don't have a reason to care about stability all that much. As a recent first-time overclocker I was surprised how a stable-appearing overclock wasn't stable at all once I threw some heavy (Orthos) processing at it. OCing requires a bit of testing. But you probably know that, right?

Bearing in mind I come from the enthusiast space, the Core 2 Quad processor comes to mind, as does Intel's latest P35 chipset since it's supposed to offer slightly improved memory bandwidth. Also, if you run the memory 1:1, keep the processor on a low multiplier and crank up the FSB, a scenario that naturally happens when overclocking low-end processors, you will maximise memory bandwidth.

The above is really off the top of my head though. I would also check out Intel 975 chipset and Athlon / nVidia nForce benchmarks, if you can find them. I believe the Athlon may have higher memory bandwidth than the Core 2, although the latter is usually better overall.

Out of curiosity, what's your work about? What applications are you runing? Are they home-grown? This is what it really comes down to. Once you're talking specific applications, the best system may not be the obvious all-rounder choice at all. Is your application multi-threaded? Can it take advantage of 2, 4 or even 8 processor cores? In the latter case I would look for a professional workstation system that accomodates more than 1 processor. Those systems often support more memory as well.

Also worth mentioning, if you happen to be developing in C++, is the Intel compiler and Intel perfomance primitives library, which can speed up some applications to a large degree. Also you've probably heard of nVidia and ATIs development environment for their GPUs? In terms of pure number crunching power I believe they will leave even a multi-processor x86 system completely in the dust several times over, if your application is suitable for porting to those architectures.
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June 25, 2007 3:37:32 PM

Quote:
http://www.apple.com/macpro/ would be the fastest PC available at the mo, and using the bootcamp software can run XP just fine...


Definitely not the fastest PC available.
And this PC is obviously not suitable for his needs.
7200RPM HDDs, please....
Fully-buffered Mem...
Hes better off with lower latency on memory since his application is memory intensive.

I dont know what your application is, but can it use multiple machines?

And what kind of budget are you talking about?

P.S, funny thing, apple charges 5K for 16GB (8x2GB) DDR2 667 RAM...
June 25, 2007 3:59:01 PM

there are multiprocessor PCI accelerator boards available, but they are often application specific, so you'll have to do some research. start with clearspeed and celoxica

you can also look at high-performance workstations like HP and SUN Sparc or x64

or you can get an 8 core Mac Pro, even if it sounds suspiciously like a Big Mac
June 25, 2007 4:15:05 PM

Haha @ Mac being the fastest computer suggestion.


Anyway, nhobo mentioned it. Sun SPARC machines are the most capable computer I can recomend.

Details:


Sun Ultra 40 M2 Workstation


A83-FGZ2-9AN-4G-DS
Sun Ultra 40 M2 Workstation
2 AMD Opteron, Model 2222SE, 1207 Rev F, 3.0 GHz, Dual-Core processor
16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR-667 ECC memory,
8 x 300 GB 15,000 rpm SAS Disk Drive with Microsoft Windows XP SP2 preinstalled,
NVIDIA Quadro FX 5600 High-End 3D Graphics Card, SLI Ready, RoHS-6 Compliant
DVD-Dual, 2 x 10/100/1000 Ethernets, two x16 PCI Express slots, two x8 PCI Express slots, 1 legacy PCI slot, RoHS-6 Compliant

$24,532
June 25, 2007 4:19:24 PM

Thanks for (almost) all of the responses so far!

The particular application that I will be running is very specific to the work that I do. It was developed and maintained by a consulting firm, so if we want to pursue application tuning, then that would go through a User's Group and would involve some cost and take some time as well. Without going into too much detail, this software solves large fault trees and has been updated to include new methodologies such as Binary Decision Diagrams (BDD).

Here is what I know regarding the application. It was originally developed in the early to mid '80s (maybe earlier - I have only been involved with it since 1994). At that time it was DOS based and had specific modules developed in C++. It interfaced with a relational database engine (Advanced Revelations) all in a DOS interface. Some time in the 90s, it was updated to a Windows interface but still using legacy C++ code. In the early 00s, the Advanced Revelations database was scrapped for a Microsoft Jet design. However, to this day, there are still a good chunk of data being stored in random-access files. The specifications that I mentioned in my original post were gathered from discussions with one of the original developers and users of this software.

Some of the newer modules have been coded such that all of the physical memory can be used, thus the requirement for large amounts of fast memory. Using disk-based random access files dictates that hard drive speed is important as well. Running legacy C/C++ code is mostly driven by clock speed.

As far as budget, well my plan is to spec this thing out, turn it over to our IT department, and see where the money comes from. Based on the intended use of this machine, we can probably get whatever we need. We will be purchasing multiple machines so that we can run parallel batches of calculations continuously. I believe that 4 - 6 machines at a cost of $8k-$10k per machine may be approved.

Thanks again!
June 25, 2007 4:44:49 PM

up to $10,000??


Sorry Dude! You can not afford the fastest desktop machines.


Likewise, Why isn't your IT department scouting for equipment? Your ORG may get discounts though vender's like Dell or what not.
June 25, 2007 5:00:59 PM

No such thing....
June 25, 2007 5:14:56 PM

That movie wasn't that bad.... Why did you bring it up??
"No Such Thing"
June 25, 2007 5:26:12 PM
June 25, 2007 5:32:59 PM

No, i mean no such thing as the best pc money can buy.

A ps3 is going to be the best thing you can get but you need to know how to program for it.

Whatever you get it will cost you your house and it will not be fast for as long as you need it.
June 25, 2007 5:42:18 PM

They have the program. Its called WINDOWS XP SP2.


The question was: what is the best machine $10,000 can buy that will run Windows XP SP2.
June 25, 2007 6:24:30 PM

How Big are your data files?

Gigabytes I-RAM may be a good options for you if the space used is less than 4gb.

Basically its a 4gb HDD with that uses physical RAM and will blow the doors off any concentional drive.
June 25, 2007 6:51:31 PM

The only thing wrong with your plan of having Max RAM at Max speed is that if you are restricting yourself to a 32-bit XP version, the maximum amount of RAM you can access is 3.5 GB. Still, a 4-core Kentsfield/Clovertown could help out IF the program can be updated to be multithreaded, otherwise you won't even see an advantage from even a dual core. If your program is multithreaded, the Q6600 will be available for $226 after July 22, if your department can wait that long. Or , you could go with a server-type workstation. Basically it's a rack of server-boards that are daisy-chained together. It's very fast, but does require some specialized software to exploit.

Otherwise, your best bet would probably be to just go with a good SPARC-style workstation. You can find some very decent ones for $20K- $50K a pop, with your choice of data access and storage.

Again, recompiling the code to a more updated OS and making it multi-threaded would probably be worth the time and effort in the long run, as it would reduce the hardware cost.
June 25, 2007 7:21:41 PM

I dont see where he says "32bit". I guess they dont have SP2 for 64bit yet, so maybe.


Anyway, had he said 32bit I would have laughed and gave him a link to a DELL.
June 25, 2007 7:44:47 PM

how much money precisely ?
(about 1000-3000-5000-10000) i've heard ppl talking about unlimited budget if 1500$ for a tower... it was pretty noobish...
especially for a server.

do you feel like ou need ecc registered memory ?

what size is the active database ?
(less than 4gb, use ram-drive over sata. use 2 of them to raid 8gb)
( wait for SSD flash based disks for less than 64gb databases )

use server board + OS if looking for more than 4gb ram W/ 2-4 CPU
if you feel like you wanna pay 10k for a good server, get a good mobo, 2 dual core xeons, a good ammount of ecc ram which costs an arm and a leg. some entry-level video card.

if you need a powerfull desktop or entry-level server, just get at most a quad core Q6600 with good standard ram with fast clock, a ram disk or a big raid on an adapter pci card... then, you'll reach almost 4000 $ if you want your cpu to be a server CPU, you can buy a

xeon 3220 kentsfield 4x2.4ghz 4x2048k cache instead of a
Q6600 kentsfield 4x2.4ghz 4x2048k cache but.. those are strictly the same cores, same socket, same clock and same cache... so... i don,t see the point unless power needed is different which is not implemented yet...

don't underestimate incoming cpu, get a compatible mobo and highest supported ram for the board. if you're aiming for a non-ecc platform, use the lastest intel chipset. now it's P35. ( integrated graphic can be good to consider but warning... Micro-atx boards has less PCI expansion slot. ) be sure you have both the lastest version of the ICH9(R) and p35 or wait for the next version. you can use ddr2 1066 mhz for max fsb or use a board which support ddr3 which i don,t recommand right now... it's slightly slower due to higher latency and not so better speeds.

don't overestimate the benefits of having a scsi raid 15krpm
June 25, 2007 7:45:32 PM

How about you buy something for $3000 and then NOT waste $7000 on something that will not be an good in 4 years time?

There is no BEST computer out there cause in 2 months time it will be second best, in fact in about a week or two it will no longer be top. That is what i was saying. So waste your money on a 2 core pc for $3000 or leanr how to use unix based yellow dog for the ps3 which costs $600 and has 6 useable cores and can be strung together with another 4 ps3's for the price of $3000.

Or, buy something for 10000 and waste your money...

Learn to program, buy some ps3s.
June 25, 2007 7:47:27 PM

Are you going to build something? Trust me, go and buy something. We pay less than $10k for servers from a tier one company (which shall remain nameless) with dual opteron 265s (dual core) and 16GB of RAM and 6 73GB 15k drives. You can probably get something with more floating point power and less RAM for a similar amount. We buy in lots of 10-100 though. I don't know what the discount would be for 6.

These machines will have been engineered for stability and use enterprise class gear like heavy duty, possibly hotswap powersupplies, sturdier motherboards, well engineered cooling, etc. and components will have been tested to work together. Plus a single warranty contact. This is important to a business which may have dozens of vendors.

I personally like Dell because I've used them to great effect at a previous job, though that's not what I use now.
June 26, 2007 12:46:14 PM

morg:
Good ideas! I don't have a particular budget, but this is for a business critical application so I may get some decent funds. You gave me some good ideas and things to think about.

bliq:
We are NOT going to build something. I will create a spec, turn it over to our IT buyers, and they will go out and find something that meets my specs. Then, depending on the cost, it may come back to me for some tweaking.

Rabidpeanut: I doubt very seriously that the developer of this advanced fault tree software will be porting their application to yellow dog (or any other type of) linux any time soon. I do know how to program and I have a PS3 at home, but the last thing I think about after work is work!


Thanks again to everyone!
June 26, 2007 2:52:09 PM

- 2 x Intel Xeon 'Clovertown' E5365 CPUs
- Intel 5000X chipset equipped motherboard (5000P if you don't need the PCI-E x16 slot and need more networking/RAID options)
- Around an 850w redundunt PSU (basically a two in one), or a standard ATX/EPS12V 850w PSU
- At least 2GB of FB-DDR2-667. Remember, these are Fully Buffered DIMMs (FB-DIMM)
- 8800GTX or whatever video card you want
- Full tower case that supports the Extended ATX (E-ATX) standard. You may also need some air ducts (like those in the Lian Li cases) if the FB-DIMMs/SCSI HDDs are running a bit too hot.
- Linux Red Hat or whatever OS you want
- DVD-RW, Floppy and etc...

http://www.legitreviews.com/article/527/1/
June 26, 2007 3:37:34 PM

The most you can spend is around $5000-7000. Even for 8800 GTX SLI, Ultra SCSI, Quad Core, etc
Anything more and resources don't get utililized. I am guessing you don't have a render-farm.
June 26, 2007 4:44:59 PM

I recommended an 8 Core Mac Pro with bootcamp, they offer fully buffered ECC memory. Speak perhaps directly to a senior member, you might be ableb 2 get fast low latency memory.

x64 WILL DEFINITLEY HELP if the program is x64

maybe something like:

http://store.apple.com/AppleStore/WebObjects/BizCustom....

You can get some pretty sick DDR1066 mhz memory at 4-4-4-12 from GeIL but whether that support ECC I do not know. Might be memory controller. not sure.

Not sure if Mac support SCSI

(P.s. I have a PC so don't call me a Mac Fan Boy)
June 26, 2007 8:35:18 PM

Why fully buffered memory?? You can get over 64GB RAM with regular memory that has lower latency.
June 26, 2007 9:49:33 PM

OK, before we go any further

What program are you running???
Need to know
32 or 64bit?
Multithreaded?
Multicore aware?
Program name?

Those things WILL help

Also, contact the vendor of the program, ask what configuration it runs best on, they will know better than anyone!

Hope we can help
June 27, 2007 8:37:31 PM

JonIsGinger:

I have spoken with the vendor. It ends up that the code has been recompiled to run under Unix, which opens up some interesting possibilities. One being that we are only 2-3 hours away from Austin, TX where they have a super-computing center. Recently in the news, it was announced that the world's largest computer is being built there and expected to be on-line in January 2008. We already do some work with the university and could probably get some time on the existing computer as well as the new one. Since we are planning on running massive batches of runs (100,000's) we could make a lot of progress.

FYI, the name of the code is RISKMAN. At this time it is not 64bit nor is it multi-core aware. However, as mentioned above, we could get the vendor to recompile it for us specific to a given platform.
June 28, 2007 4:03:25 AM

Hi is this the fastest supercomputing cluster in the world?
Yes it is.
We would like to buy some computing time on say, 100,000 nodes.
What will you be running?
A 32bit windows application that utilizes single core technology.
And the name?
Riscman. It is a 1000 line C++ driven program designed to calculate all the possibilities of 4+4(^2).
But sir, there is only one answer to that, and why did it take you 1000 lines of code to write it?
... Click.


Ahahah good ol' prank calls to the university supercomputing node.
June 28, 2007 2:17:15 PM

Yeah, sounds like a plan, a Super computer will do whatever you're doing really fast.
a c 96 à CPUs
June 28, 2007 2:55:47 PM

Whereas I own a house less than one-quarter mile from a nukular station, and if these *runs* involve simulations burning 50% MOX assemblies in a 30 year old reactor . . .

USE THE SUPERCOMPTER

.... especially if your last name is Simpson . . . :D 
!