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~1800 budget, looking for highest FP performance (MT code)

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August 15, 2009 3:36:27 AM

Looking to build a system for scientific computing. Heavy number-crunching. Mostly floating-point calcs, think use of various numerical libraries that are heavily optimized and scale well (so even many cores can be utilized relatively efficiently). Nothing graphics-intensive, nothing too memory-intensive (although 6-8GB are required).

Trying to take the road of building it myself (no previous build experience). I know nobody that does that in my field so no point of reference (standard for people is: either they buy an off-the-shelf Dell/HP/Mac workstation or, if they're fortunate enough that their place has that--and they have can afford it--, they add to existing clusters).

Constraints are
- $1800 (bit of a odd number but that's what it is right now)
- I need to show a receipt for the thing (so, just to be on the safe side, no equipment that could be labeled as "for gamers")
- the desktop/workstation must fit into a small office, so standard tower I guess
- EDIT: components should work with modern Linux (no RHEL4/5 compatibility required but should run on recent plain-vanilla kernel speak 2.6.27 or later)

Can anybody get me started? Just on CPU and mobo? $1800 is a bit tight, stick to consumer-market components I suppose?
August 15, 2009 3:49:07 AM

Hi, welcome to TH, this is what i made for you, it has 2 x xeon processors, 1kw powersupply, 12gb ram, 2tb hdd....you can look at the list, the total comes to 1528 i believe, including case, videocard...and everything. The mobo is a dual processor.




gl
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August 15, 2009 4:25:48 AM

Id recommend buying somthing built, for support/ warranty. You dont want to spend $1800 and get fired for getting somethng that has no warranty / support?

I can build you one for around $1500 with 3 year warranty and lifetime support, or check Dell/others.....

PM me if interested. I sell on Ebay all the time:) 
August 15, 2009 4:44:22 AM

@freezed: thanks a lot, this looks terrific.

one thing (I'll ask this in the memory forum if appropriate, sorry): I see the mobo also takes ECC memory and I see that many pre-configured Dells/HPs etc. come with ECC memory. two things: (i) is it better to take ECC? (ii) if yes, there's a huge range price-wise for ECC memory on Newegg. Some DDR3-1333 ECC are just $125 per 6GB (3 x 2GB) kit, others run $200+.

@daship: The whole point of entertaining the idea of building it myself is that the premium you pay for guaranteed next-business day service over 3 years is pretty steep. That's my assumption at least. I'm in academia, so there is no mission-critical software that's running. The personal risk I'm taking is that when the machine fails it pushes back the date at which I can complete research projects. The reason that nobody in my field builds their own is that I'm in a field that's relatively far away from computer science (I'm doing finance), so people generally lack the expertise.
August 15, 2009 6:01:50 AM

Hi, ECC simply has an additional chip on the stick that monitors/fixes/prevents memory bit errors. I dont think it will make a huge difference if you use ECC or not. but thats just my understanding. goodluck with your build =], you might want to get an opinon of some one who has actually used ECC, so far i have used regular modules :) 
August 15, 2009 5:55:59 PM

You don't need that high video card and extra sound card( but since it is free why not) for number crunching. Something like ATI Radeon HD 4650 for $50 will do job just fine.

But you might go for a bit faster CPU's, but performance does not increase linearly with price so if You want to save money E5504 is goodeal for price/performance.

No need for ECC memory if it is not mission-critical.
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August 15, 2009 6:02:33 PM

@freezed1:

1.OP doesn't need a heavy GPU. A 4670/4650 would be fine. Also no need for 1kW PSU.

2. The Antec PSU you listed dosen't have a 2x8pin CPU connector. It only has 1x4pin and 1x8 pin. The ASUS board needs 2x 8 pin CPU connectors.
Quote:
2 x PSU Connector 24-pin ATX power connector + 8-pin ATX 12V (Support Both ATX & SSI Power Supply)**

Source: http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=k81cpN8uEB01BpQ6
OP will either need to buy a Molex to 8 pin converter or buy a PSU with 2x 8 pin CPU.



@OP: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...
That's a build I did for CAD/CFD a while ago. Very smiler function to yours. Just swap out the board to the one listed by freezed1. Swap out the Antec PSU he listed to the PC Power PSU I used. You can also drop down the # of HDDs I used to save $$. HOWEVER, depending on what you want a SSD MAY give a performance boost if used as your OS drive. (If using SSD I recommend you use Reiser4). Also what distro? Fedora?SUSE, Solaris?

For scientific work (MATLAB,etc) ECC is a good idea.

August 15, 2009 8:35:07 PM

Shadow703793 said:
@freezed1:

1.OP doesn't need a heavy GPU. A 4670/4650 would be fine. Also no need for 1kW PSU.

2. The Antec PSU you listed dosen't have a 2x8pin CPU connector. It only has 1x4pin and 1x8 pin. The ASUS board needs 2x 8 pin CPU connectors.
Quote:
2 x PSU Connector 24-pin ATX power connector + 8-pin ATX 12V (Support Both ATX & SSI Power Supply)**

Source: http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=k81cpN8uEB01BpQ6
OP will either need to buy a Molex to 8 pin converter or buy a PSU with 2x 8 pin CPU.



@OP: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...
That's a build I did for CAD/CFD a while ago. Very smiler function to yours. Just swap out the board to the one listed by freezed1. Swap out the Antec PSU he listed to the PC Power PSU I used. You can also drop down the # of HDDs I used to save $$. HOWEVER, depending on what you want a SSD MAY give a performance boost if used as your OS drive. (If using SSD I recommend you use Reiser4). Also what distro? Fedora?SUSE, Solaris?

For scientific work (MATLAB,etc) ECC is a good idea.




nice man, yes i was also wondering about the powersupply thingy. thx for letting him know abt the ECC memory ;) 
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August 16, 2009 12:08:50 AM

jasperjones said:
Looking to build a system for scientific computing. Heavy number-crunching. Mostly floating-point calcs, think use of various numerical libraries that are heavily optimized and scale well (so even many cores can be utilized relatively efficiently). Nothing graphics-intensive, nothing too memory-intensive (although 6-8GB are required).

Trying to take the road of building it myself (no previous build experience). I know nobody that does that in my field so no point of reference (standard for people is: either they buy an off-the-shelf Dell/HP/Mac workstation or, if they're fortunate enough that their place has that--and they have can afford it--, they add to existing clusters).

Constraints are
- $1800 (bit of a odd number but that's what it is right now)
- I need to show a receipt for the thing (so, just to be on the safe side, no equipment that could be labeled as "for gamers")
- the desktop/workstation must fit into a small office, so standard tower I guess
- EDIT: components should work with modern Linux (no RHEL4/5 compatibility required but should run on recent plain-vanilla kernel speak 2.6.27 or later)

Can anybody get me started? Just on CPU and mobo? $1800 is a bit tight, stick to consumer-market components I suppose?


There are two basic setups I would recommend:

1. Two Xeon 5520 CPUs and a lower-end TYAN or SuperMicro ATX dual LGA1366 board, 6x 2 GB DDR3-1066 registered server DIMMs.

2. Two six-core Opteron 2427s, a Tyan 2927-E (it's an ATX unit) and 4x 2 GB registered ECC DDR2-800 (not FB-DIMMS!).

You will want to get a 600 watt EPS12V power supply and a Radeon HD 4350 for either unit, plus an HDD of an adequate size and an ATX mid-tower computer case. A 600 W PSU should be plenty for that setup and a Radeon HD 4350 plays nicely with Linux for 2D work right out of the box and is all of the power you need for non-gaming uses. You will have to buy heatsinks for either setup as no dual-socket server CPUs ship with heatsinks. I'd look carefully at heatsinks as most server heatsinks are noisier than anything and you probably will PO your coworkers if you get a typical 60 mm unit with a 5000-rpm fan.

Both the six-core Opteron 2427 and quad-core Xeon E5520 setups will work well for your uses. The Opterons are a tad more expensive ($450 each vs. $385 each) but you get 12 cores rather than 8 in a dual-socket setup and that should give you a bit more performance. I wouldn't look at the less-expensive Xeon E5504 and E5506 as they have half of the L3 cache disabled, are limited to 4.8 GT/sec QPI link speed, are limited to DDR2-800, and lack HyperThreading (which is generally good for a ~15% performance boost in multithreaded situations) and Turbo Boost. Intel actually said in one of their
blogs
that the E5504 and -06 were not that great of a CPU- buy the E5520 instead. If you are really strapped for cash, getting a pair of 2.4 GHz quad-core Opteron 2378s for $180 each wouldn't be bad at all, although it would be noticeably slower than the six-core Opteron 2427 or Xeon E5520.
!