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PC for computational intensive application (Matlab).

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May 27, 2009 9:05:32 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: now to two months
BUDGET RANGE: US$500-750

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Computational intensive application like Matlab, hardware synthesis software, spice simulations etc...Almost zero gaming/graphic.

OVERCLOCKING: no


Hi,
I'm trying to build a powerful computer oriented towards 'computing power'. Stuff like Matlab, Synthesis software, Spice simulations etc...Most of the information I can find is related to gaming/graphics, which I'm not really interested...Could someone point me into the right direction?
Here are a few questions that come to mind:

Motherboard: any special spec to look for here (bus speed etc...?).
CPU: These days, is AMD or Intel making the best 'computing' CPU?
Graphic Card: I know that whatever onboard graphic card that could be on the motherboard would be fine for me. However, I wonder if getting a 'cheap' graphic card would offload the motherboard to do more useful stuff...
Same question for the soundcard...
RAM: Any spec here to look for? How much is recommended?

Case: Are there nice small case that could handle whatever is recommended above?

Thank you very much...
Dave
May 27, 2009 9:52:30 PM

We have almost the same application except that i play games and watch HDTV on my PC. I use my PC for Design and Circuit Simulation. I use Mathlab 2009 as well.

Get a Quad-Core as a minimum and use more memory. My configuration is below and i use 8 Gbyte on my PC. Memory of 4G will do but i see improvement when i use 8G of RAM. Math LAB and CAD/CAE tools use up all available memory on your PC.

BIGGEST IMPACT FOR THE NEED YOU DESCRIBE.....QUAD-CORE AND MORE MEMORY.

NVIDIA is promoting its CUDA tools which is an option to port the math-intensive part of the software on the GPU. Frankly speaking i dont see any support from CADENCE or SYSNOPSIS. Thats one incentive to purchase an NVDIA card for future feature. Again as of today no support from CADENCE /SYSNOPSYS that I'm aware of.

Since simulation takes a lot of time i always use Intel CPU and Intel Chipset. Its just me that a run time of 4 to >16 hrs i can't afford freeze or hang-up from un-reliable hardware.

For motherboard my preference is ASUS(W/Intel Chipset) or Intel Motherboard. Again when running simulation or processis that runs for > 16hrs @ 100%CPU no room for hang-ups.

Motherboard with built-in GPU will be good enough.

Between AMD and Intel you can hardly feel the difference. The reason i opted for Intel is due to HW BUG of Barcelona when it came out. AMD chips may have an edge on high Memory application due to built-in Memory-controller. The difference can be very small. AMD HW tends to be cheaper.


Your budget is pretty small....
May 28, 2009 4:35:34 AM

I'm looking at similar issues for a home_brew polymer dynamics machine. The INTEL i920 seems to have it all-over AMD 940/955 both for FP speed and ability of a mobo to transparently support lots of fast ram. But, for complete kit (excluding LCD) coming-in around $1000+ is a struggle.
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May 28, 2009 6:19:58 AM

Here's 2 suggestions, the Case, PSU, RAM, HDD, DVD, and the Vid will be the same.

AMD
Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$59 Antec 300
PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$45 Enermax 405W
MB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$72 ASRock A780GMH
CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$190 Phenom II 940
RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$50 G.Skill DDR2 1066 2x2GB (you will want 2 of these)
HDD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$55 WD 320GB WD3200AAKS
DVD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$26 Sony 24x DVDR/RW
Vid: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$36 Sapphire 4350 (I prefer an add in card over onboard, as it uses less of the system RAM)

Intel
Case: Same
PSU: Same
MB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$80 Gigabyte GA-EP43-UD3L
CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$220 C2Q Q9400
RAM: Same
HDD: Same
DVD: Same
Vid: Same

Total AMD: $583 +S&H (No OS)
Total Intel: $621 +S&H (No OS)

Or i7
Case: Same
PSU: Same
HDD: Same
DVD: Same
Vid: Same
MB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$180 Foxconn (yes it's a gaming board, but Foxconn is much better than MSI)
CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$280 i7 920
RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$90 G.Skill DDR3 1333 3x2GB

Total i7: $871 +S&H (No OS)
May 28, 2009 9:53:53 AM

Well with poor older gen IGP perhaps going with a discrete may be fine but with a 780G or even better 790GX who needs one - even less so for your needs :p  Doable even under $500 hehe

Maybe with the whole fanless/passive theme you could get a Scythe Shuriken or a Zalman CNPS7500 CPU cooler for the super silent rig? This is portable enuff to carry over to that LCD TV and hook up via HDMI to double up as a HTPC too ^^
May 28, 2009 2:32:23 PM

One thing to consider is if Matlab and the other programs can fully use a quad core. If they only use 1 or 2 cores, then you'd be better off with a faster dual core. You should find out before buying.
March 16, 2013 7:31:03 AM

seems like to problem with quad core is that a simulation unless its designed for multi threading will likely end up using only one of the cores.
!