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Any Dual Socket Tips?

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January 1, 2010 2:56:46 PM

I took a high speed computing course this fall and am interested in playing with some of what I've learned on a dual socket plus GPGPU system (yes I know a quad core would allow me to play with multithread fine but I want to see how multiple cores vs multiple processors work) as well as using it for my gaming computer so I can save some cash.

I've been planning a PC upgrade for when I finish my Master's degree so I picked up a Thermaltake VH6000BWS Armor+ Full-Tower ATX Case on sale. This case is compatible with Extended ATX which I've read can fit a SSI EEB motherboard. I also have Windows 7 Professional and I've read any Windows 7 is compatible with two processors.

I plan on picking up a Dual LGA 1366 motherboard (I believe these are newer than the 771 motherboards?) with three PCI Express 2.0 slots so I can put in multiple GPGPU capable video cards in and use them for video or GPGPU depending on what I'm up to at the time.

Anything else I need to know or am mistaken about building a multi core server system?

On a separate note. I've read that a single i7 can almost perform as well as dual xeon processors. Will there be anything coming (or is there already) that is a server processor that uses i7 technology? I'm having a hard time doing much research on this...

Thanks!

More about : dual socket tips

January 1, 2010 5:02:38 PM

The problem with comparing i7 to xeon processors is that "xeon", like "celeron" has been used to represent many many generations of chips, and so it doesn't really mean anything without specifying which model. There are Nehalem based xeons according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nehalem_(microarchitecture) and they would probably perform similar to their desktop counterparts, if you're referring to an older core, or even netburst generation xeon then yes, the i7 would be better...

Oh, worth noting that many dual cpu platforms require ECC ram, so be sure and check your board and get the correct type :D 
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January 1, 2010 5:11:24 PM

Quote:
On a separate note. I've read that a single i7 can almost perform as well as dual xeon processors. Will there be anything coming (or is there already) that is a server processor that uses i7 technology? I'm having a hard time doing much research
on this...
Xeon 5500 Sequence. No way a single i7 can perform as well as dual Xeon Nehalem processors running at the same speed.
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January 1, 2010 5:39:47 PM

Thanks for the input, I must have read the pre Nehalem Xeon vs i7. Now that I know what to look for I'm finding a number of proper examples.
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January 1, 2010 9:44:12 PM

Focus on server or workstation motherboards. Server motherboards have multi-socket and designed to support >35Tbytes of Buffered memory.

The server farms that i use at work runs with dual socket CPU and 65TB of memory. The performance difference is beyond comparison. My design simulation will run bet 4 to 8 hrs using the server farms. On my QUAD core it will run for several DAYS...
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January 1, 2010 10:15:18 PM

drethon said:
Thanks for the input, I must have read the pre Nehalem Xeon vs i7. Now that I know what to look for I'm finding a number of proper examples.


drethon said:
I took a high speed computing course this fall and am interested in playing with some of what I've learned on a dual socket plus GPGPU system (yes I know a quad core would allow me to play with multithread fine but I want to see how multiple cores vs multiple processors work) as well as using it for my gaming computer so I can save some cash.


Dual-socket machines can work decently as gaming machines, but there are some things to note. Most games today don't really have more than two "heavy" threads. Server CPUs typically have a lower clock speed than desktop CPUs, so you may have lower performance in games than with a desktop CPU. Gaming performance is generally good enough to play, but you're not going to have a higher frame rate than your buddies' single-socket machines. You also cannot overclock very many server motherboards, so the benchmark differences can become even more noticeable.

Quote:
I've been planning a PC upgrade for when I finish my Master's degree so I picked up a Thermaltake VH6000BWS Armor+ Full-Tower ATX Case on sale. This case is compatible with Extended ATX which I've read can fit a SSI EEB motherboard. I also have Windows 7 Professional and I've read any Windows 7 is compatible with two processors.


Intel server motherboards typically require a backplate for the heatsinks to screw into. Some cases that say they're compatible with Extended ATX/SSI EEB motherboards have the backplate mounting holes and some do not. Look for compatibility with "Xeon Dual CPU" or "Xeon Nocona compatible" in the motherboard manual to ensure you have the mounting holes if you do not want to break out the drill and a threading tap to make the holes yourself. Another thing to note is that the heatsinks for LGA1366 desktop motherboards may or may not fit in dual LGA1366 server motherboards due to clearance issues. You will want to look at Intel's website and your board vendor's website for heatsinks that will work with the server 1366 boards. You will have to buy your own heatsinks as no new Intel or AMD dual-socket-capable CPUs ship with heatsinks any more.

Quote:
I plan on picking up a Dual LGA 1366 motherboard (I believe these are newer than the 771 motherboards?) with three PCI Express 2.0 slots so I can put in multiple GPGPU capable video cards in and use them for video or GPGPU depending on what I'm up to at the time.


LGA1366 motherboards are newer than LGA771 units. You want the LGA1366 ones as they support the newer and much-improved Nehalem (Core i7-based) Xeon 5500 series instead of the older Pentium 4 (Xeon 5x00 series) or Core 2 (Xeon 5100, 5200, 5300, or 5400 series) CPUs. The Xeon 5500s have no FSB, which is a huge improvement over the old LGA771 and older (Socket 604, etc.) Xeons.

Quote:
Anything else I need to know or am mistaken about building a multi core server system?


The only thing I can think of that wasn't already covered by you or by me already is that you need to be careful which power supply you get. Dual LGA1366 motherboards require a power supply with at least one 8-pin EPS12V connector, usually a 4-pin and an 8-pin, or even two 8-pin connectors. You generally cannot "get away" with plugging a 4-pin connector into an 8-pin socket or leaving a connector empty, so you will need to have the right power connectors. This varies by motherboard and you would be wise to check to see what connectors your specific motherboard uses. You can get adapters to convert PCI Express or Molex connectors into 4-pin or 8-pin connectors, so it's not that big of a deal but it is something to watch out for.

Quote:
On a separate note. I've read that a single i7 can almost perform as well as dual xeon processors. Will there be anything coming (or is there already) that is a server processor that uses i7 technology? I'm having a hard time doing much research on this...

Thanks!


The Xeon 5500 series (the LGA1366 ones) are based on the Core i7. Get those and you'd be happy, forget the LGA771-based units.
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