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Advice: Fast, cheap number cruncher

Last response: in Systems
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May 13, 2010 3:33:49 AM

Hello,

I would like to build a fast computer for running neural networks. I'll probably use Linux. I can run 4 (or more) networks simultaneously, so I'm thinking I can use all of a quad-core. Also, I'd like to use a smaller case, if possible. Maybe a microATX? So here is what I'm thinking. Please make suggestions or let me know where I might be wrong in my thinking.

1. microATX case?
2. quad-core CPU: something at the point of diminishing returns. Where more $ doesn't get a lot more speed. Suggestions?
3. RAM: What kind and how much? Is 4GB enough? Would 6GB make a big difference?
4. Mother Board: suggestions please. Of course, has to work w/ CPU
5. HD: I won't use more than 50GB. I guess the smallest 7200 rpms SATA is what I want? In a pinch, I have a 7200 ide HD I can pull from another machine.
6. Graphics Card: I can probably pull one from another machine. I'm not doing anything graphics intensive, so that should work.
7. CD/DVD drive: Not needed. I have an external drive I can use.
8. Sound Card: anything that will drive 2 inexpensive speakers.

Can I do this for $400? $500? Thanks in advance for any help.
May 13, 2010 3:49:55 AM

I use Matlab a lot for work (Im a graduate student / research assistant). I cannot tell you how much RAM comes in handy. It really sucks to be running a long ass computation and then get a out of memory error, especially if you try to make something real fast that doesnt incorporate intermediate progress saving. I would recommend as much as you can afford. Also, depending on how much parallelization you are doing, you may want to go for a i7 with HyperThreading or a X6. How high can you go on budget? 400-500 dollars wont buy you much memory nor processor. There are motherboards for AMD with decent integrated graphics.
May 13, 2010 4:00:08 AM

Here is a core setup that has integrated graphics and sound. If you have a HD, case and PSU you can use, I would recommend purchasing these items if you want top tier. If not we can do some changes. You can get a 500 gb hard drive for about 50 bucks these days if you need one.

2 x G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL

$219.98
(109.99 each)

AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 2.8GHz Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor Model HDT55TFBGRBOX
GIGABYTE GA-880GM-USB3 AM3 AMD 880G USB 3.0 HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

$284.98


Subtotal: $504.96
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May 13, 2010 9:00:20 AM

^ Above does not include a lot of stuff as he said.

However I am thinking that if you have a PSU it is most likely junk which I would not like running a high end system. $500 is certainly pushing it a bit low, however I'm not sure on the requirements of these networks. You may not require more than 4GB of memory so you could get 4GB then if its not enough you could upgrade to some more.

It seems like you do not need such high end stuff as the X6 as your budget is VERY low. Also I'm not sure but you may require a very fast HDD, SSD would be good in this case, however your budget does not allow this, at the least you would want a new SATA 7200 drive like the Samsung F3.

If you had more information on the requirements of these networks it would allow us to know where budgets cuts are allowed.

Hope this helps.

[EDIT]:

Here is a build to follow your budget.

CPU: $99
AMD Athlon II X4 630
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MOBO: $80
MSI 785GM-E51
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: $105
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: $65
Antec EarthWatts EA-500D
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: $55
Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case: $25
Rosewill R101-P-BK
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That comes to $410.

You could also get another 120mm for the case and a aftermarket cooler so you can OC your processor to raise your performance.

Thats just an idea. Hope it helps.
May 13, 2010 10:34:55 AM

$499 AR including ship
May 13, 2010 3:15:15 PM

Thank you, this is very helpful. I can say a little more about the networks, but I don't know if it will help. Really, I am training neural networks. It takes several days of running the CPU at 100%. Currently, I have a dual-core CPU (both cores running at 100%) and another computer running a single-core CPU. I want to swap out these 2 computers for a single quad-core computer (more computing power, less space). I can run 1 process per core. I guess what I don't know for sure is what % of my RAM I'm using when I do this, and if there is any writing to the HD. So I'm thinking I'll go w/ 4 GB RAM. Later I can upgrade and see if that offers a boost in speed.

I wouldn't say I'm looking for a hi-end system at all. I'm more looking for the highest performance/cost ratio.

I'm not sure if you could offer any budget cuts or component modifications based on this info. The system you have suggested looks promising to me.

Thanks again!

Wolygon said:
^ Above does not include a lot of stuff as he said.

However I am thinking that if you have a PSU it is most likely junk which I would not like running a high end system. $500 is certainly pushing it a bit low, however I'm not sure on the requirements of these networks. You may not require more than 4GB of memory so you could get 4GB then if its not enough you could upgrade to some more.

It seems like you do not need such high end stuff as the X6 as your budget is VERY low. Also I'm not sure but you may require a very fast HDD, SSD would be good in this case, however your budget does not allow this, at the least you would want a new SATA 7200 drive like the Samsung F3.

If you had more information on the requirements of these networks it would allow us to know where budgets cuts are allowed.

Hope this helps.

[EDIT]:

Here is a build to follow your budget.

CPU: $99
AMD Athlon II X4 630
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MOBO: $80
MSI 785GM-E51
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: $105
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: $65
Antec EarthWatts EA-500D
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: $55
Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case: $25
Rosewill R101-P-BK
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That comes to $410.

You could also get another 120mm for the case and a aftermarket cooler so you can OC your processor to raise your performance.

Thats just an idea. Hope it helps.

May 14, 2010 2:45:09 PM

Yes well it doesn't seem like you would use a 6 core at all so there is not much point of spending the extra money on that. You can downgrade the PSU to a 380W or similar if you know you won't be upgrading it to a gaming PC or more high end, you would save around $15. Which would sink it to sub $400.

Are you going to be training Neural Networks often like once your finished one you will do another? Are you going to be using it sometimes for anything else such as gaming? If so you could invest in a graphics card such as a 5770 for around $150.

Other than the PSU I don't see much you can downgrade. You may however want to buy an aftermarket cooler so you can OC your processor so they get trained quicker. A good cooler is the CM Hyper 212+ for $27.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So I'm thinking you are not requiring a fast HDD which is good. Also you could check the RAM usage on your current builds to check how much RAM they are using to see if you need more than 4GB.

Glad I could help.



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