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Scientific Computing

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  • GPUs
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Last response: in Motherboards
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June 21, 2011 9:33:51 PM

We're building a system that will be used mainly to explore the potential of the Nvidia GPU for use as a massively parallel compute engine working on a variety of computationally intensive problems, including complex-domain image processing and possibly ray tracing.

For proof-of-concept, we've decided that a GTX570 board will meet out needs. We need help, though, choosing a motherboard/CPU combination that will allow full use of the GPU's capabilities and also provide sufficient computing horsepower when the special capabilities of the GPU aren't available or appropriate.

We are currently completely muddled by the assortment of sockets and chipsets, and the capabilities and limitations they bring to the table. Any advice would be appreciated.

More about : scientific computing

a c 717 V Motherboard
June 21, 2011 9:46:06 PM

Okay?!

Scientific + Consumer makes no sense to me. These are Workstation nVidia GPUs -> http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

They're commonly paired with Xeon, registered ECC RAM, and Workstation MOBOs. If you're rendering optical coherence tomography images and I assume path tracing are all done on Xeon Workstations.

Does this make any sense to you? What's your budget?
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June 21, 2011 9:54:35 PM

jaquith said:
Okay?!

Scientific + Consumer makes no sense to me. These are Workstation nVidia GPUs -> http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

They're commonly paired with Xeon, registered ECC RAM, and Workstation MOBOs. If you're rendering optical coherence tomography images and I assume path tracing are all done on Xeon Workstations.

Does this make any sense to you? What's your budget?


A bit more detail - we're using this build as a pathfinder. We don't have experience using GPUs as compute engines, and are hoping to gain some at fairly low cost - lower than what a workstation would set us back. If we get promising results, we will consider moving on to a more capable system later, but we need some sort of foundation to support a request for the Bigger Bucks that would cost.

Right now, we'd be happy if the case and everything in it were well under $2000. Again, this is more a proof-of-concept project than an operational system.
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a c 717 V Motherboard
June 21, 2011 10:26:09 PM

I'd still get the basics correct, later sell or use the GTX 570 for the 'home gaming' PC.

$230 ASUS P8B WS - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$280 CT2KIT51272BA1339, 2 Kits 4X4GB 1333 MHz ECC CAS 9 - http://www.crucial.com/store/listparts.aspx?model=P8B%2...
$350 Xeon E3-1275 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$160 CORSAIR Professional Series HX850 PSU 80 Silver - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$318 EVGA 012-P3-1570-AR GeForce GTX 570 (Fermi) 1280MB - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$125 Corsair Graphite Series 600T {personal choice} - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
=====
$1,463

$140 Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit OEM - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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June 21, 2011 10:59:22 PM

Thanks.

The small amount of expertise we have is more familiar with homestyle systems, so that's what we reached for. I'm assuming the major difference between those systems and the one you're recommending is reliability; otherwise, the specs on this system don't seem to differ significantly from consumer-ish systems based, for example, on i7/Z68 cpu/mobo. ECC memory, I agree, is worthwhile. Is this a fair assessment, or is there something we're missing here?
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a c 717 V Motherboard
June 21, 2011 11:10:42 PM

The only '$ kicker' is the ECC, you could get non-ECC in it's place. Also, SB Xeon don't OC, the older Xeon's were OC from 'BCLK'.

If you're looking for a Gaming rig, then I can point you to some nice P67/Z68 builds. The one above is a Professional'ish {GPU aside} Workstation.
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June 22, 2011 6:12:47 AM

Thanks. We picked the GTX570 based on advice we received from Nvidia, but if there's a more suitable board I'd like to hear about it. Nvidia rose to the top because of their C++ ray tracing framework library, which we're hoping will save us a good deal of development time. The Nvidia rep pushed the GTX500 series given our needs; that doesn't mean he was right, of course.

I'm liking the server approach more. There's much more memory available, and as already noted ECC capability is certainly desirable. We're even more ignorant in this realm, however, than in the consumer arena. Is there a good overview of CPUs/chipsets available that lays out performance and other characteristics for these that would help bring us up to speed?

The HPTX form factor is a bit offputting on this particular board, though, capable as it is. It shoves us into a larger, more expensive case. And it's just this sort of trivia that could scuttle a pathfinder project; the beancounters aren't used to paying a lot for cases, and they'll fixate on that.
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a c 717 V Motherboard
June 22, 2011 5:38:50 PM

I've built off the SR-2 and there's nothing wrong with them, but the cheapest that makes any sense is $6,000+ and I've built $12,000+ SR-2's. The nVidia rep is out of their mind.

The big differences between WS GPU and Gaming GPU is accuracy, drivers, optimized library algorithms for rendering e.g. Open GL, bus speeds, bin, etc.

The whole idea of Server/Workstations is accuracy in reducing errors in computations including that of the: CPU, RAM, GPU, etc mission critical i.e. Scientific are ALL done on Workstations.

Also, the above system did not list any RAID or HDD of DVD; we didn't get that far. IMO, I would RAID 5 4x1TB if 3TB is needed or 4x2TB if 6TB is needed.
($320) $80 SAMSUNG EcoGreen F4 HD204UI 2TB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($260) 65 SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$26 ASUS 24X DVD Burner - SATA Model DRW-24B1ST http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So to recap a full system:

$1,889 Custom Built WS Xeon E3-1275 4-Core 3.4GHz, 16GB ECC, Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64, 'GTX 570', RAID 5 3TB, DVD, no ( monitor, Keyboard or Mouse)

$3,129.00 Dell Precision T1600 Workstation, Xeon E3-1270 3.40 GHz, 16GB ECC, Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64, Quadro NVS 420 (+$132 vs GTX 570), RAID 1 2x1TB, 265W PSU, Keyboard, Mouse, no monitor.

You do the math, $3,000+ or $1,900. If you 'buy' then I'd get an HP WS and no a Dell. Dell make good servers, okay WS and crappy PCs.
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