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Simulation machines

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February 8, 2011 2:04:45 AM

Hello, I'm about to build two identical I7-920 machines for mathematical simulations. I'm looking to get at least 12GB of DDR3 RAM, hoping to be able to afford 24 GB (for each PC). What would be a good MOBO/RAM combo for this? I want a lightning fast machine capable of extreme number crunching...video card for gaming not necessary

More about : simulation machines

February 8, 2011 1:19:06 PM

Fill out the form in the sticky, link in my sig.
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February 8, 2011 4:16:30 PM

banthracis said:
Fill out the form in the sticky, link in my sig.



Approximate Purchase Date: Within the four to six weeks

Budget Range: aproximately 700-900 per machine Before Rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: stochastic simulation / Monte Carlo Markov chains (MCMC statistics Bayesian methods). R and WinBUGS, SAS (all high priority)...no games will be used for these machines.

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, speakers, OS, and Processors (already bought them). As no games will be played on these machines I do not need an insane video card unless it can be used in the simulation/number crunching process.

intel I7-920 UPC# 3585820473
closest I found online to my exact box
http://www.amazon.com/Intel-Processor-2-66GHz-LGA1366-B...


Preferred Website(s) for Parts: none

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: Intel i7-920 processors

Overclocking: Maybe. I'd like to push the I7-920 to about 3.0ghz

SLI or Crossfire: have no idea what this is

Monitor Resolution: basic

Additional Comments: it'd be nice if it was quiet
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February 8, 2011 4:20:57 PM

Thank you for your time guys. I was thinking of either EVGA or Gigabite for the MOBO but wasn't sure what would be best for this situation. Can you tell me the difference between SDRAM as suggested above

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

vs this RAM which I have been looking at on Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Vengeance-240-Pin-Memory-...

and

http://www.amazon.com/Patriot-PC3-12800-9-9-9-24-Enhanc...

or

http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Dominator-PC3-12800-240-P...

thanks
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February 8, 2011 4:21:45 PM

The target budget of 700-900 is not set in stone. I'm willing to spend up to 1200 per machine if it will greatly improve speed and performance. The OS and processors are not included in that target budget as I've already got them awhile back for this project. Thanks again. Lottan
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February 8, 2011 8:14:09 PM

Not familiar with the above software. Are any of them CUDA accelerated?

The Corsairs RAM kits are a higher speed ddr3 1600 vs the g ksill which is ddr3 1333.

The actual difference in performance won't be that great.

Mobo wise, either company is fine. GA and Asus are the top 2 companies, with GA being the cheaper of the two.

Base build
OPtical
$17
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case
Rosewill Destroyer $55
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
just don't connect the led's if you don't want lights.

HD
Spinpoint F3 1tb $65
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You can also grab the 500gb version for $50 if you don't need the storate space

RAM
G skill $135
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo
Asus sabertooth $190
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSu
Antec 650 earthwatts $75
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Up to this point it's $653 total including shipping.

Now if the stuff is CUDA accelerated then grab a Quadro 2000 $450
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you need cheaper, can also consider quadro 600 $170
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

or fx1800 $388
http://www.amazon.com/PNY-VCQFX1800-PCIE-PB-NVIDIA-Quad...

If software is no CUDA accelerated then just grab a 5450 for $36
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Monitor 21.5" asus 1080p $160 w/ $15 MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Don't know if you need monitors, and you really don't need 1080p ones for your needs, but it's a pretty nice price so I figured I'd toss it in.
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February 8, 2011 8:38:47 PM

Thanks. I'm going to check all this out. Can you describe, or send me to a good site, what CUDA is? I've heard the term but I'm not a computer guy so I only checkup with software and hardware every three years or so. thanks
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February 9, 2011 12:16:34 AM

Thanks Banthracis. You've been a great help
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February 9, 2011 1:21:14 AM

@OP:

Do you absolutely need 2 different PCs? If you don't you may want to look in to a single 2P set up. Also, do you need this PC ASAP? If not, I recommend you wait and get either a LGA1155 or a LGA2011 in a few months

@banthracis : The OP most likely won't need/want a Quaddro. A single GTX480 will outrun the Quaddro 2000 in terms of pure performance. The Quaddro 2000 only has 192 CUDA cores where as the GTX480 has 480 cores. The driver difference between the gaming and the workstation card drivers are not really an issue.
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February 9, 2011 1:51:34 PM

Shadow703793 said:
@OP:
@banthracis : The OP most likely won't need/want a Quaddro. A single GTX480 will outrun the Quaddro 2000 in terms of pure performance. The Quaddro 2000 only has 192 CUDA cores where as the GTX480 has 480 cores. The driver difference between the gaming and the workstation card drivers are not really an issue.


That depends upon usage of the card. Anything involving double precision calculations, the quadro will be superior.
The gtx 480 does have more CUDA cores and GFLOPS, but the drivers are hardly optimized for calculations.

The main reason for the high cost for Quadro cards are the drivers which are specifically tuned on a per-application basis.
There is a significant boost in performance by hacking the GTX GPU's to use quadro drivers. However, this is is both illegal and requires some effort.

If the OP had a slightly higher budget I'd have recommended the quadro 4000 which has the full tesla featureset as well.
(2xDMA, DP speed, ECC, FP64 uncapped)

I'm not familiar with the software the OP uses which is why I asked him to go look them up. Traditionally, stochastic calculations require multi-dimensional integers which puts it right into the realm of double precision.

Yes quadro's are not very well priced, but for high level workstation task's they are superior to GTX's.

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February 9, 2011 2:33:05 PM

would there be an advantage with using a single MOBO with both the intel I7-920's on the same board as Shadow suggested? I thought about that at one point but figured having two separate machines would allow me to run my simulations faster as I could get more covariate sets done simultaneously; one machine works covariate sets 1-10 and the second 11-20 for example.

basically, what would the advantage of have a single system with a double CPU board be over having two separate systems? Would there be any difference?
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February 9, 2011 2:36:10 PM

@Shadow, as for the suggestion of using the LGA2011 or the LGA1155 I've already bought the I7-920s awhile back on sale (got two for 300 bucks brand new at Microtel) for this project. So I'm kinda committed to these at the moment.
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February 9, 2011 2:53:31 PM

You can't put 2 i7-920 on 1 mobo. Only Xeon's support multiprocessor.

Shadow was operating under the assumption you did bot purchase anything yet.
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February 9, 2011 3:01:47 PM

Quote:
@Shadow, as for the suggestion of using the LGA2011 or the LGA1155 I've already bought the I7-920s awhile back on sale (got two for 300 bucks brand new at Microtel) for this project. So I'm kinda committed to these at the moment.


Ah. If that is the case, then by all means go with it. If you already have 2x 920s you will NOT be able to use them in a 2P set up. You must build 2 different PCs.

Quote:

basically, what would the advantage of have a single system with a double CPU board be over having two separate systems? Would there be any difference?


Yes. The number of threads and raw processing power that is available on a 2P. If you are using some type of distributed computing, this won't matter, but if you are running one massive program where you can allocate a lot of resources it makes sense.

Quote:
Anything involving double precision calculations, the quadro will be superior.


That is a good point considering nVidia reduced double precision on the gaming cards (AFAIK, artificially).

@OP:

1. Does your software use OpenCL/CUDA?

2. Is this for pro level work? (As in, it's part of your job)

3. Do you plan to roll your own sim software using CUDA/openCL if possible?
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February 9, 2011 4:21:28 PM

http://www.asrock.com/MB/download.asp?Model=X58%20Extre... <--- download the latest bios

http://www.asrock.com/mb/overview.asp?Model=X58%20Extre... <--- more info on that board here

http://www.amazon.com/ASRock-X58-Extreme-CrossFireX-Mot... $164.99 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
ASRock X58 Extreme Core i7 / Intel X58/ DDR3/ Quad CrossFireX & Quad SLI/ A&GbE/ ATX Motherboard

http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-RR-B10-212P-G1-Univ... $28.35 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
Cooler Master RR-B10-212P-G1 Hyper 212 Plus 775/1156/1366/AMD/AM2/AM3 Universal Direct Contact Heat-Pipe 120mm Fan CPU Cooler

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $169.99 FREE SHIPPING
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9T-12GBRL

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Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

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Antec BP550 Plus 550W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

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LG Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM SATA DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM

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Samsung 1 TB Spinpoint 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.5 inch Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive HD103SJ

Total: $570.12 *not including graphics card, shipping, etc...
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February 9, 2011 5:51:57 PM

@Hiya, Thanks. I'm going to make some comparisons between the two recommended set ups and I'll let you folks know what I finally decide to go with.

@banthracis: is the price tag of 780 vs 450 really worth the upgrade from a QUADRO 2000 to 4000? basically a 330 difference.

@all: THANK YOU for your time and energy on this!

@Shadow
To answer you question I'm not exactly sure. SAS is the industry standard for data analysis while R is the academic standard because of the freeware and openly available packages from CRAN. It's also very versitile and will handle any different applications/models, ect and allows you to build your own code if you prefer to not use a black box function developed by some brainy-iac at MIT (joking about MIT but you get the point).

I would be surprised if SAS hasn't already incorporated CUDA as it's updated nearly yearly. R does have some people developing packages that use CUDA. WinBugs I can't find any information on it so I would say that it doesn't as I believe they stopped active development a year or so ago.

The applications are for personal research but since my job is in the same field I would be surprised if some of it doesn't overlap (hence, I can claim a tax write off for some of the cost).

as for developing "my own" I am not looking to actually create a software package no.

Question: if I understood you correctly, the choice between a 2P system vs 2 systems would boil down to how large of a program/simulation you are trying to run. If I was dealing with massive sized data sets and a large jackhammer program like SAS having a 2P system would be better. However I I was dealing with moderate repetition tasks on small to moderate sized data sets that were different for each problem then having two systems would be better. Yes? No?

@all: another Q if you have time. Since the idea of a 2P set up was mentioned on this thread, what would you recommend for a system assuming that I hadn't bought anything yet?

Thanks again Everyone!

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February 9, 2011 5:57:06 PM

P.S. I'm very new to CUDA and how to use it...as a matter of fact it was only last night that I did any reading on it and just three days ago that I found out it existed. Any really good sources for how to program using CUDA? I went to the sites mentioned above and I'm intrigued and think it might actually help boost performance from my simulations as I could program these in C or C++.

thanks again
Lott@n
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February 9, 2011 6:02:56 PM

Depends on what you're doing really.

Do you need ECC, 2xDMA is your work heavily dependent maximum double precision flops? That's really stuff you'll have to figure out with either software vendor or someone else who uses it.
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February 9, 2011 11:42:26 PM

Quote:
Any really good sources for how to program using CUDA? I went to the sites mentioned above and I'm intrigued and think it might actually help boost performance from my simulations as I could program these in C or C++.


Start with the API: http://developer.download.nvidia.com/compute/cuda/2_3/t...

Toolkit: http://developer.nvidia.com/object/cuda_3_2_downloads.h...
(Read the docs on the page)

There was a well written intro to CUDA I found a while back and if I find it again, I will post a link.

Quote:
Question: if I understood you correctly, the choice between a 2P system vs 2 systems would boil down to how large of a program/simulation you are trying to run. If I was dealing with massive sized data sets and a large jackhammer program like SAS having a 2P system would be better.

Yes.

Quote:
However I I was dealing with moderate repetition tasks on small to moderate sized data sets that were different for each problem then having two systems would be better. Yes? No?

Well, this depends on your programs. You could probably run two instances of the same program on the 2P system and limit each instance to 8 threads.

Again, are you using a distributive system? Kind of like a MAYA Backburner.

One more thing: You MAY want to look in to a board that support ECC RAM.

Quote:
@banthracis: is the price tag of 780 vs 450 really worth the upgrade from a QUADRO 2000 to 4000? basically a 330 difference.

Only if using a lot of CUDA.

edit:
Quote:
another Q if you have time. Since the idea of a 2P set up was mentioned on this thread, what would you recommend for a system assuming that I hadn't bought anything yet?

I haven't really looked in to the 2P area recently so here is a rough idea of what you need/should get.

2P ASUS board: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

or http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Note: The major difference is the form factor and the number of RAM slots available.

2x Xeon E5620 or similar Quad: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

6x2GB (2x 3*2 kit) DDR3 ECC RAM

A good case like a HAF922/932,etc
Note: A SSI EEB board WILL fit in the dimensions of EATX (ie. HAF932), HOWEVER, your mounting holes will be off and will need to make your own mounting holes.

1x SSD like a Vertex 2 if possible for OS/main programs

2x 1TB Samsung F3s in RAID1 for data/storage.

XFX 750W PSU

2x LGA1366 coolers

A cheap nVidia GPU if you only plan to dabble in CUDA else a Quaddro

Obviously, this would be more expensive than a i7 build, but imo, it is worth it. I have access to a similar set up like listed above, and it makes a HUGE difference in my CFD sims.
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February 10, 2011 8:39:17 PM

Don't buy open box motherboards. They do not come with the back IO cover, driver DVD, SATA cables,etc.

As for the P6T, yes it's a good board. I haven't used the workstation variant of the P6T but I'm quite happy with my "gamer" variant of the P6T (see my sig).

You don't absolutely NEED a server board and in fact, you don't want a server board if you plan to OC. The ONLY reason you would get a server board is if you want ECC RAM. If this is critical work, then yes, ECC RAM is needed, else just save the money and get a normal board (like a ASUS Sabertooth).
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February 11, 2011 3:30:37 AM

Awesome advise everyone! Thank you. I think I've decided on the ASUS sabertooth mobo set up. I'll post back here in a couple weeks after I get it all set up and let you all know how it goes and the exact details of the systems I built.


Thanks again! This forum rocks! Glad to be a part of the community.

Lott@n
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