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Recommendations for multi-processor system?

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April 8, 2011 8:17:59 PM

I have three software suites that just do not behave well together. I've used them for twenty years, upgrading along the way, but when I put all three on one Windows machine, they always seem to find ways to crash. Installed alone on one computer, they're each happy campers. All three are pretty CPU intensive, two will each typically take all the cycles of a core out of a relatively new quadcore desktop.

I could buy three Win7 desktop computers, and dedicate each machine to a single software suite, but a friend suggested a setup that he built and has run for at least six months. He runs Sun/Oracle VirtualBox under Linux, and has multiple Win7 sessions going (not sure if session is the proper term, instance?). I believe he has a 2-CPU system, each a quad-core CPU, with 12GB RAM for the whole thing. I believe he chose Intel CPUs. He said he came here and asked for suggestions, and took the advice. He's been very happy with the results.

So, what do you experts recommend? I plan to assemble it myself, and figure the components will run from $2,500 to $4,000. More than that, and I'm probably better off getting four single processor quad-core machines.

I'm a graybeard (started punching Fortran IV programs for an IBM 360 back in 1970, before most of the experts here were born). That means I'm not afraid to assemble a machine, but I have little experience with Unix/Linux (I've got an old copy of Xandros running on an even older computer as my network firewall). I figure I can pick up what I need to know about Linux and VirtualBox. Three of my friends use VirtualBox regularly, so I'll have some advice and guidance on the software side. It's the hardware side that I'm in over my head on. I'm wide open to suggestions, and am not "religious" regarding processor or motherboard manufacturers, etc. Asus, Gigabyte, AMD, Intel, Xeon, or whatever is fine, as long as it's the best tool for the job I'm asking it to do.

So, what's the best hammer for this nail? Motherboard, CPUs, RAM?

More about : recommendations multi processor system

April 8, 2011 8:22:14 PM

Hello chartguy;

Do those three software suites need to run simultaneously?
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April 8, 2011 8:23:53 PM

I suppose you were working in Rochester Mn back in the day?
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April 8, 2011 8:46:10 PM

WR2 said:
Hello chartguy;

Do those three software suites need to run simultaneously?


I'm afraid so. One is MS Office, and Excel acts as a front end, pulling data from the web (screen scrapes) and massaging it before saving it as CSV files.
Another one crunches the data and creates PostScript graphics, which are stored as files. Adobe Creative Suite's InDesign assembles the individual PDF graphics into an 80-page newsletter (after Distiller converts the PS to PDF). They do not need to be able to exchange with the Windows clipboard, but I don't want to have to re-boot to get to Excel if I see a data problem in the graphic. That would probably mean three re-boots. See the problem in InDesign, re-boot to Excel, fix the data, re-boot to custom stuff to re-draw the chart, re-boot back to CS to assemble the revised graphic. I figure switching between Windows instances would be a lot faster and easier, and will avoid the "they do not play well together" issues.

Nope on Rochester, MN. The Fortran IV was in HS in Albuquerque (1970-1?), followed by a bunch of HP-GL in Menlo Park around 1974 (timeshare on a 300bps modem). That led to PostScript, etc. I'm more of a financial market/TA geek than a computer geek, but having been a math major, I learned how to use a lot of computer graphics tools along the way. As I said, I'm trying to figure out the right hammer for this nail, without paying too much "fool's tax". I've done plenty of that already.
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April 8, 2011 11:42:02 PM

As a proof of concept you can run virtualbox on a windows machine also. They have windows and linux versions - nothing wrong with linux, I'm a die hard user, but it'll be easier (less frustrating) if you stay with the OS you know.

Things will run slow, but you'll see just how the interaction between machines can be accomplished. I run several VB machines at a time doing some CPU intensive things, and they aren't fast, not by a long shot, but they do work.

I'm in the process of upgrading to a new sandybridge system, and may have some suggestions in a week or two when I get all the parts in.
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April 9, 2011 12:03:33 AM

Hi This Would Be The Set, I Was Trying To Combine Best Price, Performance And Quality
According To Small Budget And Yet Fast Gaming System

AMD Athlon II X4 640 (95W) Quad Core Socket AM3, 3.0GHz, 2Mb Cache, 2000MHz HT, 45nm (ADX640WFGMBOX)
***************
Gigabyte GA-880GM-UD2H Socket AM3 (Six-Core Support) AMD 880G + SB710 Chipset ATI Radeon HD 4250 Graphics with HDMI/DVI/VGA Dual-Channel DDR3 1800+/1333/1066 MHz 8-Channel HD Audio Gigabit LAN 5x SATA 3Gb/s + 1x eSATA3Gb/s 12x USB 2.0 Micro ATX -
****************
Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5450 1GB GDDR3 ATI Radeon HD 5450 Chipset (650Mhz) 1GB GDDR3 (1600Mhz) Dual-Link DVI/HDMI/D-Sub PCI-Express 2.0 Graphics Card -
****************
Western Digital Caviar Black (WD6402AAEX) 640GB SATA3 7200RPM 64MB Cache - $ gaming computers
(it is recommended to 2nd Hard drive for your storage)
****************
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series DDR3 1333MHz (PC3-10666) 8GB (2x4GB) Dual Channel Kit (F3-10666CL9D-8GBXL) -
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April 9, 2011 6:50:51 AM

Hello chartguy
may i suggest CPU with embedded options... (here is some info on it...http://www.intel.com/technology/advanced_comm/322288.pd...... it will also provide you with 2 more links on second page) ...you can chose accordingly go Dual CPU or single, supporting MoBo, etc. :sol: 

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April 9, 2011 4:12:33 PM

I don't think you have a requirement for a dual socket type workstation.
My recommendation would be one desktop system and possibly a notebook, depending on how your work flows.
I think something along those lines will have the 'best utility' for you and also have the most flexibility.
A Core i7 2600K & 16GB of RAM running two virtual machines should nicely cover all three software suites. A dual monitor setup, if you're not already using one, is another upgrade I'd recommend.
The notebook option is to just let you have a system to do the 'other stuff' that any office usually needs doing and would let you be able to be somewhat mobile.
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April 9, 2011 4:15:13 PM

someone19 said:
As a proof of concept you can run virtualbox on a windows machine also. They have windows and linux versions - nothing wrong with linux, I'm a die hard user, but it'll be easier (less frustrating) if you stay with the OS you know.

Things will run slow, but you'll see just how the interaction between machines can be accomplished. I run several VB machines at a time doing some CPU intensive things, and they aren't fast, not by a long shot, but they do work.

I'm in the process of upgrading to a new sandybridge system, and may have some suggestions in a week or two when I get all the parts in.


Thank you for the suggestion. All three apps are memory hogs, so I'll need a minimum of 12GB to make things work well. My Windows machines all run 4GB. I appreciate the suggestion, but I've seen enough of Linux to feel comfortable taking the plunge. The stability is very attractive to me.

Please let me know how your new system works out.

Thank you.
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April 16, 2011 9:39:47 PM

Does anyone else have any suggestions for a system?

So far, the only one has been MonsterCompTech's Gigabyte MB with Athlons.
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April 16, 2011 9:45:37 PM

monstercomptech said:
Hi This Would Be The Set, I Was Trying To Combine Best Price, Performance And Quality
According To Small Budget And Yet Fast Gaming System

AMD Athlon II X4 640 (95W) Quad Core Socket AM3, 3.0GHz, 2Mb Cache, 2000MHz HT, 45nm (ADX640WFGMBOX)
***************
Gigabyte GA-880GM-UD2H Socket AM3 (Six-Core Support) AMD 880G + SB710 Chipset ATI Radeon HD 4250 Graphics with HDMI/DVI/VGA Dual-Channel DDR3 1800+/1333/1066 MHz 8-Channel HD Audio Gigabit LAN 5x SATA 3Gb/s + 1x eSATA3Gb/s 12x USB 2.0 Micro ATX -


Isn't that a single-CPU machine (six core, but single CPU)?
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April 18, 2011 8:24:44 PM
April 25, 2011 8:17:54 PM




WR2,
THANK YOU for giving me a few choices. That is what I was looking for.

This is a production system that will be generating significant revenue, so time will be important. I like the dual-socket solution
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April 25, 2011 8:47:57 PM

2299862,13,54640 said:

COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Advanced E-ATX Case with $160

Would you have any objections to using the 942? NewEgg will ship the 942 free and charges $20 on the 932, so the 942 ends up being only $10 more?

This system looks like the right choice for me. I really appreciate you sharing your expertise. These CPUs are very well suited to virtual machines, but not to gaming. That's exactly what I wanted. Thank you VERY much.
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April 25, 2011 9:10:01 PM



I was thinking of a 2TB Seagate Constellation,
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
but then I saw the "x4", which I assume means run RAID 10. It would only be 1TB, but that's plenty for anything that needs quick access. Long term storage can go on other machines on the network, or even an external drive. Once again, you've thought this through better than I would have. Thank you!
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April 25, 2011 10:07:30 PM

Correct on RAID 10. I had considered SSDs in RAID but with the extra RAM in the system I think the storage drives just need to be responsive enough moving data/programs in and out of the large amount of RAM. I think the RAID 10 option will handle that.

No problem what so ever using the HAF X - RC-942. It's a great case.
Always a good idea to check the shipping charges in case you find a better deal for less, overall. Which you did.

Now if you wanted a RED HAF 932 (AMD red, of course) you could save a bit more - it has free shipping ATM ;) 
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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April 25, 2011 10:14:19 PM

chartguy said:
WR2,
THANK YOU for giving me a few choices. That is what I was looking for.

This is a production system that will be generating significant revenue, so time will be important. I like the dual-socket solution
You're welcome. When we know there is a chance of the systems paying for themselves and earning an income we're not so hesitant to to suggest pumping up the system a bit.

Let us know how things work out for you. We don't get many requests (and even less feedback) on projects along these lines.
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April 25, 2011 10:40:17 PM

I think I'm going to recommend an up-sized PSU.
SeaSonic S12II 620 Bronze 620W PSU

While I'm sure the 520W model has plenty of power for the way you'd be using your system (rarely, if ever, would the video card be drawing full power for example) I ran the system through the PSU calculator. I added some possible future upgrades, like a couple more HDDs, a SSD, extra RAM, another optical drive, another PCI-e expansion card. A few extra USB devices than I think you'd ever really run.


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That would be the requirement if everything were operating at full power draw at the same time - a most unusual occurrence.

The reason for the upgrade suggest is not so much that the excellent Seasonic didn't have enough power. That PSU calculator was for a 'generic 532w PSU' while the S12II 520 is a much better unit. The reason for the upgrade is to allow the upgrading AND keep the power draw down where the cooling fan won't start running faster, allowing for a quieter operating system.
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April 27, 2011 1:24:15 AM

Thank you! I'll go with the bigger PSU.

I've got almost everything in my cart at Egghead, but they're out of stock on the RAM. I went to the Tyan website, and there were not a lot of alternatives, so I guess I'll wait for them to get them in.

You've been extremely helpful. I really appreciate it.
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April 27, 2011 1:45:26 AM

I think I'm missing something here. I thought you recommended the
SeaSonic X Series X650 Gold ((SS-650KM Active PFC F3)) 650W ATX12V V2.3/EPS 12V V2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply in the beginning. It's $140, but it's a quality PSU, and works very efficiently at less than full power. The Bronze 620 is smaller and less efficient (albeit cheaper at $80). If I'm understanding things, I'll probably go with the bigger, more efficient unit. The efficiency will probably pay for the cost difference over time, and even if it does not, the lower noise level and ability to expand will be worth it to me.

Thanks again!
jc the cg
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April 27, 2011 2:09:17 AM

No, you're right.
While double checking the dual socket build I used the single socket ~$1146 PSU while checking power requirements for upgrades. And I should have used the SeaSonic X650.
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July 2, 2011 12:34:07 AM

WR2 said:
You're welcome. When we know there is a chance of the systems paying for themselves and earning an income we're not so hesitant to to suggest pumping up the system a bit.

Let us know how things work out for you. We don't get many requests (and even less feedback) on projects along these lines.


It's been slow, but I've got enough experience now to give you some feedback.

The first example of the Tyan motherboard arrived DOA from Newegg. After I figured that out, Newegg was great about replacing it. All of that took time, and I'm running a business on other computers, so this project took a back seat.

The second example arrived and is working as I type. Some aspects of this motherboard are great, but the Promise RAID controller is not even close to being ready for prime time. Promise does not support it, and Tyan's attempts at support are a joke. I'm not trying to flame Tyan. That seems to be the nature of computer support anymore. The MB is fast and solid, just do not expect the RAID to work.

Here's what I mean:
There is no documentation for the Promise controller on the CD or in the manual that ships with it. After two days of back and forth emails, somebody in tech support finally tells me the steps to enable RAID. I want to use RAID 10, so I go into the Promise Boot Setup Utility to set it up. The utility reports that you need six drives for RAID 10 !?!?!?! There are not even six SATA ports, so that's a classic Catch-22.
So, I do the online support thing again, and say "Shouldn't that be four?" The guy says "No, it should be ten drives for RAID 10." I _KNOW_ that is wrong, so I start a second support thread, hoping to get somebody who has a clue. After two days of back and forth emails with Tyan support, I finally got a copy of the documentation. The documentation says that that menu should say that four drives are required. I realize it is not going to happen, so I figure I'll try RAID 5. I set it up in the utility. I boot 64-bit Ubuntu from a USB key, and it does not see any array, just four single drives. At this point, I realize that I'm probably better off getting a fifth boot drive, and doing the RAID 10 in Linux. I've got 16 cores, I can let one handle RAID.

So, right now I'm running Ubuntu off of one of the hard drives. The next step is to get Virtual box installed and working.

Other semi-random comments:
This is the first motherboard I've had in over twenty years that has no sound capability. There's only a beep speaker on the MB. That's kinda neat, actually. The right tool for the job.
It has FOUR gigabit NICs. That's another server aspect that I had not anticipated. They work beautifully.
When you're in boot setup, the CPUs run full bore. The Smart Fan speed controls are enabled, so before long the fans go to full speed, which is quite noisy. Once you get to loading the OS, things quiet back down. Not even an irritation, just a quirk.

You asked for a report of how it went. Consider this an interim report. I'll let you know how it turns out.
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