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Help with GPU workstation build

Last response: in Systems
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April 18, 2011 10:50:20 PM

Hey all,

I'm scheming a build for an entry-level GPGPU workstation with a mind to perform scientific calculations, protein folding, mathematica, and molecular modeling and animating, utilizing NVIDIA CUDA programming.
I might happen to do some video editing too, but that would be secondary.

I based much of my first draft on workstation recommendations from this $1250 Workstation

Here's my plan:
NZXT Phantom ATX Case ($140)
PC Power & Cooling Silencer Mk II 750W 80 Plus Silver ($130)
ASUS Sabertooth X58 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Motherboard ($195)
Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06 GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad ($270)
ZALMAN CNPS10X QUIET CPU Cooler ($70)
PNY VCQ2000-PB Quadro 2000 Workstation Video Card ($450)
DVD Writer ($23)
12 GB (3x4GB) 240-pin DDR3 SDRAM 1333 ($135)
4x Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.5" Drive ($260)

subtotal = $1673

+ Monitor, I/O, Wifi, and accessories ... ~$300

Here are my questions:

1) Can I shove an NVIDIA Tesla C1060 in this later on? (given I may need to upgrade the Power Supply)
2) Will I be able to keep things cool and have enough power?
3) What about Sandy Bridge / LGA 1155, say i7-2600K? Instead of LGA 1366 (or perhaps dual-1366?)
4) The Quadro (and Tesla) GPUs are supposed to work with Linux. Does anybody have any personal experience with this?

Note: This is not for mission critical or enterprise-level work. This is a hobby gone astray, and perhaps a future in graduate level bioinformatics in the making. It's an expensive and time-consuming hobby, I know, but hey, so is gaming.

Any feedback, help, or criticism is appreciated. Thank you,

Ben

More about : gpu workstation build

April 19, 2011 3:32:07 PM

1. Most people would advise you to go with the sandbeach processor. It has performance advantages over the earlier i7's at similar price levels.

2. That is a very expensive GPU, and your stated uses don't seem to need much GPU. It is a common misconception that CAD and similar workstations need expensive GPU's, but usually this isn't true. GPU power is needed to get high frame rates in games, but in professional use there is usually no need for high frame rates. You either paint the image to the screen once and look at it, or if you are rotating a graphic you can get by with relatively slow frame rates. Even people like me that do AutoCAD and Revit all day on a workstation end up sometimes doing the same tasks on laptops with no fancy GPU and get by just fine. I would suggest that you find a GPU that works with Linux and not worry about buying the fastest GPU available. We have found that the one advantage to buying professional level GPU's for our work is that we get drivers that work with OS's other than common Windows 32bit. (We run Win7-64bit with ATI FireGL and NVIDIA Quadro GPU's.)
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April 29, 2011 1:00:50 AM

thanks, cadder. I think you have a good point about the GPU. I'm still confused about the real differences between "gamer" GPUs and "workstation" GPUs. I think I will get the best deal with an NVIDIA GTX 560 ($250-$270) or two, rather than spending more on the Quadro, which appears to be slower, but has more drivers, support, and accuracy.
Yes, Sandy Bridge is now a must have. I see the i7 2600 or 2600k as best at a reasonable price.($300-$315).
This means LGA 1155, and P57, which brings me to the Motherboard.

I am favoring the ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution ($270) because it just seems way awesome and very supportive of multi-GPU ambitions. Can anyone talk me out of such an expensive mobo, or back me up on this choice?
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April 30, 2011 6:43:27 AM

Quote:
I'm still confused about the real differences between "gamer" GPUs and "workstation" GPUs.


In simplified terms there are 2 differences:

1) A workstation GPU will come with drivers to work with programs like AutoCAD. A gamer GPU will come with drivers to work with games.

2) Gamers want their games to run at high frame rates with fairly detailed images. Images on workstations are typically not run at high framerates, and probably aren't as detailed.
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