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$3000 cruncher system

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October 15, 2011 6:19:26 PM

Hello there!

Knowing that my current machine might not make it to next spring, I decided to slowly consider my next build. Since I'm now part of World Community Grid & GPUGRID, I am interested in building my next rig as a cruncher. I am not into computer farms as it takes too much space and its too messy (IMO) so instead of having 6, 8 or more machines, I prefer having a more performing machine.

I am not a gamer at all, and not planning to be any time soon. If I just had to build a new machine I'd know exactly what to get, but since I want to optimize the build for highest performance and stability my money can buy, I need to ask this community for a few pointers, and first before I submit inquiries about specific parts, I need to clear up a few fundamental questions I am having.

First I should mention my overall expectations and constraints:

-Overall price: $3,000CAD (including tax, and shipping)
-Will be running 24/7 (or almost)
-Will be running Linux (very likely Slackware 64 bit)
-No need for PCI addon cards (sound, ethernet, etc).

********
CPU: Desktop or server CPU? (i7/Phenom, or Xeon/Opteron)? The more I read on the web, the more I am confused... I've seen people recommending server CPU's for their performance and enhanced threading capabilities (better share of system resources between threads and cores) and the fact that they are meant to run 24/7, while some other people are recommending a high end desktop CPU for their high performance and price tag. If I had LOTS of money, I'd probably go for a dual socket Xeon board with 2 X5600 series, but these beasts are easily $1,300+ each in Canada and its way over my budget, and I really wonder if they are that worthwhile for crunching tasks.

CPU: AMD or Intel? I've built machines with both brands in the past, I used to be "Intel" until I built my last machine with an Athlon II X4 640 CPU which exceeded my expectations for a price tag that was much lower than Intel. All benchmarks I've seen so far are clearly showing that Intel's high end CPU's are more performing than AMD's high end equivalents, but some benchmarks are not very convincing with 5-7% performance differences for almost 400% price tag difference. Again, if money wasn't a concern at all, I'd go for the super duper king of the hill (Core i7-990X Extreme Edition) but at over $1,000 price tag for a single chip, no thanks! On AMD's side, for the desktop market, their Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition Thuban 3.3GHz seems to be the best they have for now. They just released the 8 core Bulldozer CPU but its performance is very disappointing (look in the components review here at TH) so I think I would hold on for now with this one.

GPU: Considering that I will be running Slackware-Linux 64bit on this cruncher rig, I am heavily leaning toward Nvidia for their better (in my experience) driver support and the CUDA framework which I am already using on my XPS laptop. I am leaning toward a quad SLI setup with GTX580's and will wait a bit until their price tag falls below $350 each. Nvidia could very well release the 600 Series soon so I'll stay tuned for the price.

GPU: For crunching tasks, especially on projects like GPUGRID, is GPU RAM very important? In other words, given the choice between a 1GB GTX580 and a 3GB GTX580, should I spend the extra to get the additional 2GB RAM? Are crunching tasks effectively using the onboard RAM?

RAM: Are you guys recommending that I load the mobo with as much RAM as it can take or is it a waste of money? I am leaning toward a minimum of 16GB of RAM, my current crunching rig is crunching for both WCG & GPUGRID and with my current settings, WCG's tasks are not taking more than 300MB of virtual memory while the task from GPUGRID is taking a 16.25GB chunk of virtual memory...

Water cooling or not? If overclocking will provide higher performance at the cost of increased electricity usage, I am ok with this but I am not entirely comfortable to overclock without aggressive cooling, especially on a $3000 machine.

My main confusion is regarding the CPU type VS price. For example, I could go for a single high-end desktop CPU with 3 or 4 GPU's in SLI, or go for a server CPU with 2 GPU's in SLI. My ideal configuration would be like 2 Xeons (L3366) with 4 way SLI using the EVGA Classified SR2 mobo, but the overall price tag is way above my budget, even for a low end CPU...

In the hope I will receive some guidance and pointers from this valuable community, I am continuing my research!
Thanks!

More about : 3000 cruncher system

October 15, 2011 6:28:01 PM

lpallard said:
Hello there!

Knowing that my current machine might not make it to next spring, I decided to slowly consider my next build. Since I'm now part of World Community Grid & GPUGRID, I am interested in building my next rig as a cruncher. I am not into computer farms as it takes too much space and its too messy (IMO) so instead of having 6, 8 or more machines, I prefer having a more performing machine.

I am not a gamer at all, and not planning to be any time soon. If I just had to build a new machine I'd know exactly what to get, but since I want to optimize the build for highest performance and stability my money can buy, I need to ask this community for a few pointers, and first before I submit inquiries about specific parts, I need to clear up a few fundamental questions I am having.

First I should mention my overall expectations and constraints:

-Overall price: $3,000CAD (including tax, and shipping)
-Will be running 24/7 (or almost)
-Will be running Linux (very likely Slackware 64 bit)
-No need for PCI addon cards (sound, ethernet, etc).

********
CPU: Desktop or server CPU? (i7/Phenom, or Xeon/Opteron)? The more I read on the web, the more I am confused... I've seen people recommending server CPU's for their performance and enhanced threading capabilities (better share of system resources between threads and cores) and the fact that they are meant to run 24/7, while some other people are recommending a high end desktop CPU for their high performance and price tag. If I had LOTS of money, I'd probably go for a dual socket Xeon board with 2 X5600 series, but these beasts are easily $1,300+ each in Canada and its way over my budget, and I really wonder if they are that worthwhile for crunching tasks.

CPU: AMD or Intel? I've built machines with both brands in the past, I used to be "Intel" until I built my last machine with an Athlon II X4 640 CPU which exceeded my expectations for a price tag that was much lower than Intel. All benchmarks I've seen so far are clearly showing that Intel's high end CPU's are more performing than AMD's high end equivalents, but some benchmarks are not very convincing with 5-7% performance differences for almost 400% price tag difference. Again, if money wasn't a concern at all, I'd go for the super duper king of the hill (Core i7-990X Extreme Edition) but at over $1,000 price tag for a single chip, no thanks! On AMD's side, for the desktop market, their Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition Thuban 3.3GHz seems to be the best they have for now. They just released the 8 core Bulldozer CPU but its performance is very disappointing (look in the components review here at TH) so I think I would hold on for now with this one.

GPU: Considering that I will be running Slackware-Linux 64bit on this cruncher rig, I am heavily leaning toward Nvidia for their better (in my experience) driver support and the CUDA framework which I am already using on my XPS laptop. I am leaning toward a quad SLI setup with GTX580's and will wait a bit until their price tag falls below $350 each. Nvidia could very well release the 600 Series soon so I'll stay tuned for the price.

GPU: For crunching tasks, especially on projects like GPUGRID, is GPU RAM very important? In other words, given the choice between a 1GB GTX580 and a 3GB GTX580, should I spend the extra to get the additional 2GB RAM? Are crunching tasks effectively using the onboard RAM?

RAM: Are you guys recommending that I load the mobo with as much RAM as it can take or is it a waste of money? I am leaning toward a minimum of 16GB of RAM, my current crunching rig is crunching for both WCG & GPUGRID and with my current settings, WCG's tasks are not taking more than 300MB of virtual memory while the task from GPUGRID is taking a 16.25GB chunk of virtual memory...

Water cooling or not? If overclocking will provide higher performance at the cost of increased electricity usage, I am ok with this but I am not entirely comfortable to overclock without aggressive cooling, especially on a $3000 machine.

My main confusion is regarding the CPU type VS price. For example, I could go for a single high-end desktop CPU with 3 or 4 GPU's in SLI, or go for a server CPU with 2 GPU's in SLI. My ideal configuration would be like 2 Xeons (L3366) with 4 way SLI using the EVGA Classified SR2 mobo, but the overall price tag is way above my budget, even for a low end CPU...

In the hope I will receive some guidance and pointers from this valuable community, I am continuing my research!
Thanks!


This is a huge waste of money...why do you even need such power?? Quad SLI when you are not even a gamer??
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October 15, 2011 6:42:45 PM

michxymi said:
This is a huge waste of money...why do you even need such power?? Quad SLI when you are not even a gamer??



i think you need to google GPUGRID
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October 15, 2011 6:46:20 PM

"i think you need to google GPUGRID"

Good advice... :) 

Also seeing that Im going to run Linux, that should be a good pointer that Im not into games ;) 


No recommendations/comments regarding the main topic?
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October 15, 2011 6:53:38 PM

I don't need to google anything...I know what GPUGRID is....Quad SLI while you can get a Quadro or Tesla??
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October 15, 2011 7:36:11 PM

crap, i can't delete the previous post. please disregard my previous post.
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October 15, 2011 8:03:04 PM

I was initially considering the Tesla boards as well since they're specifically meant for what I want to do, but I see them more like the server's CPU (i.e. 24/7 with low power) use... and I *doubt* a Tesla board could overrun a dual SLI GTX580 in any way, never mind a quad GTX580.

According to my quick research on the Nvidia/Tesla webpage, a Tesla C2050 can output 1030GFlops (single precision) and 515GFlops (double) while a GTX580 (according to Wikipedia) can output 1581GFlops (I assume Single precision). The only advantage I can see its the 3GB RAM of the Tesla board. It *could* help if the calculations were optimized to use it, and even with this, 2 GTX580 in SLI would have 1536MB x 2 = 3072MB RAM to share...

"I don't need to google anything..."

My friend, please don't be offended in any way :)  The way you wrote your first post, we thought that you did not know what GPUGRID was. No big deal!

One Tesla C2050 is more than $2,000 here in Canada while for that price I get 4 water-cooled GTX580. Of course the power consumption of the 4 GTX's will be way more than of the Tesla, but never to justify the price/performance/power ratio difference.

A small anecdote (if it may help clarify my vision):

A long time ago, I was working on a contract basis for some high tech companies as I was doing CAD (Pro Engineer). At that moment, I bought a FireGL 8800 workstation card. It was the best solution considering compatibility, price, features and availability. I did not regret it at all, I used it a LOT but about 5 years later, most consumer GPU's were outperforming the workstation adapters by a clear mile. At that moment, I understood that except guaranteed performance, certified drivers, tech support and probably higher component quality, the so-called workstation adapters, often priced 6 to 10 times more than their consumer equivalents, were not worthwhile, unless for corporate use where very specific features were required and where money is not a problem to buy the equipment. I've worked with CAD, rendering and other graphical applications on consumer cards like Geforces & Radeons without problems. Back in the day, one of the main differences between consumer & workstation adapters was the hardware OpenGL acceleration with the workstation cards. This is no longer true.

My intended use with this rig is not to make money with it, nor it is to support any commercial activities. I dont see any benefits to go for a workstation class GPU nor to go for a Tesla board. After all , all I care is raw performance VS cost ratio.

Again, I may be wrong, and in this case, enlightenment would be more than welcome! After all, the world of computers evolves so fast these days...
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October 15, 2011 8:04:47 PM

de5_Roy said:
crap, i can't delete the previous post. please disregard my previous post.


Why? Whats wrong with it? Except considering what I've said above, going for a pre-configured workstation would mean going for workstation class components, which like I said, I no longer see benefit (for my use).
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October 15, 2011 8:16:50 PM

COOLER MASTER HAF X RC-942-KKN1 Black Steel/ Plastic ATX Full Tower Computer Case $189.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Antec High Current Pro HCP-1200 1200W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply $299.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I72600K $314.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Zalman-CNPS12X-CPU-Coo...

ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z LGA 1155 Intel Z68 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Extended ATX Intel Motherboard $334.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

G.SKILL Sniper Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Voltage Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9Q-16GBSR1 $115.49
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

OCZ Vertex 3 Series – MAX IOPS Edition VTX3MI-25SAT3-120G 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) $269.99 and a $20 rebate
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARX 2TB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $89.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

3X PNY SuperClocked VCGGTX580XPB-OC GeForce GTX 580 (Fermi) 1536MB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card $1439.97 and a $40 rebate=$1399.97
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

This could be your "Cruncher System" at $2995.40. You can of course make changes to suit your needs and likes and dislikes and budget.
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Best solution

October 15, 2011 8:27:27 PM

inzone said:
COOLER MASTER HAF X RC-942-KKN1 Black Steel/ Plastic ATX Full Tower Computer Case $189.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Antec High Current Pro HCP-1200 1200W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply $299.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I72600K $314.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Zalman-CNPS12X-CPU-Coo...

ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z LGA 1155 Intel Z68 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Extended ATX Intel Motherboard $334.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

G.SKILL Sniper Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Voltage Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9Q-16GBSR1 $115.49
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

OCZ Vertex 3 Series – MAX IOPS Edition VTX3MI-25SAT3-120G 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) $269.99 and a $20 rebate
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARX 2TB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $89.99
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

3X PNY SuperClocked VCGGTX580XPB-OC GeForce GTX 580 (Fermi) 1536MB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card $1439.97 and a $40 rebate=$1399.97
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

This could be your "Cruncher System" at $2995.40. You can of course make changes to suit your needs and likes and dislikes and budget.

This build looks good, but please don't buy an OCZ SSD ever! Get Intel, budget permitting, if not, Crucial M4. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure you can cut back on the case to the less expensive HAF 932. I'm not 100% if 3 of those cards will fit however. Hope it's cold where you live, the rig will put out some heat lol! For a CPU cooler, I would go with the Corsair H80 water cooler. It will suffice for your needs just fine.
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October 15, 2011 9:00:42 PM

Well he did say he lives in Canada , so the temps could be a little lower. I have a similar set up although mine is much more expensive , I had to cut back on this build I posted because of the budget. I don't have anything against OCZ and as a matter of fact I am running thier RevoDrive X2 and it is great. The SSD is the Max IOPS version which should fit in with his work.
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October 15, 2011 9:13:14 PM

Inzone, what kind of setup do you have?
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October 15, 2011 9:29:38 PM

inzone said:
Well he did say he lives in Canada , so the temps could be a little lower. I have a similar set up although mine is much more expensive , I had to cut back on this build I posted because of the budget. I don't have anything against OCZ and as a matter of fact I am running thier RevoDrive X2 and it is great. The SSD is the Max IOPS version which should fit in with his work.

I don't have anything against OCZ either, until I bought 2 of those max IOPS drives and BOTH failed on me in a short time. Intel uses highest quality parts that are more reliable, with a good controller. Crucial has a better controller than OCZ, but the same cheap parts. OCZ has a cheap controller and parts. No reliability what so ever. Look closer into the actual hardware of those drives. His "cruncher" will do him no good when his SSD takes a crap on him lol.
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October 15, 2011 9:54:30 PM

lpallard said:
Inzone, what kind of setup do you have?



I have a custom built (by me of course) rather expensive computer. I did not have a budget or a time frame so I started and kept building.I can list the components if you like.

Intel i7 980x EXTREME cpu clocked at 4.05ghz
Cooler Master Half-X and the case has been modified , you can see a picture of it in my posts
Asus P6X58-E WS
24gb Corsair Dominator ram 9-9-9-24
Antec High Current Pro 1200w
3X Evga GTX 580 3gb Hydro Copper 2 video cards
LG Blue Ray
Pioneer dvd r/rw
OCZ RevoDrive 240gb 740 read/720 write
Corsair Force GT 180gb sata3 550 read/ 520 write
Western Digital Velociraptor 600gb sata3
LG 27" Monitor
Bose Companion 5 speaker system
Custom 2 loop water cooling setup
Kryos "Silver Edition" cpu block
Bitspower ram block
2 resevoirs
2 pumps
2 radiators
7 Feser twiberk low rpm fans
Antec 1200w power supply for the water cooling system and all the fans
various length of 1/2" ID tubing and fittings

This is a list of the main components and parts there are a lot of other little things. As far as the price I really didn't keep track since I didn't have a budget. (I don't think I want to know)
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October 16, 2011 12:17:32 AM

inzone said:
I have a custom built (by me of course) rather expensive computer. I did not have a budget or a time frame so I started and kept building.I can list the components if you like.

Intel i7 980x EXTREME cpu clocked at 4.05ghz
Cooler Master Half-X and the case has been modified , you can see a picture of it in my posts
Asus P6X58-E WS
24gb Corsair Dominator ram 9-9-9-24
Antec High Current Pro 1200w
3X Evga GTX 580 3gb Hydro Copper 2 video cards
LG Blue Ray
Pioneer dvd r/rw
OCZ RevoDrive 240gb 740 read/720 write
Corsair Force GT 180gb sata3 550 read/ 520 write
Western Digital Velociraptor 600gb sata3
LG 27" Monitor
Bose Companion 5 speaker system
Custom 2 loop water cooling setup
Kryos "Silver Edition" cpu block
Bitspower ram block
2 resevoirs
2 pumps
2 radiators
7 Feser twiberk low rpm fans
Antec 1200w power supply for the water cooling system and all the fans
various length of 1/2" ID tubing and fittings

This is a list of the main components and parts there are a lot of other little things. As far as the price I really didn't keep track since I didn't have a budget. (I don't think I want to know)



WOW!!! Yeah I understand that you dont want to know how much $$$.... ;) 

Are you a gamer? What kind of performance are you getting with this kind of monster?
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October 16, 2011 1:13:35 AM

Yes I do play games and naturaly at the highest settings possible. I enjoy the graphics of a game as much as the gameplay and that s why I like to put in high quality components. Plus its fun putting together a top quality computer and getting new just released parts to see what they can do. Like the RevoDrive , I jumped on that right away when it came out to see what it could do. Some times though there are too many new things and I have to choose.
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October 16, 2011 1:24:33 AM

Im still debating about the CPU... I am not in a rush for this project and the more I think about it I might wait a bit to see what happens with the Bulldozer CPU...

The way I see it, GPU's are way more important for what I want to do than CPU.

Are you satisfied with the EVGA GTX580 Hydro Copper 2 video cards?
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October 16, 2011 2:56:00 AM

Yeah pretty bad boy.... But Im wondering if the classified is worthwhile considered the almost identical specs as the normal Hydro Copper...? Not sure for a very minimal increase in performance.
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October 16, 2011 3:09:10 AM

The thing with the Classified is it's oveerclockability , it was designed to go a lot higher and be stable. You can easilly take it to 1000mhz.
http://www.evga.com/articles/00645/
The water block is different as well , and it has an additional 8 pin power connector. This thing means buisness.
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October 16, 2011 3:27:11 AM

@ OP:

i dont know if the work units of GPUGRID are similar to bitcoining programs or not. but i read an article and benchies on bitcoining that an AMD GPU completely annihiliated a Nvidia GPU.
so before thinking of buying quad sli gtx580, i would suggest you to read some benchmarks regading amd VS Nvidia.

they will give you more idea about which architecture will be better for the workload that gpugrid offers.
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October 26, 2011 1:43:44 AM

Best answer selected by lpallard.
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