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Scientific/Programming Computer Build

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September 3, 2012 1:22:25 AM

Hello,

First, let me say thanks in advance for your help. Okay, so I'm currently in college (not fresh out of high school, was in the military for a while) pursuing a double major in Physics and Computer Science. With that being said, here's the deal. I've already learned Fortran, and am currently learning Java and MATLAB. I will most likely be utilizing various Autodesk products, visual studios, and Adobe CS6. I'm also trying to get into grad school, so im trying to create a super computer (literally) to hold me through past grad school.

Approximate Purchase Date: As Soon as I figure out what else I need.

Budget Range: Price is not an issue

System Usage from Most to Least Important: MATLAB and other various computational programs, Autodesk (Cad, Maya, Mudbox), Visual Studios, Adobe CS6, virtualization (VMWare), then normal personal use, and of course Starcraft 2

Are you buying a monitor: No

So far I have the following:

COOLER MASTER COSMOS II RC-1200-KKN1 Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case

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

ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS Dual LGA 2011 Intel C602 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 SSI EEB Intel Motherboard

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

1 Xeon 2643(ES that i bought off ebay because it was cheap...surprisingly its a strong processor and was thinking about just getting another one. My initial thought was to wait for possibly unlocked Xeon Ivy's)

http://ark.intel.com/products/64587/Intel-Xeon-Processo...(10M-Cache-3_30-GHz-8_00-GTs-Intel-QPI)

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (4 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9Q-8GBRL

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

...just to get by for now, but once again surprised at the quality

PNY XLR8 VCGGTX465XPB GeForce GTX 465 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

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

...i pulled from my old comp, works fine for the time being...

as well as two old 500GB HDDs that currently hold all system info. I also have an ASUS Blu-ray/dvd/cd ReWriter and an older Antec 650W PSU.

Do you need to buy OS: Not really

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com for the majority of it.

Location: USA

Parts Preferences: Intel Nvidia Asus

Overclocking: Not really

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: I need a powerful computational computer capable of parallel processing to get me through college, grad school, and hopefully a few years beyond that.

I know the PSU will need to go eventually and have this in mind:

LEPA G Series G1600-MA 1600W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Full Modular Power Supply

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

The board can handle 64GB of RAM so when I acquire another processor I most likely am going to go with 8 8GB sticks of 2100. I also know the GTX 465 needs to go eventually and I'm leaning toward a 690 equivalent GPU when im ready to purchase around January similar to this.

ASUS GTX690-4GD5 GeForce GTX 690 4GB 512-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

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

Im not sure if I should put two in sli or just run one. Im an Nvidia guy, so hopefully someone can share their thoughts on that matter. I'd like to steer clear of the quaddro cards. But I am looking at getting a tesla or two...probably just one though. My opinion is that a dual xeon 2011 setup with a tesla and 2 690s is going to be powerful enough to run MATLAB and various other computational programs with little to no problems. So, hopefully some of yall with experience with these programs can shed some light on the subject for me.

My biggest problem is in the storage/OS setup. Id like to separate my storage into four parts. OS, Programs, Mass storage, and Media/Entertainment. I was thinking that i could use my existing drives to house my Media and such. For the mass storage, which would consist of documents, files, etc., I was thinking of initially getting 2 1TB HDDs and running them in a Raid 1 setup. I was going to set up a RAM Cache to this setup to help with the write. I was thinking about setting up the Programs to a dual SSD config set up in RAID 0 with RAM Cache on it as well, but then I found this and thought ah ha!!

OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 series RVD3X2-FHPX4-240G PCI-E 240GB PCI-Express 2.0 x4 MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

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

I'm leaning towards this, but if I did go this route, would ram cache even benefit this particular drive at all? If not, would an upgrade in RAM even be worth it? If I didnt upgrade, I would have a total of 16 GB 1600 with 2 CPU's.

Also, im not sure that i should even separate the OS into a SSD of its own. I was thinking that I could dual boot a windows and unix based os, but then again my work is primarially in win, and i could always use something like vmware to run any other os that i may need. I'm currently on win 7 pro but am going to upgrade to win 8 pro...dont really care for the metro, but love some of the other features...which of course is another topic entirely...okay, so here is another question. would it be more beneficial to separate the os drive and program drive, or just combine them into a single drive? I know where I need to go with this build and have pretty much all the pieces, I just need some refinement. Any and all input would be appreciated. Thank You ALL.
September 3, 2012 1:30:16 AM

If you've already bought a Xeon processor and are getting a server motherboard I recommend that you get some ECC RDIMMs to go with it rather than the G.Skill memory. While the G.Skill memory should work, it's not marketed for workstations and may not work due to a lack of support in the firmware. Get some good Kingston or Wintec ECC RDIMMs instead as these will also let you reach higher memory capacities should you choose to do that later on.
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September 3, 2012 1:39:15 AM

Pinhedd said:
If you've already bought a Xeon processor and are getting a server motherboard I recommend that you get some ECC RDIMMs to go with it rather than the G.Skill memory. While the G.Skill memory should work, it's not marketed for workstations and may not work due to a lack of support in the firmware. Get some good Kingston or Wintec ECC RDIMMs instead as these will also let you reach higher memory capacities should you choose to do that later on.



Thanks for the quick response. Believe it or not the memory that I have for it now is actually supported memory according to asus. I do like the error correction of the more enterprise oriented mem and am planning on waiting a few more months to see if Asus will add to their list of supported memory (with the release of win 8) before reaching a final decision. Oh, and I already have the mobo. Thanks again.
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September 3, 2012 1:50:53 AM

jojobonzi said:
Thanks for the quick response. Believe it or not the memory that I have for it now is actually supported memory according to asus. I do like the error correction of the more enterprise oriented mem and am planning on waiting a few more months to see if Asus will add to their list of supported memory (with the release of win 8) before reaching a final decision. Oh, and I already have the mobo. Thanks again.


Well if it's actually supported already then it's no problem. ECC has the ability to narrow down a memory error to a particular module and report it through a firmware interface. Memory errors only occur at a rate of about 10% per DIMM per year. Thus, the chances of a system experiencing a memory error is exponentially proportional to the number of DIMMs in that system. Of all the DIMMs that do experience errors, 90% will experience them again within the next year. Ergo, standard procedure is actually to replace DIMMs as soon as they experience a memory error. Since you're running a PC for school/educational purposes and aren't going to be running critical simulations 24/7 there's no strict need for ECC in your case, it's entirely up to you.

The price for an equivalent capacity of ECC RDIMM is only marginally more expensive than UDIMM. However, when the capacity of the RDIMM exceeds that of the UDIMM it goes up dramatically. This is only for capacities greater than 16GB per module though and I don't think that you really need that for Matlab.
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September 3, 2012 3:54:34 AM

thanks for the advice man, but my main focus is my storage dilema first and foremost, then the gpu issue. after that i would focus on the cpu config and ram. any advice on the first few issues?
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September 3, 2012 4:10:52 AM

jojobonzi said:
thanks for the advice man, but my main focus is my storage dilema first and foremost, then the gpu issue. after that i would focus on the cpu config and ram. any advice on the first few issues?


I was expecting this thread to get a bit more attention from the usual tweakers who love to pick parts, oh well.

For storage you have the ability to second guess yourself and not pay for it. You can always add more later on without replacing what you have at the beginning, it's additive. I recommend an SSD for your system drive, that's standard practice around here.

I generally advise against using PCIe based SSDs. They are super fast but they are also expensive and have very particular driver support. They're most used for web servers which stream boatloads of data, not used for desktops. You'd be just as well served with a Samsung 830, Mushkin Chronos Deluxe, or OCZ Vertex 4. Just as much capacity at a fraction of the price.

After that, add a few Western Digital Caviar Black drives for your application storage and a few Caviar Blue/Green for media storage. I personally have 2 blacks in RAID-0 for all the applications that I can't stuff on my SSDs and 4 greens in a hardware RAID (be careful if using Greens in a software RAID) for media storage. Works great man.

Since storage is additive you can always add more later on and reconfigure it as you please

As for the GPU, I really have little to no opinion. The GeForce 670 is the crowd favorite right now. Keep in mind though that if you're planning on using OpenCL / DirectCompute that NVidia's Kepler architecture is quite castrated, you may want to go with an AMD card instead which will simply demolish Kepler.
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September 3, 2012 8:36:10 AM

Honestly I think you're overkilling it and wasting your money. You should just get a "normal" i7 setup for $1000 ish and upgrade every two years with a $1000 budget. In 2-4 years your "super computer" will be demolished by a $1000 system. Besides, if your Bachelor's or Master's work will involve heavy computation, you can setup to borrow resources from Uni.
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September 3, 2012 3:02:01 PM

Your feedback is appreciated but completely irrelevant to the questions I am asking. First, vaue is in the eye of the beholder. Second, my mobo and case alone cost roughly a grand. As far as longevity is concerned, there are 775 cpu's that can still outperform some of the i7's of today. The problem with going to the University for resources is that they cannot be used for personal/freelance work. Besides, working and studying from home is much more beneficial than driving 50 miles one way just to use a computer, especially with a wife and kids. Please, from now on if anyone responds to this thread can we just stick to the topic and the issues originally brought up therein? Thanks.
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September 3, 2012 4:00:41 PM

If you're looking to use rendering and animation software like maya and cad, then a gaming GPU might not be suitable for your applications.
Maybe consider a special graphical design and animation GPU like Quadro or FirePro (beware these are expensive!). I don't know too much about these so you would have to do your research since I hear that many of these are overpriced. Maybe get your uni to subsidise the cost?

If gaming isn't your priority, but you still like to play occsasionally then maybe invest in a mid-range card on the side like a 7850 or 7870?
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September 4, 2012 6:46:44 AM

fat-chunk said:
If you're looking to use rendering and animation software like maya and cad, then a gaming GPU might not be suitable for your applications.
Maybe consider a special graphical design and animation GPU like Quadro or FirePro (beware these are expensive!). I don't know too much about these so you would have to do your research since I hear that many of these are overpriced. Maybe get your uni to subsidise the cost?

If gaming isn't your priority, but you still like to play occsasionally then maybe invest in a mid-range card on the side like a 7850 or 7870?



As far as the rendering part goes, im thinking that my dual xeon setup would do the job, and a 690(or 2) would be a good addition. but you may be right about getting a lesser quality card. I've looked into the quadros and am not particularly fond of them. the university computer store has some awesome deals on software, but is lacking in the hardware, so not help there. departmentally, the most id be doing right now is mesuring microwave scatter through various material in a tube, so no help there either.

at thispoint im almost certain im going with one tesla k10 and blah...for a gpu
guess we will see what q1 13 brings
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Best solution

September 4, 2012 6:49:11 AM

jojobonzi said:
As far as the rendering part goes, im thinking that my dual xeon setup would do the job, and a 690(or 2) would be a good addition. but you may be right about getting a lesser quality card. I've looked into the quadros and am not particularly fond of them. the university computer store has some awesome deals on software, but is lacking in the hardware, so not help there. departmentally, the most id be doing right now is mesuring microwave scatter through various material in a tube, so no help there either.

at thispoint im almost certain im going with one tesla k10 and blah...for a gpu
guess we will see what q1 13 brings


Talk to the computing and software department at your school, they may have a corporate account which can get some steep discounts on professional hardware
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September 12, 2012 2:07:00 AM

Best answer selected by jojobonzi.
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