Finite Element and Computational Build for $5k

Hi All,

We're building two new boxes (plus displays and peripherals) for our research group. We're looking to spend around $5000 on each. Don't worry about saving us money; $5000 is a ballpark figure, and we're willing to up the cost if needed. We do structural engineering and dynamics work, and we'll need to tailor the PC performance to finite element method software and Matlab.

RAMdisk and GPU Processing:
We're planning on installing Matlab and the FEM software to RAM and using RAMdisk to speed up our computations. Some of what we are working on will be frequently time-sensitive - we definitely have a need for speed. We also may want to utilize the GPU for processing.

[edited after original post
We're also looking for two SSDs in a raid setup to speed our read/write file time. We're dealing with a lot of data files during all of this computational magic... One platter drive will be for storing other data that isn't as time-critical and a second one will be used for backing up the data and system image.

Distributed Computing:
We will be using these PCs on separate tasks at different times, however if someone can provide an approach to enable distributed computing we'd appreciate it. We aren't currently configuring the systems for that option but we'd appreciate any suggestions and guidance to allow for it in the future.

Here's what we're thinking (Prices are all in USD and from NewEgg):

We appreciate your time, and thanks in advance!
14 answers Last reply
More about finite element computational build
  1. this is a better option

    if you want to use a true compute card (with all double percision computing power unlocked), get this instead of the GTX titan

    you can also get a quadro k5000 along with the tesla k20 for nvidia maximus
  2. Hi, Not necessarily to the topic, but just a thought: why not a dual CPU LGA 2011 board?
  3. Quote:
    Hi, Not necessarily to the topic, but just a thought: why not a dual CPU LGA 2011 board?

    A dual Xeon rig won't fit into the proposed budget. The 8 core Xeon E5-4650 alone is $3,899. Multiply that by two and you're looking at a $10K rig alone. Then factor in a $600 custom liquid loop, Quaddro GPU(s) and you're looking at a rig that costs as much as a Hyundai Elantra. I'm sure any accounts receivable department on earth would love that. :lol:

    That's decent at best. The Dominator Platinum RAM is an incredibly expensive gimmick that is a 3X premium for nothing more than a fancy heat sink. Here's how I would do an X79 build:

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K 3.2GHz 6-Core Processor ($569.99 @ Newegg)
    CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 CPU Cooler ($89.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: ASRock X79 Extreme9 ATX LGA2011 Motherboard ($350.98 @ Newegg)
    Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-2133 Memory ($289.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-2133 Memory ($289.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: OCZ Vector Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($244.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($142.99 @ Newegg)
    Case: Corsair Obsidian Series 800D ATX Full Tower Case ($279.98 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($139.99 @ Newegg)
    Other: PNY Quaddro K5000 ($1799.99)
    Total: $4216.87
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-05-07 14:27 EDT-0400)

    The GPU listed is the NVIDIA Quaddro K5000, the newer variation of the Quaddro. With the difference you can swap out the D14 for a full custom liquid loop or add a couple of nice 1440P displays, plus keyboard and mouse.
  4. ^you would probably squeeze more power out of 2 titans than a k5000
  5. TheBigTroll said:
    ^you would probably squeeze more power out of 2 titans than a k5000

    Yeah that's true but this isn't a gaming rig, that's why I went with the K5000.
  6. the titans can be used for compute though. yeah it doesnt have ecc ram but still,video cards dont have many memory errors to begin with
  7. Yeah, we aren't worried at all about gaming. This is a strict workstation. Also, I edited the original post to include our storage setup.

    Thanks for pointing us to NVIDIA info. From my first look around the web, I think a Tesla C2075 may be the best bet on our budget. We're concerned with scientific computing considerably more than visualization, so the Quadro seems to be inappropriate for our needs.

    The dual E5's are tempting, but I don't think they'll fly with the boss. Would anyone recommend another Xeon-based setup that fits within the budget? We aren't married to the idea of a X79 system. Again, the budget is "somewhat" flexible ($6-7k is a possibility if we're looking at a significant performance boost from the ~$5k machine), but the dual E5 setup, like g-unit1111 said, would be way too much.
    Looking at it all again, I think an E5-2620 could be beneficial. We could use the extra RAM capabilities (> 64 GB, ECC). I certainly appreciate your help in pointing us in the right direction. We'll be back with a more thoroughly-researched build!
  8. Need to review our goals. Think we may move to an E5-based system.
  9. Here's an updated build using dual Xeon 2620s. Optimized for scientific computing. Thoughts?
  10. Note that the Xeon E5-2620 does not support RAM at speeds of 1600MHz, you will have to use 1333MHz RAM. Other than that, it looks like that will work.
  11. At a first view, maybe adding 2 CPU coolers.
    Note also that the board is bigger than a regular ATX board. Make sure it will fit the case.
    Not sure also about the power supply. Check the requirements for the board.
  12. You'll also have to be aware that when setting up a dual Xeon rig since the CPUs are so close together on the motherboard, that there's no standard combination of air coolers that will work for these rigs. You will need a full custom loop for this.
  13. Thanks for all of your help so far. Made a change:

    Power Supply: Went up to a 1200W Gold Certified power supply from Cooler Master

    Now, I do have some other issues:

    Option A - Considering stepping down to the ASUS 79PA-D8.
    Pros - The form factor is ATX, the cost is the same.
    Cons - It has half the DIMM slots.

    Option B - Considering stepping up to the ASUS 79PE-D8 WS.
    Pros - ASUS recommends using this board for "workstations" because the D16 is for "servers." There were some mixed reviews on Newegg, and an ASUS rep recommended this board instead.
    Cons - It has half the DIMM slots. It costs $200 more (but on a $5k machine, meh...)

    Also, do we have any recommendations for liquid cooling setups?
  14. you can either go custom which is probably the best choice if you have the money or just grab a couple of cheap thick 120mm radiator coolers. they suck but they are basically the only option given how you have 2 CPUs
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