What hardware do you recommend?

[DPC]Division_Brabant~Schaduwtje
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Topic 195571

I am going to buy a new desktop machine with a budget of about 1000 dollars. My personal use is not that demanding - I am not into pc-gaming and hardly do any image or video processing. The only requirement for personal comfort is having an SSD for quicker boot and program startup times.

For the rest I like this project and want to spend some dollars for buying a machine that performs well in this project. It would be nice if the machine is a fast cruncher - but not too power hungry so that my electricity bills do not sky rocket too much. And as a sidenote - not sure if it matters - I plan to install Linux as an operating system.

Can any of you make some recommendations what would be good hardware? How should I balance my machine to get the most credit per buck?

DanNeely
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What hardware do you recommend?

for Einstein you want Intel quadcore hardware, the current apps run significantly faster than it on AMD. If your budget can reach that far, get an i7-2600, but a $300 chip is pushing the limits on a $1000 budget.

Are you looking for a pre-built system or to assemble one from parts. If the latter, do you have some parts (keyboard, mouse, monitor, case, etc) from an old system to reuse, or do you need a new everything?

[DPC]Division_Brabant~Schaduwtje
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I need to get everything. I

I need to get everything. I (have to) give my entire previous system to someone else. So it includes monitor, etc. I would like to assemble from parts. My budget is (a bit) flexible, the 1000 dollar is just an indication. If I can get tremendous bang for buck if I go over 50 or 100 dollars, that's fine.

If out of cost reduction I would choose an i5-2500, would that still be better than e.g. an AMD 6-core? Or can I better wait for the upcoming AMD bulldozer processors? And what about the video card? I believe I need an NVidea for CUDA processing, but I also thought that GPU computing is limited in Einstein. Should I get a minimal nvidea card that supports CUDA (which one would that be?), or can I better buy an i7-2600k instead and better spend the money on a better processor and use the integrated GPU for video?

tolafoph
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RE: And as a sidenote - not

Quote:
And as a sidenote - not sure if it matters - I plan to install Linux as an operating system.

If you plan only to use linux there´s no point in buying a CUDA-card, because the CUDA-app is only available for windows.

and Bernd wrote

Quote:
But I don't think that a comparably large fraction of Linux hosts attached to Einstein@home is capable of runnning our CUDA App as there is for Windows. Consequently the Linux CUDA App doesn't have a priority as high as the Windows one.
ML1
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RE: If out of cost

Quote:
If out of cost reduction I would choose an i5-2500, would that still be better than e.g. an AMD 6-core? Or can I better wait for the upcoming AMD bulldozer processors? And what about the video card? I believe I need an NVidea for CUDA processing, but I also thought that GPU computing is limited in Einstein. Should I get a minimal nvidea card that supports CUDA (which one would that be?)...

Just a few terse comments:

You can be waiting forever for the next bit of better technology! Unless you are already planning for a month or two ahead, then you've got to go with what's available now. The best time to get the high tech parts is usually just two weeks before you actually need them (allows for delivery and assembly and brief test);

Cost up equivalent performance Intel and AMD systems and see what prices out the better. Or go for a fixed budget and see what performance you can get. Each time I've done that exercise on a budget constraint, AMD systems have given the best price performance ratio. Also make sure you have a balanced system for the CPU/RAM/GPU performance;

SSDs are overly expensive for their small performance gain. Better is to go for two equal sized HDDs and go RAID1 (mirror) for parallel read speedup and a little security against disk failure. You get RAID included in the Linux kernel. If you want to go cutting-edge, look up the filesystem btrfs;

I'd recommend an nVidia 400 series GPU to take advantage of their "Fermi" architecture for CUDA and OpenCL. There'll be more GPU apps coming along. It's just a question of at what level you jump in... Mid-range ususally gives the best compromise;

Welcome to Linux. For installing, my favoured set up is to have the following partitions:

256M Bytes: /boot
16 GBytes: /
x2 RAM size: swap
Remaining x TBytes: /home

... unless you already have your own scheme in mind!

If you don't need further partitions, then those can be set all as "primary" partitions (you can have a maximum of four on a disk). If you do want more than that, then the convention is to have one primary partition and then all the rest as logical partitions ('Windows style'). In reality, on Linux you can have any permutation you like!

If using RAID, then you can set:

256M Bytes: /boot
Remining space as RAID1 (mirror)

and then select the RAID1 partition for use with LVM and then within that set:

16 GBytes: /
x2 RAM size: swap
Remaining x TBytes: /home

"/boot" is an area for the boot program (usually GRUB) and the kernel binary;

"/" is for all the system stuff and applications;

"swap" is a disk area for virtual memory;

and

"/home" is for all your own personal stuff: settings, documents, whatever.

Having that arrangement is useful to keep all your personal stuff safely untouched when you do any upgrades or reinstalls or any other changes.

btrfs includes features for itself for RAID... You can find out if you're interested :-)

Hope of interest. Let us know what you go for.

Good luck,
Martin

See new freedom: Mageia Linux
Take a look for yourself: Linux Format
The Future is what We all make IT (GPLv3)

[DPC]Division_Brabant~Schaduwtje
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Thanks for the tip, tolafoph!

Thanks for the tip, tolafoph! I didn't read that other thread yet.

ML1, thanks for your post as well. Normally, I'd agree with you on the 'next bit of technology part'. However, it is known that last year not much happened in the CPU world, while now Intel and AMD are introducing the next major CPUs which in general will last for another year or two (minus of course some minor updates).

As for Linux, I am not new to it. Thanks anyway, as I have no experience yet with btrfs or RAID. Useful pointers.

Bikeman (Heinz-Bernd Eggenstein)
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Hi! As for the video card:

Hi!

As for the video card: I would go for an inexpensive, power saving, CUDA ready video card like the GT 240 or GT 430 (the latter one even has double precision capabilities, but is rather limited in this respect).

If you look at the card and it doesn't have an extra power connector (so it just draws power from the slot), you can be sure it consumes only up to 75 W power, the maximum that the slot is specified to supply. That will not put too many extra bucks on your electricity bill even when using it 24/7.

True, E@H currently doesn't have a Linux CUDA app yet, but that could change rather soon, *if* NVIDIA manages to correct what is believed to be a problem in the driver. Anyway there are other projects that do support even single precision CUDA tasks under Linux (e.g. GPUgrid). Distributed computing on GPUs is too exciting to be missed, IMHO.

CU
HB

Jeroen
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RE: Can any of you make

Quote:
Can any of you make some recommendations what would be good hardware? How should I balance my machine to get the most credit per buck?

You might look into the new Intel 2500K or 2600K processors. The 2500 variant has 4-cores without HT and the 2600 4-cores with HT. The 2500K is also clocked 100 MHz less and has 2MB less cache than the 2600K. The 2500K is about $100 cheaper. The K part is for an unlocked multiplier if you plan to overclock, otherwise you can get a part without the K for further savings. If you are okay with integrated graphics, look into a board with the Intel H67 chipset otherwise go with the P67. Memory and hard drives are very affordable these days. For memory, I like Corsair, Mushkin, Crucial, or G.Skill. A 1600 or 1866 MHz kit would work well. The Western Digital Black line hard drive performs very well and might be a good alternative to a SSD if you want to save some money.

Get yourself a decent PSU also. Seasonic has very efficient gold-rated power supplies available in a 650-750W configuration. These power supplies are up to 92% efficient. These power supplies are also fully modular.

archae86
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On SSD, I think you get can

On SSD, I think you get can the great majority of the performance gain with a rather small one, just being sure to make it your boot drive and to put the things you actually spend much time waiting for on it. Then a single moderate speed hard drive at moderate cost can be had these days for very little money.

I recently built a system with two 80 Gbyte SSDs and a single 2 Tbyte HD.

Were it doing it again, I'd only use one SSD, and probably a smaller one (definitely were I working to any appreciable cost constraint). The 2Tbyte HD I bought last week cost $80 US.

In a world of cheap fast SSD and cheap huge HD, I don't think it makes sense for most personal systems to be built with more than one HD. In particular I don't think RAID is currently a good answer to usual needs in a personal system, though it certainly has a firmly held place in larger enterprise systems and servers.

The power consideration points this way as well, many (not all) SSDs burn almost no power even when active compared to HDs, and ridiculously little when idle. Relaxing the performance requirement on your HD because it is not controlling much of your user experience lets you choose a single high capacity moderate performance one, which will burn much less power than multiple drives chosen at a higher performance grade. My recent build, which is not an economy system, probably has the second lowest HD (+SSd) power consumption of any system I have ever built.

ExtraTerrestrial Apes
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Disks: I'd probably go for a

Disks: I'd probably go for a 60 GB Sandforce (100€ in Germany, 85€ for 40GB). The 2nd one can be anything from a mid-capacity used one to a new one. The Samsung EcoGreen F4 2 TB for 70€ is mighty tempting over here. Not sure if you need that much, though.

GPU: if you can get integrated graphics you might want to wait for an Einstein Linux GPU app. Otherwise a GTX460 1 GB usually provides a good price/performance ratio and is not too power guzzling. It's not a small card, though: TDP is 160W and depending on the project it might well draw its 100W under 24/7 load.

PSU: 80+ Gold is nice and does save some money over time, but the less power your PC draws the less important it becomes. With a single GPU even 500W is overkill. If it's going to be that good I'd take a closer look at the Enermax 87+ Pro, which can be had for 110€ here. I'd probably recommend a BeQuiet 80+ Bronze at about 40€ and ~400W (just in case your next GPU is going to be bigger ;)

RAM: 2 x 4 GB DDR3. I'd go for 1600 MHz since the price difference is small. You could probably also get away with 2 x 2 GB, but having 8 GB and 2 spare memory slots is a good idea long term.

CPU: that's tough. AMD 6-core is cheap, but is much worse than Intel at Einstein per clock and per core. Usually they're not doing that bad. And they need some power to fuel those 6 cores. Personally I'd certainly want a Core i. And Hyper Threading has a very good efficiency at Einstein, so for me anything else than the i7 2600K wouldn't work. I'd want the upcoming Z68 chipset, though, in order to be able to use the integrated graphics (planning on using it along the GPU).

You could get yourself a nice system for 1000$. I'm not really convinced you need it, though. A used "high-end" system together with new externals and the SSD and maybe a current GPU should be all you need. Sure, it won't be as power efficient - but it will save you a couple of 100$s immediately. Do you know people like me? Who're still riding their Q6600 @ ~3 GHz and the RAM upgraded to 4 GB? If I'm getting an i7 2600K I'll look for someone to host my old system. And can't ask for much money ;)

MrS

Scanning for our furry friends since Jan 2002

[DPC]Division_Brabant~Schaduwtje
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Thanks everyone! Bikeman,

Thanks everyone!

Bikeman, thanks for your advice. I indeed tend to buy an inexpensive graphic card. I especially like the combination of good processing power with not too much power consumption.

Jeroen, thanks for the tip. I am indeed thinking about a i5-2500 or i7-2600. So, does anyone know the difference between HT and non-HT in terms of credit? Did anyone spot these processors in the wild yet? If I look at the host rankings, I can't find them.
I don't know too much about PSU's yet. Will look into it. Anyone any ideas about Motherboards? Do they matter much, i.e. is there any number crunching reason to buy a not so cheap one? I was thinking of the MSI P67S-C43. I don't need USB3, nor Firewire as far as I know. Costs about 115 dollar. Many boards cost almost double.

archae86, I will definitely buy a SSD. Has nothing to do with number crunching, but everything with personal comfort with loading times. If I spend this kind of money on a machine it has to be at least a comfortable machine to work with. Then, I'll think about crunching. I was thinking about buying a OCZ Vertex 2 60GB disc. Costs about 120 dollar and 60 GB should be more than enough for my programs. For data I will buy a cheap TB-drive - I just have a bunch of photos and music. Not much movie material. So TB is more than enough.

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