Heavy/Cluster Computing

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prgmmer
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Heavy/Cluster Computing

Postby prgmmer » Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:55 am UTC

So I have somewhere between 1.5-2k of lab money to utilize for a research lab computer. We primarily do finite element/heavy computing type stuff, so I was planning to load up a 2 processor quad core machine with 8-16 Gb of memory. I'm planning to run linux and run finite element code using MPI. Any recommendations on where I could buy something pre-built for something in this price range? I should also note that I don't need a monitor. X and ssh are my friends. Essentially I would like to get some server/recommendations from different retailers. I tried looking at Dell, but I want to see if I can get any better deals. I should note this is not money to by a computer for my lab group but money to get a computer for myself for use in the lab, thus the more juice i can pull from it the better as it will be ALL MINE.

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niko7865
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Re: Heavy/Cluster Computing

Postby niko7865 » Sun Apr 27, 2008 7:56 pm UTC

4 PS3s? Or I'd say build it yourself with newegg.
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Angstrom
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Re: Heavy/Cluster Computing

Postby Angstrom » Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:56 pm UTC

You cannot get a dual quad core with 16GB of RAM for that price, I really tried believe me. However, I was looking for a rackmount node and you might not be.

I purchased our compute nodes from Silicon Mechanics (google it) and it was their R256 chassis model. Dual Quad Xeon 2.33GHz, 16GB RAM for ~$2700. That was the outright best price I could find from a site that looked reliable, had great selection, and good clustomer service.

To get more into your price range, you could drop to 8GB and use a lower model chassis - but you wouldn't be able to upgrade later.

prgmmer
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Re: Heavy/Cluster Computing

Postby prgmmer » Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:30 pm UTC

Interesting. I'll take a look at Silicon Mechanics. I don't necessarily need a rackmount, as the other people in my lab just got macbook pros. However, I think I could do better than a duo core laptop if i had something like a blade server or rack mount. Mainly I'm just concerned about memory, fsb, and processor. I guess I should be concerned about HD speeds too. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated also.

Also what is the difference between AMD and Intel in terms of finite element/heaving computing applications?

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Re: Heavy/Cluster Computing

Postby Angstrom » Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:52 pm UTC

Intel is better at this point in the ever changing microprocessor market, and the latest stuff coming from AMD is not looking promising enough to beat them. It's a shame.

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b.i.o
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Re: Heavy/Cluster Computing

Postby b.i.o » Sun Apr 27, 2008 11:49 pm UTC

Angstrom wrote:Intel is better at this point in the ever changing microprocessor market, and the latest stuff coming from AMD is not looking promising enough to beat them. It's a shame.


Yes--in terms of raw performance, Intel's high (and even medium) end goes way above AMD's. However, AMD's processors have much higher memory bandwith, and so can be better in server applications.

I don't know too much about the subject, and can't really advise you one way or another, but others who have more experience probably can.

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x-Swamp
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Re: Heavy/Cluster Computing

Postby x-Swamp » Mon Apr 28, 2008 12:45 am UTC

If others have macbook pros, then fill the gap with a mac pro.

Dual quad core 3gHz, 16gb RAM, 2x 500GB 7200 drives comes out around 8799, a tad more (read $4k) if you want the 32gb of ram.

No this is not an ad for apple, its what i genuinely think :D
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proto
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Re: Heavy/Cluster Computing

Postby proto » Mon Apr 28, 2008 2:58 am UTC

I was looking at a similar situation last summer. It's tough to find 8-core systems that aren't being marketed at a ridiculous premium over the actual value of the hardware. I finally gave up and built a system myself (using a Tyan dual socket Xeon motherboard). However, the MacPro suggestion is not far off the mark.

If I were doing it today, I'd look around for a good used dual-core MacPro and upgrade the processors (and memory, and disks, and . . ). Just be "judicious" in your selection of upgrade hardware (i.e.: get your upgrade hardware from a source lower cost than Apple). Quad-core Xeons are in the $250 range (depending on speed), Kingston 2GB FB-DIMMs are about $100 each.

Sadly, in my tests, the Mac's memory subsystem seems to be a bit of a bottleneck (and I'm not crazy about the baseline ATI video, either). But, these new processors have 12MB of cache per socket! If you can keep your app in cache, you're golden.

If you decide to go this route, it's worth doing a bit of web-research to smooth the path. I'm not sure how things are now, but there was a time when MacPros with Pioneer DVD drives wouldn't boot Linux live CDs, but those with Sony drives would. I think Fedora now supports bootcamp.

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b.i.o
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Re: Heavy/Cluster Computing

Postby b.i.o » Mon Apr 28, 2008 3:13 am UTC

x-Swamp wrote:If others have macbook pros, then fill the gap with a mac pro.

Dual quad core 3gHz, 16gb RAM, 2x 500GB 7200 drives comes out around 8799, a tad more (read $4k) if you want the 32gb of ram.

No this is not an ad for apple, its what i genuinely think :D


It's also genuinely overpriced. The markup on that RAM is obscene, even if it is buffered ECC. But even the base model is out of the OP's budget, so a new one is not really an issue.


If I were doing it today, I'd look around for a good used dual-core MacPro and upgrade the processors (and memory, and disks, and . . ). Just be "judicious" in your selection of upgrade hardware (i.e.: get your upgrade hardware from a source lower cost than Apple). Quad-core Xeons are in the $250 range (depending on speed), Kingston 2GB FB-DIMMs are about $100 each.


Why would you spend the money on an old Mac Pro if you were going to replace the expensive hardware anyway?


In a more general reply to the OP: Me being me, I probably just build one myself...Newegg is your friend if you decide to go this route.

proto
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Re: Heavy/Cluster Computing

Postby proto » Mon Apr 28, 2008 4:30 am UTC

b.i.o wrote:Why would you spend the money on an old Mac Pro if you were going to replace the expensive hardware anyway?


Agreed, it does look like one would be replacing "expensive" hardware, but there's a lot of "expensive" effort involved in assembling from scratch. So, you'd be avoiding much of that. Plus, you'd get to sell the take-out hardware. I suppose, with a sharpened pencil, one could balance the cost of a bare bones Mac Pro against the hassle of a self-assembled chassis/motherboard/power supply/whatnot. I'm betting the Mac Pro solution would net out a few hundred dollars more, but a good bit less hassle.

In my case, getting a combo of parts guaranteed to run Mac OS X tips the balance, because I'd want the added versatility after the project was over. (Hmm. . . the used machine might come with a copy of OS X, too.)

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x-Swamp
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Re: Heavy/Cluster Computing

Postby x-Swamp » Mon Apr 28, 2008 5:26 am UTC

The mac pros ram is fully buffered, but i agree, apple has a stupid markup on ram. Thats why i have always put it on the lowest possible setting, then maxed it out myself.

Get an i-ram if you have the money, i could, but you would at lease need several of them in a raid to make it worth while.
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