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Topic Title: Please review this Opteron workstation & make comm
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Created On: 05/02/2004 09:38 PM
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 05/02/2004 09:38 PM
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activated
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This workstation I'm putting together is for me to do Freelance high-end 3D. I use Maya, by Alias, as my primary package. Also use Photoshop and After FX a lot too.

I've done about 30 hours of research and here's the best combination I can think to put together and have a very fast machine and stay in the five grand range (ok. it's a little over 5 grand). Because this is such a huge investment for me, I ask that all you smart, more tech. savvy, people out there to throw in your two cents.

3D Opteron Workstation:

2x Opteron 248s ~ because it's the fastest Opteron chips and prices just dropped.
2x Thermaltake A1826 AMD Opteron ~ because I can save $60 with this third-party heatsink over the price of the official processor and heatsink "retail box."
Tyan Thunder K8W mother board ~ because it's a recommended motherboard and because (from what I surmise) it handles the RAM better and the Tyan Tiger for true dual processing. Would love to hear feedback on that.
4x DDR (400) 3200 REG ECC - 1 GB Corsair. This is the fastest approved RAM I can find. 4 Gigs because the current 2 Gig system I have is constantly topping out. An article I read claimed the '400' made a huge difference over 333 and lower. Corsair I'm told makes great RAM and has some sort of special bennefit for people who use graphic heavy apps. Comments?
2x Seagate Cheetah 36.7 GB 15KRPM Ultra 320 68pin SCSI see next...
Adaptec 39320-A-R SCSI Card Kit 64 Bit 133 MHz PCI-x: I read that the motherboard has SATA capibilities built in but that there is a 32-bit bus which hampers things. To get a fast speed for writing and reading from disk, I went with an Ultra 320 drive. Since the motherboard doesn't have Ultra SCSI 320 built in, I have to get a controller card; and since the motherboard has four PCI-X slots (two at 133, and two at 66mhz) and only one PCI slot, I had to opt for the expensive dual channel U320 PCI-X card. From what I understand, this gives me 64 -bit, dual-channel, RAID 0,1, 10. Therefore, to go ahead and use the RAID abilities and take advantage of the dual channels, I got two 36 Gig drives to RAID together for my main drives. A big part of the price increas is in this area of primary storage. Are there any people out there who could provide some wisdom on this topic?
SATA - Western Digital (WD1200JD) 120 GB this will be simply a storage drive. I tend to rely on external drives for those situations where I need extra storage space.
Combo - Samsung SM-352NENB 16X-DVD/52X24X I don't know a thing about DVD/CD-RW drives. I just guested at this. Any recommendations that could be better for the cost? This thing costs $78.
PNY Quadro FX 1100 128 MB DDR/8XAGP/DVI For my needs, this is the best graphics card to get before you quickly break the one thousand dollar mark. Those graphic cards would be great, but from what I understand most of the extra cost is in the ability to write shaders to the card directly and in video/monitor I/O. Thoughts?
Lian-Li PC-60 Aluminum Highly recommended case if you're not worried about it looking ultra-sleek and cool -- it's a simple looking aluminum box.
PS 550W - Enermax EG651P-VE I just didn't know what to get and figured this would cover all options for now and anything added on in the future. What say you about the ol' PS?

*I didn't get a sound card. The Tyan Thunder K8W is suppose to have some sort of sound card ability build into the board. Comments on this?
*Also didn't get a network card because (again) the Tyan Thunder K8W has a Gigabit ability built in.


I priced everything out from Monarch Computer and came to a quote of $5684.00.

This includes a $75 build fee, Windows XP pro at $152, and $200 24/7 3-year on-side warranty.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks in advance.

~

 05/03/2004 09:31 PM
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OrangesAway
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Depends how urgent your needs, but just about every component will have some major revisions by end of June and some price drops. There will *ALWAYS* be newer stuff coming, but this is a pretty interesting set of months. This month both the nVIDIA 6800 and the ATI 800XT/PRO will be released. Rumors are the Opteron 250 will show up soon, etc...[EDIT: As of 5/4/04, guess they are both released]

Best question is what is your budget, based on that, you can start trading off the differences.

I suppose the fully qualified OpenGL cards are above your price range (ala nVIDIA QuadroFX and ATI FireGL's). They list around $2500 -- If your doing really serious 3D, I would check which applications are certified with the newer rev cards (the GL versions of new cards). They have better memory, shader performance for editing than the consumer cards are for gaming. [EDIT: Hmm...It had been a while since I looked, the FIRE-GL2-256T seems to be basically same hardware as 9800 XT, just with the certified drivers and a list price around $900. nVIDIA claims QuadroFX 4000 was some different hardware and has the pricepoint of around $2500 list]

The Thunder utilizes both memory controllers in both processors, so yes, it has more memory bandwidth, but the motherboard footprint is larger and more expensive. Keep in mind, if you run a single application that is not multiprocessor aware, you might not notice that difference.

WRT to 64-bit SATA, there is at least one commercial card out there, the RAIDCore RC4000' ">http://www.raidcore.net/raid_controllers.html. They were just bought by Broadcom, so helps with the caveat about small vendors and their ability to release driver support. Silicon Image of course is developing 64 bit chipset as well.

I have a SCSI bias, growing up around Sun/SGI workstations, but I think I would skip SCSI and stick with SATA just on price/performance.

Other questions, can't give you much feedback...
 05/13/2004 04:11 PM
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smoked_trout
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Isn't the Thunder K8W an EATX board? I do not think it would fit well in a PC-60 if at all.
 05/21/2004 05:20 PM
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Flintstone
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Just built basically the same system but put it in a LianLi PC-76. U160 SCSI Raid w/2-74 Gig 15K Fujitsu's, and 4X15K Cheetahs. The case holds all of it and has room for 6 more internal drives in another drive caddy. The box will scare the sh*t out of you when it arrives but the case is awesome. Bought a PC Power & Cooling 510 Power supply for it and an Nvidia FX5900XT Graphics card. I haven't booted it yet, I expect to this weekend, but I'll post back when it's up and running. If I could figure out how to post a picture, I would. Pretty awesome setup!

Flint

Oh yea, case came from Monarch too.

-------------------------
2 X 250 "E" Opterons, S2895 A2NRF (K8WE) beta bios 1.01T
4 X(2x 512MB Matched) Corsair 3200 Reg ECC(TWINX1024RE-3200LLPT)
nVidia 6800GT, LSI 320-2X U320 Raid (512MB ram Onboard!!)
7 X 15,000 RPM U320 Drives, XP Pro SP2
PC Power & Cooling 850 SSI
IT WORKS!!! AND IT'S TYAN'S TECH SUPPORT THAT DID IT!!!!
 06/11/2004 01:03 PM
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redclawkefar
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have you checked http://www.xicomputer.com' ">http://www.xicomputer.com they have the same setup you're looking for i believe.

-------------------------
SYSTEM-1: 2x Viewsonic VX900-2 19"| Tyan S2885ANRF (Rev.A, bios v2.07) | 1x ATI Radeon X800 Pro 256MB | 2x AMD Opteron 248-HE Single-Core CPU | 8x 512mb PC3200 Corsair XMS Series ECC Reg. (CMX512RE-3200LL) | 2x Seagate LVD 36.7Gb U320 SCSI 10,000rpm RAID0 (ST336607LW) | 1x Seagate LVD 36.7Gb U320 SCSI 1
 06/11/2004 01:52 PM
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MrFrustration
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If you're looking to save bucks, dump the FireGL for a Radeon. Otherwise, can it for a real pro card like a Wildcat VP990 Pro or a Wildcat7210. The FireGL's are just tweaked Radeons, they don't even remotely compare to pro cards in any way. Biggest thing the FireGL has going for it is the isolated output (helps image quality.)

-------------------------
MrFrustration
"i was overclocking before you could even say jumper!"
EcoNews: Nuclear fuel rods to be replaced with Intel Itanium2 processors. "Itanium2 produces far more heat while doing even less," say physicists.
disclaimer: the opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of any other parties. but feel free to agree anyways.
 06/12/2004 05:40 PM
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Parallax
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Suggest you check with Tyan tech support about the use of which ATI cards are compatible with opterons......the Fire GL cards are not according to them.

-------------------------
ASUS A8N-SLI Premium | Athlon 64 x2 4800+ |
2 GB Corsair PC-3200 C2PRO | 3 - SATA Raptors |
PNY Quadro FX 3450
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Three Samsung 213T LCD monitors | Linksys BEFSR81 router
---------------------------------------------------------------------
ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe | Athlon 64 3500+ (90nm) |
2 GB Corsair PC-3200 XLPRO| 2-SATA Raptors |
XFX GeForce 6600 GT
 06/12/2004 06:57 PM
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redclawkefar
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QUOTE (Parallax @ Jun 12 2004, 04:40 PM) Suggest you check with Tyan tech support about the use of which ATI cards are compatible with opterons......the Fire GL cards are not according to them.
amm actually... we take the s2885 for instance... a dual opty board and heres the direct link for video card compatibility..

http://www.tyan.com/support/ht..._s28...2885.html#s2885' ">http://www.tyan.com/support/html/video_s2885.html#s2885

and no, my card isnt on there, but i have it working otherwise... with some software adjustments.

-------------------------
SYSTEM-1: 2x Viewsonic VX900-2 19"| Tyan S2885ANRF (Rev.A, bios v2.07) | 1x ATI Radeon X800 Pro 256MB | 2x AMD Opteron 248-HE Single-Core CPU | 8x 512mb PC3200 Corsair XMS Series ECC Reg. (CMX512RE-3200LL) | 2x Seagate LVD 36.7Gb U320 SCSI 10,000rpm RAID0 (ST336607LW) | 1x Seagate LVD 36.7Gb U320 SCSI 1
 06/17/2004 08:29 PM
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SystemBuilder
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QUOTE I got two 36 Gig drives to RAID together for my main drives. A big part of the price increas is in this area of primary storage. Are there any people out there who could provide some wisdom on this topic?

I have that exact RAID card on my system. First of all, it works AWESOME at 133 Mhz. I also have four Seagate Cheetah u320 15k RPM drives in Stripe! I was topping out at 320 Megs per second burst rate, and 240 Megs per second average sustained. Darn impressive. Worth every cent.

BTW the workstation I am talking about is posted on the front page of www.cadcomputer.ca
 06/18/2004 05:53 AM
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xHOLDx
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Nice setup..
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