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Old 2004-01-14, 02:12   #1
Aug 2002

2·33 Posts
Default Optimal Hardware for Dedicated Crunching Computer

Well I setup my Linux Terminal Server (LTSP) and it is working nicely. I am running it on a plain RedHat v9 (Shrike) box. I only have one client right now, a Celeron 400, which defently needs to be upgraded. I am thinking on having making two nodes to start and more later.

The Pentium4 CPU seams to be clearly the best choice. Now Prescott is due to be released any day now. But will the Prescott chips be faster than the Northwood chips at the same clock speed? under the January 6th 2004 heading 'Lets talk Performance (Intel)' states that they expect performance to be a mixed bag. What does this mean for Prime95 FFT performance? Does anyone care to hazard a educated guess?

If nothing else the Prescott CPUs will be cheaper. I see these prices for the boxed Northwood and Prescott chips:

512 kB 1024kB
2.4 GHz 800 MHz $163 N/A
2.6 GHz 800 MHz $177 N/A
2.8 GHZ 800 MHz $213 $192
3.0 GHz 800 MHz $279 $234
3.2 GHz 800 MHz $397 $296

It looks like the Prescott 2.8 GHz CPU is the winner.

My LTSP setup allows for a headless, diskless, KVM less computer:

~192 2.8GHz Prescott CPU (3 year Boxed CPU)
~39 256MB DDR400 (Kingston, Curcial, ...) Lifetime Warranty
~68 Abit ISV-7 i848P Motherboard 3 Year Warranty
~28 300Watt Replacement PS - 1 year
~36 Antec 300Watt SL300 PS - 3 year

=> $327-335

It seams like a rather good cost per node. I would of course prefer the Antec TruePower PSs but they are too expensive for this application. Dual Channel DDR400 would also be nice but I have heard about a 5% performance increase at best. The Abit VI7 also looks like an attractively priced board at ~$63, but it has the PT800 chipset, which I don't know anything about its FFT performance. I also need to verify that the MBs have onboard LAN with PXE so I don't have to mess with flashing the BIOS with etherboot code. I would certainly consider other manufactures with solid warranties.

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