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Old November 15th, 2007, 07:18 PM   #46
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Just spoke with a guy at Digicor (the Supermicro placeyou put me on to) and he saud a few things.

First of all, the prices of the components you gave me are (in AU$):

M/B:X7SWA-N: $1210
Case: SC743TQ-865B: $905

That's the most expensive case I've ever heard of and don't think I could bring myself to hand over $900 for it!!! He said I'm basically buying peace of mind because it's designed specifically to keep it cool and make it last longer. He said if I got that case, the whole system would last 5 years (which he meant as a good thing, but it made me think "Am I only gonna get 5 years out of this computer?!").

What's your opinion on this? I'd almost be spending the same amount on the case as I would be on one of the processors! He said it would fit into any 12" x 13"Server Case, so why do I need to be so extravagant?

Anyway, he also said that it's too risky to let any retailer build the computer for me, and that they could and should do it themselves.

The other, most interesting thing he said was that they had never built a computer that good before. He said that no one had ordered that board or had the intention of putting a processor anywhere near as fast as the X5472.

Finally, he said that he was worried there may be a compatability problem with the video card and he's going to check it out for me and also find out abour 800 speed DDR2 - apparently no one's ever ordered that either and they only stock the 667 speed.
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Old November 15th, 2007, 09:31 PM   #47
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John,

The case is pricey, € 400 over here, but consider that it is inclusive of a high efficiency 865 W silent power supply. Those do not come cheap. For instance an Enermax 850W PS is around € 200. Consider also the six fans, air shroud, 8 hot swappable bays, 8 port SAS/SATA backplane and the case does not look that pricey anymore. The only thing that could fail in that case is the power supply or the fans and SuperMicro luckily has a reputation for good availability of spare parts.

What he probably implied with the 5 year period is the life of hard disks and CPU and other not case related components.

I can imagine nobody has yet ordered such a system, since it was only announced last Monday. The problem with the DDR2 800 FBDIMMs is that the Harpertown is the first CPU to use a 1600 FSB and only Seaburg chipsets support that. But looking at the list of approved memory they must be available, but maybe rather difficult to get.

Nice to have an independent and knowledgeable guy confirm that my suggestion for a top-of-the-bill system was a good one.

I would be interested to hear his opinion on compatibility of the video card. I can not discern why it could cause issues.

Hope this helps somewhat.

Last edited by Harm Millaard; November 15th, 2007 at 10:07 PM.
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Old November 15th, 2007, 09:38 PM   #48
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John,

In reply to your question about the Areca 1210, that is a controller I'm using for a slightly less powerful system. Very good performance, but as you noted yourself, it has only 4 ports, 128 MB cache and - if memory serves me correctly - uses the IOP333. The 1231ML uses a newer and faster IOP, the 341, has multilane connections, 12 ports and has a memory slot, which contains a 256 MB DDR2 4200 ECC stick. This can be upgraded to maximum 2 GB.
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Old November 15th, 2007, 10:38 PM   #49
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John,

In the following figure you can see the impact of cache on the performance of raid controllers. Notice specially the difference between the 1280 with 512 MB and the 1160 with 1 GB cache. The 1160 is a PCI-X, the 1280 is a PCI-e card. You can imagine what 2 GB cache would do.

The Workstation Storagemark test comprises several tests oriented towards A/V applications, using PS, AE, PP, 3DSMax, WMP, etc.
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Old November 15th, 2007, 11:07 PM   #50
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The Workstation Storagemark test comprises several tests oriented towards A/V applications, using PS, AE, PP, 3DSMax, WMP, etc.
I agree it looks impressive but it's all so out of my league!!

I don't know what either axis represents unfortunately. The numbers up the side or the RAID Level. I assume it means RAID 5, right?

I would probably not bother with the RAID 5 and just go with RAID 0. 5 is for security, right? And 0 is for speed? So if those figures were for RAID 0 it would be even faster? Assuming the graph represents some sort of speed...

Also, in terms of total storage space for the video drives. I was probably going to get 2TB total out of 4 500GB drives but it would probably be faster to get 8 250GB drives wouldn't it? That giant case provides enough space for 10 HDDs I think?
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Old November 15th, 2007, 11:53 PM   #51
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The vertical axis indicates speed, the horizontal axis shows the number of disks in a Raid5 array. The case accepts 8 hot-swappable disks by default and with the standard bay one floppy drive or 3.5 hard disk and two 5.25 drives. This standard bay can be exchanged for another, allowing 5 more hot-swappable disks.

In my system I use 8 x 500 disks in raid5, one boot disk in the floppy bay and 2 DVD burners. With the 1231 ML controller that leaves room for an external storage of a further 4 disks.

The risk with raid0 is that when one drive fails, you lose ALL data in the raid0.
I once had intermittent problems with a 6 disk array in raid5. There were 2 disks giving problems and you got warnings about degraded array, rebuilding etc. I exchanged first one disk, rebuild the array, then exchanged the 2-nd disk and did another rebuild. I never lost any data because I was lucky that during the first rebuild, the other disk did not give problems. This was on a server with about 500 GB of data on it. Boy, was I glad we had it in a raid5!!
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Old November 16th, 2007, 07:02 AM   #52
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John,

The case is pricey, € 400 over here, but consider that it is inclusive of a high efficiency 865 W silent power supply. Those do not come cheap. For instance an Enermax 850W PS is around € 200. Consider also the six fans, air shroud, 8 hot swappable bays, 8 port SAS/SATA backplane and the case does not look that pricey anymore. The only thing that could fail in that case is the power supply or the fans and SuperMicro luckily has a reputation for good availability of spare parts.
I guess you're right - there is a lot of value for money. However, I am (fairly) certain that I will never use any more than 5 HDDs, 2 Optical drives (finally got a Blu-ray and a HD-DVD!), 2 8600GT video cards and a RAID controller. Plus the 2 processors of course. Is this something that requires 865W of power?

To me, the backpane is of no use at this stage and I cannot foresee it being terribly useful for my needs. I guess I just figure you could get any old case with a heap of fans and space for half the price.

I've found this Antec P190 which looks good to me and is half the price of the Supermicro. Does it look good to you?

EDIT RE: "The P190s power supply: The 650W power supply has the usual ATX 20+4pin connector, and the not so usual 6+2pin PCI-e connectors. There are two of these connectors, and another two standard 6pin PCI-e plugs..."

I have a feeling this will not meet the Supermicro requirements. From the Supermicro website: "Important Chassis Notes To ensure system stability, a 550W (minimum) ATX power supply
[4-pin (+12V), 8-pin (+12V) and 24-pin are required]"

This doesn't look promising but I don't understand any of it...

Another post in this thread directed me to the Videoguys.com website DIY Page that recommends for its "Best" configuration a Thermaltake Eureka VC8000BWA case. It's the right size and is less than one quarter of the price of the Supermicro case over here.

It also recommends a Tyan motherboard. How come you preferred Supermicro to Tyan?

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What he probably implied with the 5 year period is the life of hard disks and CPU and other not case related components.
He was. Though he seemed to suggest that the lifespan of those bits would only be 5 years if kept cool in a case like this. 5 years doesn't seem much for such an expense!

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Nice to have an independent and knowledgeable guy confirm that my suggestion for a top-of-the-bill system was a good one.
He was very impressed. He said it was pretty much the best computer that could be built.

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I would be interested to hear his opinion on compatibility of the video card. I can not discern why it could cause issues.
He only sought clarification because he said he wasn't certain about it, though was confident that it would be fine. He's just being thorough. I'll let you know what he says.
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Old November 16th, 2007, 11:58 AM   #53
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I guess you're right - there is a lot of value for money. However, I am (fairly) certain that I will never use any more than 5 HDDs, 2 Optical drives (finally got a Blu-ray and a HD-DVD!), 2 8600GT video cards and a RAID controller. Plus the 2 processors of course. Is this something that requires 865W of power?
With the number of components you indicate, but with a single video card, the recommended power supply is around 800 W with 30% capacitor aging. See http://www.extreme.outervision.com/PSUEngine

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To me, the backpane is of no use at this stage and I cannot foresee it being terribly useful for my needs. I guess I just figure you could get any old case with a heap of fans and space for half the price.
Hot-swappable disks are very easy if you want to create a new project set or want to save all your current projects. Just exchange the whole set and you are ready to roll. If a disk fails and you need to replace it, it can be done in less than a minute. Compare that to turning off your system, removing the failing disk and start again. To use hot-swappable capability you need the backplane. An added advantage of using a backplane is that it allows SGPIO connections to utilize the LED indicators for all of the disks, showing you in one glance whether a disk has failed and identify the culprit. That is not possible with the Antec or Thermaltake cases. Just another difference between a very good consumer case and a professional case.

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I've found this Antec P190 which looks good to me and is half the price of the Supermicro. Does it look good to you?
It certainly is a good case, but not a server case. It is a big tower and the major drawback is that, due to the depth of the case in comparison to a real server case, the length of add-in cards can be problematic, especially with new video cards, thus causing less than optimal airflow and cooling. The same applies to the Thermaltake case. The airflow in the Supermicro case has another advantage, it gets along with passive cooling of the CPU's. Both Antec and Thermaltake require active cooling, thus offsetting the price advantage of the case with more costly active coolers and with active coolers the noise is higher.

Quote:
It also recommends a Tyan motherboard. How come you preferred Supermicro to Tyan?
This is like preferring an Audi over a BMW. Highly personal, but in my perception Supermicro is just a tad above Tyan in terms of reliability. Tyan has in the past had some problems with the capacitors on mobo's. It is also a question of availability, feature set and price.

Quote:
He was very impressed. He said it was pretty much the best computer that could be built.
I take that as a compliment.

A final thought, keep in mind that Videoguys is oriented towards mass products, so they have the con/prosumer in mind with their suggestions. Your initial post was about the best money can buy and professional is a different market than consumer.
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Old November 18th, 2007, 03:02 AM   #54
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Did I Miss Something Here???

When I last checked, you were considering a single Core2Quad, which would have been sufficient for your needs. While I agree that the dual Harpertown with Seaburg system speced above is the fastest possible system (If money was no object) it is TOTALLY UNNECESSARY. Also, you should never expect a system to last five years. It is not economically feasible, technology moves to fast. Refresh ever two years with something just below the top of the line, and you will definitely save money in the long run, and have a faster system most of the time.

If you want 8 cores, I recommend an HP XW8400 or a Dell Precision690. Both can be purchased for cheap from Dell and HP outlet sites, to save even more money. For storage, you can put 5 disks in either one, or buy an external 8 disk array for under $1K. You definitely do NOT need 10K RPM drives. 7200RPM drives are suitable for ALL media tasks up to uncompressed 4K, provided you have enough of them. You will always be able to afford enough of them compared to 10K or 15K RPM drives, twice as many are still half the price (The only exception would be getting uncompressed HD off of 4x 2.5inch 15K RPM SAS drives, in a portable solution the size of your fist. Not needed in your application) Invest the rest of the money in a XenaLH card, and some really nice monitor. Monitors hold there value much longer than workstations. 10year old workstations are obselete, but ten year old >21" CRTs are still usable. I expect to have my 30" LCD for a LONG time.

Dual Harpertown would be great, but is totally unnecessary for HD editing. That system would work well for realtime 4K though.
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Old November 18th, 2007, 06:02 AM   #55
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If you want 8 cores, I recommend an HP XW8400 or a Dell Precision690. Both can be purchased for cheap from Dell and HP outlet sites, to save even more money.
Both Dell and HP have good standard systems, attractively priced, but ONLY if you go for the standard configuration. As soon as you choose an option to add to the system, it's gonna cost you dearly. Add a hard disk at nearly triple the going price, add memory at double the going price, add a processor at double the going price, etc. However, and Dell admits it, they do not have advanced systems. Woodcrest is the latest CPU they offer, not the Clovertown, let alone the Harpertown, at least in their workstations. In servers like the Precision, they offer Clovertown CPU's, but unfortunately not with Greencreek chipsets.

I build these systems for comparable prices as Dell and HP, but with much more power under the hood.
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Old November 18th, 2007, 02:25 PM   #56
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Both Dell and HP have good standard systems, attractively priced, but ONLY if you go for the standard configuration. As soon as you choose an option to add to the system, it's gonna cost you dearly. Add a hard disk at nearly triple the going price, add memory at double the going price, add a processor at double the going price, etc. However, and Dell admits it, they do not have advanced systems. Woodcrest is the latest CPU they offer, not the Clovertown, let alone the Harpertown, at least in their workstations. In servers like the Precision, they offer Clovertown CPU's, but unfortunately not with Greencreek chipsets.

I build these systems for comparable prices as Dell and HP, but with much more power under the hood.
I don't know where you have been getting your information, but you are incorrect. Both Dell and HP have offered Clovertown CPUs since the month they were shipped, November of 2006. I am confident they will both be shipping 5400 CPUs before the end of the month, HP in the XW8600, and Dell in whatever their next revision of Precision will be. Certain options from both companies are overpriced, specifically hard drives, and currently RAM. CPUs are usually somewhat competitively priced, as are the high end GPUs, but you can always increase RAM and disk space after the fact.

I ordered two XW8400s on Friday, with Woodcrest chips, and I plan to replace them with Harpertown chips in 6 months when the prices are more reasonable, and I find a good deal. You can't beat it price wise, and few people NEED anything more than Woodcrest, until we really start pushing into 4K. (I plan to have an 8 core Harpertown system w/4GB RAM for $2200-2500 total by summer 08)

Buying HP also gives you the advantage of certified hardware, meaning that your software companies will take the time to fix problems for you, because many programs are guarenteed to work on HP XW8200/8400 workstations: AJA, Avid, Matrox, CAD, etc.

I agree that you speced one of the fastest systems available, but it is not economical in 99% of applications. A system with 50-75% of the power is 1/4 the price.
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Old November 18th, 2007, 02:36 PM   #57
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I don't know where you have been getting your information, but you are incorrect.
The Dell online store.
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Old November 18th, 2007, 06:53 PM   #58
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The fact that you are in a foriegn country may modify the options. When I go to the Dell site from the US, if I select the Precision workstation line, both the 490 and 690 series are offered with everything up to dual X5365 Clovertown CPUs. What is avaialbe in the Customize options? They haven't updated in the last week to include the new 45nm CPUs, but neither has anyone else. They probably will by the end of the month, if Intel actually starts shipping them.

HP is the same way with the XW6400 and XW8400 lines. Right there on their site. HP also has announced but is not selling the new 45nm based XW8600 series. My issueswith that system are that it only has one PCI-X slot, is trying to lock me into Vista, and has few improvements over the XW8400 series, which is why I opted to buy XW8400s recently.
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Old November 18th, 2007, 09:17 PM   #59
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X7dwa-n

Harm, I should have a X7DWA-N running (hopefully) in about a week. I am not going RAID on it, but I do have four SAS 15K drives waiting for my delivery. While I have not yet posted it I do have a new PPBM3 benchmark. I just have been too busy to do the supporting web pages and documentation. Since this is not an income producing hobby I am initially only going to have a pair of 5410's.
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Old November 19th, 2007, 03:23 AM   #60
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Good to hear, Bill. I will run the tests for various machines, so as to help you fill the database with relevant figures.
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