[RndTbl] new ECC computer options

Brock Wolfe obwolfe at shaw.ca
Sat Jan 28 13:40:16 CST 2017

I spent a considerable amount of time recently looking at Workstation 
grade setups to support a major 3D CAD package as well as support CGI 
rendering and transcoding.  The major difference is whether you want to 
support multiple video cards X3 or X4 to support multi-GPU processing 
(ie.OpenCL).  If not, then a mid-range board (ASUS etc.) that supports 
ECC (or not) processor is good enough.

The more important question is how much money you want to put into the 

If your workload to be mostly single threaded (CAD work), then a 
mainstream quad processor (with the highest clock speed) is the best.  
The motherboard can overclock dynamically to get the best performance.

If your going to use software or application that can work mult-treaded 
(ie. rendering/transcoding) , then moving up to a server grade processor 
that supports 8+ cores (and the highest affordable clock speed) is going 
to make a REAL difference.  When rendering  a single CGI frame takes an 
hour and you need 300 frames for 10 seconds of video, the 
seconds/minutes saved add up quickly.

Another approach is to see if your software supports (built-in) 
clustering capability.  For example Blender can be configured to create 
(Master/Slave/Client) nodes that can create a rending cluster on to 
other available machines.  The heavy lifting is off-loaded, saving your 
workstation to continue on content creation.

On 1/28/2017 12:00 PM, roundtable-request at muug.ca wrote:
> Message: 1
> Date: Sat, 28 Jan 2017 00:46:42 -0600
> From: Trevor Cordes<trevor at tecnopolis.ca>
> To: MUUG RndTbl<roundtable at muug.ca>
> Subject: [RndTbl] new ECC computer options
> Message-ID:<20170128064642.GA5713 at pog.tecnopolis.ca>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
> I'm looking for input from anyone in the club who may be knowledgable,
> eyeballing, or has purchased a "workstation" system recently with ECC
> memory.  (Note, ECC is imperative!)  I don't need dual-socket, crazy
> speed, just something like a mid-range modern i7 with modern RAM, slots,
> etc.  (i3 speeds won't cut it.)
> By "workstation" I mean it has to have at least one PCIe x16 (full 16
> electrical) slot so it can have a good video card installed (and handle
> upgrades in the future).  So some "servers" will qualify, although most do
> not have a true x16 slot (they'll say x16 but the small print will say x8
> or x4 electrical), especially on the low end.  I also need tower form
> factor, as rackmount will (unless 4U) be a pain to fit cards in, etc.
> Lastly, I really want a DIY setup where I buy the board, cpu, etc
> individually, though if a perfect premade system (i.e. Lenovo) exists that
> fits the bill I might consider it (must use no propreitary form factor
> parts, including mobo & PS).
> It's basically impossible since the discontinuation of the Intel
> D975 chipsets (nearly 10 years ago) to do Intel with ECC without buying a
> Xeon CPU.  So I'm probably stuck buying a Xeon CPU and getting slower than
> i7 for double the price.  Ugh.
> I'd really love to hear from the AMD nuts out there if there are any good
> AMD options, especially ones that are more enthusiast/desktop oriented
> rather than same-price-as-Xeon competitors.  If I'm going to spend big
> bucks, I'll buy Intel: AMD needs to offer a compelling price advantage to
> pull me over.
> I still believe AMD could carve a niche for itself by offering desktop
> enthusiast chips / mobos with ECC at desktop, rather than server, prices.
> Maybe add $50 each to a mobo and cpu as the price premium.  Not the 100%
> premium Intel wants just to get ECC.  (I miss the old days when getting
> ECC was cheap/easy.)  If AMD already has such a thing (I'm hoping!),
> great!
> I know I'm not the only one in the club interested in these answers.  P.S.
> being a computer reseller, I don't need prices or store suggestions, I can
> just buy it all wholesale:-)   It's the "this chipset plus that CPU" that
> I'm really looking for.
> Thanks!

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