Advice for a new HPC workstation

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Advice for a new HPC workstation

Postby Steinmann » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:40 am

I'm selecting parts for a new "HPC workstation".
It's mostly going to be used for scientific applications that can highly benefit from multiple cores (not GPGPU).
So maximizing the number of cores per $ matters.
For several reasons a cluster is not not feasible.
And for budget reasons a single-processor system is preferred.

For these reasons I'm thinking of this configuration:

Motherboard: Supermicro H8SGL(-F) Single Socket G34 AMD SR5650/SP5100 8x DIMM ATX
CPU: AMD Opteron “Abu Dhabi” 6376 16-Core 2.3GHz 16MB L2 Cache 16MB L3 Cache Socket G34 115W
RAM: 16 or 32 Gb of unbuffered 1600/1333 DDR3 (exact type and brand to be decided)
Case: CoolerMaster CM690 (already owned)
Power supply: Corsair CMPSU-520HXEU 520 watt (already owned)
Video card: Club3D CGAX-3856DD Radeon HD3850 256Mb (already owned)
Drives: to be decided but something like 1 HD 512Gb + 1 (or 2) SSD 128Gb
Optical: DVD Samsung SH-203N (already owned)
OS: Windows 7 Pro 64bit

Does this configuration make sense? Any known glitches or incompatibilities?

Does anybody have experience with this motherboard? I’m still looking for proper CPU cooling that won't be in the way of the video card in the PCI-E x16 slot. Any other cooling recommendations? I hear the Northbridge may need extra cooling as well.

I’m not sure if my current (5 year old) power supply (520watt) will be enough and I’m not sure about the expected lifespan of power supplies. Should I get a new one?

What type of RAM should I get? I don’t necessarily need ECC or registered but speed matters. Is it worth getting 1600 instead of 1333 or won’t it really matter for performance?

And does anybody happen to know a vendor that supplies this motherboard with the BIOS already updated to version 3.0? (I need this to boot the board with the Opteron 6376 CPU or I won’t even be able to flash it myself).

Any advice is welcome.
Last edited by Steinmann on Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Mr T » Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:30 pm

Welcome to the motherboards.org...

What you have there is a nice server setup... More is not always better depending on what you are doing... Can you do what you require with an 8 core CPU? If you are on a budget you may save by going for a cheaper AMD CPU and motherboard. An XEON would be more suitable on the single CPU workstation front and well out perform the opteron. Windows 7 is a 'heavy' operating system, can you do waht you require on Linux?
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Postby Steinmann » Sun Feb 24, 2013 1:43 am

Thank you.
I really can use the extra cores. I looked at Xeon and although performance per core is better, it is much more expensive then Opteron and an 8-core Xeon won't outperform an Opteron 16-cores for the application I'm using, which can really take full use of all available cores because of its parallel nature.
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Postby bdub » Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:37 am

"Supports up to 256GB Registered ECC or 64GB Unbuffered ECC/non-ECC DDR3 1600/1333/1066 SDRAM in 8 DIMMs", so getting registered ecc ram will give you more options (16 or 32 gig stix)... and there is no non-ecc ram on the qvl for memory, so ram compatibility is a bit trial and error there.

what is your budget for ram? because there's lots to choose from to do here... you got 8 open slots to fill, you could start out doing 4x4, or 8x2, 8x4, 8x8?

according to some of the reviews at newegg, the board came ready to run 6300 series chips.

so far i see this works...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820139271
these are options...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820161458
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820231312
my main rig...
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toshiba 2TB HDD 64M cache sata3
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Postby Steinmann » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:49 am

Yeah I might as well get one of the ECC validated ones just to be sure its compatible.
I can spend $10/Gb or so if needed. Don't really need Registered because 32 Gb is more than enough for the next couple of years.
Just wondering if it has any advantage to get 1600 instead of 1333.
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Postby bdub » Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:51 am

there is some non-ecc that works for sure... i was going through the comments on your mobo at newegg and people are using it. the nice thing about non ecc, besides being less expensive, is that it is generally a little faster. ecc takes time to count that correct bit.
i wouldn't sweat 1333-1600 too much, but the price difference isn't all that much, so go for the 1600.

i think this set would do you fine...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820231507
my main rig...
asrock 970 extreme3
AMD athlonII X3 440
zalman cpns5x performa hs/fan
crucial ballistix 2x4gb sport ddr3-1333
powercolor ax7750 1GBK3-H vga
antec neo he 650r
Samsung 840 EVo SSD 120 GB
toshiba 2TB HDD 64M cache sata3
seagate 1TB HDD 64M cache sata3
hitachi 2TB HDD 64M cache sata3
lg wh14ns40 bd burner
optiarc ad-7240s sata dvdrw (nec chipset)
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Postby Steinmann » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:16 pm

Thanks, that's good to know. I think the memory won't be much of a problem.

I'm still stuck at CPU cooling though.

I found a couple of heatsink+fan coolers that actually fit on the board (without blocking a DIMM or the PCI-E x16 slot) such as the Dynatron A6 or A5. However they seem to be very loud making them not suitable for workstations.

So I'm realizing that the only way to go may be water cooling if I want to keep temperatures low at 100% load without jet engine level noise. (unless there are good low-noise fans that are less than 86mm wide??).

Does anybody know any closed-loop liquid cooling solutions that fit on a G34 socket? I couldn't find one so far.

I read in one of the motherboard reviews about someone having modified a CORSAIR Hydro Series CWCH50-1 High Performance CPU Cooler to fit on the G34 socket. Not sure if I can pull this of though.
Last edited by Steinmann on Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Roach412 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:18 pm

you can always replace the fans on the heatsinks with something less noisy. might be an extra 10-20 bucks for high-quality quiet fans.

i've never heard of a closed-loop system for the G34 - only people's hacked versions of it.

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Postby Steinmann » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:16 am

So do you know any quiet fan smaller than 86mm width that you recommend? (and heatsink to go with it)
Last edited by Steinmann on Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby evasive » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:31 am

So going completely passive is out of the question then?
http://www.dynatron-corp.com/en/product ... d=229&in=0
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