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dual processors


I am thinking of buying a dual processor, what are there any things I need to look out for? Is there a dual processor-buying guide – google was of no help? Links to websites?

thanks

ISV
Monday, August 09, 2004

I generally follow Ars Technica's builder's guides; see the God Box, which is always a dualie.  They're pretty good about speccing out a performance machine without hardware traps.

Justin Johnson
Monday, August 09, 2004

http://www.2cpu.com

Egor
Monday, August 09, 2004

2cpu.com is focused on SMP.  They post and discuss other things too, of course.

http://www.2cpu.com/

Jonathan Briggs
Monday, August 09, 2004

God box is always the bomb

http://arstechnica.com/guide/system/godbox.html

Tapiwa
Monday, August 09, 2004

Be careful about what cards you buy for it - building hardware for SMP is somewhat trickier than for single CPU, so some hardware manufacturers won't invest the time/money to do so if they perceive it's not a broad market.

Most notably - "gaming" and "consumer" type cards may not give the necessary attention to what they consider a "server" solution.

So:
1) See if the manufacturer has in writing anything about SMP
2) If they do, check usenet for reports of the interoperability - IOW, make sure the manufacturer is telling the truth.

Philo

Philo
Monday, August 09, 2004

I am a huge dually fan (I type this on a dually) ... the only issues I've ever really had are drivers that don't play nice ... not, perhaps, necessarily a problem limited to duallies.

<sigh/>
Monday, August 09, 2004

2nd the nod for www.2cpu.com, specifically the forums, are great sources of info .. don't be afraid to jump in and ask your questions, even if they seem silly.  It can be a significant chunk of change over a nice single processor box, and you need to manage your expectations against realistic gains in performance and a nice hit in the ole wallet.

<sigh/>
Monday, August 09, 2004

I've got two dual-cpu boxes at home (dual P-II and dual P-III).  Wish I had one at work (one for the stupid 100%-CPU anti-virus utility, one to get real work done).

Like Philo says, once you start looking a dual-proc boxes, you're in a different class of hardware -- more like the entry-level server area.  You'll want only name-brand hardware, and only from the vendors who have proven to ship good software drivers.  My short-list would include:

Motherboards:
Tyan, Supermicro

CPU:
P-III at the low-end, Opteron 2xx at high-end.  Xeon is too damned expensive for what you get.

Memory:
Crucial

Drive adapters:
3Ware, Adaptec

Drives:
Anything SCSI.  SATA is OK if you go RAID-1 or RAID-5.

Video cards:
No real recommendations.  I was always a Matrox fan, though (I don't game on these boxes)

Power supplies:
PC Power & Cooling

example
Monday, August 09, 2004

> Most notably - "gaming" and "consumer" type cards may not give the necessary attention to what they consider a "server" solution.

Uh Philo, what do you mean by card? Vid cards? Network cards? SCSI cards? No server admin is going to pop in a $oundblaster Audigy card into a Dell $erver, but good advice. If you are talking about motherboards, I wouldn't worry so much, bloody everyone uses pretty much anything for motherboards now days, and the same vendors responsible for making Intel server motherboards are the same people making the "crappy" gamer cards. There are only so many ways to make a PC--the end result, wide and fast pipelines, distribution and channelling of appropriate board traffic, strong subsystems and solid methods of communicating with them, are all characteristics of a good motherboard for either multimedia games and database work.

Li-fan Chen
Monday, August 09, 2004

"No server admin is going to pop in a $oundblaster Audigy card into a Dell $erver, but good advice."

See, Li-fan? You've fallen into the same trap - dual processor=server.

Quite simply, an SMP machine is a good way to get excellent performance on a desktop. You know all those times some task grabs the CPU and you're staring at an hourglass or unresponsive system for a while? Doesn't happen on a dual CPU system. The whole system is just speedier and snappier.

I've got a dual-PIII 800 system with SCSI bus right next to a P4 1.8GHZ with 7200rpm IDE drives. I much prefer working on my dual-CPU system - it's definitely the faster box.

For the record, the cards I had problems with when I built it were an ATI All-in-Wonder Radeon (best consumer video card at the time; ATI flat out said "no dual processor support") and a Sound Blaster Platinum (best consumer sound card at the time; Creative initially was noncomittal about dual proc support, then withdrew that and said "no dual processor support")

Philo

Philo
Monday, August 09, 2004

Yeah, plus one for dual-processor desktops.

My development PC is dual 3GHz Xeons and it is pretty slick.

Nemesis
Tuesday, August 10, 2004



I'm looking into a dual Opteron for what I've been calling "my super computer".

I'm thinking that i'll go Debian on it, but I'm still considering Fedora....

KC
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

We use dual Xeons with the latest Linux enterprise.  The CPUs support hyperthreading so 'top' shows 4 CPUs.

doom 3
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

"I've got a dual-PIII 800 system with SCSI bus right next to a P4 1.8GHZ with 7200rpm IDE drives. I much prefer working on my dual-CPU system - it's definitely the faster box."

FWIW, that's my experience too: dual 800's are noticeably faster to work on than a 1.X P4.

profound insights galore
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Hey profound -

Do you think it's faster really?  I use an old dually as my workstation and my obervations are not so much that anything is FASTER, but everyting is SMOOTHER.

<sigh/>
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I'm using a 600-Mhz monoprocessor right now. We also have a dual 233-Mhz here. Pretty impressive box. Which one would you prefer ?
(When a program grabs all of my CPU, I just make it low-priority. Well.)

Pakter
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I still use a dual Celeron 533MHz which I put together using the Abit BP6.  To use a motoring analogy, 2 CPUs give you more "torque", they don't "rev" as fast, but they keep pulling.

David B. Wildgoose
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

KC, I'm not knocking Fedora, but I can say you won't regret Debian.  I run "Sid" on my main machine and it's still more stable than my old Mandrake box.

And if rock solid stability isn't enough, apt-get should swing it for anybody.

David B. Wildgoose
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Specifically, doing a multi-project MSDEV build on a dual 800 machine takes less time than on a single P4 1.6.  I don't know why, because the build should all be serial execution, and this is with nothing else substantial happening on the box (well, besides the bowels of Win2K Server).

profound insights galore
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I've got a dual P3-500, dual P3-733, and a single (but hyperthreaded) P4 3.2G.  All whitebox/homebuilt systems.  The P3-500 on a Supermicro P6DBE (440BX) has been a rock... the Abit VP6 on the 733, well, it's a little funkier but faster of course.

Obviously I used to be a SMP zealot, but HT is 'good enough' for me in the responsiveness department and I appreciate being able to put all the CPU grunt to work on single-threaded thingies.

Protocol adventurer
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

"I'm looking into a dual Opteron for what I've been calling "my super computer".

I'm thinking that i'll go Debian on it, but I'm still considering Fedora.... "

You know what? I'm so passionate about the dual proc issue I'm not even gonna debate OS - just go dual proc, you won't regret it.

My dual-800 system probably cost me $400 more at the time, but I'm positive I would've relegated a single-800 system by now as too damn slow.

BTW, I also buy one step back from the bleeding edge (at the cusp of the price/performance curve), which helps more with dual proc, since you're saving the premium twice.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

<philo>I'm positive I would've relegated a single-800 system by now as too damn slow.

BTW, I also buy one step back from the bleeding edge (at the cusp of the price/performance curve), which helps more with dual proc, since you're saving the premium twice. </philo>

Philo - couldn't have said it better myself. 

BTW, this is coming from a dualy 667 / OR840 / RDRAM(!?) solution.  Not yet considering a new system, although Doom3 may change that :-)!

<sigh/>
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

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