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Gorth

Workstations

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Just a general curiosity topic...

 

I'm planning on building a work station after New Year (so still 6 months off, busy saving up).

 

Apart from being good at what I need the processing power for, I was curious if it is completely "useless" for gaming (the apps I run will happily devour each and every core/thread thrown at them).

 

Current contenders for that build are Asus WS motherboards with intel 602 chipset and two E5 (xeaon) octacore processors.

 

Anybody got any experience using such machines for non-work related purposes?


“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” - Albert Einstein

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There is no rule that says it can't have a decent GFX. Processing power doesn't mean that much for gaming performance, so it doesn't matter if games aren't optimised for octo(?) core processors.

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Just wondering if anybody out there uses machines designed for non-gaming purposes as "entertainment" systems on the side. It's mostly going to be used as development environment (MS Visual Studio and MS SQL Server) or hobby (E-On Vue virtual landscape and animation and Thea - an unbiased rendering system).

 

Considering some of the fun of the past with things running on wow32 and tweaking of core affinity and what have you, I wondered if somebody had actual experience running legacy software on not just multi-core, but multi-cpu environments, not intel x5? and x7? chipsets but something completely "alien" :)


“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” - Albert Einstein

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Does running Mac OSX and netscape count as something totally alien?

 

Workstations, it's just the same as with a "normal PC".

The only hiccup is if you also pack a workstation GPU, even then everything will most likely work, just not as fast as you'd expect.

 

My home mac is a bit older 2 CPU Xeon system with the awesome total of 4 cores @ 2,66GHz !!! The speed!

 

The current systems are pretty darn good with these setups actually.

Most likely the games and such can't even tell the difference between 8-core CPU and 2x4-core system.

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Heh, Xeon W3520? I remember a lot of people picking them up for home use, either due to shortages in supply of the i7 920, or because they hoped the Xeons would be better binned compared to the consumer line - there also might have been pricing anomalies making the Xeon cheaper. They were in all technical respects exactly the same chip.


L I E S T R O N G
L I V E W R O N G

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I don't think Xeon are alien, they're not too different architecturally to the desktop ranges and some have i7 equivalents, they usually just have more L3 cache and ECC support. The GPU in some Ivybridge Xeons however I don't think is the same and has a different set of drivers, you might get the same issues workstation GPUs have.

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Not exactly sure what chips they are actually, I think they're pre i7, basically the system's comparable to a core2quad.

I picked it used, solely because the previous owner had installed a 240GB SSD in addition to 2x 1TB HD drives (were raid-0 but I turned them to raid-1 storage).

A funny side note, the second CPU daughterboard died a little a while back, taking half of the system RAM with it (6 GB remains).

 

I meant to do a lot more video editing with the setup than I actually did.

Pretty darn big and heavy system for web surfing, and accidentally kicking it causes bleeding wounds because of design. Sharp aluminium corners.

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Gorth,

 

I don't know what you want to do, but if you're maxing out the CPU load on this workstation, you're going to need to manage the CPU load before you can do anything else. If you want to play games that are 3D accelerated, the CPU load required for smooth play will depend on how modern the game is and some trial and error with custom CPU load scheduling will be required for smooth gameplay. If you're playing old, non GPU accelerated games, you can probably get by with a few CPU cycles per unit time but still, some trial and error will be required. Keep in mind tho, that if this machine is a dedicate compute / compile / render unit, your prolonged - X% performance hit that frees up resources for playing games will have a real impact on the amount of time it takes jobs to complete.

 

Now, if you're talking about a MS office workstation interacting with access and opening multiple hundreds of MB excel files, that's a different deal. Play battlefield on that thing if you've got the GPU resources.

 

What you're talking about sounds less like a workstation, and more like a dedicated render / compute unit. In my experience in academia, such workstations are used exclusively for their task (molecular dynamics simulations on SGI workstations, etc) and very poorly suited to the kind of multitasking that you're asking about.

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Rendering/Animation is just a hobby on the side. Development and test environment for same is the primary reason for needing some "grunt" (it's also going to get a number of SSD drives, as it's going to be used for testing a lot of data manipulation and multi-tier services interacting with a SQL backend, i.e. creating say 500 instances (completely arbitrary number to illustrate idea) of a test app. doing things through levels of tiers before reaching the backend). Involves quite a bit of virtualisation too.

 

If I could also use it for gaming when not doing that, it would be an added bonus and save some physical room space :)


“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” - Albert Einstein

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