Re: Bang for the Buck

From: David Pearlman <>
Date: Fri 09 Feb 2001 18:19:12 -0500

DON'T get the Via Chipset dual board. It's basically
crap. It benchmarks slower than the old
Intel BX chipset (100Mhz bus), and it's less
reliable to boot.

Instead, if you're looking to build your own system,
buy a Tyan Tiger 100 dual processor BX-based board.
Should cost you <= $150. Make sure you get one made
in the past year or so, which would have an "F"
revision designation on the board. This board will
support PIII/100Mhz FSB processors up to at least
850Mhz. I have read reports that 900Mhz processors
will work without problem, but can't vouch for it
personally. You can also overclock just about any
Intel PIII Coppermine processor to the available
112Mhz FSB setting (use 133Mhz SDRAM on the board)
and this will give you a 1.12x boost over the rated
chip clock speed (and should still be very stable).
850Mhz * 1.12 = 952Mhz...AND this board will benchmark
faster than the Via board.

A question you'll need to ask is if you need SCSI.
If so, you can either use a cheap SCSI PCI card or
buy a dual board with on-board SCSI. But you'll have
to spring a couple more hundred for a motherboard
with onboard SCSI (Tyan Thunder line, for example).

If you want an "out of the box" solution, you can
look for one of the Compaq ML350 servers that Compaq
closed out a couple of month ago. There were retailing
for around $700-800 each. They come with a 600Mhz/133Mhz
processor, but are dual capable (you need to find a Compaq
VRM for the motherboard to insert a second processor).
These are build around the Serverworks 133Mhz FSB
board, and they come with a hot-swap 4 drive SCSI drive
cage, on-board video (ATI Rage 4Mb), and ethernet.
Quite a deal **IF** you think you want to go with
SCSI hard drives. There are lots of reasons to like
SCSI drives, but one reason not to like them is cost.
A 9.1GB 10,000 rpm SCSI drive is going to cost you
around $150 or more. An 18.2Gb version will cost you
around $280, and so on. Compare that to the 60Gb
7200rpm Maxtor drives that you can now buy in the
low $200 range...

Anyway, this has gotten a bit off topic. So let me reiterate
the main reason for my reply: Don't get the Via/Apollo
based board!

Oh, and if you want dual processors, you can't look at
the AMD processors, even though you are sure to get
a lot of people telling you "go with AMD, they are way
cheaper than Intel". There are beta version motherboards
floating around that support dual processor AMD chips,
but none are on the market so far. My intuition tells
me that if stability is a major factor, you won't want
to buy the first ones to hit the market, anyway.


Robert Matthew Fesinmeyer wrote:
> This question is primarily for the x86 hardware geeks on the list.
> My research group will be purchasing a system or systems to be used for MD
> calculations and trajectory analysis. We primarily look at small
> peptide/waterbox systems using sander in Amber6. Our primary system
> currently is a 1 year old dual P3 650 running RedHat 6.2 that cost ~$2000
> built from off-the-shelf parts.
> In looking at new hardware, our one of our interests is, as the subject
> suggests, "bang for the buck". For the $2000 spent last year, we could
> currently purchase a dual 1 GHz P3 machine using PC133 SDRAM (Via
> chipset).
> Is there anything likely to be gained (given our uses) from RDRAM, Xeon P3
> processors, P4 processors, or even Alpha-based systems? My impression is
> that for the cost of each of these improvements, the "better" answer is
> simply purchase an additional dual 1GHz system and run the 1 calculation
> on X machines (or alternatively, run X calculations on X machines).
> Thank you for your comments.
> Robert Fesinmeyer
> _________________________
> R. M. Fesinmeyer
> Department of Chemistry
> University of Washington
Received on Fri Feb 09 2001 - 15:19:12 PST
Custom Search