With the crunching of larger data sets comes longer processing times.
This fact and the recent failure of my computer power supply has led to building a new computer.
This is the build log of a multi-purpose processing, programming and visual stimulus testing machine.
- 5 year utility
- Reduce Processing Times by 10x on previous machine
- 3D render support
- OpenCl support
- Multi-OS support - Linux, OS X, Windows
- Motherboard: ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS
- CPU: 2x Xeon E5-2680
GPU1: GTX 680 4GB
- GPU2: Quadro 3700 FX
- RAM: 64GB Reg ECC
- Boot Drive: Intel 520M 256GB SSD
- Case: Lian Li PC-750
I originally planned on attaching a storage array to this machine
but have left that on my backup server as there is not much need for fast storage
with my current use. For those interested, the array is made up of:
- RAID6: Areca 2333 RAID 6 Array
- Storage array: 5x 3TB Ultrastar 7200rpm HDD
The motherboard took a bit of tweaking to get working but now runs very well.
There are some bios issues with the compatibility between the GTX 6** series
of graphics cards and the board which I solved by using an older Quadro card!
Currently using BIOS 0703, but the latest BIOS should fix the issue.
I installed MacOS X 10.7.4 and updated using Multibeast,
with the following drivers:
- Intel network
I also had to modify the following kexts:
In boot options, I set:
- GraphicsEnabler to NO
- darkwake=0 npci=0x3000
The computer is blisteringly fast, it's actually world's 3rd fastest computer running MacOS.
Geekbench scores are around 28100.
It also runs Linux Mint (Ubuntu Version) and Windows 7 on rare occasions.
I currently have 2 monitors, both running at 120Hz connected to the computer:
- Asus VGE278HE 27"
- Samsung 2233RZ 22"
This is very useful for testing visual stimulus presentation and hopefully doing some 3d perceptual experiments (still debugging the 3d setup).
The total build was less than AU $3000 which makes Apple's prices look completely crazy. Their most similar Mac Pro would cost about $10 000 and would be quite a bit slower than this build for a third of the cost! Admittedly, I got some very good deals on the processors and RAM.
I have been generally very happy with the hardware, it's 100% stable apart from the Corsair H80 water coolers which are very poorly manufactured. The LEDs have failed on both coolers and one of the replacements and their software is not functional.
Drivers for the built in audio were always a bit flaky, so I ended up using a cheap USB audio solution that is trouble free.
The machine certainly provides a lot of processing head room but also brings up the issue of how much speed up is reliant on multithreading. So I really have an incentive to learn how to apply multithreading in R and other programs.