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Comment Re:buy one Opteron 6100-based box (Score 1) 264

European Branch

Super Micro Computer, B.V.
Het Sterrenbeeld 28, 5215 ML,
's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
Tel: +31-73-640-0390
Fax: +31-73-641-6525
General Info: Sales@Supermicro.nl
Tech Support: Support@Supermicro.nl
Supermicro uses Xeons in all their current workstations. You'd have to ask for a custom job to get Opterons in a pedestal build. Nothing says you can't just run http://www.supermicro.com/Aplus/system/2U/2042/AS-2042G-6RF.cfm on its side, except it's going to sound awful in an office. If you're curious how one of those could/would spec out filling all bays and memory slots (without converting currencies),

1 x SUPERMICRO AS-2042G-6RF 2U Rackmount Server Barebone Quad Socket G34 AMD SR5690/SR5670 DDR3 1333/1066/800 Item #: N82E16816101321 $1,899.99
6 x Western Digital RE4 WD5003ABYX 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive Item #: N82E16822136697 $449.94 ($74.99 each)
32 x Kingston 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 ECC Registered Server Memory Model KVR1333D3D4R9S/8G Item #: N82E16820139140 $3,103.68 ($96.99 each)
4 x AMD Opteron 6128 Magny-Cours 2.0GHz Socket G34 115W 8-Core Server Processor OS6128WKT8EGOWOF Item #: N82E16819105266 $999.96 ($249.99 each)
Subtotal: $6,453.57 which is about the total budget.
The biggest problem with Opteron 6100's is the next faster proc costs 2x as much. I'm not suggesting this exact config, just an example. And YMWV with exchange rates and the hike to costs when importing stuff to your lil island. The UK gets hosed on hardware prices.

Comment Re:trade-off (Score 1) 264

buy your own hardware and take advantage of the services provided by your institution.

Your points are great. Something I didn't think to mention in a long post a few minutes ago. IF this is a university project and since the budget is so small, the grad student (I'm assuming) could look into building and sharing a cluster with another similarly sized research group of other grad students.

Comment Re:Uhm AWS EC2 Cluster Compute (Score 1) 264

Then something is wrong in the configuration, either hardware or software. Virtualization by itself should not reduce performance by ~66%. Your hit should more likely be 5-10%. If you're taking a huge hit, it's most likely because you're sharing resources. Don't blame virtualization for that.

To be honest, £4000 isn't going to buy a lot of processing power. Does that amount also cover operational costs such as power? I'd ask about bandwidth, but with the scale possible with this budget, colocation of the servers doesn't make sense. Have you considered BOINC? Are you 100% certain OpenCL and GPGPU won't help? Atom, while cheap, even on a small budget is probably a bad solution. Remember that CPU always ends up being less than 100% of the cost of a node. Increasing the cost per node by 10-25% to have a node that's 400-800% faster makes perfect sense, and the fewer nodes she has to run, the cheaper your network will be. Unless Bulldozer brings incredible performance, Sandy Bridge based CPUs will provide the best bang for the buck if she's buying new. Clock per clock, they're the fastest available cheaply and their energy consumption is excellent. I suggest looking at i5-2300/2400/2500 or Xeon E3-1220. Depends if she wants ECC mostly. She may have enough budget for 6-10 nodes using these CPUs. Reduce the complexity of a node to Motherboard, CPU, RAM, and Power Supply. Go with quality PSUs, but remember there's no need to go overboard on wattage for machines that won't be running a GPU (I'm saying 250-300 watts is optimal if you can find quality in that size). Also, DDR3 is dirt cheap right now, so if there's a possibility 8GB will make a difference at some point over 2GB or 4GB during the life of the nodes, it makes sense to just start with that much.

PXE boot from a head node that contains all the storage... which btw, you (serviscope_minor) didn't mention how much raw storage she's going to need which will eat a good portion of a small budget. You also didn't mention how hard her problem is on a network. Is simple gigabit enough? The closest serviscope_minor came to describing the problem was to use the term "CPU bound" somewhat ambiguously.

Again, I would bring up BOINC. She would accept hardware donations right? How about just asking for them on a worldwide scale? If this is a non-profit venture (her degree doesn't count as a profit if this is a University project as many have assumed) and isn't intensively time-sensitive, you'd be surprised how many people will freely contribute processing power.

Comment Re:Price of a textbook. (Score 1) 349

there is a reason they do not update them as regularly as you might like after all.

Most of my textbooks were updated more often/regularly than necessary. No new info added. No better explanations. In many editions the only thing that changed were the numbers in end of chapter problems. That way they could make the old editions, which were available used for more reasonable prices, obsolete. I have an EE (Circuits) textbook that was over US$200 but the class was taught entirely with a chalkboard and notes. The book was only ever used less than a dozen times for assigned homework. I essentially paid $5-10 per page used. My copy of that text is an 8th edition, so they run the scam pretty regularly.

I have other books that I never should have purchased at all because they were never even opened outside of class. Those classes were taught entirely, and I should add poorly, with PowerPoint slides and assignments e-mailed in pdf/doc format.

Comment Re:Is Slashdot really that tough on older posts? (Score 1) 582

If you're indeed looking for entry level people that have never done the job before, it's a valid question to ask if they have or have not. The difference is that "No." is the correct answer toward getting the job instead of "Yes. I have X years experience." which should actually get them shown the door. You shouldn't assume either way.

Comment Re:Great... now drink or drive takes on a new mean (Score 1) 360

This is like asking "You're stuck in the desert at a gas station, gas/petrol is $10/gal and water is $10/gal. You only have $10 on you, which do you buy?" Neither you nor the cashier can figure out how to make change for a purchase less than $10? You can't pour half the water into the car's reservoir while drinking the other half? Technically, if the designers of the vehicle planned for that product to be used in a low or zero water environment, it would capture and reuse the fuel cell's output, so you shouldn't have to ever make this choice. However, most of the world is not desert, thus few designs would incorporate this as it would just add cost. Why waste the money on that design in places where water literally falls out of the sky? At most it could save weight which will be much less concern when cars can reliably utilize a renewable energy source.

Comment Re:How version numbers SHOULD be. (Score 1) 209

If you think Slack made a big jump, how about Gentoo?

They went from 1.4.1 to 2004.0 with quarterly releases adding .1 three times regardless of how much changed. Then got lazy and seemed to lose most calendar years. Then from 2008.0 to weekly stuffs to 10.0 on its 10th year anniversary, and the current "distro release" is versioned 11.2. I don't know what I'm running anymore.

Oh, wait, yeah I do. System uname: Linux- when there actually never was a 2.0 distro release.

Comment Re:Compiler Technology (Score 1) 260

This may be of some interest to you. http://wtf.hijacked.us/wiki/index.php/Rocket.txt It's unfortunately not a full comparison of every major GCC version, but there are a few comparisons showing exactly what you suggest. Obviously it isn't scientific. Just a friend's site where I have a few boxes recorded and had the link quickly available.

I'd like to see that too. Slowest machine I think I have anymore is a Pentium 1. Now, if only it weren't the sole machine around here with a floppy drive for making boot disks. :/ But it's plenty slow. Last time I tried, it took about 2 hours just to compile a kernel on the box.

Comment Re:Amdahl's Law (Score 1) 118

Depends on the problem(s) and the processor design, which is entirely the point of why a 1k core CPU is a big deal. If you can have enough independent problems or programs running all the time and design a system that lessens contention and fighting for resources, Amdahl's Law can be avoided almost indefinitely. It won't last forever of course.

Comment Re:Life Cycle (Score 1) 118

A $3 Million MRI machine can't afford to have 10 $100 redundant backup GPUs inside it? Of course commodity hardware isn't medical grade. Anyone trying to shove an off the shelf GTX 580 WTF FTW suck-my-balls-off edition card into such an expensive device is cutting some huge corners instead of requesting industrial/medical grade units from any of the potential manufacturers. So what if that part costs $50k and is equivalently powerful as a $50 card at Best Buy.

Comment Re:Airplane tickets. (Score 2) 551

In uber simple terms that even AC should be able to understand, inflation means there are more dollars out there, but each one is worth 1/3 what it used to be.

I don't think that AC would understand a scarcity of resources discussion. Better off to just tell them money wears out over time and becomes worth less.

Comment Re:Airplane tickets. (Score 1) 551

The 3x number is correct enough. The 178.52% number is an "of" or "by" increase. 281.50% is a "to" increase. It's the same as doubling something by increasing the amount to 200% or by 100% the original. The "increase to" numbers make calculations easier or at least less mistake prone. The sentence "In fact, using inflationdata, the rate between then and now is 178.52%." is ambiguous. Both Russ Nelson and Chris Mattern are correct. The AC claiming tickets are more expensive was expressing poor math skills by dividing the 1980 number by 3 instead of multiplying it by 3. Inflation causes money to be worth less. The correct comparison is to take a $1000 ticket in 1980 dollars, convert the $1000 into 2009 dollars by multiplying by 2.815 (because 2009 dollars are LESS powerful) and then comparing that $2815 1980 ticket against a $450 2009 ticket. From there, 2815 / 450 = 6.25, showing that Chris was indeed correct in stating "That's less than *one-sixth* the former price."

Comment Insane Regulation Amnesia (Score 1) 551

Ever seen an inflation adjusted graph of gas prices? Please do remember that the Department of Energy was created in 1977 and that's when Carter officially set us onto the path of "energy independence" from our insane importation of 1/3 of our oil to our current of almost 2/3.


The price of crude is set outside the US. We could only even attempt to force the price down by lowering our consumption. We could do that by choice or through regulation which would lead to shortages and fuel lines. We actually tried that already in 1979-80 because we got pissy with Iran. The only outcome was inconveniencing our own citizenry while Russia happily bought oil from Iran and sold them fighter jets since we stopped selling them ours.

You ever waited 4 hours in line just to buy gas? Gas and electricity are dirt cheap in the US, and we forget how good we have it.

Enron took advantage of stupid regulations to screw over consumers. Had prices been allowed to fluctuate, citizens would have gotten pissed and cried for their heads much sooner.

Comment Re:No More Deregulation (Score 2) 551

They charge the consumer or tax payer if it's subsidized. It varies by area, but there is no monolithic grid for the entire country or even medium sized cities. Parts can be switched in and out almost on the fly. Anyone from a small company to a large company or from a city to state or the federal government can own parts of our entire US grid. Companies routinely buy power from each other and resell it daily. You do get a service from all the layers of a complicated onion such as electrical service. The benefits are quite large actually. I doubt you'd want a fossil plant 2 miles from your house which would be the most simple place to locate the power generation you'll use. I've worked in one, so I KNOW you wouldn't want that. Another benefit is the logistics the middle-men provide, ie. the shit "just works" and you're paying for their expertise for that to happen.

After re-reading your question, I'm somewhat confused by what you're asking and what you mean by "for access to their grid". Large electrical companies generally own their own grids and power plants. They're a localized and heavily regulated semi-monopoly. I say semi because there are legitimate alternatives to being "on the grid", so as long as they keep their prices competitive with personal solar, wind, etc. devices they will keep their customers. They bought the land, erected towers, and pulled hundreds of miles of expensive transmission cables to reach from the generation source to redundant main distribution points to smaller distribution substations that lead to businesses and neighborhoods. All that didn't happen for free and doesn't upkeep itself, so they have every right and need to charge access to their system. General upkeep is needed due to storms and the increasing need for expansion, so they either make money or else they, and thus the towns they support, cannot grow.

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