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"Sanity" Hauptwerk PC, I think !

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Jim Reid


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"Sanity" Hauptwerk PC, I think !

PostMon May 17, 2004 8:03 pm


I have had our island guru about PC's, workstations, etc. look over
the posted comments about PC's for Hauptwerk, including what
might be "better" for H V2. Here are the comments which I have
just been given. Appreciate any comments before we begin to
orger this stuff!!

"Here's the "top end" option:

Go with the Opteron processor, which runs either 32 or 64 bit software, and use a dual-processor board. One can begin with one processor and later upgrade to two. One can begin with, say, 4 gigabytes of RAM. The only significant advantage of this option is that it will, eventually, run 64 bit stuff when it comes out, and it runs an 800 mhz front side bus data speed. The significant disadvantage is that the components are more expensive than 32 bit-based ones, even within the same branding.

Here's what it would cost to build a box using an minimal Opteron (one processor and 4 GB ram)

Antec SX635BII Mid-Tower Case (includes 350w power supply) $101.14
Tyan Thunder K8W/S2885 Motherboard (includes integrated
soundcard--no external breakout box) 542.88
Vertro GEForce FX5200 AGP/128MB Video Card 96.72
One AMD Opteron 1.4ghz CPU 272.12
2 ea Crucial Technologies 2GB PC3200 DDR Ram chips (total) 2,000.00
Western Digital 160 GB SATA (160MBps) Hard Drive 135.32
Teac W552G CD (burnable) 44.26
Forget the floppy drive...they're dinosaurs
Various internal cables, etc. 100.00
Minimum two additional case fans (80mm) @ $20 ea 40.00
Total minimal Opteron $ 3,332.44 plus shipping (does not include LCD monitor, keyboard, mouse...see at end)

Here's the "sanity" option ;-)
Go with the AMD MP-2800 processor (2.13 ghz), and begin with one with 4GB of DRAM on a dual-processor board. The only disadvantage of this configuration is that it will only support a max of 4GB of RAM, and runs at 266mhz front side bus (the max available on any i386-based platform, including Intel, unless one goes to Xeon processors...then you're back in the same cost category as the Opteron, but without the 64 bit capability). This is the same basic system I use on my workstation, only I started out with two processors.

Antec SX635BII Mid-Tower Case (includes 350w power supply) $101.14

Tyan Tiger MPX Motherboard (no integrated sound) 261.44

Matrox Millenium G450LX 4xAGP video card 77.90

One AMD MP-2800 2.13ghz processors @ $236.81 ea 236.81

4 GB Crucial Technologies 1GBx4 PC2100 DDR Ram chips (total) 1,300.00

LSI Logic UltraSCSI 320MBps databus controller 173.84

Fujitsu MAP Series SCSI 36.7GB 320MBps Hard Drive 152.00

Hercules Game Theater 5.1 Surround
sound card/breakout box.

Teac W552G CD (burnable) 44.26

Various internal cables, etc. 100.00

Minimum two additional case fans (80mm) @ $20 ea 40.00

Total minimal Athlon MP $ $2,637.39 (same notes as above)

Why the second choice? Besides being cheaper, It's actually faster than the Opteron choice, for several reasons. The Opteron boards assume Serial ATA hard drive communication, which runs a max of about 160 MB per second transfer rate. The advantage to SATA is that the drives are less expensive to make, and therefore you can buy a lot more storage for your money. However, I don't think hard disk storage is going to be your issue, but rather computational benchmark speed and dynamic memory (RAM). Choice Two assumes an UltraSCSI databus for the hard disk, which runs at 320 MB per second transfer rate...and, although the Fujitsu drives are less storage (37GB), they run at 10,000 rpm and are designed for enterprise server applications, so they're blazing fast and the MTBF is very high. If you wanted the Opteron option to run SCSI, you'd have to add an additional $173.84 for the controller, and an additional $20 for the hard drive.

A single AMD Athlon MP running at 2.13 ghz and a 266mhz front side bus will give you a better benchmark speed running 32-bit applications than the 1.4ghz Opteron running at 800mhz front side bus with the same amount of RAM. For an additional $236.81 you can add a second Athlon MP processor and have enough speed to run literally any 32-bit application on the planet without a blink (ie., you'd have the same system as me, and share the distinction of perhaps having one of the two most advanced civilian workstations on the island). My belief is that the ONLY advantage in going with the Opteron-based board and system at this point is being able to run 64-bit software in the future...and how long is that going to be? If you were going to be using the box for high-end business and/or network applications, it might make sense.

OK...then you add on the LCD monitor and the wireless keyboard/mouse. A 15" LCD monitor will run between $320 and $400 depending upon what you want in terms of quality. Sony/NEC/Princeton (the best names) are all in the $375 - $400 range. You'd want an RF rather than IR based keyboard/mouse system, because IR is LOS limited big-time to about three feet max, and is easily disrupted. Belkin makes maybe the best of this type of "kit" that is digital RF and works within 6ft of the receiver (ie, the computer box).

As far as the software/OS is concerned, you can load your Windows XP on it and not worry. You don't want anything else running on it other than the organ package, I would assume.

And, as you can see, the majority of the cost in any system like this is the RAM. You can buy a "hot deal" from Dell or HP, but you're getting a load of software than just slows down your system, very slow (comparatively) data comms, and by the time you add the same amount of RAM you're over the cost of building a "clean" system yourself. That's why I did my own.


And, that doesn't include the fun of building the thing...which, BTW, really is fun and not difficult at all. Feed me on a Saturday and you and I could build it out in less than a day. Generally all it takes is a Phillips, needle-nose, multimeter, a couple of band-aids and a bottle of good wine. ;-)

The prices are from CDW's current third-tier pricing that I get. It changes somewhat from day to day."

Seem sound reasoning??
Jim Reid
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PostTue May 18, 2004 4:42 am


The main problem with any 32-bit processor is that 32-bit versions of Windows do not allow any one program to access more than 2 GB of memory, so even if the computer is capable of handling 4 GB, Hauptwerk (or any other single program) would not be able to use more than 2 GB. With 64-bit processors and the forthcoming 64-bit XP and the 64-bit version of Hauptwerk v2 that limit is removed.

The bus speed of U320 SCSI is faster than SATA (320 MB/s compared to 160/s MB), but U320 drives are generally much more expensive. You can use U320 quite happily with the Opteron machines as well if you want, and U320 is available as an alternative option to SATA on the Tyan boards, I believe. Some of the MSI Opteron boards have no integrated drive controller, so you're free to use U320 or SATA as you wish.

U320 is generally better, but its main disadvantage is that the bus is shared between all devices, whereas SATA allows 160 MB/s to each device. However, it's all fairly irrlevent unless you are going to use multiple drives or RAID arrays since I don't think there are many (if any) hard drives that can supply data at a sustained rate of more than about 100 MB/s anyway.

I like the look of the Western Digital 'Raptor' SATA drives because they:

- Have a sustained transfer rate of 90 MB/s (which is staggering!).
- Run at 10,000 rpm.
- Are available in 36 or 74 GB sizes.
- Have a 5-year warranty.
- are much cheaper than U320 drives of similar specification.

I haven't actually tried any of these things yet, so I can only give my opinion based on reviews etc.

Hope that helps.




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PostWed May 26, 2004 10:29 am

This is the Hauptwerk PC ...

... what do you think?

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Jim Reid


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PostWed May 26, 2004 5:25 pm


Certainly that IWILL machine, to be available in the Fall,
is in the correct direction for Hauptwerk 2. However, the
mother board may fall short of our needs. I have "faith"
that Elaine has chosen correctly Tyan's Thunder K8W
motherboard, ideal with a pair of the AMD 250's for
use with Hauptwerk 2.

Also the indicated IWILL case looks a bit small for the
needed cooling from a pair of 250's screaming along
exchanging data with 4 or so G of RAM while playing
the coming 50 stop theatre organ from Milan Digital
Audio (that's with all stops out and a bunch of unification/
couplers also engaged.

BTW, only price I have yet seen for 250's in single
quantity is $905 each.
Jim Reid

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