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Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:01 pm 
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Hi there

Anybody help me in determining the cheapest but computationally powerful UltraSPARC system for under $500 in the UK?

I have narrowed the choice down to:

V210/240
I already own one of these (V210, 2 x 1.34GHZ USIIIi CPU, 2 x 36GB 15K ATLAS Drives) and need something that is preferably faster. It is however a nice system, small, compact 1U and not too noisy once fans stabilised.

V440, V480 in Quad UltraSPARC IIIi
Problem is not available on ebay at under $500 in UK, they are in the US but shipping is too much (several hundred $) and I am unsure of how well packed it might be.

V880
Available but huge power consumption and noise as well as weight and size. Really not an option for my small apatment :( In the UK can get for around $400+ but shipping is $100-200, so just barely within the $500 if I am lucky.

T1000
Not possible under $500, and US prices are $1500+

Advice gratefully received.
ed

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Sun Blade 2500 'Silver' Workstation - Dual 1.6 USIIIi, 4GB, 146GB SCSI, Solaris 10U9
Sun V210, 2x1.33 USIIIi, 8GB, 73GB 15K, Solaris 10U9
Sun V100, USIIi 550, 1.5GB, 40GB, Debian Lenny 5.X


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Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 3:45 pm 
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The USIIIi you have is almost as fast as it gets if your app is not multithreaded, a 1.6GHz is the fastest but the difference from your 1.3 is not that big.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 3:59 pm 
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I could barely give away about half a dozen sub-$100, 1.5GHz uS-III Blade-1500s about a year ago :roll:

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Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:40 pm 
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Any further info on what type of computational work you're aiming for? If your problem domain can be distributed across multiple machines (MPI), your best bet might be to get more V210/V240 machines for your budget.

SPARC is best for moving lots of I/O across the motherboard, computation has not been its shining spot - if you are not tied to SPARC, but just like Sun gear, the Opteron hardware they make is awesome. A X2200 M2 with dual quads (OpenMP) + a Radeon card (OpenCL) is a number crunching monster. :)

A V440 or V480 would be the next step up - here I would suggest a V440 over a V480. The US IIIi is more raw computing power. If you think a V480 fits, might as well go for broke and get the V880, power bill be damned.

Prices for T1 machines (specifically the T1000) are coming down (sometimes <$1k), but the T1 has only 1 FPU per core - the T2 is where they fixed that flaw, but that hardware is still in the 5-figure range. If you can get your hands on a T1 for $500 though, I'd do it for the 'fun' factor. :)

Another possibility - although it is hard to find - is a V490, which gives you 8 cores with the US IV(+)...


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Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:46 am 
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Quote:
I could barely give away about half a dozen sub-$100, 1.5GHz uS-III Blade-1500s about a year ago

Here in the UK vendors on eBay have totally unrealistic price expectations. Your 1,5GHZ Silver Model are on offer for $1000+ (don't believe me, check! :)) and even a "make me an offer" is refused at $500.

Quote:
The USIIIi you have is almost as fast as it gets if your app is not multithreaded


Agreed, however my application does Multithread (numerous single instances of php with fcgi so I can alter apache from prefork to multithreaded), and lots of MySQL. Looking at Solaris, I see plenty of LWP's implying multithread would be useful. However you are absolutely correct, single threaded one instance php cannot go any faster.

Quote:
Any further info on what type of computational work you're aiming for?


I do a lot of geoprocessing involving delivering XML from a geonames database. The actual geonames import to MySQL (with postgis) takes about 5 days on my V210 (importing the entire world). The process involves considerable multi-threading both of mySQL and the application (Gisgraphy).

I agree about the V440 (being Ultra160 SCSI?) as opposed to the older (FCAL?) V480, V490 have seen for around $1000 with 2 UltraSPARCIV CPU.

I was looking at a cluster of V210/240's (1.34x2) as these are cheapish, reliable and take standard SCSI drives. But computationally clustering the application is something I haven't looked at and I'd imagine not easy.

I do used memcached however (the V210 is linked to a coupled of 4GB V100/120's and a Blade 1500 red).

Really like SPARC stuff and am frustrated that their are no powerful low-end stuff being produced since those last Dual 1.6 Ultras back in 06/07?

I guess the next (reluctant) step is the V series Opterons!

Thanks guys :)

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Sun Blade 2500 'Silver' Workstation - Dual 1.6 USIIIi, 4GB, 146GB SCSI, Solaris 10U9
Sun V210, 2x1.33 USIIIi, 8GB, 73GB 15K, Solaris 10U9
Sun V100, USIIi 550, 1.5GB, 40GB, Debian Lenny 5.X


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Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:43 am 
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edikat wrote:
Here in the UK vendors on eBay have totally unrealistic price expectations.

Did you try eBay Germany? You could certainly get a V480 on there within you budget. Possibly some of the others as well.
Also, there is a computer recycler based in Belgium that has been offloading a huge load of Sun gear over the past year (from Blade workstations to rackmount stuff). Some of it went quite cheaply, so its worth a look to see if they are still listing it. And buying from the EU you have no customs charges (unlike buying from the US).


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Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:52 am 
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Quote:
Here in the UK vendors on eBay have totally unrealistic price expectations. Your 1,5GHZ Silver Model are on offer for $1000+ (don't believe me, check! :)) and even a "make me an offer" is refused at $500.


There are deluded eBay sellers everywhere. We get people who are sure their "as-is" low-end Octane missing the front door really is worth $250 or more.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:35 am 
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I'd recommend against getting a V440 due to the fact that they have a tendency of blowing power supplies just too often. At least get a spare or five if you do end up buying one.

Also, based on my experience of some tens of boxes the V480s and V490s tend to be sturdy workhorses without any real reliability issues. I'd definitely choose one over a V440 absolutely any day of the week. You should be able to get one for a reasonable price on ebay if you're patient..

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Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:06 am 
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thanks guys.

Actually in the SunBook the V440 is classed as "entry level" where the V480 is classed as "Mid-range".

Given the V480 has FC Disks as opposed to the likely slower U160 SCSI on the V440 I can see the enterprise heritage of the 480.

The advice of a V480 over the V440 is especially welcome. Looking at the stats, they both consume the same power (650W+-) and are the same weight, and probably very similar dimensions, and I found it hard to really tell much quality difference between them.

I guess the "mid-range" as opposed to "entry-level" server tag by Sun should have been a hint!

Have located on eBay UK a Sun V480 with 4 x 900Mhz, 8Gb mem, 72Gb disk + Warranty for UK 250 + 65 post (USD $507) just within my budget!

Thanks again guys - great advice!

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Sun Blade 2500 'Silver' Workstation - Dual 1.6 USIIIi, 4GB, 146GB SCSI, Solaris 10U9
Sun V210, 2x1.33 USIIIi, 8GB, 73GB 15K, Solaris 10U9
Sun V100, USIIi 550, 1.5GB, 40GB, Debian Lenny 5.X


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Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:40 pm 
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I hadn't known about the V440 power supply issue - learn something new on this forum ever day! :)

The boards for the V480 and V880 are the same, and they show up on US ebay for dirt cheap regularly. If you are patient, you should be able to snag the 1.2ghz boards at some point and have them shipped over the pond - that should max out the V480 for you. Also, keep an eye out for FC-AL drives for the beast - they tend to sometimes go for a bargain when there is no one looking, and if you are lucky, you might be able to get your hands on a StorEdge FC array to get some fast storage onto the beast.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:08 am 
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We have hundreds of V440's are our place - PSU's are always failing and Sun (Oracle) want £700 for a replacement if not under contract!

Also we see a lot of T2000 boards failing so I'd stay clear of those.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:55 am 
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Are you looking for more of a Sparc based server or workstation. If you are looking for a workstation I would almost say a Blade 2500.

For a single 1.28GHz you are looking at about £120.00
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Sun-Blade-2500-1- ... 560wt_1127

Or a dual 1.28GHZ for around £340.00
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Sun-Blade-2500-2- ... 853wt_1127

I am personally a fan of these systems because it is really easy to upgrade the RAM (DDR) and for most software applications the performance increase with newer processors is fairly minimal. Also with power consumption they are the same as most desktop PC's. Mine is a Dual 1.28 w/4 GB RAM and the 400Watt power supply is more then enough. My Quad 1.? GHz V440 with 32GB RAM draws about 3 to 4 times the power (and is 10 times louder) so to me going with more procs and possibly more RAM isn't necessary unless you know you will need it.

Other nice little features I noticed with the Red 2500's is if you have the latest PROM on them you can do just about everything, mine only had a CD-ROM and not a DVD-ROM so to install Solaris 10 I was able to boot off of a USB DVD-R to do the install, but I can't do that on my V440, Blade 2000, or V880.

-Spoon

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Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:38 am 
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spoonified wrote:
Other nice little features I noticed with the Red 2500's is if you have the latest PROM on them you can do just about everything, mine only had a CD-ROM and not a DVD-ROM so to install Solaris 10 I was able to boot off of a USB DVD-R to do the install, but I can't do that on my V440, Blade 2000, or V880.

One potential issue with Reds is that their onboard SCSI is only Ultra160 (has the LSI 53C1010 instead of the drop-in U320 upgrade 53C1030 chip). If your application performance is disk-dependent, this might be a killer.

Unfortunately the 1.6GHz IIIi is about as fast as you can get for under $500, and that's not getting you very much. If it helps any, I've been benchmarking SPARC (and other) processors for a particular simulation app for a while and have the results posted here. I also have tabulated power draw for these machines if that helps.

For performance, there really are no cheap SPARC offerings. I find that I get a lot more performance out of my cheap X4100 (which I got for $50) than my 1.6GHz IIIi's (which cost me $160).

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Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:28 am 
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Quote:
Are you looking for more of a Sparc based server or workstation. If you are looking for a workstation I would almost say a Blade 2500.


Yes, a dual 2500 would be a fair deal, but as mentioned I/O may be an issue, although the V210 I know also is U160 (where it's competitors such as the Dell 1750 were dual channel U320 RAID.. and cheaper!). I do like my 1500 Red.. no matter how others dislike it )))

I will lean towards a Quad 1.2 V480 as the best bang for the buck, both computationally and I/O. It's a mid-range deal, rock solid, only 650W (I think the Blade 1000/2000 wasn't far of this power consumption!) and sure looks cool.

In the meantime I'll push my Dual 1.34 V210 a bit more... wasn't bad for $150...

When I can afford it I'll be going for a T1000 (once prices drop!).

gkl, thanks for those benchmarks... very very useful.

Incidently, my Dual 3GHZ Xeon P4 HT Dell 1750 1U Server crushed the V210 under load.... this was VERY disappointing!!

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"Scud" East
Sun Blade 2500 'Silver' Workstation - Dual 1.6 USIIIi, 4GB, 146GB SCSI, Solaris 10U9
Sun V210, 2x1.33 USIIIi, 8GB, 73GB 15K, Solaris 10U9
Sun V100, USIIi 550, 1.5GB, 40GB, Debian Lenny 5.X


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Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:48 am 
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edikat wrote:
Quote:
Incidently, my Dual 3GHZ Xeon P4 HT Dell 1750 1U Server crushed the V210 under load.... this was VERY disappointing!!


My only question would be "what load". SPARC is definitely a "commercial instruction set" CPU rather than a technical CPU, so it it optimized for integer and moving data around. Intel x86 is primarily integer as well, but for the most part it isn't as good at moving stuff around.

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