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 Post subject: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:50 am 
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Hi there Guys

I have a choice of PC's, both cheap, but as I am on a budget (£100/$160 is the price my friend is offering me for either PC) I need to know which would be more powerful, both computationally and I/O. I'm not too familiar with PC technology to this degree so any help much appreciated. I'll be running CentOS 5.7 64-bit with a LISP environment (a lot of heavy functional programming). Video is unimportant.

PC#1
Dell Precision Workstation 470 (2005 manufactured) with 2nd Generation 'Solid Caps' Motherboard
Dual 3.6GHZ XEON Nocona 64-bit CPU's, (1MB L2 I think)
4GB DDR2 ECC
80GB+500GB SATA
DVD
Fire GL 3100 Card 128MB PCI-X

PC#2
Generic Built Machine (a few years old)
AMD Athlon X2 6000+ Dual-Core Processor - 3.00 GHz, 2MB L2
4GB
500GB SATA
DVD
Some ATI 512MB Video Card (unknown model)

Would their be big differences between the two?
I'll be doing symbolic manipulation with LISP (programming development).

Thanks for any advice!

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 Post subject: Re: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:58 am 
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Both are DDR2 systems, which is unfortunate because DDR3 is crazy cheap right now.

The AMD PC probably has more than the 2 SATA connections that the Dell offers and being a generic build replacing parts would be easier.

As far as performance, the Xeon's would probably win when hyper-threading is taken into consideration.

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 Post subject: Re: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 2:41 pm 
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You may want to check the multiprocessing details of the software environments you will be using... most Lisp implementations still have some form of "global interpreter lock" or single-threaded memory allocator, which would reduce any benefits of multiple cores or HT.

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 Post subject: Re: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 5:28 pm 
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The PC with the two Xeons should be faster. You have two processors and two buses, after all. The mobo is going to be also better (talking about construction quality). However, I do not know what to say about conectivity. I would choose the Dell if the computer was for me :).

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 Post subject: Re: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 9:42 pm 
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I can't speak to FireGL, but I'm typing this at a computer running ATi graphics on Linux and I'm wishing that I left the nVidia Quadro FX 1400 from my old dual Opeteron in this one. The ATi/AMD Linux drivers are... very poor, and I've had many more problems with crashing X server and artifacts than I had on the nVidia.

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 Post subject: Re: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:35 pm 
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SAQ wrote:
I can't speak to FireGL, but I'm typing this at a computer running ATi graphics on Linux ...

Don't I see an Octane in your sig ? :P


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 Post subject: Re: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:40 am 
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hamei wrote:
Don't I see an Octane in your sig ? :P
That's why I don't have a sig; since I do virtually all my computering on Sun Sparc/Intel Linux I'd feel like I'm sandbagging... :cry:

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 Post subject: Re: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:43 am 
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Thanks guys for the replies.

I had an opportunity to view both systems, and the Dell seemed totally solid in its build, and looked really well made, and in the end I decided on that.
Actually the guy threw in an old (2003) Dell 2001FP 20" 1600x1200 DVI Monitor and all the original media and books.

Dell Precisions seem like nice machines.

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Sun V210, 2x1.33 USIIIi, 8GB, 73GB 15K, Solaris 10U9
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 Post subject: Re: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:38 pm 
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hamei wrote:
SAQ wrote:
I can't speak to FireGL, but I'm typing this at a computer running ATi graphics on Linux ...

Don't I see an Octane in your sig ? :P


Yep, a 2x250 with 700-something MB of RAM and a 18GB disk drive. Fun to play with, but a bit of a pain for serious work. I have the Origins as well, but I have had very little luck getting them to reliably work as clients with X.org servers.

SGI was/is nice in terms of build quality and general well-thought-out design, but in terms of price per SPECmark/MB of RAM/GB of filesystem space (for the set of all of the above in capacities required for modern work), and all of the above per KWh they don't look so good compared to an x86/x64, especially when you consider I got mine for free. Let's look at the specs:

Intel box:
Crossbar-switched I/O: Check
SMP: Check
Interleaved memory: Check
Decent disk interface: Almost
NUMA: Not on this one, but my previous one had it (Opeteron)
Accelerated graphics with 3D and OpenGL support, including hardware geometry and texture: Check in theory, though the drivers suck. Again previous machine had it.
L33t flashing lights and windows all over the place: No, by the grace of God.
System controller: No
True, 100% remote console that works all the time: No
Expandable system using additional bricks: No, but then again neither is the Octane (or Fuel).
Can use the latest junky apps (and sometimes not-so-junky apps) without lots of porting issues: Yes

Let's face it: you have to be really committed to use a SGI all of the time or even most of the time. There are some things that they do well, but I've got Sun machines, DEC machines, SGI machines, an Apollo machine, etc. - and what I use most of the time is the junky old "common" PC. I've gotten over my "Big-endian load/store machines are The One True Way" complex, and while I still appreciate the design of a good computer I also acknowledge that the box on my desk, while designed to the minimums, does most of what I need quietly, quickly, and energy efficiently. Yeah, I'd love to play around with a newish Alpha or POWER box, but those cost big money (compared to my budget) and are big/noisy/hungry.

Yeah, Linux sucks. I've had it on boxes since the late-mid '90s, and it's been going downhill. On the plus side Windows is now just about useable - I no longer need to take the precaution of always removing those of delicate sensibilities from earshot when I start troubleshooting a Winbox. xBSD has fewer apps and less hardware support, but it's still pretty rock solid. Yea, MacOS is very good, but the only Mac offered that's good for someone who can't leave well enough alone^h^h^h^h^h^h^h a "tweaker" is the Mac Pro, which is quite expensive, and none of the PCs I've been given have been "Hackintosh-friendly", so I use my G4 occasionally and find other ways to do everything else.

I guess the short answer to this all is "time moves on", and though modern x64 desktops don't match everything that SGI/Sun/IBM had/has, they do enough cheap enough to be the general go-to solution for most day-to-day business.

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There are those who say I'm a bit of a curmudgeon. To them I reply: "GET OFF MY LAWN!"

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 Post subject: Re: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:58 pm 
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so a dell designed by dell engineers to function reasonably well as a computer in a professional environment, or a compilation of spare parts masquerading as a computer? You made the right choice... those noconas are dogs (P4 architecture) but the machine as a whole should be much better.

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 Post subject: Re: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:18 pm 
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SAQ wrote:
SGI was/is nice in terms of build quality and general well-thought-out design, but in terms of price per SPECmark/MB of RAM/GB of filesystem space (for the set of all of the above in capacities required for modern work), and all of the above per KWh they don't look so good compared to an x86/x64, especially when you consider I got mine for free.

I was mostly pulling your leg :P

On the other hand, for "typing on a Linux box with ATi graphics", I'd say a dual 250 Octane would be better. At least on the Octane you would be in comfortable surroundings. All the talk about groovy new hardware misses one vital point - it's the software that really matters. And Irix vs Linux / Windows / Plan 9 ... well ....

btw, I've seen dualler 360 pimms for less than $80. That's a really worthwhile upgrade.

Not that I'm pushing you to do something you don't want ... if you'd rather run Loonix or whatever, that's cool. I just like Irix. It's nice.

Just to kick you one more time, "typing" is not exactly cpu-cycles intensive, unless you're a hell of a lot faster than me :P

Quote:
Yeah, Linux sucks. I've had it on boxes since the late-mid '90s, and it's been going downhill. On the plus side Windows is now just about useable - I no longer need to take the precaution of always removing those of delicate sensibilities from earshot when I start troubleshooting a Winbox. xBSD has fewer apps and less hardware support, but it's still pretty rock solid. Yea, MacOS is very good, but the only Mac offered that's good for someone who can't leave well enough alone^h^h^h^h^h^h^h a "tweaker" is the Mac Pro, which is quite expensive, and none of the PCs I've been given have been "Hackintosh-friendly", so I use my G4 occasionally and find other ways to do everything else.

If all else fails, you could always try Irix ....

Quote:
I guess the short answer to this all is "time moves on" ...

Does it ? Pussy's been the same for the past few thousand years. I don't imagine there's been much change in the important things ...

Scott Newhall used to go to rallies in his 1917 Packard. He drove, everyone else towed. All his friends kept saying, "Bad idea, Scott. What if that old car breaks down ?" So he finally gave in. Next rally, he showed up towing - he put a hitch on the '14 Packard and pulled the '17 behind it.

You don't have to 'change with the times" if you don't want to. I'm not saying you shouldn't if you do want to but there's no reason to let conventional wisdom make your choices for you. Use what you like, and to hell with the critics. If you like Irix, it's not impractical to use it on a daily basis, no matter what the children say. Especially for typing :P


guardian452 wrote:
so a dell designed by dell engineers to function reasonably well as a computer in a professional environment ...

Are we talking about the same Dell here ? Or are you posting from a parallel universe ?


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 Post subject: Re: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:58 pm 
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Quote:
Are we talking about the same Dell here ? Or are you posting from a parallel universe ?
I'd take a dell workstation over some hodgepodge of whitebox parts any day of the week. unless there was thick smoke coming out of the dell...

I used to run something similar. Only complaint I had with my HP "PC workstation" was windows...

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 Post subject: Re: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 11:42 pm 
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guardian452 wrote:
I'd take a dell workstation over some hodgepodge of whitebox parts any day of the week...

Umm, that's pretty much the definition of a Dell ... a bunch of whatever whitebox parts they could get cheapest that week, all stuffed into their own case. They make money by "managing the supply chain", not "building good computers." Dell was pretty much a leader in the charge to the bottom ....


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 Post subject: Re: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:07 am 
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hamei wrote:
guardian452 wrote:
I'd take a dell workstation over some hodgepodge of whitebox parts any day of the week...

Umm, that's pretty much the definition of a Dell ... a bunch of whatever whitebox parts they could get cheapest that week, all stuffed into their own case. They make money by "managing the supply chain", not "building good computers." Dell was pretty much a leader in the charge to the bottom ....


Agreed, I'd take a well built whitebox anyday (thus I never buy prebuilt except my MIPS SGI machines). Get a decent CPU (Intel/AMD), high quality memory (G Skill/Corsair/etc), Seasonic based power supply (Antec/etc), Lian Li/Antec/etc case, Asus or like motherboard with a midrange or better chipset (8xx/9xx for AMD, not sure the Intel equivalent), 6000 series Radeon or the equivalent GeForce and a Western Digital Black drive. With all of that you've got plenty of upgrade room and maybe even saved some money over a Dell/HP/etc. Been white boxing it since 1997 and never looked back.

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 Post subject: Re: Old PC vs. New
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:21 am 
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the notion that Dell "designs" or "engineers" in quaint... these days it's ODMs that do that.

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