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Old 01-23-2010, 08:56 AM   #1
jiml8
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Any opinions?


I'm contemplating an upgrade. I'm running an Athlon 2700XP on an Asus mobo with 2 gigs of RAM, an nVidia 7800 GS AGP video card, and a SCSI subsystem hosted on an Adaptec 29160 controller.

Sadly, Windows 7 appears to be in my future, and I'll be loading it in a VMware workstation virtual machine and upgrading a Win2K virtual machine to do it. So I likely need more horsepower under the hood.

Also, I often find myself with my CPU at 100% for extended periods - a clear indicator that I could use more capability.

I won't change the SCSI subsystem; I'll just move the controller to the new mobo. I'm looking at this mobo:

http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/...ProductID=3295

And I'd put the fastest AMD Quad core processor into it, probably 6 gigs of the fastest ram the board will take, and an nVidia 9000 series or later video card in it.

I presently have a very nice Coolermaster 500 W supply in this system; I rather doubt it'd be big enough after the upgrade, but I can always go up to 600 or 700 watts as required.

I develop, surf the web, play music, watch movies, TV, and videos on the box. I often have as many as 4 operating systems up and running simultaneously. Sometimes, but not often these days, I do numerical simulations (heavy math). I don't usually play games,

Silicon technology is hitting the wall; I'm thinking this upgrade might last me for a decade.

I have had bad luck in the past with Gigabyte boards but things change and I've had this Athlon/Asus combo in place for about 6 years now. Gigabyte is advertising high reliability; should I believe them?

Opinions?
 
Old 01-23-2010, 09:49 AM   #2
AleLinuxBSD
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Quote:
Also, I often find myself with my CPU at 100% for extended periods - a clear indicator that I could use more capability.
I suggested you to try system less heavy for example avoid the use of desktop manager and use directly some windows manager (for example icewm).
In Ubuntu i noticed i can saving 150 mb of ram (so better the nothing but don't much) while if you use the command line (and startx) for launch the system using other OS (for example debian,archlinux,etc) you save some hundred mb!
Less data means less power to use for the cpu.
(Clearly with the exception of application cpu intensive).

Quote:
fastest ram the board will take
Better a little slow module Ram, so you paid less, and the difference in performance is minimal.

Quote:
I presently have a very nice Coolermaster 500 W supply in this system; I rather doubt it'd be big enough after the upgrade, but I can always go up to 600 or 700 watts as required.
PSU: see 80 PLUS Certified Power Supplies and Manufacturers
In this manner don't only reduce the bill but you could avoid nominal power vs effective real power, so in a lot case, isn't necessary buy psu with 10000watt.

Quote:
I'm thinking this upgrade might last me for a decade.
Ah ah ah
I have noticed that if you change your system every 3 years you paid almost the same money that change a system in a more long period, with the big difference that:
you should not paid a lot of money initially;
the performance available in this manner remain good.
While if you buy a system expensive you have a boost on performance on the first 2 years but clearly after that period ...

OS.
However put attention on the compatibility hardware with the OS.
I have noticed (with regret) that if you are interested even on BSD system the compatibility is more toward chipset Intel or Amd (but with chipset nVidia) - while the support for chipset Ati is poor ...
 
Old 01-23-2010, 09:59 AM   #3
pixellany
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If your CPU is running at 100% for extended periods.....

1. You are doing some REALLY heavy duty stuff.
OR:
2. Something is seriously wrong.

I am running a 2400XP with 1GB RAM--I have to work really hard to make it slow down. My spouse OTOH can do it very quickly--just by opening 20-30 instances of FF + maybe 5 of OOo.
When it finally succumbs, it seems to be because of memory usage---the CPU is still loafing.
 
Old 01-23-2010, 10:13 AM   #4
jiml8
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Quote:
I suggested you to try system less heavy for example avoid the use of desktop manager and use directly some windows manager (for example icewm).
I don't want to.

Quote:
Better a little slow module Ram, so you paid less, and the difference in performance is minimal.
True.

Quote:
I have noticed that if you change your system every 3 years you paid almost the same money that change a system in a more long period, with the big difference that:
Nah. Moore's law is broken and now is history. Silicon has hit the wall. Performance gains in processors are becoming very incremental and are now coming about through more cores on the chip, not more speed out of each processor. Thermal management issues are becoming more and more serious. Going forward, progress will continue to be incremental and will become slower and slower.

I put together my current system half a dozen years ago, and when I did that the particular technology was already a year old. Only now am I seeing performance issues that are serious enough to make me think about upgrading again. If I go state of the art now, I might not notice a problem for a decade. Don't know that for sure, but wouldn't be surprised.

I'm more interested in reliability/stability/compatibility/performance issues with the gigabyte mobo and AMD Phenom II processor family. I'm also interested in the USB3 capability of the Gigabyte mobo; that is brand new and if I deploy it now I don't have that as a limitation down the road.

My systems are production systems. I use 'em and only tweak 'em when I have to - and I don't want to have to any more than I must. I have jobs to get done and tweaking systems keeps me from getting jobs done. Right now I can conveniently upgrade due to my job schedule, so I am thinking about it. I'm not horribly concerned about the cost, only about the performance and my convenience.
 
Old 01-23-2010, 10:22 AM   #5
jiml8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pixellany View Post
If your CPU is running at 100% for extended periods.....

1. You are doing some REALLY heavy duty stuff.
OR:
2. Something is seriously wrong.

I am running a 2400XP with 1GB RAM--I have to work really hard to make it slow down. My spouse OTOH can do it very quickly--just by opening 20-30 instances of FF + maybe 5 of OOo.
When it finally succumbs, it seems to be because of memory usage---the CPU is still loafing.
Try doing a big compile in Linux while exercising a couple of components under development (looking for memory leaks, deadlocks, and that rare hard to find segfault) in a virtual network between a Linux host and a Windows client that both run on the same machine, and watch a movie in kmplayer because you're bored with watching the lines scroll by on the terminal screens and you know you're logging everything, the compile will take another half hour, and the problem between the client and server might not show up for a couple of hours.

Oh, yes. I bring that Athlon 2700XP to its knees routinely.

Also, of course, not all FOSS software is well written. Kget, for instance, busy waits instead of properly releasing the processor while waiting on the next packet while downloading. Recent versions of firefox are better about that then they used to be, but FF also still sometimes busy-waits, and if you run either Java or Flash in FF, it never really goes away until you explicitly kill FF - and it sucks CPU. Check it out, you'll see.

Any software that busy-waits will suck up an entire CPU.

Also, whenever I am watching a high-res movie, the CPU sits at 100% and even then, occasionally the video is jerky. I find I have to stop a lot of other things in order to have a smooth movie.

Then, there's the occasional bug that crops up. I see pulseaudio running away all the time and sucking CPU. I kill it, the system restarts it, and it is fine again.

If I have several cores available, when any of these things happen it won't slow me down.

Also, of course, I'm going to have to deploy Windows 7. That really isn't optional; I'm still using Win2K for development and I have to roll forward. No choice; I have to do it. The recommendations for Windows 7 are for a lot more horsepower than I currently have, particularly when you consider that I'll be running it in a virtual machine.

Last edited by jiml8; 01-23-2010 at 10:29 AM.
 
Old 01-24-2010, 11:40 AM   #6
Jeebizz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jiml8

Nah. Moore's law is broken and now is history. Silicon has hit the wall. Performance gains in processors are becoming very incremental and are now coming about through more cores on the chip, not more speed out of each processor. Thermal management issues are becoming more and more serious. Going forward, progress will continue to be incremental and will become slower and slower.
I also agree. These days clock speed itself is irrelevant and I myself am running a system now for a decade. Like most things, the only REAL bottleneck is web browsers, everything else works just fine. I also agree with your strategy of a system that will last you a decade, I think you will get more out of your system plus out of your money too. I know I did, and still am. I think I payed close to $1,000 at the time I built my trusty ol' AMD 450, but of course that was because I also had to buy a new monitor, etc. Still, I would say I am even now getting my money's worth.


One thing I want to add briefly about Moore's Law, is that I am not sure yet exactly if it has hit a wall. I think the more valid assumption/prediction/whatever, would be more accurate about the x86 arch itself. I remember a decade ago, until up to a few years ago, clock speed was the major selling point, now it is cores. Therefore, I think perhaps sooner or later major chip companies like Intel/AMD will have to consider a new arch all together. PowerPC might be one, however I don't know if that is all that is cracked up to be for the desktop or not (classic Mac users might say it is better than x86). Or perhaps the Itanium(IA-64). Intel perhaps would have gone further with that, had AMD not released x86_64, but they did and perhaps that scared them enough not to concentrate too much on that and release their own x86_64 chip.

Sorry if I got to OT, but I just had to throw that in there for consideration.
 
Old 01-24-2010, 12:09 PM   #7
damgar
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As far as Gigabyte motherboards goes, I haven't built a system with one since Vista was born (you do the math) but it performs like a champ on every linux distribution I've thrown at it (which is quite a few) and everything "just worked" although I must admint that I never tried the onboard graphics, which are Intel and I'm just assuming they would work.

Where I differ though is that I stick with Intel processors, so I can't speak with any authority how Gigabyte boards for AMD might or might not work.

I recently built a new machine using an MSI board that is also just working phenomenally. Again it is based on Intel, this time running an I7 920 vs. my older e6600 core2duo. Again no issues out of this board either.

As far as clock cycles being irrelevant, just for kicks I bumped up my base clock from 133 to 166 on this newer machine going from 2.66 Ghz to 3.33 Ghz on the 920 and the difference in speed was INCREDIBLE.
 
Old 01-24-2010, 03:23 PM   #8
cantab
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jiml8 View Post
Also, of course, not all FOSS software is well written. Kget, for instance, busy waits instead of properly releasing the processor while waiting on the next packet while downloading. Recent versions of firefox are better about that then they used to be, but FF also still sometimes busy-waits, and if you run either Java or Flash in FF, it never really goes away until you explicitly kill FF - and it sucks CPU. Check it out, you'll see.

Any software that busy-waits will suck up an entire CPU.
So stop running stuff that busy-waits! Use another download manager? Firefox isn't the only web browser out there, consider using another.

Quote:
Then, there's the occasional bug that crops up. I see pulseaudio running away all the time and sucking CPU. I kill it, the system restarts it, and it is fine again.
Get rid of pulseaudio. It's the most ridiculously over-engineered thing I know of on Linux. I very much doubt you need any of the features it offers.

Quote:
If I have several cores available, when any of these things happen it won't slow me down.
If you're doing a lot of multitasking (which you do), and running a virtual machine perhaps with more than one core, and maybe running software that uses multithreading, then stuff that busy-waits will still hit your performance.

I think you probably do need a new processor, since you're doing some pretty CPU-heavy stuff. If you're gonna be running virtual machines more RAM will be good too. But even WITH a new processor, you still don't want to be running stuff that squanders it.
 
  


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