1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Other Building a workstation/home server

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by dave_c, 30 Apr 2013.

  1. dave_c

    dave_c Member

    Joined:
    31 Jul 2009
    Posts:
    436
    Likes Received:
    11
    iv never really touched servers before and was wondering if it was practical to use one as a workstation.

    The reason i want to make a server is because. a: I do A LOT of intense 3D rendering which takes hours out of my working day and b: I use A LOT of storage ( i currently have about 4Tb of space and its near full).

    I dont really need the networking aspect of a server (i know) its more about packing in more RAM, HDD space and processors. but i also want to be able to use multiple monitors (3 atm but could use more) and be able to use them for actually modeling on. Oh, i also HAVE to be able to run it on windows 7 or 8 as the software requires it.

    Is this a good/possible or bad idea?

    Thanks for the help all.
     
  2. saspro

    saspro IT monkey

    Joined:
    23 Apr 2009
    Posts:
    9,427
    Likes Received:
    268
    What's the budget?
    For what you need you'll be better off with a workstation rather than a traditional server as you're not processing databases (which server chip pre-fetchers are optimised for) and you want a consumer operating system.
     
  3. Atomic

    Atomic Gerwaff

    Joined:
    6 May 2002
    Posts:
    9,646
    Likes Received:
    94
    A workstations class machine can contain the same hardware as a traditionally rack-mounted server.

    I'd not even look at a server for what you want because you want multiple monitors and a server is unlikely to have more than one VGA output for a standard KVM as they are mainly remotely administered.

    A Twin processor workstation with plenty of RAM, an SSD for OS, SSD or SAS drives for rendering, plus some cheap SATA drives for bulk storage would be fine for your needs.
     
  4. deathtaker27

    deathtaker27 #noob

    Joined:
    17 Apr 2010
    Posts:
    2,132
    Likes Received:
    137
    Would also suggest a workstation, have a client who does very similar work to your description.

    Remember a good backup solution as well.
     
  5. dave_c

    dave_c Member

    Joined:
    31 Jul 2009
    Posts:
    436
    Likes Received:
    11
    I have between £1000 and £2000 at the moment to spend on the rig but was going to save more for the server.

    physical space isnt an issue. i have a large study which's only purpose is my computer.

    It looks like i am looking at a work station. the primary reason i was looking at server was to have more than 2 processors running. though im now looking at the Xeon E5-2650 or similar so i think this should offset things a bit.

    i already have a case and PSU more than capable of handling it so may just look for a MB that can handle 2x quad channel RAMs and 2x CPUs.

    any recommendations gratefully received on the MB.
     
  6. GuilleAcoustic

    GuilleAcoustic Ook ? Ook !

    Joined:
    26 Nov 2010
    Posts:
    3,277
    Likes Received:
    71
    I'd recommand this motherboard from supermicro then (if you can find it). The only important thing to take into account is that this board has a proprietary power connector (see page 2-19 of its manual for the correct pinout). The board has two 20pins power connector, but only one has to be copnnected to the PSU.

    http://www.supermicro.com/products/motherboard/Xeon/C600/X9DRT-F.cfm

    [​IMG]

    http://www.lambda-tek.com/MBD-X9DRT-HF-B-Supermicro-X9DRT-HF-Bulk-~cs/B932367

    Damn space saver, you can even place two of them in a single rack.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 30 Apr 2013
  7. narwen

    narwen narwen

    Joined:
    6 Aug 2010
    Posts:
    387
    Likes Received:
    12
    Xeon E5-2650 £885 each. I think you will need over £3,000. :eeek:
     
  8. LordLuciendar

    LordLuciendar meh.

    Joined:
    16 Sep 2007
    Posts:
    334
    Likes Received:
    5
    Yea, I'm afraid the budget you've mentioned doesn't even come close to the level of hardware you have described. £2000 would have to stretch to cover fairly entry level dual processor hardware.

    One very, very important thing to bear in mind is that rendering is a task which is much better suited to graphic card hardware with massively parallel computing, for obvious reasons (what else is a graphics card designed to do but render?). You would be far better off with a solid single processor motherboard with a pair of high powered graphics cards. A pair of GTX 670s or GTX 680s with a solid workstation motherboard and 16-32GB of RAM with solid state drives would be the ideal solution in your budget. Remember that rendering, depending on the engine, can also be very intensive on storage which is a much tighter bottleneck than any other interface in a modern computer. Get a pair of 240GB SSD in RAID 0 to dedicate to rendering as a scratch drive on their own SATA 6Gbps connection.

    As for what hardware I'd recommend in the dual processor range. ASUS server motherboards rock, for your scenario I would suggest their workstation boards like the Z9PE-D8 WS. If your budget stretches past 64GB of RAM you might wish to consider the Z9PE-D16. Any E5 Xeon processor will do, but try to stick to ones with more physical cores, whatever your budget can accommodate, and most importantly, don't forget the graphics cards.
     
    Last edited: 1 May 2013
  9. RichCreedy

    RichCreedy Hey What Who

    Joined:
    24 Apr 2009
    Posts:
    4,699
    Likes Received:
    172
    licensing is another thing to remember, typically, server software has a per cpu socket licensing model, so to be legal you would require 2 licenses for a dual socket board.

    I cant remember if they changed the consumer windows to per socket, I think they definitely have for windows 8.
     
  10. Atomic

    Atomic Gerwaff

    Joined:
    6 May 2002
    Posts:
    9,646
    Likes Received:
    94
    The Dell T3600 would be worth a look for the base system, then upgrade the RAM and add SSDs yourself as they are crazy expensive upgrades from Dell.

    You need Windows 8 Pro or Enterprise support multiple sockets, MS only supports a single socket in the normal consumer version as no normal home user would require more than once CPU!
     
  11. LordLuciendar

    LordLuciendar meh.

    Joined:
    16 Sep 2007
    Posts:
    334
    Likes Received:
    5
    I cannot find a smiley adequate to represent my disappointment...
    Licensing should not be an issue as Atomic mentions, Pro and Enterprise cover dual processor workstations nicely.

    I build high end workstations for a wide variety of niches, several of which use 3D rendering (architectural, animation, engineering, machining...). For these clients the budget per workstation never extends into the $5k+ that is necessary for a properly configured dual processor workstation. Ultimately though, graphics card based power is the key to rendering power per dollar. Spend your money on a GTX 680 or two, or a Quadro K5000, or even add some Tesla cards, and get a rendering plugin to support CUDA. Graphics cards are orders of magnitude faster at rendering.

    I do build dual processor workstations for a few specific clients. Certain applications and fields have different requirements. I build systems for intelligence analysis and these systems and the analysts sitting at them process hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of documents per case. They use complex indexing software to find relationships between these documents. While this task possibly could be adapted to massively parallel computing and thus graphics cards with CUDA, it simply isn't, there is a great deal of complex and proprietary software involved and none of it can be adapted to CUDA easily.

    Thus, the solution is to provide the greatest level of computing power possible in one workstation. ASUS Z8PE-D8 motherboards with 64GB of RAM and separate SSD Operating System and Splash Drives along with magnetic data drives and arrays. The graphics in these systems are only GeForce 520s and 620s. The point is, you need to know your applications, how they process data and what hardware would best fit that processing requirement and don't spend money on hardware which isn't going to give you any benefit. 90% of the workstations at said client are actually single processor i7 systems with 16GB of RAM and a single SSD OS drive with a HDD data drive, for budgetary reasons.

    Dual processor systems also tend to have reduced gaming performance. There has been much debate over this subject in the past, but in theory, dual processor systems have a secondary bus used to communicate between processors for load balancing, this bus adds latency, registered server memory also has significantly higher latency. All of that latency can add up to be a noticeable lag in games. The solution for some dual processor boards was to at least swap out the memory for standard memory, i.e. SkullTrail.
     
  12. dave_c

    dave_c Member

    Joined:
    31 Jul 2009
    Posts:
    436
    Likes Received:
    11
    Really appreciate the input so far all, thankyou. This is the system im looking at for the moment after considering advice. Have upped my budget to £3K so if there are any recommendations i would really appreciate them.

    2x Intel Xeon E5-2650 (8core 2ghz, 20MB Cache)
    1x EVGA Classified SR-2
    6x 4Gb of Corsair DDR3 XMS3 (its more than i probably need but its fairly cheap)
    1x 1200W Corsair Pro series AX1200
    1x 2GB Asus Radeon HD1870 (will upgrade later)
    1x 250Gb Samsung 840 SSD
    2x 2TB WD Cavier green drives

    All priced up from scan.
     
  13. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

    Joined:
    9 Sep 2005
    Posts:
    8,614
    Likes Received:
    197
    Curious as to the software you're running.

    Personally I would spend that £3K on a renderfarm, about 5 nodes, of course that depends on if your software supports network rendering.

    When I know what software your throwing at it I can be of better help, but so far all the "server" kit above is useless for this requirement.
     
  14. LordLuciendar

    LordLuciendar meh.

    Joined:
    16 Sep 2007
    Posts:
    334
    Likes Received:
    5
    Things look pretty good.

    I'm not an EVGA fan for motherboards, I'd replace the SR-2 with an ASUS board, but I can admit that is just personal preference.

    As for the RAM, I would recommend 8 sticks to fully utilize quad channel memory on each processor. Sandy Bridge/Ivy Bridge does a good job of falling back on triple and dual channel memory if you do install only 6 sticks, but I would still fill the channels.

    Other than that, it looks pretty good. I'm also not an AMD/ATI fan and I personally would go with GeForce cards, but again, personal preference.

    Agreed. The hardware is totally dependent on your workload. Lots of graphics rendering, get graphics cards, lots of processor tied rendering but still benefiting from parallelism, get 5 cheap nodes and build a render farm, a bit of everything... you're on the right track, single threaded CPU intensive workload, invest in an overclock-able single processor system, etc.
     
    Last edited: 3 May 2013
  15. faugusztin

    faugusztin I *am* the guy with two left hands

    Joined:
    11 Aug 2008
    Posts:
    6,932
    Likes Received:
    261
    Care to explain how do you plan to put two Socket 2011 processors in a dual Socket 1366 board ? :D
     
  16. LordLuciendar

    LordLuciendar meh.

    Joined:
    16 Sep 2007
    Posts:
    334
    Likes Received:
    5
    Bahahaha... I can't believe I missed that, that is hilarious. I just assumed he meant SR-X I guess.

    Also... a bigger hammer.
     
  17. TaRkA DaHl

    TaRkA DaHl Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    15 Mar 2011
    Posts:
    1,696
    Likes Received:
    170
    Sounds like all you need is a lot of cores, have a look at ebay for the dual socket 2011 stuff, chips especially, they can be considerably cheaper and many users on here have bought this setup with very good results, and most from ebay due to the cost.

    For my money, Asus WS Z9PE (£365) board with a pair of 2620 (£320 each on Scan) to give you 12x2Ghz threads, or if you can afford keep an eye out for a higher rated processor.
     
  18. dave_c

    dave_c Member

    Joined:
    31 Jul 2009
    Posts:
    436
    Likes Received:
    11
    First and fore most:
    Im just THAT good. :D

    Kidding, Somehow i missed that. lets call it a late night error (feeling very ashamed of myself right now)

    Im running Zbrush, PS, after effects and 3DS Max with a lot of intense Vray content as well as animations of the same type. I frequently render images with 12800x9600 resolution with all the setting cranked up. needless to say my i5, 8Gb ram, HD5770 system doesn't do all to well.


    I always understood the graphics card took a distant back seat where 3D rendering is concerned. I do have a friend selling a couple of quatro cards so i may have those of him.
     
  19. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

    Joined:
    9 Sep 2005
    Posts:
    8,614
    Likes Received:
    197
    Graphics card do take a backseat, and are usually worthless unless you've got GPU enabled rendering such as Blender cycles.

    Zbrush and PS would be fine on any system, but your right Vray renders will kick the crap out of your CPU.

    Why do you render at such high resolutions? I honestly think a render farm of a few nodes would be a better route to go. £350 per node is doable with 2500K's and paired up with a high quality network switch you're on to a winner.
     
  20. dave_c

    dave_c Member

    Joined:
    31 Jul 2009
    Posts:
    436
    Likes Received:
    11
    for super size prints apart from anything. recently got requested to render something for a wallpaper (wall for an entire room) at 300dpi.

    can you recommend a good render farm? and ill look into it.
     

Share This Page