Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Computer Quest

I am starting to get back in the swing of reading about computer parts. That's rather odd for me to say, right? You work in computers all day long. Well, yeah, but it's not like what you think. The components that I work with are sometimes built upon the basic commodity parts that you all are familiar with. Processors, memory, etc. The thing is that the parts that we pick and chose have a different criteria set that what you do for home systems. Unless you are gobsmacking anal retentive you're not going to be thinking about bisection bandwidth, CPU starvation, or if the number of spindles you have is enough to sustain that bandwidth of that controller you bought, etc. While we use Opterons, frex, in our new Cray, the boards they reside in have little to do with an Asus or Supermicro. To make matters worse, about three, four years ago, I moved from regular system admin to file system work. It's rather different.

I do have some specifications in mind for getting this done. I would prefer to spend a tad bit more now and have it fit my needs for a while rather than in two years have to repalce it. That house and family thing.

I have always had a nontrivial preference for the disks attached: my old system had SCSI drives and it made installs very quick. While working in the storage arena, I've become even more biased. Experiences that we have here are pretty dramatic at times and not exactly applicable, but they do creator biases (not a fan of SATA, frex, losing 'idle' data bad, very bad). I had been waiting for SAS to come out - or so I told myself when I was considering it before - and now its put me in a little bit of a jam: it's available on eATX motherboards, but not on regular ATX. The controller cards are either PCI-X and PCIe. The former are expensive, but tolerable if put on a relatively inexpensive, but quality motehrboard. That latter, however, is just too damned much! Well, if anyone knows of a straight ATX board that has SAS on it, lemme know.

On the other hand, I've been considering just going small and saving a little bit of space. There are plenty of very small systems out tehre I can build out. I'm not much of a game player these days (ha! to put it mildly), but I've never dabbled in the bitty PC thing. The appeal of saving space now and then building a monster box later is there too.


I guess I'll just have to see.

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