After a decade it's time for a new computer

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Ingolifs
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After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby Ingolifs » Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:08 am UTC

So I got my current computer back when Crysis came out. It was top of the line at the time, but after a decade it's really starting to chug. It's time to get a new high-end computer for the purposes of both gaming and computational/machine learning work.

I haven't really been paying attention to technology in the meantime, and I don't really know what's good anymore.
So I have several questions.

-CPU core speeds don't seem to have gotten much faster, but now there are many more of them. I take it having 32 processors isn't useful unless you're doing some very specific computations, and that most applications typically use only 4 processors. Is there much benefit nowadays to having each processor be faster than, say, 3 GHz? Are there any identifiable future trends in CPU usage that I'll want to anticipate?

-How mainstream is water cooling now? It it only for overclocked components, or is it absolutely necessary for any very high-end setup? Are there issues with longevity?

-Do people still put more than one graphics card in their computer for gaming purposes?

-The NVIDIA TITAN V that was released a few days ago looks pretty cool, with both gaming and gpgpu uses in mind. Is it usually a good idea to wait a while before purchasing a card like this to make sure the bad reviews have time to come in?

-Is there much point to having an additional sound card?

-I see SSD hard drives are popular. My understanding is that, like USB, they have limited overwrite cycles, and should be used primarily for windows system files, as they don't change often.

-Is there any other common trap or thing I should watch out for when figuring this stuff out? Things like bottlenecking issues where some high-end piece of hardware isn't being used to full capacity because something else can't send information fast enough?
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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby Peaceful Whale » Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:04 am UTC

So my thoughts:

High end gaming? Like very high?

Nvidia Titan V is very nice.

Intel Xeon (processor) only costs $4,000, but you should probably get the newest intel 7 quad core, that will work fine.

Water cooling isn’t all that popular unless your are a very dedicated PC maker, and have a ton of money and time to work with.

You can have 2+ graphics cards, but I don’t think you’ll need it if you get a nice one.

Also: use your SSD for gaming, DO NOT USE A HARD-DRIVE. SSD is much faster, especially if you get a PCEI. I don’t think any gamer would use a hard drive unless it’s for backup or daily work stuff, something that doesn’t require really fast read/write speeds.

You shouldn’t have any trouble with bottleneck issues unless you get a cheap motherboard. PCEI is very fast though, and very new, so you may want to check over that a tad bit.

If you really want to go pro, get s motherboard or a connect that has USB-C, you can hook up a a very nice 5K or 4K screen. Destiny 2 Supports 4K, and I bet more and more games will start to.
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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby Peaceful Whale » Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:07 am UTC

You will want a very nice tower (enclosure) and cooling+power distribution unit. So you don’t melt a hole through your floor. And destroy your computer. Also, get a good 100 or 200 amps extra than your total (power distribution unit) so when you replace a part later you have enough power.

Also, are any of your parts from your old computer salvageable? Like the RAM or even the motherboard?
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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby EvanED » Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:31 pm UTC

Ingolifs wrote:-CPU core speeds don't seem to have gotten much faster, but now there are many more of them.
I'll add to this that while single-threaded performance hasn't scaled like it did in the 70s and 80s, there's still been fairly-significant improvement in the last 10 years from my understanding. I assume this is some combination of wider cores (so it can run more instructions at once), better branch prediction, smarter algorithms, and larger caches (though I'm not sure L1 has really changed). "SSE" instructions have also gotten much wider; the latest SSE revisions in 2007 was SSSE3 or SSE4 depending on how you count, which operates on 128-bit registers, but 2008 saw the introduction of AVX (256 bits per register) and 2015 saw AVX-512 (512 bits). Not sure how commonly those are used in everyday applications.

-I see SSD hard drives are popular. My understanding is that, like USB, they have limited overwrite cycles, and should be used primarily for windows system files, as they don't change often.
This is pretty much FUD for hard-drive style SSDs (as opposed to SD cards, thumb drives, etc.) I'm not sure what the current status is in terms of which is more prone to suddenly failing between SSDs and HDDs, but they're probably close enough to the same ballpark to not be too much worry to you.

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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby hotaru » Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:09 am UTC

EvanED wrote:I'll add to this that while single-threaded performance hasn't scaled like it did in the 70s and 80s, there's still been fairly-significant improvement in the last 10 years from my understanding.

it really hasn't. Intel hasn't made any significant improvements in IPC since sandy bridge (2011), and with Ryzen, AMD caught up to roughly the same IPC as Intel.

any Intel processor since sandy bridge with at least 4 cores at 3GHz or higher or any AMD Ryzen should be fine for gaming. for computational/machine learning work, I'd probably go with a Ryzen 5 1600 or Ryzen 7 1700, but whether the additional cores will help depends on what software you're using.

for a GPU, the TITAN V looks great if you can afford it. If you don't want to spend $3000, a $400 AMD RX Vega 56 is a pretty good buy.

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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby EvanED » Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:29 am UTC

hotaru wrote:
EvanED wrote:I'll add to this that while single-threaded performance hasn't scaled like it did in the 70s and 80s, there's still been fairly-significant improvement in the last 10 years from my understanding.

it really hasn't. Intel hasn't made any significant improvements in IPC since sandy bridge (2011), and with Ryzen, AMD caught up to roughly the same IPC as Intel.
So for starters, a decade ago and Crysis's release was 2007, and while I'm not exactly on top of what single threaded performance was doing back then, not only is Sandy Bridge between then and now but so is Nehalem. Even if Sandy Bridge was the only revision in recent memory to have seen significant improvements to single-threaded performance, there would still have been significant improvements to single-threaded performance since Ingolifs got his/her last computer.

But I question whether even that premise is correct. All benchmarks lie, but Anandtech's show about a 30% increase in the two benchmarks that are explicitly marked as "single-threaded" between the i5 2400 (Sandy Bridge) and i5 7400 (Kaby Lake). (Most of the other benchmarks are in the 20-25% range.) Maybe we just disagree on what "significant" means, but I think that qualifies. And I don't know what kind of processor you need to get AVX-512, but if you've got a workload that can make significant use of that, you'd see a significant benefit over even Sandy Bridge on that front alone.

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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby KnightExemplar » Tue Dec 12, 2017 1:51 am UTC

EvanED wrote:And I don't know what kind of processor you need to get AVX-512, but if you've got a workload that can make significant use of that, you'd see a significant benefit over even Sandy Bridge on that front alone.


AVX-512 is locked to Skylake-Servers (that's i9-series and Xeon Silver/ Xeon Gold / Xeon Platinum). Note that "Xeon E3 v6" (aka: Kaby Lake Xeons!!) doesn't support AVX-512.

With that said, Sandy Bridge is so old it doesn't even support AVX2 (256-bit INTEGER SIMD). Sandy Bridge only supports floating-point AVX (AVX version 1). So anything that's even remotely SIMD-worthy should see a major boost to performance with a truly modern processor. Sandy Bridge was an amazing processor for its generation, but its clear that modern CPUs have very much overtaken it.

Ingolifs wrote:CPU core speeds don't seem to have gotten much faster, but now there are many more of them. I take it having 32 processors isn't useful unless you're doing some very specific computations, and that most applications typically use only 4 processors. Is there much benefit nowadays to having each processor be faster than, say, 3 GHz? Are there any identifiable future trends in CPU usage that I'll want to anticipate?


Core Speeds have gotten faster in terms of "Instructions per Cycle". Both AMD and Intel have significantly better IPC today than they did 10 years ago, or even 5-years ago (with Sandy Bridge). Sandy Bridge was one of the biggest jumps for Intel, and AMD was finally able to "catch up" with Ryzen. Kaby Lake is still an IPC boost, but we're basically only seeing single-digit gains from year-to-year these days. Over the course of 5 years, those single-digit gains add up to a big difference still, but... its not like the early 2000s anymore.

-How mainstream is water cooling now? It it only for overclocked components, or is it absolutely necessary for any very high-end setup? Are there issues with longevity?


Not very mainstream. Good cooling offers better overclocking, higher speeds, longer turbos and all that, but most people prefer big air-coolers. For simplicity mostly, but a high-quality, modern Air Fan will be quieter than a water cooler setup. As long as your case is big enough (and really, BIG enough) to handle the biggest fans, you'll get good performance at very low sound levels.

-Do people still put more than one graphics card in their computer for gaming purposes?


No. The opposite has happened, people prefer buying very expensive bigger GPUs. It turns out that multiple-GPUs have a frame-stuttering issue that's basically unsolvable. Its basically impossible to keep the two GPUs in sync at gaming speeds (aka: 60-times per second or faster). Its better to spend 2x your money on a GPU that's 2x bigger.

On the other hand, GPGPU Compute has good uses of multiple-GPUs. So for scientific / number crunching purposes, fitting multiple GPUs in one computer is a good idea.

-The NVIDIA TITAN V that was released a few days ago looks pretty cool, with both gaming and gpgpu uses in mind. Is it usually a good idea to wait a while before purchasing a card like this to make sure the bad reviews have time to come in?


Don't buy the Titan V unless you plan on using those Machine Learning Tensor Cores or need Double-precision FLOPs for some reason.

-Is there much point to having an additional sound card?


Yes if you are an audiophile. Fundamentally, the sound circuitry is better isolated on sound cards.

Conceptually, you want an isolated DAC. It can be a USB-DAC + Amplifier combo, but you need something isolated from all of the "electrical noise" that happens on a motherboard. You don't necessarily need to connect it up to PCIe (in case you find USB to be more convenient). The PCIe Sound Cards seem to get good reviews from the Audiophiles.

Still, Motherboard Sound has gotten MUCH better and most people don't seem to be able to tell the difference anymore.

-I see SSD hard drives are popular. My understanding is that, like USB, they have limited overwrite cycles, and should be used primarily for windows system files, as they don't change often.


A test was done where Techreport.com ran SSDs read/write cycles until they all died. The shittiest SSD took 100TBs of writes before it died. An "average" SSD lasted over 1000TB before even seeing any errors, with the best SSDs dying at the 2400TB mark or so. They were all 240GB or 256GB SSDs.

In effect: an "Average" MLC SSD can be overwritten from begining-to-end 4000 times or so before it fails (better drives last longer of course). Most people don't do that... Note that all modern OSes "TRIM", which is some software which helps with endurance.

As such, TLC SSDs and even QLC SSDs (with even lower write endurance... but are much cheaper to make) have become popular these days. If you're "conservative", you should pick up an MLC design. Lower-quality TLC SSDs are beginning to get mainstream acceptance due to their much lower cost.

-Is there any other common trap or thing I should watch out for when figuring this stuff out? Things like bottlenecking issues where some high-end piece of hardware isn't being used to full capacity because something else can't send information fast enough?


With respect to video games: different video games have different bottlenecks. Dwarf Fortress is famously bottlenecked by memory latency (and almost nothing else is). Most video games are bottlenecked by Graphics, although some (usually "strategy" games like Civilization, Starcraft 2, etc. etc.) are bottlenecked by CPU power.

So really, its hard to say. PS4 / XBox One games are all run on a terrible CPU ("AMD Jaguar" cores, roughly equivalent to an Intel Atom) with a grossly oversized GPU.
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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby hotaru » Tue Dec 12, 2017 3:33 am UTC

EvanED wrote:Maybe we just disagree on what "significant" means, but I think that qualifies.

22% over 6 years is not a significant increase. especially when you consider the fact that there has been no difference in IPC between the last 3 generations (skylake, kaby lake, and coffee lake), and you can get an 8-core 3.1GHz E5-2687W for about the same price as an i5-7400.

EvanED wrote:And I don't know what kind of processor you need to get AVX-512, but if you've got a workload that can make significant use of that, you'd see a significant benefit over even Sandy Bridge on that front alone.

software that actually makes use of AVX-512 is still practically nonexistent. unless you're developing your own software that can make significant use of it, you probably won't see any benefit from it at all.

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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby KnightExemplar » Tue Dec 12, 2017 4:03 am UTC

hotaru wrote:software that actually makes use of AVX-512 is still practically nonexistent. unless you're developing your own software that can make significant use of it, you probably won't see any benefit from it at all.


I agree with your assessment for AVX512. AVX512 is too new and too expensive (for now), no one seems to be using it yet. I don't know of any processor cheaper than $500 that has AVX512. (EDIT: Hmmm.... i7-7800X has it, but the i7-8700K is a way better value. i7-8700k misses AVX512). Anyway, AVX512 isn't ready for prime time yet.

However, AVX2 is definitely widespread use. All 4xxx-series Intel chips and newer have AVX2, so its worth targeting.

Image

AVX2 can make a big difference, and Sandy Bridge / Ivy Bridge is missing it. Now the above is a synthetic benchmark where the AVX2 difference is focused on. But I'd expect that AVX2 can shave off some time on large "blur" operations in Photoshop or x264 encoding.

x264 has had stunning advancements by using AVX2, roughly 30% to 80% faster on certain x264 specific micro-benchmarks!!

----------

Haswell (4000-series Intel) only executed 256-bits per clock. Skylake (i7 6xxx-series and above) improved AVX2 by allowing many AVX2 instructions to be super-scalar as well. Skylake can perform TWO 256-bit VADDs per clock (when Haswell can only perform one at a time).

With that said, AVX2's primary benefit is in the graphics community. Photoshop, x264, Blender... all of these "media creation" programs benefit greatly from AVX2, but its hard for me to think of a "non-media" AVX2 application.
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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby Weeks » Tue Dec 12, 2017 4:42 am UTC

Ingolifs wrote:-I see SSD hard drives are popular. My understanding is that, like USB, they have limited overwrite cycles, and should be used primarily for windows system files, as they don't change often.
SSDs are fantastic and speed up a lot of things quite significantly.

I don't think endurance is an issue, even if we're talking decade-long investments.

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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby Weeks » Tue Dec 12, 2017 4:59 am UTC

hotaru wrote:for a GPU, the TITAN V looks great if you can afford it. If you don't want to spend $3000, a $400 AMD RX Vega 56 is a pretty good buy.
I'm seeing the Vega 56 at 800 bucks minimum...the 1080 ti seems to be around $850-900 and from what I've heard is better
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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby KnightExemplar » Tue Dec 12, 2017 5:16 am UTC

Weeks wrote:
hotaru wrote:for a GPU, the TITAN V looks great if you can afford it. If you don't want to spend $3000, a $400 AMD RX Vega 56 is a pretty good buy.
I'm seeing the Vega 56 at 800 bucks minimum...the 1080 ti seems to be around $850-900 and from what I've heard is better


It definitely depends on (Bitcoin) market conditions.

Vega is the better mining card. As long as crypto-currencies are popular, it will be more expensive. Vega 56 is SUPPOSED to be $400 but... yeah... supply / demand has other plans.

Weeks wrote:
Ingolifs wrote:-I see SSD hard drives are popular. My understanding is that, like USB, they have limited overwrite cycles, and should be used primarily for windows system files, as they don't change often.
SSDs are fantastic and speed up a lot of things quite significantly.

I don't think endurance is an issue, even if we're talking decade-long investments.

Image

I have a 500GB Samsung 850 Evo and it's fantastic.


The 850 Evo is a good example of a popular "lower quality" TLC drive. (Although to be fair: Samsung's V-NAND technology has made TLC as durable as MLC. So TLC makes sense). Durability is basically a non-concern at this point, now that device drivers and OSes have TRIM support and perfectly balance the writes across the drive.
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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby EvanED » Tue Dec 12, 2017 4:13 pm UTC

hotaru wrote:
EvanED wrote:Maybe we just disagree on what "significant" means, but I think that qualifies.

22% over 6 years is not a significant increase. especially when you consider the fact that there has been no difference in IPC between the last 3 generations (skylake, kaby lake, and coffee lake), and you can get an 8-core 3.1GHz E5-2687W for about the same price as an i5-7400.
OK, so we just disagree about what "significant" means. :-)

In this context, I was using "there have been significant improvements in single-threaded performance" to mean more or less "you'd notice a speedup even if you don't do precise benchmarking", and I think even 22% is enough to qualify for that, especially plus whatever speedups happened in Nehalem (if any?) and Sandy Bridge.

EvanED wrote:And I don't know what kind of processor you need to get AVX-512, but if you've got a workload that can make significant use of that, you'd see a significant benefit over even Sandy Bridge on that front alone.

software that actually makes use of AVX-512 is still practically nonexistent. unless you're developing your own software that can make significant use of it, you probably won't see any benefit from it at all.
In many cases, you wouldn't need to write code that accesses it directly. You just need to write vectorizable code and let the compiler do the work. Then the code just needs to be complied for an AVX-512 processor. For example, you could grab Gentoo and then "everything" would be. :-)

That being said, it not being available on consumer chips really is well-taken, so you can ignore that point.

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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby Thesh » Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:00 pm UTC

EvanED wrote:
hotaru wrote:
EvanED wrote:Maybe we just disagree on what "significant" means, but I think that qualifies.

22% over 6 years is not a significant increase. especially when you consider the fact that there has been no difference in IPC between the last 3 generations (skylake, kaby lake, and coffee lake), and you can get an 8-core 3.1GHz E5-2687W for about the same price as an i5-7400.
OK, so we just disagree about what "significant" means. :-)

In this context, I was using "there have been significant improvements in single-threaded performance" to mean more or less "you'd notice a speedup even if you don't do precise benchmarking", and I think even 22% is enough to qualify for that, especially plus whatever speedups happened in Nehalem (if any?) and Sandy Bridge.


It should also be noted that Crysis was released in 2007, at which point the Core 2 was the most recent Intel processor. That's a bit more significant of a bump.

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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby wumpus » Thu Dec 14, 2017 2:03 pm UTC

You do know about https://pcpartpicker.com/ don't you, it makes finding a good build vastly easier.

Video card: Titan V is only the answer if you really care about machine learning or double precision CUDA work. If you do it is a "great bargain" (compared to its meager/exhorbinant competition) [and if you are only dabbling, consider renting servers from amazon or google]. Otherwise just about any other video card makes more sense.

Also, Etherium mining is driving the entire market insane. Nvidia cards are less sensitive to the issue, and within the month Vega cards hit MSRP (at least somewhere). You might consider using the old card for a year, or possibly looking for something non-mining friendly.

SSDs. I'd expect even a 10 year old computer to have a SSD as the primary drive. If you believe the old chestnut "the steady state of a hard drive is full" then expect to have a few rotating drives around (possibly as a net-based storage, either in your old computer or an appliance based on it). Otherwise just buy a larger SSD.

CPUs. I'd assume you want at least *some* frequency boost, which likely means an Intel CPU (assuming you have a Sandy Bridge. That didn't leave much to improve). If you can get your hands on the allegedly launched Coffee Lake (6 core) CPUs, they are probably a bit better (higher frequency typically always improves things (by at least a little), where more cores require difficult multi-threading software to see gains. That said, I'd want at least 6 cores (either Zen of Coffee lake) since that seems to be a new baseline. Note that the extra threading (hyperthreading in the i7/i9) isn't likely to get more than a 15% increase. The i5 looks nice, but maybe not for a computer that should last more than 10 years.

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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby markfiend » Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:53 pm UTC

Peaceful Whale wrote:get a good 100 or 200 amps extra than your total (power distribution unit)

What? I think you mean milliamps. My entire house's electrical supply is protected by a 60amp fuse.
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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby wumpus » Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:01 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:
Peaceful Whale wrote:get a good 100 or 200 amps extra than your total (power distribution unit)

What? I think you mean milliamps. My entire house's electrical supply is protected by a 60amp fuse.


I think he means Watts. Even so, power is [instantaneous] voltage * [instantaneous] current. So >100 Amps going into a <1.0V CPU isn't all that surprising. I still don't expect high currents from PSUs as modern motherboards and GPUs tend to pull power from +12V rail and convert on the board to whatever the specific chip needs.

There is a big difference between pulling 100A out of +5V rail (which most power supplies can handle) and pulling 100A out of your 230VAC (or even my 120VAC) friendly power outlet.

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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby Peaceful Whale » Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:36 pm UTC

Yep, I meant watts. Lol.
You could always go with amps if your really want to.
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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby markfiend » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:46 pm UTC

wumpus wrote:There is a big difference between pulling 100A out of +5V rail (which most power supplies can handle) and pulling 100A out of your 230VAC (or even my 120VAC) friendly power outlet.


Oh yeah lol I'm an idiot thanks :mrgreen:
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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby roflwaffle » Wed Jan 24, 2018 3:29 am UTC

The biggest downside I can think of is that ram and GPUs are relatively expensive. In terms of SSD speed/performance, Optane seems to be the bees knees, but it's expensive. Like someone said earlier, an SSD on the PCIe bus might be able to outperform an SSD on SATA, which is capped at ~500+MB/s.

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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby roflwaffle » Tue Mar 06, 2018 11:59 pm UTC

As a follow up, I've found some good deals on used enterprise SSDs off of eh4y with hardly any use recently. You have to look for a while, but compared to consumer SSDs you can eventually find either similar performance/capacity at a lower cost or better performance/capacity at similar cost. I imagine availability is seasonal to some degree based on companies upgrading equipment at the end of a financial quarter or year, but it's definitely something to keep an eye out for IMO.

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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby wumpus » Sun Mar 25, 2018 6:52 pm UTC

There's a thread over on realworldtech.com that has a lot of pros and cons of used enterprise SSDs (Linus mentions how consumer ones have a non-zero chance of losing all data if you lose power at the wrong time). Can't say I'm sold.

I've been more curious out refurbished rotating drives. While the "received wisdom" is to avoid them like the plague, I'd expect that using them would work fine (and motivate me to keep backups up to date). RAID5 is optional (RAID is for high availability, and you shouldn't count on avoiding a restore from backups) on live, but if you have a separate copy for backups, I'd recommend RAID6 if not RAID5 (the idea is that the backup shouldn't be threatened by stupid human tricks, and that the RAID protects against physical damage).

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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Mar 27, 2018 1:56 am UTC

I'd say 'mitigates' rather than 'protects', but pick the right RAID for your needs.

Spoiler:
There's spanning for bandwidth at more risk of a failure of half the storage causing almost all your files to be inflicted with loss. Then there's mirroring for redundancy but takes double the physical storage you're willing to logically use. Use paritywise cross-media storage for more efficient redundancy method and often also an access-speed benefit (if you have the right disc-controller to plug them all into, to do the RAID management innhadware).

Various supercombinations of these can be made (often overlapping hardware and software solutions, like RAID 100 being software striping (RAID 0) of a hardware mirror-and-stripe (RAID 1+0, or '10') that needs eight discs to hold four discs'-worth of data (there's fourfold striping, from the two overlaid stripes, of the doubled-across data, from the mirroring part). I think RAID 50 (super-striped single-parity) is the most complex you should go if you're really bothered. Though 60 (super-striped double-parity) might be the epitome of all modes, if you can get 8 drives together (that can pretend to be a single drive four times the size of the smallest of these, with double-failure resilience and a high potential bandwidh for simultaneous read/writes) and connected up to properly supporting hardware and/or software drivers.


For a home machine, I don't thnk it's a true priority for most peopoe. A regular backup regime (frequent and scheduled incrementals and less frequent and possibly manual whole-baclup) is what I used to do when the relative size of HDD and tape-backups made this a viable prospect. These days, I don't really have a good backup regime because HDDs (and my use of them, both internal and external) are just so huge and yet always so full with already superfluous copies of data that I can't really run a good grandfather/father/son cycle of historic backups.

A 3TB external drive is just too easy to fill with things that I'm 'temporarily' transfering off of my 2TB internal drive, periodically, without dedicating more drives (hot-pluggable caddied drives, or otherwise 'take off the side and cable in for the duration') to additionally duplicate everything for proper safety. And my SOHO-level tape backup devices have long since fallen back from being competently sized. As have the ZIP, CLICK and JAZZ discs that once used to be amazing space-expanders.

KnightExemplar
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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:02 pm UTC

wumpus wrote:There's a thread over on realworldtech.com that has a lot of pros and cons of used enterprise SSDs (Linus mentions how consumer ones have a non-zero chance of losing all data if you lose power at the wrong time). Can't say I'm sold.

I've been more curious out refurbished rotating drives. While the "received wisdom" is to avoid them like the plague, I'd expect that using them would work fine (and motivate me to keep backups up to date). RAID5 is optional (RAID is for high availability, and you shouldn't count on avoiding a restore from backups) on live, but if you have a separate copy for backups, I'd recommend RAID6 if not RAID5 (the idea is that the backup shouldn't be threatened by stupid human tricks, and that the RAID protects against physical damage).


The main issue is that modern rotating drives have increased speeds and lower costs.

The Toshiba 5TB X300 is $145 on Newegg with a $15 discount, with throughputs of 200MB/s. So you get huge sequential speeds at relatively low prices.

Also, don't RAID. Use advanced software like Solaris / BSD ZFS or Window's ReFS instead. RAID can't deal with bitrot or other problems that have been more recently (popularized in late `00s and early `10s)

Soupspoon wrote:For a home machine, I don't thnk it's a true priority for most peopoe. A regular backup regime (frequent and scheduled incrementals and less frequent and possibly manual whole-baclup) is what I used to do when the relative size of HDD and tape-backups made this a viable prospect. These days, I don't really have a good backup regime because HDDs (and my use of them, both internal and external) are just so huge and yet always so full with already superfluous copies of data that I can't really run a good grandfather/father/son cycle of historic backups.

A 3TB external drive is just too easy to fill with things that I'm 'temporarily' transfering off of my 2TB internal drive, periodically, without dedicating more drives (hot-pluggable caddied drives, or otherwise 'take off the side and cable in for the duration') to additionally duplicate everything for proper safety. And my SOHO-level tape backup devices have long since fallen back from being competently sized. As have the ZIP, CLICK and JAZZ discs that once used to be amazing space-expanders.


While my goto recommendation for a low-end AM1 platform has disappeared, Intel is still making cheap low-end computers for NAS-building purposes.

Take the $56 J3355B for instance. Its low cost, low power, uses cheaper old-generation DDR3 modules, and can have a cheap PCIe -> SATA port to access more hard drives. Add another $50 for RAM and $50 for a case, and then you've got a nice NAS box.

Having two hard drives in mirrored formation (RAID1, or ZFS mirrored, or ReFS + Storage Spaces mirrored) is far more protection than most people need. Throw an Ethernet port down for convenience and NAS-based solutions are really cool. 1Gbps Ethernet is ~100MB/s transfer speeds... slower than the ~200MB/s ideal that these hard drives could deliver, but way faster than USB2 (40MB/s) or BluRay (15MB/s).

1Gbps Ethernet isn't even that much slower than USB3 (USB3 supports 480MB/s or so, but the hard drive is only 200MB/s best case). There are Thunderbolt-based rigs that do hardware RAID and stuff, but I'm unconvinced that hardware RAID is worth it these days (see bitrot issues). Slower Software RAID / Advanced Software solutions (ie: ZFS) are more convenient to use and have enough performance for the SOHO user.

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Alternatively, run 2x mirrored drives on your primary machine for reliability. Most machines have way too many SATA ports than most users know what to do with.

Modern backups are about getting a USB3 hardware dock and just transferring data to your backup hard drives. Hard Drives aren't really that expensive anymore. 5 or 6TB for ~$150 is a regular deal these days, double it if you care about redundancy. The real issue is transferring that data. It will take you 8-hours (at 100MB/s) or 4 hours (at 200MB/s) to back up 3TB of information.

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Looking forward: 5GBASE-T Ethernet would make this kind of setup faster. 5GBASE-T standards run on your standard CAT5e cables and would be a relatively simple update. Alternatively, 10Gbps might win the race instead, although you'll have to swap out your cables (my cables are embedded into the walls of my house, so 5GBASE-T is a more realistic upgrade option).
First Strike +1/+1 and Indestructible.

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roflwaffle
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Re: After a decade it's time for a new computer

Postby roflwaffle » Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:27 pm UTC

wumpus wrote:There's a thread over on realworldtech.com that has a lot of pros and cons of used enterprise SSDs (Linus mentions how consumer ones have a non-zero chance of losing all data if you lose power at the wrong time). Can't say I'm sold.

I've been more curious out refurbished rotating drives. While the "received wisdom" is to avoid them like the plague, I'd expect that using them would work fine (and motivate me to keep backups up to date). RAID5 is optional (RAID is for high availability, and you shouldn't count on avoiding a restore from backups) on live, but if you have a separate copy for backups, I'd recommend RAID6 if not RAID5 (the idea is that the backup shouldn't be threatened by stupid human tricks, and that the RAID protects against physical damage).

I've read that used HGST drives can be fairly reliable. The only reason I haven't gone down that road is that B35tBuy occasionally drops the price of the WD 8TB external drives to $130-$160, so <$20/TB after tax, which is about the same as the used HGST drives I've seen. The 8TB external drives also use less power than the smaller HGST drives, although they are slower too.

For SSDs, I haven't looked at new consumer drives after finding the servethehome forums. So far I've picked up a 300GB Intel S3500 for $55, a 1.6TB Toshiba HK4E for about $320 (it's the high-endurance/over-provisioned version of the HK4E/THNSN81Q92CSE), and a 1.92TB Sandisk Eco Gen II for $250, which would be tough to match with consumer drives in terms of price/capacity/performance.


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