Naughty or Nice? Servers and Notebooks for the Holidays


I hope I’ve been nice enough this year to get a custom workstation and Thinkpad. If not, I’m sure we’ll be getting $%^&* Dell.

Quad-core, 16GB RAM, 1TB disk: $4820.83 plus shipping

I’ve had my home machine for 3.5 years. Here’s a diagram from when I built it:

I never did get the PlayStation after trying a friend’s, and the VCR and DVD player are long gone. The power supply blew out and was replaced, the graphics card blew out and was replaced, and the memory was swapped for ECC memory to stop Java from throwing seg faults in critical loops. I also added some 250GB disks about the time they were considered large.

Finally, something’s tempting me to upgrade, and it’s called 64-bit Java and Intel Core Duo. Ever since we bought two dual-CPU, big memory (8GB and 16GB) servers at work from SWT, I’ve been thinking about replacing my home machine. When I built it, my home machine was faster than anything in the office. And watching films on video cassette was still considered a viable option.

The only problem is that our servers at work are loud. Very loud. And the dual-core AMDs suck down amazing quantities of power. So I’m thinking about getting the following box of components and building a new machine for home, the specifications of which are available at:

Just to summarize, that includes a pair of Intel dual-core, 2.33 GHz Woodcrest chips with 4MB L2 cache. Some of our models might even fit into that space. And it has a heat sink, not a fan; the chip runs at only 65 watts! And eight 2GB ECC registered memory chips at 667MHz, for a total of 16GB RAM. Because most of our high performance computing is memory bound, this is should give a nice boost over my existing 400MHz memory, not to mention the 333MHz memory in our servers at work. Toss in a couple of 500GB SATA drives, and I’m good to go. If anyone knows anything about building computers and would recommend something other than what I’ve specified, let me know — I’m not buying it until early 2007 when we’re back from traveling the great midwest.

24" Monitor a Necessity

But even more than a good computer, get a good monitor, like a 24" Samsung, with 1920×1200 resolution. The 30" Apple ones are just too big; even the 24" are a bit too big physically (not too high resolution). I considered a 24" screen a necessity when they were three times the price they are now. The screen works very well for watching movies, too.

WUXGA, Dual-Core Thinkpad

Here’s what I ordered for my wife (she does the database programming and networking and I spec out and buy the hardware):

Lenovo (nee IBM) has the best screens and keyboards. Paired with 2GB of memory and Intel dual core CPUs, this thing should rock. The Z61P has the WUXGA screen, which is 1920×1200, which means it’s big enough for full 1080p HDTV. Not to mention nice looking fonts. Not that I’ll get to use it; she’ll probably take it into work and use it for boring things like gene sequencing and microarray analysis. At least I’ll inherit her current Thinkpad.

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