Backtest & Analysis Machine - AMD or Intel?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by NetTecture, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. ;)

    Planning a new backtest machine now - wil lbe dedicated to number crunching. Backtests, aggregation, data analysis. NO significant storage needed.

    I think this wil lbe a nice dual processor item - SuperMicro has nice rack cases that can hold 2 motherboards per 1U, with the largest one being 8 computers in 4 U ;)

    Anyhow, I am totaly undecided between Intel and AMD at the moment. Anyone some comments? Intel gets a LOT more powerfull per CPU it seems, but - the price goes insane fast. AMD uses more heat, is technically behind, but has more real cores (somewhere between hyperthreading and a full core).

    Intel has IvyBridge, but the Ivy Xeons that support dual socket are seemingly not there yet (which would rock - löess power, less cooling etc.). AMD is on a VERY dated process.... and when they upgrade, it will AFAIK require new motherboards.

    Note: thisis an october-November project, so for AMD I would wait for the PileDriver opterons.

    Which direction to go?

    I am an all AMD fan the last years, but my latest purchase was a X70 based Sandy Bridge Co´mputer that nor wuns each core under full load at little above 4ghz ;)
  2. I've been looking for the same answer and haven't been able to find it. I on the other hand have been an Intel fan over the last few years - but I am open to either Intel or AMD.

    I believe in this instance the client has a Matlab license for up to 12 cores so it's either 2x 5600 series Intel cpus (exactly 12 cores) or 2x AMD 6 (or 8) core boxes. This box would also be specifically used for number crunching only.

    I asked on the Matlab forums and didn't get a reply :(
  3. Your case is special though - as the matlab licenses cost money (lots of) he needs as fast cores as possible, which means Intel is currently the way to go, with Hyperthreading disabled- get as much performance on ONE core as possible. Which also may include overclocking (which is safe as you basucalyl turned off hyperthreading).

    I don't have those limitations, so I am not behind per core performance but total performance AND - price is a factor too as there is no per core licensing involved ;)
  4. I thought about OC'ing but #1 I've NEVER overclocked anything and #2 I had planned on running this on Dell hardware which makes things difficult. Dell's BIOS is pretty locked down. I've heard there are hacks but I've never messed with that either.

    I was planning on Intel 5600 series CPUs (two of them) but it's a bit confusing. This is the first time I've ever seen the clock speeds not coincide with the model numbers. Meaning lower numbers have higher clock speed in some cases.

    I just picked up 4 engineering sample CPUs which are clocked evenly at 3.0ghz so they are essentially like an x5670 CPU (or 5667 or 5675). I'm wondering though, will going with only 12 cores be foolish? Should there be more than 12 cores on the machine so that the overhead of the OS and other applications can be directed to the spare cores so that 12 cores can be dedicated to MATLAB only?

    Is it foolish to build a 16-core (32 cores with HT) machine so that he can have 4 extra cores for the OS and other overhead? There is a big difference in price (the 8-core CPUs are about $1,000 more each so I assume the motherboard would be more expensive as well) so I'm wondering if it's worth it performance wise or not. The other thing is he wants 4GB of RAM per core... so a 16-core box would need 64GB of DDR3 which that size of ECC/FB DDR3 starts to get pricey too.

    I've asked on the matlab forums a number of times and have not gotten a clear answer. The choice is between a 2.26 or 2.66ghz 16-core box or a 3.4-3.73ghz 12-core box. What's the difference between 12 cores at almost double the clock speed vs. 16 cores at a slower speed?
  5. Quad core X3220 runs Tradestation back tests as quick as I could ever desire, although I've made some of my best discoveries using a 1.2ghz Centrino based laptop.

  6. Well, Winston - forget additional cores, the overhad of the OS etc. is so minimal it should not make a difference, plus licensing will get in your way - most often they are "installed in computer / visible to the OS", so additional cores breach the license limit.

    We use a ROG motherboard right now for backtesting - with a i7 overclocked to 4.125ghz on all cores stable under full load. Sadly we rarely finish a test run these days due to power issues - well, another month and a move to new offices is due, which should be more stable (the street I am in has some issues for some months now) and then a 10.000 VA USV is currently being planned ;)

    Anyhow, the ROG mobo has a button to overclock ;) Simple like that ;)

    But limited to 1 processor. And for scalability - I really do not know ;(
  7. heh... never used Matlab so the thought of additional cores (beyond what is licensed) never occurred to me. Are you saying that a 12-core Matlab license can only operate on a 12-core machine?

    Been working with a group in London... sun's coming up but as soon as our business hours open up I'm going to get on the phone with Matlab and ask.

    If you have a 12-core license you should be able to run Matlab on a 500 core box... but matlab would only utilize 12 cores.

    Thank you very much for the heads up. I will investigate and report back.

    Have you decided on the specs for yours? Or decided Intel or AMD?
  8. Well, that is not how licensing works for SQL Server, Oracle, Exchange and Windows and any other tool I know. Often it is "visible in the machine" (i.e. turn it off in the BIOS and you are ok). This is why I saaid to turn off hyperthreading - a hyperthreading virtual core is not a full core, so you get maybe 1.5 cores ourt of 1, but if you only have 2 licenses and need fast performance, 12 real cores are better than 6+6*0.5 ;)

    If matlab does that different they HAVE to implement their own thread scheduler and go through some hoops, otherwise... windows just uses all cores to schedule threads ;)

    No decision yet ;) You pretty much too kover the decision. I am tending towards AMD at the moment for the chance to go relatively cheap into a 4 CPU configuration with a total of 64 cores.
  9. I don't know about your specific needs but the $350 I spent on my i7 chip was money well spent. It is simply amazing compared to the core 2 duo I was running. It feels about 10 times faster.
  10. I know they are fast - I have a I7 3960 I think here. Still they are way too slow. I thought it is clear from my first psot that I dont look for a low end solution like an I7 but a server elvel solution.

    Right now I am planning on a 4 socket AMD with a toal of 64 cores. Actually likels a couple of them ;)

    I really would love Intel to put out Ivy Bridge Xeons and the XXeon priving to b a LITTLE more real - the power bufdget for those AMD is heavy (not money, I have a limited power envelope, including cooling, before I ahve to dig open some street and put in a new main line into the house).
    #10     Aug 1, 2012