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Yet Another Distraction...

Posted 31st August 2010 at 10:44 AM by wintermute

Well I said no more excuses, and I for the most part started to make some progress. But good old Murphy stepped in and threw a spanner in the works.

The Boot Drive on my main computer decided to die on me, I've got backups of all the important stuff so no big deal other than the inconvenience. I could always use my work laptop... step in Murphy again, it too decided to die... once again have backups but all of a sudden nothing to run LT spice on, bring up my Plans, test data or anything.. I've got a loan one but I'm not going to set it up for a couple of weeks only.

So since my main computer was nearly 8 years old (single core Athlon 2000 which is really only 1667Mhz) I decided an upgrade was in order... This would probably have been a relatively modest machine if it weren't for my recent discovery of LTSpice and the knowledge that it takes a lot of cpu grunt, and that it benefits from multiple cores!!

So What have I been doing? Not working on my power supply or my synergy, I've been working out what to build for my next PC

The only drawback is It's come to a total of a bit shy of $1100 AU so I'm feeling a bit guilty about the as yet unordered parts I need for the other projects

So what did I decide on?

I've been an AMD person since my first PC (that is wintel) and felt that bang for buck for what I wanted it still made sense.

  • Asus M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 motherboard (seems just about right for one who isn't into 3D gaming)
  • Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 3.4Ghz quad core CPU.
  • 4GB Gskill F3-10666CL7D-4GBRH AS 7-7-7-21 ram
  • Antec TruePower 750W Power Supply (probably gross overkill, but think of the headroom! ).
  • 2 X Western Digital WD15EARS 1.5TB drives*
  • Windows 7 pro 64bit
  • a logitech quickcam pro 9000 webcam (wanted one for ages to replace the cheap one I have, so that my daughter can talk to her grandparents)
  • a couple of Antec Tricool case fans.
The Hard drives may seem a little out of place, and you would be right They are actually for my MythTV HTPC box, which will be getting an upgrade to mythdora 12.23 before the existing Samsung 500GB drives are zeroed and become the raid 1 drives in the new PC.

Had to be complicated eh... can't actually build the new PC until I have rebuilt the HT PC, which hopefully won't be too painful a process (mythtv is not exactly the most user friendly application around). Their will be hell to pay if I lose Mya's episodes of Play-school!!

Not sure how the Windows 7 is going to go, but at least the Pro version comes with a virtual version of XP as well for backward compatibility. I will more than likely have a linux partition as well.

Was happy to find that my trusty old Audigy II ZS is supported (sans the game port which I don't use anyway) on Windows 7 64Bit, and also my wireless card.. I'll try out the on-board sound, but I have my suspicions I'll be returning to the Audigy.. time will tell.

All other components (keyboard, mouse, case) will be re-used.

I'm expecting a rather large drop in simulation time with LTSpice. hopefully I won't be disappointed

I reckon this probably puts a dent of about another month in the schedule maybe I'll have something by Christmas

It's funny how things change! I bought a super expensive ($800AU) gaming card about 10 years ago, that would be significantly more than the total cost of this setup in today's $$!! It was an Nvidia GeForce II GTS with at the time a massive 64MB memory. The on-board graphics on this motherboard would almost certainly blow it away. I only recently stopped using that card... Now I'll be happy to use the on-board graphics, and maybe consider something like a GT220 if I find out that LTSpice takes advantage of Cuda and runs a heap faster


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  1. Old Comment
    abraxalito's Avatar
    I've been thinking about how to reduce my LTSpice sim times too. Recently read a review of an i3-530 system which has an overclock to 4.4GHz, so this might be a cheaper way to go than AMD (the chip is cheaper, probably the mobo is more expensive). The i3 is dual core but also dual thread so would be interesting to compare with the AMD quad core. The guy at LT says the i7 (guessing he means the $900 six-core version) is twice as fast as the nearest quad core.
    Posted 1st September 2010 at 06:05 AM by abraxalito abraxalito is offline
  2. Old Comment
    wintermute's Avatar
    The mobo I'm getting will automatically overclock all four cores up to 500Mhz depending on demand (bit like turbo boost) so I'm hoping that helps as well. From what I have read it is quite easy to get the Phenom II 965BE up to 4.1Ghz as well, though I wasn't planning on any extreme overclocking

    I looked at the benchmarks for the I7's and man do those things fly, but they also cost a bundle! I couldn't justify the cost. $900 odd compared to $200 Odd for what I'm getting... and the mobo's cost a packet more as well, not to mention the tripple channel memory... I didn't feel I could even justify the cost of the 6 core phenom... maybe I will be lucky and my 4 core phenom will be a 6 core with two cores locked, and I can unlock the other two (another feature of this mobo), but I think that is extremely wishful thinking!!

    Once I've got it all running I'll run some sims and report the results

    Posted 1st September 2010 at 09:52 AM by wintermute wintermute is offline

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