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where to put $$$ to beef up performance

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  • Robert P. J. Day
    i m looking at getting a new 8600 or 9200, and am wondering where the best place is to invest a few extra dollars to get better performance in doing lengthy
    Message 1 of 12 , Nov 30, 2004
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      i'm looking at getting a new 8600 or 9200, and am wondering where
      the best place is to invest a few extra dollars to get better
      performance in doing lengthy and sizable builds/compiles. stuff like
      the linux kernel, large make-based software projects, that kind of
      thing.

      if i start with a middle-level configuration:

      1.60GHz CPU
      60G HD
      512M RAM

      obviously, i can increase performance with either a faster CPU, a
      7200 RPM hard drive, or more RAM. i've always felt that just getting
      a faster CPU isn't the answer, since there are more siginficant
      bottlenecks, and i figure i'd be better off with more RAM or a faster
      HD. my first guess would be RAM, but that's the most expensive
      upgrade as well.

      any comments on any of this, with what little i've been able to
      share?

      rday
    • Rosenstrauch, David
      ... I d go with RAM too. Especially if you re going to be compiling code. Spring for 1GB of RAM. Just my $0.02. DR
      Message 2 of 12 , Nov 30, 2004
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        > i'm looking at getting a new 8600 or 9200, and am wondering where
        > the best place is to invest a few extra dollars to get better
        > performance in doing lengthy and sizable builds/compiles. stuff like
        > the linux kernel, large make-based software projects, that kind of
        > thing.
        >
        > if i start with a middle-level configuration:
        >
        > 1.60GHz CPU
        > 60G HD
        > 512M RAM
        >
        > obviously, i can increase performance with either a faster CPU, a
        > 7200 RPM hard drive, or more RAM. i've always felt that just getting
        > a faster CPU isn't the answer, since there are more siginficant
        > bottlenecks, and i figure i'd be better off with more RAM or a faster
        > HD. my first guess would be RAM, but that's the most expensive
        > upgrade as well.
        >
        > any comments on any of this, with what little i've been able to
        > share?
        >
        > rday


        I'd go with RAM too. Especially if you're going to be compiling code. Spring
        for 1GB of RAM.

        Just my $0.02.

        DR

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      • Haedn Thorn
        The HDD is the slowest device between those .... I must say that I ve been very happy with my 600m (1.6GHz, 512MB, 60GB) ... The primary difference between the
        Message 3 of 12 , Nov 30, 2004
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          The HDD is the slowest device between those .... I
          must say that I've been very happy with my 600m
          (1.6GHz, 512MB, 60GB) ... The primary difference
          between the 600m and 8600 is the video chipset (I
          would have rather had the nVidia) but I chose the
          lighter and slightly less expensive 600m ....Other
          than Doom3, I haven't had any real issues with the
          ATi, but I wouldn't even have that issue with the
          nVidia! ... O, and it played Doom3 just fine under
          windoze.

          --- "Robert P. J. Day" <rpjday@...> wrote:

          >
          >
          > i'm looking at getting a new 8600 or 9200, and am
          > wondering where
          > the best place is to invest a few extra dollars to
          > get better
          > performance in doing lengthy and sizable
          > builds/compiles. stuff like
          > the linux kernel, large make-based software
          > projects, that kind of
          > thing.
          >
          > if i start with a middle-level configuration:
          >
          > 1.60GHz CPU
          > 60G HD
          > 512M RAM
          >
          > obviously, i can increase performance with either a
          > faster CPU, a
          > 7200 RPM hard drive, or more RAM. i've always felt
          > that just getting
          > a faster CPU isn't the answer, since there are more
          > siginficant
          > bottlenecks, and i figure i'd be better off with
          > more RAM or a faster
          > HD. my first guess would be RAM, but that's the
          > most expensive
          > upgrade as well.
          >
          > any comments on any of this, with what little i've
          > been able to
          > share?
          >
          > rday
          >
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        • Alexandre Tessier
          ... You are true, first is ram.
          Message 4 of 12 , Nov 30, 2004
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            Robert P. J. Day wrote:
            >
            > i'm looking at getting a new 8600 or 9200, and am wondering where
            > the best place is to invest a few extra dollars to get better
            > performance in doing lengthy and sizable builds/compiles. stuff like
            > the linux kernel, large make-based software projects, that kind of
            > thing.
            >
            > if i start with a middle-level configuration:
            >
            > 1.60GHz CPU
            > 60G HD
            > 512M RAM
            >
            > obviously, i can increase performance with either a faster CPU, a
            > 7200 RPM hard drive, or more RAM. i've always felt that just getting
            > a faster CPU isn't the answer, since there are more siginficant
            > bottlenecks, and i figure i'd be better off with more RAM or a faster
            > HD. my first guess would be RAM, but that's the most expensive
            > upgrade as well.

            You are true, first is ram.

            >
            > any comments on any of this, with what little i've been able to
            > share?
            >
            > rday
            >
            >
            >
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            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
          • David Carlton
            ... It really depends on what you re planning to compile. I would tend to argue for not buying more than 512MB of memory up-front, for a few reasons: 1) If
            Message 5 of 12 , Nov 30, 2004
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              On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 09:20:34 -0500 (EST), "Robert P. J. Day" <rpjday@...> said:

              > i'm looking at getting a new 8600 or 9200, and am wondering where
              > the best place is to invest a few extra dollars to get better
              > performance in doing lengthy and sizable builds/compiles. stuff like
              > the linux kernel, large make-based software projects, that kind of
              > thing.

              It really depends on what you're planning to compile. I would tend to
              argue for not buying more than 512MB of memory up-front, for a few
              reasons:

              1) If you decide to get more memory later, it's cheap and easy to
              install.
              2) I suspect that 512MB is enough to compile the kernel without
              swapping.
              3) It's hard to tell in advance how much memory you'll need, but easy
              to tell once you've bought the system: just do your compiles while
              running top or looking at the System Monitor control panel, and see
              if you're using any swap space. (Beyond a trivial amount, at
              least.)

              I have noticed my disk being a performance bottleneck, and compiles
              will certainly be sped up by a faster disk. (Incidentally, one trick
              is to do make -j2 even with a single CPU, so that, if one process is
              waiting for the disk, the other process can still be getting work
              done.) On the other hand, I've noticed the processor being a
              performance bottleneck, too, and I don't have much real data either
              way.

              David Carlton
              carlton@...
            • Daevid Vincent
              I have a Dell i8200 and noticed a radical speed improvement when I went from the stock 30GB pokey drive to a new 80GB with 16MB cache. It is like a new
              Message 6 of 12 , Nov 30, 2004
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                I have a Dell i8200 and noticed a radical speed improvement when I went from
                the stock 30GB pokey drive to a new 80GB with 16MB cache. It is like a new
                computer. The beauty is that I got a little external enclosure and now have
                offloaded my MP3 and stuff to the 30GB, so it free'd up even more space.


                ________________________________

                From: Robert P. J. Day [mailto:rpjday@...]
                Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2004 6:21 AM
                To: Linux on Dell laptops list
                Subject: [linux-dell-laptops] where to put $$$ to beef up
                performance



                i'm looking at getting a new 8600 or 9200, and am wondering where
                the best place is to invest a few extra dollars to get better
                performance in doing lengthy and sizable builds/compiles. stuff
                like
                the linux kernel, large make-based software projects, that kind of
                thing.

                if i start with a middle-level configuration:

                1.60GHz CPU
                60G HD
                512M RAM

                obviously, i can increase performance with either a faster CPU, a
                7200 RPM hard drive, or more RAM. i've always felt that just
                getting
                a faster CPU isn't the answer, since there are more siginficant
                bottlenecks, and i figure i'd be better off with more RAM or a
                faster
                HD. my first guess would be RAM, but that's the most expensive
                upgrade as well.

                any comments on any of this, with what little i've been able to
                share?

                rday


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              • Dan Christensen
                ... I agree witih David: unless you are building truly large systems, I doubt that adding memory would help much. The disk usage for a 2.6.8.1 kernel tree,
                Message 7 of 12 , Nov 30, 2004
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                  On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 09:20:34 -0500 (EST), "Robert P. J. Day" <rpjday@...> said:

                  > i'm looking at getting a new 8600 or 9200, and am wondering where
                  > the best place is to invest a few extra dollars to get better
                  > performance in doing lengthy and sizable builds/compiles. stuff like
                  > the linux kernel, large make-based software projects, that kind of
                  > thing.

                  I agree witih David: unless you are building truly large systems, I
                  doubt that adding memory would help much. The disk usage for a
                  2.6.8.1 kernel tree, including .o files and the resulting kernel,
                  is about 300M, so this can all be in cache with 512M ram.

                  I'm also doubtful that increasing the rpm's of the drive will help;
                  most drives are limited by the ATA bandwidth, which is 100MB/s.
                  It's true that higher rpm's will reduce seek time, but for repeated
                  compiles the source code will hopefully be cached.

                  So I'd bet on the cpu...

                  Dan
                • Haedn Thorn
                  ... The drives still are not nearly as fast as the interfaces. try hdparm -tT ... You ll see a rate that does not even approach 100MB/s ... The difference
                  Message 8 of 12 , Nov 30, 2004
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                    --- Dan Christensen <jdc@...> wrote:


                    > I'm also doubtful that increasing the rpm's of the
                    > drive will help;
                    > most drives are limited by the ATA bandwidth, which
                    > is 100MB/s.
                    > It's true that higher rpm's will reduce seek time,
                    > but for repeated
                    > compiles the source code will hopefully be cached.

                    The drives still are not nearly as fast as the
                    interfaces. try 'hdparm -tT' ... You'll see a rate
                    that does not even approach 100MB/s ... The difference
                    between 5400rpm and 7200rpm IS noticeable if you are
                    doing benchmarks, or if you are doing something which
                    requires loading LARGE amounts of data from the drive.
                  • Alexandre Tessier
                    ... I agree with you and David but all the unused ram is used for disk cache, thus if you have a lot of ram you will not need to read on the disk (except the
                    Message 9 of 12 , Dec 1, 2004
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                      Dan Christensen wrote:
                      > On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 09:20:34 -0500 (EST), "Robert P. J. Day" <rpjday@...> said:
                      >
                      >
                      >> i'm looking at getting a new 8600 or 9200, and am wondering where
                      >>the best place is to invest a few extra dollars to get better
                      >>performance in doing lengthy and sizable builds/compiles. stuff like
                      >>the linux kernel, large make-based software projects, that kind of
                      >>thing.
                      >
                      >
                      > I agree witih David: unless you are building truly large systems, I
                      > doubt that adding memory would help much. The disk usage for a
                      > 2.6.8.1 kernel tree, including .o files and the resulting kernel,
                      > is about 300M, so this can all be in cache with 512M ram.
                      >
                      > I'm also doubtful that increasing the rpm's of the drive will help;
                      > most drives are limited by the ATA bandwidth, which is 100MB/s.
                      > It's true that higher rpm's will reduce seek time, but for repeated
                      > compiles the source code will hopefully be cached.

                      I agree with you and David but all the unused ram is used for disk
                      cache, thus if you have a lot of ram you will not need to read on the
                      disk (except the first time).
                      Nevertheless it's a good idea to start with 512Mb and to buy more later.

                      Alex.
                    • Robert P. J. Day
                      ... 512M would be a *minimum* for me. the issue is that dell typically has a free upgrade from 256M to 512M (a good thing), but that it comes as 2 DIMMs to
                      Message 10 of 12 , Dec 1, 2004
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                        On Wed, 1 Dec 2004, Alexandre Tessier wrote:

                        > Nevertheless it's a good idea to start with 512Mb and to buy more later.

                        512M would be a *minimum* for me. the issue is that dell typically
                        has a free upgrade from 256M to 512M (a good thing), but that it comes
                        as 2 DIMMs to fill the slots (a bad thing). so upgrading later means
                        having to replace one or both of the DIMMs. it's just kind of
                        annoying that dell frequently makes it easy/cheap to select 512M or
                        RAM, but much pricier to bump up to 1G. so i guess i'll just stick
                        with 512M for now. thanks.

                        rday
                      • Dan Christensen
                        ... I was asleep while typing and Haedn is of course correct. I m curious what the actual differences are in practice. Right now I m getting about 29.6
                        Message 11 of 12 , Dec 1, 2004
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                          Haedn Thorn <lordhaedn@...> writes:

                          > --- Dan Christensen <jdc@...> wrote:
                          >
                          >> I'm also doubtful that increasing the rpm's of the
                          >> drive will help;
                          >> most drives are limited by the ATA bandwidth, which
                          >> is 100MB/s.
                          >
                          > The drives still are not nearly as fast as the
                          > interfaces. try 'hdparm -tT' ... You'll see a rate
                          > that does not even approach 100MB/s ...

                          I was asleep while typing and Haedn is of course correct. I'm
                          curious what the actual differences are in practice. Right now
                          I'm getting about 29.6 MB/sec according to hdparm -t. I believe
                          it's a Toshiba MK4019GAX (HDD2171) 40G, which is a 5400 rpm drive.

                          (It's the fourth drive I've had in my I4150 since I got it about two
                          years ago. The first three each failed after about 7 months of use!)

                          Dan
                        • R Stewart
                          I did a little experimenting tonight with /etc/sysconfig/harddisks. For the data below, I uncommented each entry (USE_DMA, MULTIPLE_IO, EIDE_32BIT, LOOKAHEAD)
                          Message 12 of 12 , Dec 3, 2004
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                            I did a little experimenting tonight with /etc/sysconfig/harddisks. For
                            the data below, I uncommented each entry
                            (USE_DMA, MULTIPLE_IO, EIDE_32BIT, LOOKAHEAD) one after another. I'm
                            not sure how accurate these tests were, though, since DMA was enabled
                            on my laptop running FC3, even if the USE_DMA line was commented out. I
                            turned DMA off for the tests with FC3 with
                            # /sbin/hdparm -d 0 /dev/hda

                            The desktop is running FC2. The Hitachi drives both have an 8MB cache.
                            The Western Digital has a 2 MB cache. This didn't appear to affect the
                            cache read tests, as both desktop drives scored around 675 MB/sec for
                            buffer-cache reads.

                            Interestingly enough, the buffer-cache reads for the Travelstar in my
                            laptop averaged slightly over 900 MB/sec.

                            The data below is for buffered disk reads.

                            The numbers below are for a Hitachi Travelstar 7200 RPM 60 GB drive in
                            a Dell Inspiron 8600 laptop.

                            * USE_DMA=0 - 2.41 MB/sec
                            * USE_DMA=1 - 32 MB/sec
                            * MULTIPLE_IO=16 - 38 MB/sec
                            * EIDE_32BIT=3 - 38 MB/sec
                            * LOOKAHEAD=1 - 58 MB/sec

                            The numbers below are for a Hitachi Deskstar 7200 RPM 200 GB drive in a
                            Dell Dimension 4400 desktop.

                            * USE_DMA=0 - 2.48 MB/sec
                            * USE_DMA=1 - 48 MB/sec
                            * MULTIPLE_IO=16 - 52 MB/sec
                            * EIDE_32BIT=3 - 52 MB/sec
                            * LOOKAHEAD=1 - 52 MB/sec

                            The numbers below are for a Western Digital 7200 RPM 60 GB drive in a
                            Dell Dimension 4400 desktop.

                            * USE_DMA=0 - 3.05 MB/sec
                            * USE_DMA=1 - 34 MB/sec
                            * MULTIPLE_IO=16 - 34 MB/sec
                            * EIDE_32BIT=3 - 34 MB/sec
                            * LOOKAHEAD=1 - 34 MB/sec

                            Robert
                            http://www.wombatnation.com/

                            --- Dan Christensen <jdc@...> wrote:

                            >
                            > Haedn Thorn <lordhaedn@...> writes:
                            >
                            > > --- Dan Christensen <jdc@...> wrote:
                            > >
                            > >> I'm also doubtful that increasing the rpm's of the
                            > >> drive will help;
                            > >> most drives are limited by the ATA bandwidth, which
                            > >> is 100MB/s.
                            > >
                            > > The drives still are not nearly as fast as the
                            > > interfaces. try 'hdparm -tT' ... You'll see a rate
                            > > that does not even approach 100MB/s ...
                            >
                            > I was asleep while typing and Haedn is of course correct. I'm
                            > curious what the actual differences are in practice. Right now
                            > I'm getting about 29.6 MB/sec according to hdparm -t. I believe
                            > it's a Toshiba MK4019GAX (HDD2171) 40G, which is a 5400 rpm drive.
                            >
                            > (It's the fourth drive I've had in my I4150 since I got it about two
                            > years ago. The first three each failed after about 7 months of use!)
                            >
                            > Dan
                            >
                            >
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                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >




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