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Old 2011-11-16, 17:27   #1
Mr. Odd
 
Mar 2010

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Default Hardware recommendations

I'm getting ready to replace my 4 year old Windows desktop and I'd like my next system to be optimized for serious factoring (140-150 digits). Anyone have specific hardware recommendations? I'm looking at the i7-990 CPU though I'm not clear if it's worth the extra cost over the i7-980. And I'm thinking 8gb of RAM but will 12gb be better? Does RAM speed have much impact? Any suggestions are welcome, thanks.
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Old 2011-11-16, 18:03   #2
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The first optimisation for serious factoring is to run 64-bit Linux; there's at least a factor two of performance from having access to the assembly optimisations in gnfs-lasieve4I14e. So you probably want to have one machine as your Windows desktop and another to do serious factoring.

And what you want from a factoring machine is lots of cheap cores; an i7-990 or i7-3830K is an awesome machine for doing linear algebra if someone else has done the sieving on a 180-digit number, but is not a good price-performance machine for doing sieving on.

I would get an AMD six-core Phenom with onboard graphics and 8G of memory; the board is about Β£65, the memory about Β£32, CPU is about Β£132 for a 3.2GHz six-core; with a small hard drive to store the relations and a case you're talking about Β£300.
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Old 2011-11-16, 19:13   #3
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I have roughly the system fivemack mentions; Lavalamp spelled out the parts in February or march or so of this year and I bought them. I've added a GTX440 GPU to it.

Do GPUs sieve yet? The only regret I had with that system is that I would have gotten a larger power supply to support a better GPU, such as the Nvidia GT560. Getting pin 997 on the CPU straightened out was a bit of a problem, and I have one chip that seems to run hot on the mobo, and I've been meaning to add a fan to run over that heatsink.
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Old 2011-11-16, 21:36   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fivemack View Post
The first optimisation for serious factoring is to run 64-bit Linux; there's at least a factor two of performance from having access to the assembly optimisations in gnfs-lasieve4I14e. So you probably want to have one machine as your Windows desktop and another to do serious factoring.

And what you want from a factoring machine is lots of cheap cores; an i7-990 or i7-3830K is an awesome machine for doing linear algebra if someone else has done the sieving on a 180-digit number, but is not a good price-performance machine for doing sieving on.

I would get an AMD six-core Phenom with onboard graphics and 8G of memory; the board is about Β£65, the memory about Β£32, CPU is about Β£132 for a 3.2GHz six-core; with a small hard drive to store the relations and a case you're talking about Β£300.
I'd double the amount of memory and throw in a good CUDA-capable GPU such as the 560. Other than my GPU is a 460 (the 560 wasn't available when I bought my machine, Tom's system is a close match to mine. In particular, the unlocked AMD 1090 overclocks beautifully,

I also second the 64-bit Linux suggestion and would point out that if you really need Windows and don't want to buy two systems, then VMware does a pretty good job,.

Paul
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Old 2011-11-17, 03:46   #5
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VMware does a pretty good job
Yuck! Long live VirtualBox from Sun (now Oracle)!
Seconding (or thirding?) everything else. A GPU (even a small one) worth all the money!
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Old 2011-11-17, 09:07   #6
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Yuck! Long live VirtualBox from Sun (now Oracle)!
Seconding (or thirding?) everything else. A GPU (even a small one) worth all the money!
You are quite correct. In fact, I use VirtualBox myself. Both VB and VM do a pretty good job.
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Old 2011-11-17, 10:57   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Odd View Post
I'm getting ready to replace my 4 year old Windows desktop and I'd like my next system to be optimized for serious factoring (140-150 digits). Anyone have specific hardware recommendations? I'm looking at the i7-990 CPU though I'm not clear if it's worth the extra cost over the i7-980. And I'm thinking 8gb of RAM but will 12gb be better? Does RAM speed have much impact? Any suggestions are welcome, thanks.
If you can wait I strongly recommend buying an Intel Ivy Bridge processor (22nm shrink and new transistor technology) and a Nvidia Kepler generation GPU (28nm shrink) or ATI Southern Islands generation GPU (also 28nm) in late Q1/2012.
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Old 2011-11-17, 15:13   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fivemack View Post
The first optimisation for serious factoring is to run 64-bit Linux; there's at least a factor two of performance from having access to the assembly optimisations in gnfs-lasieve4I14e.
Is that true for gnfs-lasieve4I15e.exe and
gnfs-lasieve4I16e.exe?
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Old 2011-11-17, 15:16   #9
fivemack
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Yes; it's true for all the gnfs-lasieve4 tools, I just mentioned 14e because that's the one that you'll be using at 140-150 digits.

Last fiddled with by fivemack on 2011-11-17 at 15:21
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Old 2011-11-17, 15:19   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurV View Post
Yuck! Long live VirtualBox from Sun (now Oracle)!
Seconding (or thirding?) everything else. A GPU (even a small one) worth all the money!
A GPU is pretty much useless for GNFS factorisation - OK, it will speed up the polynomial selection a bit, but that's not the rate-determining step. And it does add quite perceptibly to the system's electricity usage even when not doing anything.
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Old 2011-11-18, 22:46   #11
Mr. Odd
 
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Ok, you've convinced me to go the Linux (Ubuntu)/VMWare route but I'm still planning on getting a NVidia 560XTi - I was under the impression that having a CUDA-enabled GPU definitely helped with YAFU and MSIEVE. Anyway, thanks for the input!
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