Forum OpenACS Q&A: Response to Development machine recommendations sought...

Posted by Don Baccus on
I've been toying with the idea of a laptop for a developmental machine. Sure, it wouldn't have the horsepower, especially the disk speed, but wouldn't it be a joy to work on projects in a coffee shop,

Jade knows my lifestyle ...

VMware's great, though I run it the other way (windows under linux).

What kind of disks do you have, what kind of work are you doing, and what makes your machine feel slow to you? Or do you just lust after a new machine (I do! I do! I *always do!)?

I'm asking because depending on where your bottlenecks are, upgrading to 15K RPM SCSI disks might do more to boost performance than anything if you're still running on old 7200 or 10K RPM disks.

Last time I looked (about two months ago) the best Athlon motherboard out there looked to be one of the Tyan dual-processor 760MP chipset based boards. The biggie with onboard SCSI and dual NICs takes a special power supply with a non-ATX connector, though, so one of the more modest dual-processor mobos might be a better choice. By now ASUS or one of the other majors has probably added to the selection list. Furfly has a dual-processor Athlon system Mike built that apparently has been extremely solid thus far.

You might also look into one of SuperMicro's ServerWorks boards. While they only take registered ECC PC100 or PC133 DIMMs (which means you might or might not be able to use your existing DIMMs depending on what you bought) they're two-way interleaved which will provide better performance if memory is one of your bottlenecks. If they support the PIII Tualatin performance would be close to Athlon performance on a clock-by-clock basis. I'm speaking of the Tualatin with 512 MB L2 Cache, not the Tualatin Celeron, They're hard to find because they outperform the current P4s even worse than a plain old PIII with 256 MB L2 cache and Intel killed them almost as soon as they were released. The dual Supermicro ServerWorks boards may not support them because they require a different voltage level than previous PIIIs (this was the last gasp of the PIII line). As you state, supermicro boards tend to be rock solid. My downtown server is the same board you've got. I've got another single-processor board here that lost one of its IDE channels but everything that still works on the board is absolutely solid as a rock.

As you probably know, stay away from P4 and RDRAM for now. It's still not a good price/performance choice and won't be for some time until products are released compiled especially for it. And even longer for Linux since gcc doesn't really optimize for it and it's not clear when that will happen.