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The age old dilemma. Limited money and unlimited speed hunger :)

I'm a single user. But I tend to run many (background) processes.

No all resource hungry beasts but lets say it adds up.

Some processes put a big load on CPU and HDs.

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The SR article about RAID0 and NCQ is a bit over my head but I understand from it that it's not more suited for server use then desktop use.

However I think the defenition of workstation and server is hard to point out in real live. A server with one active user/process or a workstation thats maxed out.

Or the reverse. I think you get my point.

So investing in RAID0 doesn't seem to be the right path.

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I have 1GB dual channel RAM. What does windows do.... Uses 400MB and uses a pagefile. Switching of the virtual memory works. But then I get complaints that the pagefile is to small and windows creates one. But after closer examination it only uses 100MB. Why not use the 600MB free memory?

So investing in memory doesn't seem to be the right path.

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Fast CPU must do the trick. Right?

Unless windows decides to slow things down using a pagefile....

Are those 2MB cache CPUs usefull for desktops? Or Xeons?

Is a dual CPU setup useful?

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Are there tools that can monitor my system usage over say a week and point out what my system bottlenecks are?

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Until recently I was 'convinced' a RAID0 Raptor setup would adress some of the problems mentioned above. But reading this site that doesnt seem to obvious anymore now.

Anyone that care to put me on track? :P

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For Desktop usage it would be better to split the two Raptors; one for the operating system the other for the Programs and Page File. :D

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And what do you actually do with your PC?

BTW, I've got 1 gb too, without pagefile and Windows never complains.

Olaf:

All the usual stuff like surfing word, excel, etc.

Some VB6, a game now and then.

Nothing exiting.

But my stockmarket apps seem to do soem harm...

SQL (I think) database access.

Download and distribution of small files.

Download many very small 'entries' for the database.

And in the meanwhile the data is accessed and used for calculations.

You need more info?

I can tell all kind of general things but not the kind of 'benchmark info' SR uses.

michaelsil1:

Desktop usage....

Maybe DM10 with 16MB cache is better for destop work? Even if teh acces time is much higher?

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For database work, a 15k SCSI drive may not hurt (except possibly your wallet if chosen too big and your ears if outdated and noisy) - a cheap LSI U160 host adapter will do for that. And if multiple apps add up to a considerable CPU load, you may find relief using a dual CPU setup. (Head over to 2cpu.com's forums for more info on this topic.)

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The age old dilemma. Limited money and unlimited speed hunger  :)

What is your current hardware?

I have 1GB dual channel RAM.

Memory bandwidth usually isn't as important as the amount of memory you have. I would definitely recommend at least 2GB of RAM if you're running large SQL queeries :P.

Why not use the 600MB free memory?

Don't ask.

Are those 2MB cache CPUs usefull for desktops? Or Xeons?

Is a dual CPU setup useful?

From your words yes a dualie will be a big help. I went from a dual 2400+ to an Opteron148. The dual athlon is MUCH faster for me. The Opteron even freezes at times. I'm really sorry I went from a dual to a single (I'll never trust SR community for upgrades again :P).

Until recently I was 'convinced' a RAID0 Raptor setup would adress some of the problems mentioned above. But reading this site that doesnt seem to obvious anymore now.

RAID would help but not by much. RAID performance also depends on other factors than JUST the RAID level. Controllers, firmware, drivers, drives etc etc etc

http://www.starmicro.net/detail.aspx?ID=469

Here is a cheap Xeon CPU. $95 for a 2Ghz 512k CPU. Get 2 and get a decent Supermicro board and you're closer to a faster machine.

If you really want to get serious buy a dual Opteron. 1.6Ghz with 1MB cache for ~$200

http://www.monarchcomputer.com/Merchant2/m...uct_Code=120803

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<quote>

</quote>

<quote>

What is your current hardware?

</quote>

P4-2.4 FSB533, 1GB dual channel ram. Raedon 9800, 2x WD1000BB, gibit onboard lan on a P4P800 SE mobo.

And..... in case ofloading to a network is an option.

P4-1.8 FSB400, 768MB memory, Matrox G450 dual head, WD300BB, NC7131 Intel server nic.

Plus some incomplete dual P3 500Mhz with onboard scsi.

<quote>

Memory bandwidth usually isn't as important as the amount of memory you have. I would definitely recommend at least 2GB of RAM if you're running large SQL queeries

</quote>

I'll try 2x512MB extra. That way I still have 2GB dual channel.

But I have little hope because even with 600MB free memory windows decides to swap to disk.

So I expect just 1GB extra to be unused.

Don't get me wrong, it's not mistrust in your advice but more that I think something is configured wrong.

<quote>

URLs and info about dual CPU.

</quote>

I need some reading before I can comment on that info.

But I would liek to ask a quick question.

Do 'normal' apps benifit from HT and/or dual CPU.

Say I only run excel. Does excel run on CPU-1 and windows itself on CPU-2?

One of the apps I use isn't updated anymore and is written in 1999-2000.

So likely unaware of HT?

The other app is only a few months old. It needs .NET framework.

Will that benefit from the new hardware?

And everyday tasks like winrar, surfing, etc.?

I have no problem spending some $ But I want to avoid that half of my PC is never used

because I use the 'wrong' apps.

Thanks for all the feedback sofar.

My 'dillema' still isn't solved but I already have some good

pointers in the right direction.

And that's a big step :-)

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I'll try 2x512MB extra. That way I still have 2GB dual channel.

But I have little hope because even with 600MB free memory windows decides to swap to disk.

So I expect just 1GB extra to be unused.

Windoze eats memory like popcorn and still eats a page file. Some of the memory is used for system caching. If you're planning to go with 4 sticks of RAM you might run into a disaster. Not all memory controllers like 4 sticks of RAM.

I think the M$ Office suite has aspects that use a second thread. Example: Word uses a 2nd thread for spell check.

And everyday tasks like winrar, surfing, etc.?

Dual processors will benefit you if you use a lot of threads. Using winrar, winzip and winscp all at the same time will be much faster on a dualie. If you open two instance of IE at the same time a single proc will take some time. A dualie will be fine.

In your case your SQL app will be multi-threaded.

I see you have a P4P800 mobo.

Personally here is what I'd do:

1) Defrag your hard drives, check for spyware, turn off unused background apps and see if that speed boost is good enough for you.

2) See if you can get hyper-threaded support on your mobo and just upgrade to a HT CPU (2.8Ghz should be fine).

3) If that doesn't help much just stick in another 1GB stick of RAM. Make sure you put your 1GB stick first in line and then your other 2 512MB sticks.

4) If you're still not happy then just get a 18GB 15k.3 and use it as an OS drive.

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Are there tools that can monitor my system usage over say a week and point out what my system bottlenecks are?

Yes, and they're part of Windows. Just run perfmon. It has plenty of items that can be monitored such as CPU utilisation, memory, hard drives, etc. Do a search on Google or something and you should hopefully find some guides on it's usage, but it's pretty straightforward once you begin to tinker with it.

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If you have Win2K or WinXP then you can use the taskmanager.

* how much processor time being used per task

* data read/written to disk per task

* memory used, VM used, page faults etc.

* watch the drive light and/or listen to the disk activity

If the task uses <50% when nothing else is actively running then it's probably disk IO limited.

If total CPU usage is >95% then the task is probably CPU limited.

Yes there are other MS and 3rd party apps that can assist but I'm not going to try to list them here.

See if you can time a repeatable task (use temp DB or backup, time the run then recover from backup before running again). That way you can time some typical tasks individually then time tasks run simultaneously and compare times. If it took 30mins to do all the tasks one after the other and >33mins when run sequntially then the diskIO, pagefaults or task switching is slowing it down.

DiskIO problems because of multiple tasks competing for diskIO will benefit from disks that have faster random access times (eg. 10KSATA, 15KSCSI), larger buffers or have more disks with each task using different disks for the bulk of their diskIO.

If tasks are using lots of memory and causing page faults (ie. swapping to/from disk) then more RAM and separate disk for OS pagefile will help. Some apps/tasks like to have separate disk for temp/log/work/index/scratch files.

If diskIO and RAM are not a problem (therefore CPU bound) then extra CPU will help. You could either get a new machine with dual CPU's or network two machines and share the KVM with a switch box or remote view software. It's sometimes cheaper to buy separate machines then it is to pay top dollar for SMP CPU's, mainboard, ECC/Buf RAM, PSU, SCSI etc. You could use one as the DB server and the other for the app that does the analysis. Use which ever machine is the fastest (least busy) as your main PC.

Going from a P4 2.4 to 2.8HT may only give you up to a 40% increase on HT loving workflows.

It depends on your preference and how much you have to spend. You might like to upgrade the old P4-1.8GHz with a new CPU, MB and RAM eg. P4-3.4GHz with 1GB dual channel 400MHz DDR RAM or a AMD64 based machine. AMD systems tend to be faster than Intel based systems for database tasks, branch happy code (like compiling), highly integer based and unoptimised/old X86 apps.

Is your stockmarket app your most time sensitive app?

That stockmarket app will probably like a SMP system (HT or physical) and like having multiple faster disk drives (15K SCSI, DB drive, pagefile/temp drive, os/app drive, data drive). If enough tasks are actively running and producing a deep IO queue then SCSI RAID may help further for the most used drive->volume (try last or as future upgrade).

It is a sequence of identifing the weakest link, changing it then revaluating system to identify next upgrade. Try buying a new Raptor or new 7200rpm WD/Hitachi and spread the use out as suggested above. If that makes a big diference then fine. If disk is still over used then look at other disk sub-system options (SCSI, RAID etc), if the CPU usage is maxing out then get faster CPU and/or SMP etc. You have to work out the rest because I would have to see your system in person. I can't tell what it needs from 10'000 miles away (yes, I live 50Km west of Sydney, Australia).

Which task or combination of tasks does the performance worry you the most?

How much $$$ value do you place for time saving ($/hr, 1hr per day saved for task1, $/yr) ?

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