Niall’s virtual diary archives – Saturday 15th December 2012

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Saturday 15th December 2012: 9.58pm.

After some argumentation with Megan last weekend regarding placement and space allowed, I've been (very slowly) setting up a work/game space in the TV room. Basically we pushed the landlord's sofa forwards and put the landlord's kitchen table behind it - this gets to be "my space" out of the entire flat. And two days ago I got my workstation put in, albeit that it deeply dislikes the ethernet cable I'm using and keeps flaking out (I therefore ordered a new 25ft CAT6 cable).

You'll see in the second photo I bought a vinyl mat for my "coding chair". This was not cheap, but these are hardwood floors and I'm terrified of scratching them, plus the bumps in the wood were getting in the way of me pushing my chair backwards and forwards which just made me even more terrified of scratches.

And well, I have to say it is very pleasant to finally have my workstation back. Although it's an ancient LGA775 quad core Q6700 built in 2007, it still feels considerably faster than my work computer (mostly due to its uber fast Samsung 830 SSD) and it's oodles faster than my Atom netbook (on which opening Google+ takes about 30 seconds with the CPU pegged to 100% before it settles enough to let you do something). Who would have thought that five years would elapse and that config would remain so competitive! And of course, the 2560x1440 screen has no equal ... once you've used one, anything less is cramped and unproductive.

Now, after Christmas in the early new year I normally do a computer parts refresh. Generally speaking, this is just a new graphics card and nothing else. However, as a rule during the past decade, I have historically upgraded my workstation when the reasonably priced mid-top-end (i.e. less than €500) becomes exactly double the performance of my existing computer. That in fact happened last Christmas, but Canada and the US won't let you import anything newer than 12 months old when immigrating, so I had to delay (I also had to depress my income in 2012 to get my non-Canadian income below 10% of my total 2012 income - this is vastly more tax efficient and gains me about $10k in tax saved). So, January 2013 is finally workstation refresh time! And I ought to do even better than 2x improvement with the added year.

Which asks the question, what should I get that will last six years like the quad core LGA775 from 2007? That isn't as easy a question to answer as you might think. LGA1155 is about to get retired in favour of LGA1150 with Haswell this Spring, but Intel couldn't be bothered releasing performance Haswell until Christmas 2013, which is too late to wait. As LGA1155 is a dead platform, that leaves just LGA2011 which at least will get an Ivy Bridge refresh end of 2013 - a good eighteen months after Ivy Bridge came out, but that's the price of using a server platform and all that validation they have to do, and at least it comes with vastly superior reliability.

So can you do a LGA2011 build for less than €500 ($625)? You can if you give up on six core and stick with the quad core Sandy Bridge i7-3820, so it and 4x 4Gb DDR3-1600 CAS 9 comes to $365. And you can easily pick up a slimmed down LGA2011 motherboard with four RAM slots for less than $200. So yes, it's doable. For that, you get 2x (4x if multithreaded) the memory bandwidth over my LGA775 Q6700, and about 3x the number crunching performance thanks to a mix of 40% faster clock speeds and three generations of architectural improvements.

Still need to think it through of course. And I won't be buying till January. As for this weekend, I need to go figure out a solution to the loss of nzbmatrix. Along, probably, with the other few hundred thousand other people who also used it. Free time - I have so little of it!

#lga775   #lga1155   #lga1150   #lga2011   #haswell  
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