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Are server components worthwhile, anymore?

post #1 of 4
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Asked this question on another site, but would like to know other people's opinions at OverClock.Net.

Are server components worthwhile, anymore?

First, I do a lot of work with servers as well as workstation, media, and gaming builds. However, server components, particularly XEON CPU's and ECC memory modules are incredibly expensive, and can't be overclocked on most server motherboards. Now that Sandy Bridge is around, efficiency along with lower power consumption is no longer an issue. I can buy an i7 2600K and a Z68 motherboard 50% cheaper than a XEON E5520 and a server motherboard that I bought 3 years ago, and it has less power consumption after overclocking. Prices for non-ECC DDR3 memory are also incredibly cheap (16GB 1600MHz DDR3 can be found for $75, whilst 16GB 1066MHz ECC DDR3 can be found for $450).

Basically, I can build two servers, overclocked, using non-server components and cluster them together while having better availability and faster performance for the same price than a single server with server components that can't be overclocked, for the same number of cores/threads and memory.

What are your thoughts?
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Main Rig
(14 items)
 
Server
(9 items)
 
2nd Rig
(14 items)
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3930K C2 @ 4.8GHz BIOS 4403 (1.392V - 1.400V... ASUS Rampage IV Extreme with Koolance Waterblocks Unlocked GTX 780 3GB with HeatKiller 1306/1597 ... 6 x 8GB G.Skill Ripjaws X 1866MHz @ 10-11-10-30... 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 x SanDisk Extreme 240GB RAID 0 | 2 x OCZ Ver... LITE-ON 12X Blu-Ray Burner IHBS112-04 Windows 7 Professional x64 HP ZR30W 30" 2560 x 1600 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Tesoro Durandal Ultimate G1NL LED Backlit Mecha... Corsair Professional Series AX1200 Mountain Mods Pinnacle 24 Logitech G500S 
Mouse PadAudio
PureTrak Stealth Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD with LM... 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Dual XEON X5650 @2.67 GHz w/HT (12 Cores | 24 ... ASUS Z8NA-D6C  Gigabyte HD 4350 512MB 6 x 4GB Kingston KVR1066D3Q8R7SK2/8G 
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2 x Intel X25-M G2 160GB and 8 Disk Samsung Spi... LG DVD Burner GH20NS15 20X Windows Server 2012 Essentials x64 Seasonic 1000W Platinum 
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NZXT Source 210 Elite White 
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i7 3930K C2 @ 4.8GHz BIOS 1404 (1.376V - 1.384V... ASUS Rampage IV Extreme with Koolance Waterblocks MSI R9 290X 4GB wih EK Copper 1200/1390 @ 1.3V'... 8 x 4GB Samsung Extreme Low Voltage 1866MHz @ 8... 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 x Crucial M4 512GB RAID 0 | Crucial M4 256GB ... LG Blue-Ray Burner WH10LS30 Windows 7 Professional x64 Dell 3007WFP 30"W 2560 x 1600 IPS 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Tesoro Durandal Ultimate G1NL LED Backlit Mecha... Corsair Professional Series AX1200 Xigamatek Elysium Logitech G500 
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PureTrak Stealth Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD with LM... 
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post #2 of 4
You'll have a hard job matching the performance of servers with 4 or more Xeon CPU's and 128GB memory.

On paper a modern enthusiast desktop would appear to be cheaper/faster and a no brainer like you said, but when it comes into multi core scenarios, enterprise solutions are best. Especially when it comes to redundancy components, which is an area which is far more important to a company than performance. And companys will pay more money than imaginable to keep mission critical data safe. Think about large store chains like M&S, they have literally 100's of servers controlling LIVE stores throughout the country. They can't afford to have something fail and an entire stores POS system is down. Time is money....

In a nutshell, enterprises grade equipment is for redundancy above anything else, the kind of fail safe components on servers aren't matched or even seen on desktop equivalents.

CPU redundancy RAID/PSU redundancy is a few prime examples. Most have 2 or 3 Redundant servers for each live server to take over in the event of a major hiccup.
Edited by Mhill2029 - 10/23/11 at 10:54am
 
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Samsung 950 Pro 512GB M.2 Nvme 2x 256GB Vertex 4 SSD (RAID-0) 2x 2TB Seagate Barracuda [Storage] Pioneer BDR-207DBK Blu-ray Writer 
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Corsair H105 (Push/Pull) Windows 10 Pro x64 2x 27" Asus PG278Q ROG Swift 144hz  Corsair AX1500i Digital ATX 80 Plus Titanium 
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Lian Li PC-O8WX ATX Cube Case Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround 
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i7-3930K (C2) @ (4.6Ghz) Asus Rampage IV Extreme X79 (Bios 3204) 3x EVGA GTX780Ti's SC Editions 32GB (4x8GB) G-Skill TridentX 2400Mhz 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
2x 256GB OCZ Vertex 4's (RAID-0) 2x 2TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 64MB Cache Pioneer BDR-207DBK Blu-ray Writer Corsair H105 (Push/Pull) 
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post #3 of 4
@OP

Mhill2029 is quite correct. As an example, big enterprises have huge storage requirements; their databases can easily be in the terabyte or petabyte range. The LAST thing they need is for a bad memory chip to corrupt perhaps 1,000,000 database records, which is why ECC memory is so popular in servers and on RAID cards.

Additionally, when you need to cram as much horsepower into one box, Xeons and Opterons are they way to go, although since multiprocessor boxes are pricey, there's a balance between how many processors per node and how many total nodes.


Quote:
Think about large store chains like M&S, they have literally 100's of servers controlling LIVE stores throughout the country. They can't afford to have something fail and an entire stores POS system is down. Time is money....
And this is why enterprise-class equipment is so expensive. It's not necessarily engineered better (apart from ECC support, a Xeon W3520 and an i7-920 are identical), it's more about what certain features mean to the enterprise, and what they will pay to get them.
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post #4 of 4
Real enterprise grade kit is massively expensive. While the chips are almost identical to consumer versions (usually only adding extra cpu-cpu interconnects for multi processor systems), the rest of the system is built like a brick outhouse.
That quality of build is expensive, not designed for clocking, and built to run all day, every day, for months on end at high usage levels the whole time.

Paying out that kind of money is only worthwhile if the cost of such equipment is exceeded by the cost of any downtime. If your system's downtime costs are measured in hundreds of dollars a minute, then buy enterprise.

For personal use or a small business, then consumer grade equipment is entirely appropriate. I'd suggest only limited overclocks if any, as most servers are disk limited rather than CPU.
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