Budget 51-70k Server(Xeon) based Processor or High end Desktop Processor

Emrebel

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This is not exactly a complete build suggestion thread but more related to purchase of a server configuration vs High end desktop Config.

Use Case: A friend of mine is looking forward to building a configuration for High end computing and machine learning application.

Options:
1)
Intel i9-9900k based configuration
2)Intel Xeon based configuration

Both have otherwise similar configuration for remaining parts.

I would have suggested him to go for Xeon Configuration but I am looking for opinions here, since I don't have any experience regarding server configurations.
I would be glad if someone can highlight the benefits of the favourable config. as well

Thanks
 

b.life

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Hi Emrebel,
Sorry to say but there are some important information missing, for example,

1.How many GPU's will be used in the machine learning?
2.Is it going to be a CPU only system?
3.What does he/she mean by high end computing? running simulations or rendering?

Assumption 1: Going to use more than 1 GPU

The problem here is, servers up to size 4u wont even be able to accommodate full size gpus and even then fitting them requires major tinkering, this is apart from the fact that most of the server boards wont have more than one or max two pcie slots. What your friend needs is workstation boards, they will have enough pcie slots to accommodate more than one gpu.

Assumption 2: Would like to use Xeon E5
The Xeon E5 V1,2,34 are extremely cheap but unfortunately they use LGA2011 for V1,2 and LGA2011-3 for V3,4 which is completely different from LGA1151 used by i9. The Xeons using LGA1151 is not that good in performance, I believe the max core count is 6 but on the other hand its more than 10 in 2011 or 2011-3. These E5 v3,v4 will wipe the floor with i9 when it comes to multi threaded workload. I am still talking about single cpu systems E5-2XXX(even they are dual cpus), but when it comes to E7-4XXX or E7-8XXX i9 is no match.

High end desktop is one thing and having a server is totally different, a high end desktop can be achieved with a workstation board and it will thump i9 in anything other than single threaded performance. So if you can post more details I might be able to help.

Regards,
B.Life
 

Emrebel

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Hey thanks for detailed information.

1) For now he is only going to use single gpu (RTX 2070 /RTX 2070S)
2) The Xeon he got for quotation is Intel Xeon E-2136(Coffee Lake)

He does want the option for upgrade path in near future.

The Xeon processors you are suggested I believe are now discontinued. I will ask him to take the E5 series into consideration as well but I am not sure about the Service support for it.
Again I don't have experience with Server market, so I hope you can clarify things up

Thanks
 

b.life

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Aug 21, 2019
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Hi Emrebel,
1. One GPU at the beginning is great but when he expands server boards wont help, he needs to look at workstation boards eg link below.
2. The reason I recommend E5 is because those processors are available dirt cheep and a high end system can be built for less than 40K(excluding GPU) which will outperform anything those Xeon E and i9 can do(except in single thread performance). To say the truth E5 processors are rock solid processors and if someone can tinker with custom setup then they can easily solve any future problems without manufacturer support(personal experience so take it for what its worth). Apart from that old supermicro workstation motherboard for LGA 2011, 2011-3 are very stable and easily available. Recently a Chinese company is manufacturing a sold MB for LGA2011(X79) and LGA2011-3 (X99) and they have so far been good so it wont be much of a problem. If your friend starts with E5-v3 then in few years E5-v4 will be available dirt cheep and it presents a better upgrade option than i9. And v3 & v4 processors are still under manufacturer support. Your friend can omit v1 & v2 if he/she is worried about future upgrade. Because LGA2011 is end of line where as LGA2011-3 is still in support.

Honestly working with E5 is a hands on approach not many like it but the cost and performance factor is really huge, it is the main reason why I recommend E5 to anyone who is building a system.

If you need more information let me know, I will do what I can.

Workstation boards link: https://www.asus.com/in/Commercial-Servers-Workstations/Commercial-Workstation-Motherboards-Products

Regards
B.Life
 
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Emrebel

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First I really appreciate your inputs and guidance regarding this matter.
1) I will try to explain this scenario to my friend but since he is concerned with after-sale services for server(basically wants to offload maintainence to seller).
2) Apart from this what are views regarding new amd epyc? Threadripper performance in real life? I have seen some benchmarks but nothing particular about specific applications regarding AI/ML.
3) Can you suggest a particular board from the list you have provided? I am taking a look at the boards but I can use a good recommendation.

Thanks man!
 

b.life

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Aug 21, 2019
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Hi Emrebel,
This is going to be in detail so please bear with me.

1. From my understanding your friend needs to go for Tower design(ATX, mATX) not rack mounted (link below Ref 1, Ref 2), rack mounted setup wont have enough space to host commercial off the self gpus.
2. I would suggest your friend to forget server motherboards and go for workstation bards, they are as durable as server boards and has the same set of features.
3. AI (Finally seeing the proper term hehehe) programming has moved from CPU dependent to GPU dependent a long time ago(about 10 years) so the effect of CPUs is almost non-existent(Ref List item 4 for other option). If all that your friend is going to be doing is AI, then even a mid range i7 or i5 will do.
3.1 If your friend is going to run multiple cpu heavy workloads then its completely different matter, then we are into server cpu territory. These days people will recommend server hardware the moment we say process heavy workload without really understanding what those workloads are. So I request you to please conform with your friend what he/she has in his/her mind. It will help a lot in choosing a good setup.
3.2 In general simulation workload(solid works among others) don't normally scale well past 8 cores 2 to 4 big improvement, 4 to 6 mid to high improvement, 6 to 8 ok level of improvement, beyond 8 it just not worth it. These days most of the work is been thrown into gpu as they have multiple cores and good parallel processing capability(Ref Link 3).
4. The effective role of CPU these days is mostly about feeding the data to the GPU, result verification and scheduling among other things. Said so there are instances for example Python based image augmentation where CPU power matters but there are workarounds and to say the truth, difference between a high end E5-v4 and a mid-range i5 will be a couple of minutes in total on a few hour job.
5. Regarding Epyc & Threadripper they are good processors(they will puch Xeon E and i9 and even a E5-v4 into a pulp in multi-threaded workload) but w.r.t AI, they don't offer anything that a moderate i7 or i9 can offer.
6. Server maintenance is a fancy sales term for looking at logs, if money is not an issue then its ok, in my opinion they are just money sink. The reason is most of the maintenance are easy to perform and it helps in understanding the setup better. ***Personal Experience*** I had a 250GB HDD which had 2 uncorrected sectors(bad blocks), From the S.M.A.R.T test I found out that the bad sector formed at power on hour <1320 (normal desktop disk) and has not grown, If I am to outsource the maintenance then that hdd would have been junked instead to repurposed for non critical task. ****END****
7. In the link only Z270-ws is LGA1151 board rest are different and from my observation Z270-WS is good but I believe better options exist Supermicro X11SCA/X11SCA-F/X11SCA-W (link Ref 4)(***disclaimer*** I like Supermicro boards so I always recommend them ***END***)

Ref Link 1: https://store.hp.com/in-en/default/hp-z4-g4-workstation-4wq56pa.html (this is not a good system just for reference)
Ref Link 2: https://www.supermicro.com/en/products/system/1U/5019/SYS-5019P-M.cfm
Ref Link 3: https://wiki.tuflow.com/index.php?title=Hardware_Benchmarking_Topic_HPC_on_CPU_vs_GPU one of many examples, if you need more please let me know.
Ref Link 4: https://www.supermicro.com/en/products/motherboard/X11SCA-W

I know I have not provided a clear solution as few more details are needed, please post back and I will do what I can.

Regards
B.Life
 

Chaos

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This is not exactly a complete build suggestion thread but more related to purchase of a server configuration vs High end desktop Config.

Use Case: A friend of mine is looking forward to building a configuration for High end computing and machine learning application.

Options:
1)
Intel i9-9900k based configuration
2)Intel Xeon based configuration

Both have otherwise similar configuration for remaining parts.

I would have suggested him to go for Xeon Configuration but I am looking for opinions here, since I don't have any experience regarding server configurations.
I would be glad if someone can highlight the benefits of the favourable config. as well

Thanks
Does he have any application that requires ECC or AVX512? If not, don't bother with Xeons.
 
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Emrebel

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@b.life
1) I have already suggested him for a Tower design and I know rack design are no fit for this purpose.
2) I am quite aware about the significant role of GPU for HPC as opposed to CPU. I forgot to mention that he might want to use this rig for DCC applications like Modelling and Rendering.
3)I have also asked him to look for Threadripper 1920x based configuration. I would be glad if you can share some experience about AMD Threadripper series. From reviews I see it fulfills almost all of his requirements.
3)I know about Server Maintainence sales policy but since he is operating a company, so he wants to play safe.
4) Nothing wrong about preferences, I too often recommend products that I have used and I feel stand up to our expectations.

Again Thanks for taking time to explain this stuff.
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@Chaos I am quite sure he ain't using anything related to AVX512 stuff. But not sure about ECC part. If say he is storing data on the said rig, how crucial is ECC memory?
 

b.life

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Hi Emrebel,
1. ECC ram is useful if the data that is been handled is very important, reason being, almost all of the correctable data errors on hdd is self corrected by the onbard controllers, and once the data is in ram and gets corrupted there is no way to ensure the data integrity without ECC ram. In your case I would not recommend it unless, the server will also be processing critical information.
2. Regarding modeling and rendering, I would recommend AMD Threadripper 2950X or 2970WX over 1920X, the extra cores in 29XX will be of immense help when you render it in CPU, and will have enough juice left for other process. ****Personal Experience**** I have a dual E5-2670v2 system, I use it run neural network training on 10 core and use about 5 cores for data analysis and will still have more than 5 left to do other work ****END***
2.1 In my opinion, I would allocate 2 cores for ML and use about 10 for Modeling and will still have more cores that can be used for other tasks. ****My Experience**** On a typical day I have about 10 cores running full, the rest will be sitting idle, but on so many days I have about 18 cores running full and having more cores than 12 have saved my skin more times than I can count. ****END****
3. Regarding the data storage, try to get SAS drives they are as noisy as a running train but they are very reliable and have good data transfer speeds, for best transfer speed I would suggest SSD, but a cache SSD of about 240GB is more than enough for ML applications. I would also recommend SAS controllers to go with the drive.

If you dont mind me asking, how is the data for the system going to be feed? like local storage HDD within the case or over the network or through SAS external connection? This is very important, as most of the time data pipeline is the bottleneck.

Regards
B.Life
 
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rajil.s

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@b.life I am curious where do you find cheap Xeon E5 v1/v2 in India.

PS: I am well aware of the US market.
 

vivek.krishnan

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Rather than putting money into Xeons, ask the friend to go with an AMD setup. It will easily handle his requirements and at a lower cost to boot.

Secondly, unless he is doing mission critical stuff, skip ECC. It is just a tad more expensive. Additionally, Xeons and i3/Pentiums support ECC, i5/i7 will not. On AMD its supported, but check mobo.
 
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Chaos

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Rather than putting money into Xeons, ask the friend to go with an AMD setup. It will easily handle his requirements and at a lower cost to boot.

Secondly, unless he is doing mission critical stuff, skip ECC. It is just a tad more expensive. Additionally, Xeons and i3/Pentiums support ECC, i5/i7 will not. On AMD its supported, but check mobo.
I agree to this line of thought as long as the software he's using doesn't require AVX512 support. The latter runs at half rate on AMD and the clocks will throttle too.

As for ECC, all AMD CPUs support it on paper but getting good quality Unbuffered ECC DIMMS is really hard.
 

vivek.krishnan

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I agree to this line of thought as long as the software he's using doesn't require AVX512 support. The latter runs at half rate on AMD and the clocks will throttle too.

As for ECC, all AMD CPUs support it on paper but getting good quality Unbuffered ECC DIMMS is really hard.
Gut feel is that he will hardly need that.

Yes. That extra 1-1.5K per RAM stick can be used elsewhere.