Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Linux builds today... AKA, how to go about building a new Linux box

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    92

    Angry Linux builds today... AKA, how to go about building a new Linux box

    My current PC is about 4 years old, so I've been looking around at what available, comparing the nice cpubenchmark.net graphs which are much easier to parse than the unorganized stuff on openbenchmarking.org, reading about different stuff that's currently available, etc. Needless to say, this has not left me happy.

    There seems to be no clear path towards assembling a decent system at the moment. I'm going to explain why, and then hope that some of you guys can tell me I'm wrong or missing something.


    Issue the first: The only CPU that seems overall sensible is only supported on a handful of ridiculous motherboards.

    AMD bulldozer CPUs don't seem compelling. They suck power compared to other options, but don't have any clear performance benefit. AMD also seems a bit like they're in stasis and not really moving forward. Their Fusion APU products are intriguing, but they seem to be a low-end compromise that makes sense for laptops, or maybe HTPCs, not so much for a desktop.

    Intel i-series CPUs seem to fall into camps which don't really match the features or performance I want. Why do I need the integrated GPU in an i7, for example?

    The Intel CPUs which currently make the most sense to me are the Xeon E3-1230 V2 or the Xeon E3-1240 V2 -- No integrated GPUs, cheaper than the Ivy Bridge i7, use a bit less power and aren't as expensive, but still have the hyper-threading.

    There's just one downside: the only motherboards that seem to support those CPUs at the moment cost more than $200 and have pointless (to me) features like dual NICs.

    So am I missing something with the current CPUs scene, or is my impression pretty much accurate? Is there a good chance mainstream boards will pick up Xeon E3 V2 support?


    Issue the second: BIOS seem to UEFI these days -- is this really an issue, or not?


    Issue the third: Graphics card situation seems muddled

    The graphics card situation seems hazy. Is there actually effective and widely supported GPU acceleration for video playback on linux with AMD/Radeom products? Have their drivers cleaned up enough to be usable on a composited desktop without ruining games?

    Is nVidia stuck in some sort of product transition? There doesn't seem to be a really decent mid-range contender in the Nvidia lineup - you've got the 550 ti which I have the impression is due for a refresh, but the newer cards all seem to be budget or top-end-enthusiast range. And then there's the whole question of whether their support is really progressing.

    Is there actually a sensible card in the $110 - $160 range right now, or is there a refresh expected in the near future?


    I guess those are the 3 main things I'm wondering about, but there are a few other little details that have irritated me I'm sure I'm missing.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,675

    Default

    I personally like the intel onboard gfx. You can run the cpu without additional gfx card and have got vaapi video accelleration. The main reason to get Xeon is usally to get ECC RAM support (that required the use of a workstation chipset like C206 but with bios update). If you want to max out the chip with oc you would be better with a K cpu. If you dont need ECC support then any s1155 board should do that has got ivb support. As you do not own a snb cpu i would not recomment to buy a series 6 board as you at least need a bios update for ivb. What i do not get is that there is no new Panter Point workstation chipset, the C206 is still Cougar Point (series 6). If you want ivb get a series 7 board, like something with z77 chipset.

    If you really use/test uefi features it is definitely possible that your board will not post anymore. As the config is not stored in cmos you have to replace the eeprom. So best would be get 2 boards for hotswap and of course something with flashrom support Or get a board where uefi is known to be stable (i dont have got so many retail boards, just 1). I played a bit with uefi boot entries and changed bootorder in uefi setup and got a nice vga led only with my asus p8z68-v. dmidecode thinks the bios vendor is AMI, but i dont think thats fully correct. Looks more like Insyde. mac address is stored at offset $1000 for the single nic on it.

    I can not recommend any vendor as i don't have got the big comparision. Since series 7 even gigabyte has got uefi (series 6 had got bios with uefi addon), but i don't know if gigabyte fixed the usb booting problems with hybrid usb sticks. that means avoid gigabyte series 6 at least. asrock seem to work with usb keys and has at least beta updates for ivb and older systems. msi well disappointed me with the bad bios update support for series 6 boards. only for boards you could not buy before ivb launch you get ivb bios updates or maybe i read their support page wrong - did you see a bios for a h61 b3 marked (not g3) board with ivb support? so i would not expect many improvements in the future. so choose your poison

    Btw. the asus p8z68-v did not init the onboard gfx of a xeon test chip, so asus does not really like those cpus, you can be sure if something is non standard it does not run. At least i would not recommend it for a Xeon if you want to use the gpu. Basically there is absolutely no technical aspect against running xeon chips on consumer chipsets. The ecc thing is just a marketing issue nothing else. At least asus has a gui tool for modifing the startup logo - but only on win.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    234

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kano View Post
    I personally like the intel onboard gfx. You can run the cpu without additional gfx card and have got vaapi video accelleration. The main reason to get Xeon is usally to get ECC RAM support (that required the use of a workstation chipset like C206 but with bios update). If you want to max out the chip with oc you would be better with a K cpu. If you dont need ECC support then any s1155 board should do that has got ivb support. As you do not own a snb cpu i would not recomment to buy a series 6 board as you at least need a bios update for ivb. What i do not get is that there is no new Panter Point workstation chipset, the C206 is still Cougar Point (series 6). If you want ivb get a series 7 board, like something with z77 chipset.

    If you really use/test uefi features it is definitely possible that your board will not post anymore. As the config is not stored in cmos you have to replace the eeprom. So best would be get 2 boards for hotswap and of course something with flashrom support Or get a board where uefi is known to be stable (i dont have got so many retail boards, just 1). I played a bit with uefi boot entries and changed bootorder in uefi setup and got a nice vga led only with my asus p8z68-v. dmidecode thinks the bios vendor is AMI, but i dont think thats fully correct. Looks more like Insyde. mac address is stored at offset $1000 for the single nic on it.

    I can not recommend any vendor as i don't have got the big comparision. Since series 7 even gigabyte has got uefi (series 6 had got bios with uefi addon), but i don't know if gigabyte fixed the usb booting problems with hybrid usb sticks. that means avoid gigabyte series 6 at least. asrock seem to work with usb keys and has at least beta updates for ivb and older systems. msi well disappointed me with the bad bios update support for series 6 boards. only for boards you could not buy before ivb launch you get ivb bios updates or maybe i read their support page wrong - did you see a bios for a h61 b3 marked (not g3) board with ivb support? so i would not expect many improvements in the future. so choose your poison

    Btw. the asus p8z68-v did not init the onboard gfx of a xeon test chip, so asus does not really like those cpus, you can be sure if something is non standard it does not run. At least i would not recommend it for a Xeon if you want to use the gpu. Basically there is absolutely no technical aspect against running xeon chips on consumer chipsets. The ecc thing is just a marketing issue nothing else. At least asus has a gui tool for modifing the startup logo - but only on win.
    I agree on the Intel graphics. I've had great success with about 3 generations of Intel graphics. Granted I obviously don't play a ton of games, but the machines were capable, stable and good enough.

    As far as UEFI is concerned, I don't know a bunch about this. I did though need to install the Mac build of Ubuntu 12.04 to boot on my Gigabyte 2011 socket motherboard. Perhaps this means some Gigabyte boards support UEFI?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    92

    Default

    So some of the stuff I've been reading suggests that newer Kernels should support UEFI properly, though it can still be a bit hit or miss depending on mobo specific oddities.

    ASRock also responded to an email inquiry with a statement that the Xeon E3-1230 V2 "is supported with BIOS P 1.10," so that shouldn't be an issue.

    In any case I threw together a newegg wishlist...
    http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/Pu...umber=17158131

    It's more towards the upscale end of things than anything I've put together before. My current system is a 4+ year old 45-watt BE-series AMD X2 2.1ghz that was pretty low-end even when it was new.

    Still mulling it over. I'm definitely feeling like there seem to be fewer issues than I'd initially thought.

    As far as Intel integrated graphics go... I'm just suspicious, I guess. I know they've improved a lot over the last 3 years, but can they really handle 3-D games and multiple monitors without it being painful? There's a huge world of difference between whatever the heck Intel thing is in my netbook and the 8600 gt I've got in my desktop. I guess I see the ~$60 extra (US) dollars an i7 would cost as being ~$60 dollars that could go towards a dedicated card.

    I'm definitely not really in tune with the current GPU situation. My last ATI was from back when you couldn't get compositing without some sort of special method that broke 3-D games, and the official open source driver didn't exist, and well, an 8600gt is not exactly new either, though I've been happy with VDPAU.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Linuxland
    Posts
    5,332

    Default

    Do not expect any new cards in the low-to-mid range from either vendor. The APUs killed that market, and so they just rebrand their older cards as new low-end models, both of them.

    Yes, compositing + 3d works on ATI cards with both drivers nowadays. No video accel beyond XV on the open driver.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    92

    Default

    Hmm. So I decided to go ahead and put together a similar system and see what happens.

    It also looks like I'll get to find out just how terrible a (lower?) mid-range radeon is.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    /home/$USER
    Posts
    113

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sloggerKhan View Post
    My current PC is about 4 years old, so I've been looking around at what available, comparing the nice cpubenchmark.net graphs which are much easier to parse than the unorganized stuff on openbenchmarking.org, reading about different stuff that's currently available, etc. Needless to say, this has not left me happy.

    There seems to be no clear path towards assembling a decent system at the moment. I'm going to explain why, and then hope that some of you guys can tell me I'm wrong or missing something.


    Issue the first: The only CPU that seems overall sensible is only supported on a handful of ridiculous motherboards.

    AMD bulldozer CPUs don't seem compelling. They suck power compared to other options, but don't have any clear performance benefit. AMD also seems a bit like they're in stasis and not really moving forward. Their Fusion APU products are intriguing, but they seem to be a low-end compromise that makes sense for laptops, or maybe HTPCs, not so much for a desktop.

    Intel i-series CPUs seem to fall into camps which don't really match the features or performance I want. Why do I need the integrated GPU in an i7, for example?

    The Intel CPUs which currently make the most sense to me are the Xeon E3-1230 V2 or the Xeon E3-1240 V2 -- No integrated GPUs, cheaper than the Ivy Bridge i7, use a bit less power and aren't as expensive, but still have the hyper-threading.

    There's just one downside: the only motherboards that seem to support those CPUs at the moment cost more than $200 and have pointless (to me) features like dual NICs.

    So am I missing something with the current CPUs scene, or is my impression pretty much accurate? Is there a good chance mainstream boards will pick up Xeon E3 V2 support?
    I think you might be missing a few things:

    1. If you are going to run on Linux, you need to look at Linux benchmarks as the relative performance of different CPUs on Windows vs. Linux varies greatly. Saying that one CPU is faster than another running Linux programs because of what a Windows benchmark said is liek comparing apples and toasters. Furthermore, Passmark sucks. It may make a nice single number for each CPU to look at, but it's worse than meaningless as it is compiled with Intel's compiler and thus heavily favors Intel's CPUs. It also is a synthetic benchmark and doesn't accurately reflect real-world usage scenarios. The net result is Bulldozer runs a hell of a lot faster relative to Sandy/Ivy Bridge on Linux than it does on Windows. My personal experience is that a single Bulldozer Opteron 6234 (12 cores, 2.40 GHz) is about as fast as two Phenom II-based Opteron 6128s (8 cores each, 2.00 GHz) in multithreaded tasks and a good 30-50% faster in single-threaded stuff. That's a lot different than what you see under Windows.

    2. All LGA1155 CPUs have an IGP as it is in the silicon die. In typical Intel fashion the "IGP-less" ones just have it disabled. The only current Intel CPUs without an IGP are the LGA1356 and LGA2011 units as those use the server die and who needs much of an IGP in a server (particularly a Linux one?) You can get a standard Core i3/i5/i7 unit and just turn the IGP off in the BIOS if you want to; you don't need to get the Xeon unless you want to use ECC RAM.

    3. Consumer LGA1155 boards may very well support the LGA1155 Xeons; they use the exact same silicon dies as the Core i3/i5/i7 units. The difference is that the Xeons have ECC support, consumer Intel boards generally don't and that is why the Xeon may be "unsupported."

    Issue the second: BIOS seem to UEFI these days -- is this really an issue, or not?
    Don't know, all of my units have a BIOS. But then again they are server boards and servers run Linux. The whole UEFI crap is because Windows is too brain-dead to use 2.2 TB+ GPT partitions in BIOS. Linux has no such problems, even with 32 bit CPUs and such. Those LGA1155 server motherboards very well may have a BIOS and not UEFI if you are so concerned. If you are really worried about UEFI, get yourself a C32 or G34 Opteron board, they all have BIOSes and support Phenom II generaton (Opteron 4100 and 6100) and Bulldozer (Opteron 4200 and 6200) CPUs. They all cost more than $200 though, and they all have multiple NICs and such.

    Issue the third: Graphics card situation seems muddled

    The graphics card situation seems hazy. Is there actually effective and widely supported GPU acceleration for video playback on linux with AMD/Radeom products? Have their drivers cleaned up enough to be usable on a composited desktop without ruining games?
    XvBA and VA-API are the AMD acceleration APIs. I believe there is a VA-API to VDPAU wrapper and VDPAU is very widely supported.

    Is nVidia stuck in some sort of product transition?
    Yes, like it has been pretty much since that after they replaced the G8x/G9x parts. They introduce a top-line card that draws as much power as an arc welder, cut it down a little for upper-midrange products, and then chronically rebrand older products for their midrange and low end. My GTS250, er 9800GTX+, um, die-shrunk 8800 Ultra is testament to that.

    There doesn't seem to be a really decent mid-range contender in the Nvidia lineup - you've got the 550 ti which I have the impression is due for a refresh, but the newer cards all seem to be budget or top-end-enthusiast range. And then there's the whole question of whether their support is really progressing.

    Is there actually a sensible card in the $110 - $160 range right now, or is there a refresh expected in the near future?
    NVIDIA's driver support is stagnant. They have been having a lot of bugs lately- the blue video and horrid peformance with 295.40 is atrocious. They also can't be bothered to fully support XrandR in mainline drivers, something even ATi has done for a while. Don't spend a lot of dough on a GPU for Linux, you likely won't be able to use much of its potential. That GTS250 I spoke of earlier is enough to push a full 200 fps at 2048x1152 in Sauerbraten with eye candy all the way up...and that is very typical of Linux games. Get an older card, it will be fine. Just not if you want to use AMD's Catalyst drivers, they tend to cut support out quickly if you want to use that driver with older cards.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,675

    Default

    NV 8800 GTX, Ultra, GTS 320/640 are G80 based, but 8800 GTS 512, GT are G92 based. The 9800s should have got an extra spdif connector for hdmi sound but was based on the same chip, just shrinked. The GTS 250 was rebranded. The old G80 chips definitely do NOT support vdpau.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •