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Date:         Fri, 25 Feb 2005 09:52:49 -0900
Reply-To:     Nels Tomlinson <nels_tomlinson@labor.state.ak.us>
Sender:       "SPSSX(r) Discussion" <SPSSX-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From:         Nels Tomlinson <nels_tomlinson@labor.state.ak.us>
Subject:      Re: Best PC for SPSS with large datasets
Comments: To: Jeremy Miles <jnvm1@york.ac.uk>
In-Reply-To:  <421F0818.8080702@york.ac.uk>
Content-type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; format=flowed

On the dual processor question, you need to ask whether your OS and applications are going to be able to make use of the second CPU. Does Windows-whatever use extra CPUs? I know that Linux will, and I think that FreeBSD will (and OpenBSD won't), but you may have to pay extra for a server version of Windows if you want your second CPU to be more than an expensive space heater.

Then there's the application itself. Does SPSS make use of multiple CPUs? If it isn't written to be threaded, it probably doesn't. If the OS will use multiple CPUs but the application won't, at least the application can have one CPU all to itself, and the machine and the application may seem a bit more responsive. You'll be able to read your email and kill time without slowing down your program.

As for RAM, I'd say that it's still cheap enough that you should have as much as the machine will hold. On this machine I'm using, that's 2GBytes. Of course you want the fastest RAM available and memory bandwidth (FSB speed) is often more important than CPU speed.

I don't know that dual processors limit FSB speed. That sounds like a limitation of either one manufacturer's chipset, or one manufacturer's CPUs. If you've only been looking at Intel boxes, do also consider AMD's Athlons. Right now, AMD seems to be a bit ahead of Intel for floating point math, but also look at Intel if you haven't yet; they aren't out of the running yet. If you're willing to give up Windows, also look at Macs and IBM PowerPCs. They have 64 bit CPUs with FAST vector math, and dual (or more!) CPUs if your software can use it.

If you're going to run Windows, I think that two hard drives would be a good plan, IF you can have them on separate IDE busses. That should be do-able on most PCs. 7,500 RPM hard drives of moderate size are getting affordable. If you have huge data files, put them in a partition at the outside edge of the drive, where the sectors are longer and the drive won't have to step quite so often (on any OS). Remember that the fastest drive is going to be around 1,000 times slower than the slowest RAM, so you want to avoid using the drives when you can!

If you're buying a Dell or an HP, you have to take what they give you, and it may or may not work for you. There's a good chance that you can make a better machine, with higher quality parts, for a similar cost, if you buy a suitable motherboard and parts, and assemble your own. If this is a work machine, that may not be possible, but for a home machine, you can get a proper workstation at a modest savings that way. I probably wouldn't do this with a Windows machine: installing Windows is difficult, and if it doesn't work, you're dead in the water.

Hope this helps, Nels

Jeremy Miles wrote:

> Hello All, > > I've seen this question come up in the past, but not for a long time, > and as things move on, I thought I would see if anyone had any thoughts > on it. If one were buying a new PC to run SPSS, with some pretty large > datasets, what criteria would you go for. > > Obviously lots of RAM, lots of disk, fast processor. But does anyone > have thoughts / experience of dual processor systems? I have been told > that dual processors limit the speed of the FSB to 533 MHz, but that a > single can be up to 800 MHz, and that this trade-off eliminates the > benefit of the two processors. > > How much RAM is worth getting? Windows/SPSS overhead + max file size? > WIndows overhead + max file size * 2, where max file size is the biggest > file size you work with in SPSS. > > Are two hard disks worth while, to keep Windows on one, and programs / > data on the other? > > Any thoughts appreciated. If people want to reply directly to me, I > will summarise to the list. > > Thanks, > > Jeremy > > > > > > -- > Jeremy Miles > mailto:jnvm1@york.ac.uk http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~jnvm1/ > Dept of Health Sciences (Area 4), University of York, York, YO10 5DD > Phone: 01904 321375 Mobile: 07941 228018 Fax 01904 321320 >


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