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  1. #1
    150+ Forum Groupie Suggy's Avatar
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    More networked computers or fewer computers?

    At the moment I am running 8 computers (including the computer running FS). I am thinking of reducing the number of computers on the network to reduce the noise, heat, the time spent getting all the computers runing and increasing space.

    I am just wondering whether there is a 'sweet spot' in the number of computers to run?

    Would the performance be the same by, let's say having just 5 conputers on the network, but each running more programmes?

    I am tentativley thinking of substituting 3 conputers for 1 lap top runing a wireless connection.

  2. #2
    300+ Forum Addict ekezz's Avatar
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    5-6 computers

    Sweet Spot:
    Hard to say where the sweet spot is. My cockpit is at a total of 5-6 computers there seems no need for more (yet).
    I use two laptops which reduces the heat and the noise significantly.
    For an overview see my computer setup at http://fly.ekezz.com and click on the button PC Setup

    Wireless:
    I can run the pm Instructor laptop wireless, but once I dock it to my cockpit it is wired. Wireless will work fine. I prefer to have all computers wired.

    Three to one laptop:
    Depends upon all the programs you want to run on this machine (which are....?)
    Most laptops can have two screens attached so screen space should not be a problem.
    As you can see in my setup, the FS computer is the most powerful.
    The others have video-boards which can handle OpenGL (never buy a radeon 7000

    Hope this helps some, feel free to ask more questions.
    Kester Meijer
    http://www.mycockpit.nl - to see my cockpit construction
    Certified De-Ice Supervisor EHAM

  3. #3
    1000+ Poster - Fantastic Contributor AndyT's Avatar
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    Sweet Spot...

    If I might make a suggestion, Why not reduce the amount of software you currently run on all those machines, increase the overall throughput, make the drive subsystem faster, and still handle all the same tasks you currently run, possibly more with almost the same hardware you are already using?

    You will have to change operating system though. But that's an easy choice to make considering what you will get out of it. The OS must support SMP (Symetrical Multi-Processing) or Multi-processors. Windows Vista Business version does this, and so does Windows 2003 Server. Linux does also but I'm not very familliar with it. It's my understanding that Linux has no real limit on the number of processors. Vista will also offer a server class version that will be the best choice for this. You need to make sure your OS supports the amount of CPU's you have ganged together. Win XP Pro only handles 2. Win 2003 Server handles 4 with options for up to 8. I think Vista Server class will handle up to 32, but dont quote me on that.

    Simply rebuild all your hardware into one super-computer. Yes, I say 'simply' and its actually fairly easy, but it does take a bit of doing. The secret here is to interconnect all the various computers in such a way that the operating system thinks they are all one computer with multiple processors. Ideally, you need to connect each computer to all the others. So if you have 4 machines, machine 1 will have 4 connections on it, machine 2 will have 3 and the rest will each have 3. Then you install a RAID 0 system with 3 or more drives on machine 1. Then you completly reinstall Windows on machine 1 and it will see all the others automaticly and set itself up for symetrical multi-processing. With this kind of setup you no longer need WideFS or any other networking software, everything is built-in by it all being part of the 'original' windows installation you just did.

    Now you have a machine capable of Multi-Ghz speeds. For example, ekezz lists 2 notebook systems that I would leave out and rebuild his systems into a super-computer with each one having a multi-monitor video card. He would still have a machine that runs comparable to a 6Ghz system with a superfast hard drive system. The sheer performance gains would be totally worth it.

    I do not remember if all the CPU's need to be the same speed or not. As I recall, I do not think they do.... I'll have to look into that....

  4. #4
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    Sounds very interesting. Perhaps you could give some details on what is needed to connect each motherboard to each other.
    Regards...............Brian W.

  5. #5
    But wouldnt building this supercomputer be pointless on a single operating system. A good 3ghz computer has enough power to run all the programs required already. The reason we are currently running over a network is because of the limitations of software not hardware ie accelerated opengl problems in multimonitor setup, pausing issues when program is sent to background and things like that.

    Gary

  6. #6
    1000+ Poster - Fantastic Contributor AndyT's Avatar
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    Pausing issues and such

    Exactly. You get those pauses because the hardware has to catch up with the software, not the other way around.
    Its a very common misconception that hardware is better / faster than the software and that's simply not true. Software has always been far ahead of hardware. That's why you always have to add more RAM or a faster video card...

    This 'Super build' solves that by creating additional thread handling capability which keeps everything running smoothly. Plus building a machine this way makes the additional threads truly seperate because they run in their own RAM on the other motherboards.

    Very quickly, to connect the motherboards in the example I used above of 4 machines Machine 1 needs 4 network cards and the rest need 3 each. You connect each machine to each machine. Machine 1 needs the extra NIC to connect to the internet for multiplayer.

  7. #7
    Thanks Andy. Im not a computer expert by any means so Im still trying to get my head around this in regards to PM and how it would help use less computers. What you say makes sense for a program like FS. Using Project Magenta as a perfect example, the software program itself needs next to nothing in computer power. It does require to run smoothly though which is why its only supported by PM across a network. My understanding has always been in regards to this software that the current operating system and graphic card drivers are the limiting factor for running this software on a single computer. The latest graphics cards have enough processing power to have two programs run simultaneously in a multi monitor setup, However its the way in which opengl drivers and operating systems are written that will only allow one application to be accelerated at a time which causes the stutters and poor perfermance as both programs are continously fighting against each other.

    I have read of some users successfully running PM on one computer but I personally havent had much luck so im using it on a network.

    My setup
    PC 1 FS, PM MCP
    PC2 Captains PFD/ND,
    PC3 FO PFD/ND
    PC4 Captains CDU/ Upper eicas/ Standby, PM sounds
    PC5 FO CDU/ Lower eicas, PM systems

    Im using IBM Netvista P111 733mhz and sapphire Radeon 9250 GC for the PM client pc's

    Gary

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