Author Topic: Hardware survey  (Read 5185 times)

Offline Numsgil

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Hardware survey
« on: April 03, 2013, 05:46:37 PM »
I've been playing with performance for DB3 recently (benchmarks mostly to figure out what sort of CPU budget I have to work with if I want reasonable sim sizes to run at reasonable rates), and also considering buying a new computer, so it seems like a good time to talk about hardware.

My plan right now is to get some hexcore monstrosity and something like the Titan GPU, half for games and half for DB3, and build DB3 to target that hardware specifically.  There'd be a dumbed down version that ran straight C# and would work on any machine, but for any real sims you'd need to be running on something similar.  Which would mean AVX and double-precision DirectCompute.  Both technologies are only supported in very recent hardware, though.  For AVX, you'd need either a Sandy Bridge or later Intel processor (so Q1 2011) or a Bulldozer or later AMD (Q3 2011 or later).  For Direct Compute, you'd need a card that ran at least DirectX 11, which means cards from about Nvidia Geforce 400 series or later (Q1 2010).  And it would need to support double precision, which not all cards do (I can't find hard data on which cards do and don't).

So, what sort of machines are people running now?  What sort of rigs do people expect to have in, say, 2-3 years?  Would anyone be willing to splurge on an insane machine if it meant they could run large Darwinbots sims?  Basically I don't think I have the time/interest to support more than one hardware platform, so I'm looking at supporting the high end of the current hardware market and hope that when I actually finish, the hardware is more common.

But if no one is going to have a machine like that even a few years from now...  I'll still probably do it, but I'd feel bad about it :)

Offline SlyStalker

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Re: Hardware survey
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2013, 09:12:44 PM »
Ugh... My Vista is crawling on the ground with 1GB RAM and 2.0 processor...  :blueblob: I should be getting a new laptop soon, but it will most likely have the smae or worse specs.
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Offline Numsgil

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Re: Hardware survey
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2013, 10:23:45 PM »
I forget that some people have laptops as their main/only devices.  Memory isn't much of a concern, but it's probably going to chug without a decent CPU no matter what.

Offline Tilthanseco

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Re: Hardware survey
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2013, 12:09:39 AM »
I have:
Processor: AMD Athlon II X4 635: 2.9ghz quad core (@3.3) (no AVX  :( )
Memory: 12 gigs (@1600)
GPU: AMD Radeon HD 5770 1 gig ram
         With OpenCL support and DirectCompute 11  :balloon:

(I read OpenCL has cpu fall back, not that I am suggesting it.
 I really wasn't suggesting, I heard it had more bugs.)
« Last Edit: April 04, 2013, 03:02:11 PM by Tilthanseco »
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Offline Numsgil

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Re: Hardware survey
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2013, 02:43:53 AM »
I was originally going to go with OpenCL, but the driver support for it on GPUs is kinda terrible.  On my system, if the OpenCL kernel hangs for too long, the whole system becomes unresponsive and windows goes blue screen.  I don't really want to mess with that :/

The other option is CUDA, but I'd hate to lock people in to NVidia hardware.

Offline Botsareus

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Re: Hardware survey
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2013, 05:15:50 PM »
My tower is in the same room where I sleep, and I can not sleep with it on  :(
Not that It will help much, because Skyrim is 1 fps on my tower :(
So anytime I run long simulation I run them on my Vaio laptop. I am considering getting a windows 8 tab for my mom, but other then that I really do not see me updating my computing hardware anytime soon. Maybe if I want to play Skyrim and/or DB3 badly enough I'll consider getting a hardware like you describe and put it in the living room.

For now however, here are the specks for my Viao:

Processor: Pentium Dual-Core T4400 @ 2.20Ghz (both)
Ram: 4GB

GPU:

 Mobile Intel 4 Series Express Chipset Family
 Mobile Intel GMA 4500M
 Total Available Graphics Memory: 1759 MB



AVX:

What are the specific advantages for DB3 to run on AVX?
C# natively supports AVX?!



DirectCompute:

Sounds like a very cool api, but why double precision?

 




Offline Numsgil

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Re: Hardware survey
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2013, 06:28:34 PM »
What are the specific advantages for DB3 to run on AVX?

AVX is an instruction set that lets you eg. add 4 doubles at the same time.  It would let me do 4x the amount of math on the CPU, which would make the program up to 4 times faster (depending on how much the CPU is the bottleneck).

Quote
C# natively supports AVX?!

No, I'd have to write some low level functions in C++ and expose them to C#.  That's a huge pain, since suddenly it means to build the full program you have to also compile a C++ project, and I'd need separate C++ DLLs for x86 and x64.  But for the potential speed up we could get it's still probably worth it.

Quote
Sounds like a very cool api, but why double precision?

DB3 will use doubles for most of its math internally.  The extra precision will allow physical constraints to be less squishy (so you should be able to build large structures with bots), and allow the bots to wander very large distances and grow very large (imagine a bot a kilometer across and another a few centimeters).  If we used single precision, you'd be stuck with a universe that couldn't really be more than 30kmx30km, and the sizes of bots would be limited, and the constraints would be a bit squishier.

Offline Botsareus

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Re: Hardware survey
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2013, 11:25:53 AM »
Cool stuff.

I am a little concerned with one robot being x5000 bigger then a different robot. From an eco-system point of view it is cool. But that is taking the 'big birtha' concept to a whole new level don't you think?
« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 11:35:13 AM by Botsareus »

Offline Numsgil

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Re: Hardware survey
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2013, 04:02:04 AM »
Well, we'll see what sort of stuff comes out of that.  We can always place artificial limits on the range of sizes of bots, but I'd like to be able to explore some interesting things like whale vs. plankton.

Offline SlyStalker

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Re: Hardware survey
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2013, 03:47:18 AM »
Uhh... I bet Skyrim doesn't run on my computer at all. ;n;
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Offline Peter

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Re: Hardware survey
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2013, 03:24:48 PM »
Q6600 quadcore 2,4gHz
8gb ddr2 RAM
ATI radeon 4350

I think I'll have a new computer within 2 years. (but then again I didn't think I would still use this computer when I bought it 5 years ago)

@SlyStalker, what's the memory usage of vista when you start it up?
If I start up windows 7 it uses around ~1gb ram. I hope you don't have the same, that would mean quite bad performance. Although if you don't it implies I need to cleanup the junk in my startup...
Oh my god, who the hell cares.

Offline Numsgil

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Re: Hardware survey
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2013, 04:45:49 PM »
Geez that's an old machine :) Better than the machine I just upgraded from, though.

Offline Botsareus

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Re: Hardware survey
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2013, 05:10:05 PM »
That is still faster then my...  ;)

Numsgil, did you get the exact specks you mentioned on the beginning of the thread? If so, can you give me a price range on that beast?
« Last Edit: April 12, 2013, 05:17:28 PM by Botsareus »

Offline Numsgil

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Re: Hardware survey
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2013, 05:43:27 PM »
Yeah, still putting it all together. I'll make an OT thread showing it off once I finish. I didn't buy a HDD, DVD, or monitor, since I had some already. The total still cost me about $2600.

Offline MacadamiaNuts

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Re: Hardware survey
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2013, 05:58:41 PM »
I don't run db these days, but for the record, an i5 2500k (which I'll probably still be using ten years for now), 8GB RAM, AMD Radeon 6850.
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