How would you configure this Z840?

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Michael Holmes

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How would you configure this Z840?

PostThu Nov 16, 2017 3:26 am

We are considering replacing our 2010 Mac Pro with a Z840.

FYI, the peripherals we have are:
- Cubix Gen3 Elite Xpander (4x16, 2x8) holding two GTX 980’s, DeckLink 4k Extreme G12 card, ATTO RAID SAS controllers for hard drive chassis and tape drive
- 16-bay hard drive chassis (16x8TB)
- Quantum LTO-6 tape drive
- Eizo ColorEdge 4K monitor
- GUI monitor.

I have configured a Z840 here
https://zworkstations.com/products/z840/

The first pass costs about twice what I hoped for (as always):

Dual Processor - Dual 8-Core 3.2GHz Intel Xeon Broadwell E5-2667 v4 - $7,250
Memory - 256GB (16x 16GB) - $2,950
Primary drive (system, apps) - HP Z Turbo Drive - 2TB - $1,400
Secondary drive (data) - Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro - 3 Drive RAID 0 - 8TB (4x 2TB) - $6,000
Drive Bay 1 - 4TB 7200RPM 64MB Cache Hard Drive - $300
Drive Bay 2 - 4TB 7200RPM 64MB Cache Hard Drive - $300
Optical Drive - Slim DVD Burner - $0
Graphics Card - NVIDIA Quadro GP100 16GB - $5,250
Total - $23,450

The lower cost pass gets the price near target:

Dual Processor - Dual Quad-Core 3.5GHz Intel Xeon Broadwell E5-2637 v4 - $5,250
Memory - 128GB (8x 16GB) - $1,380
Primary drive (system, apps) - HP Z Turbo Drive - 1TB - $800
Secondary drive (data) - Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro - 2 Drive RAID 0 - 4TB (2x 2TB) - $3,200
Drive Bay 1 - 4TB 7200RPM 64MB Cache Hard Drive - $300
Drive Bay 2 - 4TB 7200RPM 64MB Cache Hard Drive - $300
Optical Drive - Slim DVD Burner - $0
Graphics Card - NVIDIA Quadro P5000 16GB - $2,250
Total - $13,480

I’m nervous about the cutbacks, particularly the PCI secondary drive. Our idea is to bring sections of the project from hard drives into the Z840 secondary drive for faster editing, rather than working directly with the files on the rack hard drives. The 8TB secondary drive would make this reasonable, but I'm doubtful if the drive is only 4TB.

Anyway, I appreciate any thoughts about these two options. Specifically, what in the more costly configuration do you see as important?

Thanks for your help!
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Jack Fairley

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Re: How would you configure this Z840?

PostThu Nov 16, 2017 8:55 am

Why Quadro? Nothing special to be had in Resolve by using those cards - just get a 1080Ti or two instead.
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Michael Holmes

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Re: How would you configure this Z840?

PostThu Nov 16, 2017 4:27 pm

Jack Fairley wrote:Why Quadro? Nothing special to be had in Resolve by using those cards - just get a 1080Ti or two instead.

Thank you for pointing this out. That definitely helps on cost.
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Glenn Sakatch

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Re: How would you configure this Z840?

PostSun Nov 19, 2017 5:32 pm

I have a z820 running a cubix with 2 graphics cards and decklink and kona 3. I had the same question. If you have a cubix running your graphics cards (which should be the same models) why spend that much money for a graphics card to run your gui from the box. Mixing and matching the cubix cards and the PC card, unless they are the same model and size is never recommended.

I also wonder how long the idea of moving sections of the footage over for faster editing will last.
Possible the time it takes and organization it takes to move stuff back and forth will grow tiresome farily quickly.

Depends on what you are doing, and what your footage is, but all my storage is through thunderbolt 2 and usb3. I don't typically have an issue with editing speed. I also don't typically cut in 4k...don't see the need. I work in proxy mode or transcode in Avid, or lower the res in Resolve to hd until it is time to output.
If you are simply cutting in HD then there is really no need to copy the media around to faster drives.

BTW I don't see a thunderbolt card in your specs...I'm assuming it is available for the z840 as well?
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Andrew Kolakowski

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Re: How would you configure this Z840?

PostSun Nov 19, 2017 6:07 pm

256GB RAM? Is it not to much?
I wold not buy HP Turbo drives- they are overpriced (they use Samsung M.2 if I remember well).
Instead you can buy eg. 4x2 TB SSDs and this will be fine (as long as you not planning use 60p 4K EXRs).

Your systems feels bit overkill and not well balanced, but yet very expensive.
You could most likely build about same speed system for e.g. 7K$ without using Xeons.
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Michael Holmes

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Re: How would you configure this Z840?

PostMon Nov 20, 2017 4:24 pm

Andrew Kolakowski wrote:256GB RAM? Is it not to much?
I wold not buy HP Turbo drives- they are overpriced (they use Samsung M.2 if I remember well).
Instead you can buy eg. 4x2 TB SSDs and this will be fine (as long as you not planning use 60p 4K EXRs).

Your systems feels bit overkill and not well balanced, but yet very expensive.
You could most likely build about same speed system for e.g. 7K$ without using Xeons.


Yes, we have dropped Turbo drives.
What do you recommend instead of Xeons?
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Michael Holmes

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Re: How would you configure this Z840?

PostMon Nov 20, 2017 5:18 pm

Andrew Kolakowski wrote:
Your systems feels bit overkill and not well balanced, but yet very expensive.
You could most likely build about same speed system for e.g. 7K$ without using Xeons.


Andrew,
Here is our latest thinking:

Dual Processor - Dual 18-Core 2.3GHz Intel Xeon Haswell E5-2696 v3 - 5,750
Memory - 64GB (4x 16GB) - 550
Primary drive - 1TB Solid-State Drive - 450
Secondary drive - 4TB Solid-State Drive - 1,500
Drive Bay 3 - 8TB 7200RPM 128MB Cache Hard Drive - 500
Drive Bay 4 - 8TB 7200RPM 128MB Cache Hard Drive - 500
Optical Drive (Default) - Slim DVD Burner - 0
Graphics Card (Primary) - NVIDIA GTX 1080 8GB - 0 (already have this)
Keyboard - HP Wireless Keyboard - 30
Mouse - HP Wireless Optical Mouse 20
shipping - 75
Total - 9,375

This doesn't show the GPU's for computation, which will be in the Xpander. We are thinking Titan Xp's.

So, this cost is $9,375.

We don't want to build the computer, so that eliminates building ourselves with AMD Threadripper 1950x.
Is there an off-the-shelf computer with Threadripper that provides equivalent drive bays and PCIe slots?

We are taking a look at Supermicro SuperServer 7048GR-TR, which would give us an additional x16 PCIe slot, but this is also Xeon.
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Andrew Kolakowski

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Re: How would you configure this Z840?

PostMon Nov 20, 2017 6:28 pm

Hmmm... my idea is based on "simple" overclocked i9. I'm UK based, so I can buy ready build and tested one.

Why do you need so much CPU power? Are you going to work with RED 6/8K?
If not then 2x 18 cores is overkill.

I would go for less cores at higher clock- like you had before.
Remember that if you mix GPUs Resolve will limit GPU RAM to the lowest cards.
Why do you need 1TB primary SSD? 512 is already a lot for typical Windows disk, even if you have tons of apps installed. Even 256G will do.
Instead of 1x 4TB SSD get 4x1TB. Will be same price (or even cheaper) and way better performance.

I think you are trying to put a lot thinking you will get crazy fast machine, but in reality you may be disappointed. 2x faster machine quite often means just 20% more performance. If you have money then fine :)

You still didn't say what source are you going work with. This is most important to get "well balanced" machine.
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Michael Holmes

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Re: How would you configure this Z840?

PostMon Nov 20, 2017 6:52 pm

Andrew Kolakowski wrote:Hmmm... my idea is based on "simple" overclocked i9. I'm UK based, so I can buy ready build and tested one.

Why do you need so much CPU power? Are you going to work with RED 6/8K?
If not then 2x 18 cores is overkill.

I would go for less cores at higher clock- like you had before.
Remember that if you mix GPUs Resolve will limit GPU RAM to the lowest cards.
Why do you need 1TB primary SSD? 512 is already a lot for typical Windows disk, even if you have tons of apps installed. Even 256G will do.
Instead of 1x 4TB SSD get 4x1TB. Will be same price (or even cheaper) and way better performance.

I think you are trying to put a lot thinking you will get crazy fast machine, but in reality you may be disappointed. 2x faster machine quite often means just 20% more performance. If you have money then fine :)

You still didn't say what source are you going work with. This is most important to get "well balanced" machine.


We'll download RAW from RED Weapon 6K camera. We want to work in ProRes 4444 @ 4K.
Less core more speed is more expensive. For example, Dual 12-Core 3.0GHz is $2,500 more than Dual 18-Core 2.3GHz. So, will go more core option unless it costs us significantly in performance. We are under the impression that leaning toward more core is better. Wrong?
The GPU's for computing (in Xpander) will all be Titan Xp's. The graphics card (in Z840) will be GTX 980. I thought graphics card could be different. I am wrong on that?
The current primary SSD is almost at 500GB. The extra cost for 1TB is only $200.
Yes, thank you for reminder that 4x1TB secondary drive is better than 1x4TB.

So, please comment further on (1) core vs speed and effect on performance, and (2) graphics GPU needing to be same as computing GPU's.
I very much appreciate you taking the time to provide advice.
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Jack Fairley

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Re: How would you configure this Z840?

PostMon Nov 20, 2017 8:11 pm

No point to use a GUI-only card in Resolve 14, and using the 980 for compute will limit your VRAM to that level. Core speed matters too in Resolve, Puget had benchmarks that showed the 16 core i9 was slightly better than the 18 core because of the clock difference. Not sure if this will be an issue for you with the power you're throwing at it.
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Andrew Kolakowski

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Re: How would you configure this Z840?

PostMon Nov 20, 2017 8:12 pm

For given cores*clock I would always go for less cores, but higher clock as this is overall more efficient.

So if you have 18x2.3=41.4 and then if you take 8x3.2=25.6. This shows that theoretical CPU power is far bigger for 18 cores CPU, but in reality this is not always (or rather hardly ever) going translate to difference which is represented by these 2 numbers: 41.4 and 25.6. 36 cores is a lot and only some processes will scale well with such a core count (RED decoding should scale well for example). Some exports may also scale fairly well, but things like h264 export is unlikely to scale well.
Maybe you can find something in between- e.g. 14 cores at 2.6GHz?
Interesting that those 18 cores CPUs are "that cheap". Problem with E5-2696 v3 is also low Turbo clock value.
If a process can't use all cores well you will be running only few cores at e.g. 2.5GHz which will cause low eg. export speed etc. There are many cases like this when you search different forums (eg. Puget test with Premiere).

I'm not Resolve expert, but I'm almost sure only GPUs which are ticked for computing are taken into account for RAM limits etc. Maybe as Jack said- drop GUI only card and simply run 2x Titan which both used for computing and 1 used also as GUI. Maybe it's simply not worth to have GUI only cards and use saved PCI-E for other hardware.

Just to show you what I mean:
If you search for Cinebench results for e.g. overclocked i9 18 core v E5-2696 v3 you will find that running i9 at 4.5GHz will about match 2x E5-2696 v3 performance! This is for Cinebench which can really well use all cores. When you transform this into real world scenario (Resolve, etc) single i9 18 cores at 4.5 GHz will be clearly faster (in some case even maybe 1.5-2x faster) than dual Xeon setup at stock 2.3 GHz. Clock is key driver here.
i9 at 4.5GHz is basically the same as running 2 Xeons at 2.3GHz (2x2.3GHz) for synthetic tests and i9 is going be waaaay faster in real world apps.
Of course this requires crazy good cooling for i9. If you also have many external devices you may start having issue with number PCI-E lanes for i9.
I just want to show you that clock is way more important than amount of cores. Maybe this is also why high clocked Xeons are rather expensive.
You can always judge overall performance by this formula: cores*clock, but remembering that for high cores count most processes don't scale linear with more cores.
If 2 processors have same cores*clock value I would always go for the one with higher clock. Even if processors with higher clock will have 20% (or even more) lower value I would still pick this one.
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Michael Holmes

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Re: How would you configure this Z840?

PostMon Nov 20, 2017 9:59 pm

OK, here is the table of core x speed and difference in price.


Dual Quad Core 2.6GHz - 10.4 - (2,500)
 Dual Quad Core 3.5GHz - 14 - (500)
 Dual 6 Core 3.4GHz - 20.4 - +500
 Dual 8 Core 3.2GHz - 25.6- +1,500
 Dual 10 Core 2.2GHz - 22- (1,500)
Dual 12 Core 3.0GHz - 36 - +2,500
 Dual 14 Core 2.6GHz - 36.4 - +2,500
 Dual 18 Core 2.3GHz - 41.4 - 0
 Dual 22 Core 2.2GHz - 48.4 - +1,500

For example, the Dual Quad Core 2.6 has core x speed of 10.4 and costs $2,500 less than the Dual 18 Core 2.3GHz.
I believe this would lead you to select the Dual 12 Core 3.0GHz processor, which happens to be the most expensive. :D
My only question, is the added performance worth $2,500. I would guess it is hard to say.

Regarding GPU's, I take it the answer is yes the graphics card should be the same card as the computational GPU's, so all should be Titan Xp's. Yes, maybe we can just move one to Z840 and keep other two in Xpander.
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Andrew Kolakowski

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Re: How would you configure this Z840?

PostMon Nov 20, 2017 10:16 pm

Hmmm....this is common for me to choose expensive things (not knowing their price). I'm cursed :D
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Michael Holmes

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Re: How would you configure this Z840?

PostMon Nov 20, 2017 11:00 pm

Andrew Kolakowski wrote:Hmmm....this is common for me to choose expensive things (not knowing their price). I'm cursed :D


And you were the guy telling me I was spending too much $. :)

You'd spend the extra $2,500, right?

My uncertainly is: If I go Dual 12 Core 3.0GHz and three Titan Xp's (1 in Z840 as graphics GPU, 2 in Xpander as computational GPU's), am I about right for PreRes 4444 @ 4k, or is this overkill??

I'm inclined to spend the $ to be fairly sure it will get the job done. But it would be nice if I was a little more certain that this is (1) about the right horsepower and (2) reasonably good balance.

Nothing is simple. :?
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Andrew Kolakowski

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Re: How would you configure this Z840?

PostMon Nov 20, 2017 11:36 pm

I said I pick those products, but didn't say I end up buying them :)
When I buy something more serious it normally takes me month or more to research :)

I would say easily overkill. Dual 18 cores Xeons are for very end of performance needs for things like 6/8K RED footage. 4K ProRes is not crazy demanding. You do need decent CPU and GPU, but that's about it. I would not go for 3xGPUs. 2 should be already more than enough. Also not Titans, but just GTX 1080.
i9 or even top end i7 machine would most likely do.
I would probably end up buying some i9 or Threadripper machine in your case. I would keep it in they way so I can easily overclock if need more power. Going from e.g. 3.2GHz to 4GHz does give you real 25% speed up.
Technology changes fast, so instead of buying 1 machine at 10K+ I would rather spread that cost in the time (as you clearly don't need 10K+ machine).

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