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Author Topic: Computer build for sdr  (Read 11854 times)
N3QE
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Posts: 5128




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« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2016, 07:48:21 AM »

I have little to contribute on the subject of computational horsepower for SDR. I do a lot of RTTY using multiple decoder windows - I had feared this would overload an old $70 refurb PC but the signal processing actually requires a tiny amount of CPU compared to all the Windows bloat around it.

In the past I used a Linux box with the Windows ham radio apps running inside Windows XP in a "Virtualbox" VM with complete success. The Virtualbox helped a lot in hiding sound card and USB details from Windows such that I did not get too sucked down in wasting time with USB drivers.

On the subject of rig and accessory control - getting a computer that has slots for a few serial/parallel port cards will be a big win and save large amounts of time and effort in dealing with USB converters. Typical retail cost for a PCIe serial/parallel port card is $10-$20. If you buy a few-generation-old refurb computer that was previously a POS terminal or used in a corporate environment you may find it already has serial/parallel cards in it.

You already mention you are using SSD, that's a big win right there.
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W8JX
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Posts: 12373




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« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2016, 11:24:02 AM »

I have little to contribute on the subject of computational horsepower for SDR. I do a lot of RTTY using multiple decoder windows - I had feared this would overload an old $70 refurb PC but the signal processing actually requires a tiny amount of CPU compared to all the Windows bloat around it.

This is very misleading. The bloat is the GUI and eye candy you come to expect with Windows but code today is far more complex than when PC's were 10 years ago. If you feel your system lagging it is because you are likely lacking RAM and doing a lot of code swapping with can slow down even a fast CPU. Even a marginal CPU with lots of RAM will perform better most of the time than a faster CPU with limited RAM


You already mention you are using SSD, that's a big win right there.

It is not the silver bullet some claim it is. If you have enough RAM the only real difference you will see is boot time. If you see a noticeable increase in general operation it is because the faster SSD is speeding up paging of code to virtual memory. But while this is faster than before it is much slower than having enough system RAM. Also while system RAM basically has extremely large cycle lifespan a SSD is much shorter in heavy use. Constant paging/swapping of code due to limited RAM places more stress on a SSD than many realize.
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Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..
KOP
Member

Posts: 292




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« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2016, 07:07:58 PM »

OS: Linux 3.2.0-4-amd64/x86_64 - Distro: Debian 7.8 - CPU: 8 x Intel Xeon (3000.000 MHz) - Processes: 203 - Uptime: 9d 9h 17m - Users: 2 - Load Average: 0.36 - Memory Usage: 2372.95MB/32247.37MB (7.36%) - Disk Usage: 1936.51GB/3948.30GB (49.05%)

So my workstations are verifiable overkill for what any usb sdr needs . With that said the true bottle neck is in the video processing . Here a good look at speed vs ram is worth while . I suggest the Nvidia Quadro cards from a generation or two previous . Yes the Nvidia specific kernels are a bit of a puzzle at rare times but the configuration options available from a professional chipset and bios  not present in a "retail" card are worth the price .

Much more if needed ...

~kop
« Last Edit: April 04, 2016, 09:09:59 AM by KOP » Logged

66 days, 9 hours, 55 minutes and 59 seconds
N7EKU
Member

Posts: 797




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« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2016, 09:00:48 AM »

Hi,

Rather than just saying, "I have seen..." when talking about power consumption, a link might be nice.  According to this one, the A10-7700 is fine:

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/amd-a10-7850k_13.html#sect0

In this review, it is similar in total system consumption to the i3 and i5 processors, and is nowhere close to a 200W "coffee warmer".  I don't know how this processor compares in price to the two Intel ones.  From reviews, the latter are generally better overall processors, so if the price was similar and you can find a similarly priced board that you like, I would go that way.



Note, the A10-7700 is related to the A10-7850 not the older model A10-6800.

Cheers and 73,


Mark
« Last Edit: April 04, 2016, 10:00:05 AM by N7EKU » Logged

Mark -- N7EKU/VE3
W8JX
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Posts: 12373




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« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2016, 10:12:57 AM »

So said and so out of touch. It is interesting how you use a 4th generation I core that came out 3 years ago and was replaced by 5th gen 5th 18 months ago  which is now being replaced ed by 6th generation that launched 6 months ago. BTW newer generations have a much more powerful GPU to.

I guess you are trying to make AMD CPU's look much better than they are and of course you left out benchmarks and power efficency ie computational power vs watts of power used.   AMD fails these all.
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Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..
N7EKU
Member

Posts: 797




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« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2016, 11:40:11 AM »

Hi,

Why are you being so mean and nasty and putting words in my mouth?  I am not trying to make AMD look good or bad or anything.  You said it consumed close to 200W, and I could not find that result when I looked.  I didn't search for any specific AMD-slanted review, the one I posted was the first one that I found with total power consumption graphs.  I'm sure there are many others.

I also didn't spend time investigating what generation the different processors were.  The one I mentioned was one currently being discussed by you and others in this post, so I commented on those. 

I think both companies make good processors.  If you notice, I did say that the i3 and i5 were better in general as that review shows.  However, according to other posts, any of these is good enough for doing SDR.  Also, the OP plans to run Linux, so all of these tests might be "out the window" as their performance and power use may be different in Linux.

As a word of advice, I would try to avoid putting words and motivations in other peoples mouths on these forums.  It's not nice and not fair.

73,


Mark.
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Mark -- N7EKU/VE3
W8JX
Member

Posts: 12373




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« Reply #21 on: April 05, 2016, 05:09:33 AM »

There was a time long long ago when AMD was a driving force in CPU market but that is long past. Their processors are not in same league as Intel and have not been for some time. There are behind in die size and processing power per clock cycle. It is far better to build with Intel as you can buy a cheap CPU, which will still be very quick,  now to save some money and plug in a much faster on later when they get cheaper. Get a decent motherboard and RAM amount now and a entry level Intel CPU and you can get a even faster one cheaper later for less than now even including price of first CPU because prices always fall. I would not waste money on any current AMD CPU for a custom build.
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Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..
KD8TUT
Member

Posts: 522




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« Reply #22 on: April 05, 2016, 06:36:24 AM »

Hi,

Why are you being so mean and nasty and putting words in my mouth?  I am not trying to make AMD look good or bad or anything.  You said it consumed close to 200W, and I could not find that result when I looked.  I didn't search for any specific AMD-slanted review, the one I posted was the first one that I found with total power consumption graphs.  I'm sure there are many others.

I also didn't spend time investigating what generation the different processors were.  The one I mentioned was one currently being discussed by you and others in this post, so I commented on those. 

I think both companies make good processors.  If you notice, I did say that the i3 and i5 were better in general as that review shows.  However, according to other posts, any of these is good enough for doing SDR.  Also, the OP plans to run Linux, so all of these tests might be "out the window" as their performance and power use may be different in Linux.

As a word of advice, I would try to avoid putting words and motivations in other peoples mouths on these forums.  It's not nice and not fair.

73,


Mark.

Mark,

I've come to terms with the fact that he's unable to have a reasoned conversation with anyone regarding computer technology. He really doesn't understand the topic. And arguing with him from the standpoint of making sure others are not misinformed is irritating because it doesn't matter what you say- he knows better than you.

In short, I suspect he spends too much time on gaming websites where "instructions per clock" are regarded as holy (since those programs do not multithread [much]).

But once you get into use patterns where many applications are open at once, you get better performance per dollar using AMD (perhaps only until just recently). An exception to that are the AMD Bulldozer cores which were pretty bad. 

The new crop of Intel chips are very fast on a per core basis. And perform better at threading- but the AMD chips are cheaper for dollar VS performance.

There's new AMD chips coming out in October, based on a 14nm FinFET process. Which abandon "Clustered Multithreading" (RISC based) for "Simultaneous Multithreading" (Deeper pipeline). This is a "Zen" core which I expect will give Intel a run for their money.

You're right regarding thermals BTW. The chip I recommended is a 95w chip. And even if a sample were produced running 110 watts that's still not out of the ball park.

Take care...
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Putting a Shatnerologist in a room full of ordinary people is like putting a velociraptor in a room full of wiener dogs.
W8JX
Member

Posts: 12373




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« Reply #23 on: April 05, 2016, 07:11:16 AM »

Hi,

Why are you being so mean and nasty and putting words in my mouth?  I am not trying to make AMD look good or bad or anything.  You said it consumed close to 200W, and I could not find that result when I looked.  I didn't search for any specific AMD-slanted review, the one I posted was the first one that I found with total power consumption graphs.  I'm sure there are many others.

I also didn't spend time investigating what generation the different processors were.  The one I mentioned was one currently being discussed by you and others in this post, so I commented on those.  

I think both companies make good processors.  If you notice, I did say that the i3 and i5 were better in general as that review shows.  However, according to other posts, any of these is good enough for doing SDR.  Also, the OP plans to run Linux, so all of these tests might be "out the window" as their performance and power use may be different in Linux.

As a word of advice, I would try to avoid putting words and motivations in other peoples mouths on these forums.  It's not nice and not fair.

73,


Mark.

Mark,

I've come to terms with the fact that he's unable to have a reasoned conversation with anyone regarding computer technology. He really doesn't understand the topic. And arguing with him from the standpoint of making sure others are not misinformed is irritating because it doesn't matter what you say- he knows better than you.

In short, I suspect he spends too much time on gaming websites where "instructions per clock" are regarded as holy (since those programs do not multithread [much]).

But once you get into use patterns where many applications are open at once, you get better performance per dollar using AMD (perhaps only until just recently). An exception to that are the AMD Bulldozer cores which were pretty bad.  

The new crop of Intel chips are very fast on a per core basis. And perform better at threading- but the AMD chips are cheaper for dollar VS performance.

There's new AMD chips coming out in October, based on a 14nm FinFET process. Which abandon "Clustered Multithreading" (RISC based) for "Simultaneous Multithreading" (Deeper pipeline). This is a "Zen" core which I expect will give Intel a run for their money.

You're right regarding thermals BTW. The chip I recommended is a 95w chip. And even if a sample were produced running 110 watts that's still not out of the ball park.

Take care...

You need to rephrase that to say that I refuse to support dead end OSes like 7 and a viable solution today. Also those that do not understand CPU technology or computer technology in general much more than using a mouse, a USB port and power switch it is far easier to try to attack me rather than admitt their own limitations. Like it or no we live in a cross platform world today and on PC side anything less than Win 8.1 has no support for this new environment.

Computer technology and how we interact with it is evolving at rate not seen since Windows replaced DOS. Many fear change and those that do bitch the most about it. They attack what they do not understand.

BTW AMD is close to going under unless they can turn themselves around. They are trying to do this with future designs with hyperthread support (finailly and 15+ years late too) and advanced power management but none have it today. Their current CPU'are inferior to Intel with any OS. Wishing otherwise does not change this.

« Last Edit: April 05, 2016, 07:17:13 AM by W8JX » Logged

--------------------------------------
Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..
KD8TUT
Member

Posts: 522




Ignore
« Reply #24 on: April 05, 2016, 07:27:45 AM »

Hi,

Why are you being so mean and nasty and putting words in my mouth?  I am not trying to make AMD look good or bad or anything.  You said it consumed close to 200W, and I could not find that result when I looked.  I didn't search for any specific AMD-slanted review, the one I posted was the first one that I found with total power consumption graphs.  I'm sure there are many others.

I also didn't spend time investigating what generation the different processors were.  The one I mentioned was one currently being discussed by you and others in this post, so I commented on those.  

I think both companies make good processors.  If you notice, I did say that the i3 and i5 were better in general as that review shows.  However, according to other posts, any of these is good enough for doing SDR.  Also, the OP plans to run Linux, so all of these tests might be "out the window" as their performance and power use may be different in Linux.

As a word of advice, I would try to avoid putting words and motivations in other peoples mouths on these forums.  It's not nice and not fair.

73,


Mark.

Mark,

I've come to terms with the fact that he's unable to have a reasoned conversation with anyone regarding computer technology. He really doesn't understand the topic. And arguing with him from the standpoint of making sure others are not misinformed is irritating because it doesn't matter what you say- he knows better than you.

In short, I suspect he spends too much time on gaming websites where "instructions per clock" are regarded as holy (since those programs do not multithread [much]).

But once you get into use patterns where many applications are open at once, you get better performance per dollar using AMD (perhaps only until just recently). An exception to that are the AMD Bulldozer cores which were pretty bad.  

The new crop of Intel chips are very fast on a per core basis. And perform better at threading- but the AMD chips are cheaper for dollar VS performance.

There's new AMD chips coming out in October, based on a 14nm FinFET process. Which abandon "Clustered Multithreading" (RISC based) for "Simultaneous Multithreading" (Deeper pipeline). This is a "Zen" core which I expect will give Intel a run for their money.

You're right regarding thermals BTW. The chip I recommended is a 95w chip. And even if a sample were produced running 110 watts that's still not out of the ball park.

Take care...

You need to rephrase that to say that I refuse to support dead end OSes like 7 and a viable solution today. Also those that do not understand CPU technology or computer technology in general much more than using a mouse, a USB port and power switch it is far easier to try to attack me rather than admitt their own limitations. Like it or no we live in a cross platform world today and on PC side anything less than Win 8.1 has no support for this new environment.

Computer technology and how we interact with it is evolving at rate not seen since Windows replaced DOS. Many fear change and those that do bitch the most about it. They attack what they do not understand.

BTW AMD is close to going under unless they can turn themselves around. They are trying to do this with future designs with hyperthread support (finailly and 15+ years late too) and advanced power management but none have it today. Their current CPU'are inferior to Intel with any OS. Wishing otherwise does not change this.



You're like a poster boy for the Dunning–Kruger effect.

I'm not replying beyond this since you didn't even respond to what I wrote.
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Putting a Shatnerologist in a room full of ordinary people is like putting a velociraptor in a room full of wiener dogs.
WB5UAA
Member

Posts: 52




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« Reply #25 on: April 05, 2016, 07:32:59 AM »

NR5P, your last post was a week ago so I don't know if you're still watching this thread, but everybody has their own preferences when building PCs.  You learn as you go.  Looks like you're trying to build your first PC.  Let me try handing out some general advise.

First of all, you CAN (and in most cases) build a PC cheaper than a brand name and actually have better results in many cases because you're not getting all the crapware that comes with brand name computers.

Linux Mint has been the most popular flavor of linux for a couple years now.  It is well supported, so chances are it'll work with just about any hardware combination you put together.

Any time I've seen someone build a PC on the cheap, they are almost always disappointed.  Today, the hardware outlasts the operating systems.  So, my advise, decide how much you can afford and build the best PC you can in that budget.

PCPARTPICKER.COM (previously mentioned) is an excellent site to try different combinations and see how much it would cost.

Me, personally, if I were trying to build a PC specifically for SDR apps, I wouldn't go any lower than a 3 Ghz, 4 core processor and the fastest memory that CPU can handle--most people make the mistake of thinking since the motherboard can handle faster memory, the memory runs at that faster rate.  That is a waste of money.  The best you can do is match the CPU FSB speed to the Memory speed--and double check to see if the mobo can handle that memory speed (or faster).

Many people think more cores is always better.  In some cases, like if you're into extreme computing and pushing CPUs/GPUs to their limits), it is.  But in most cases it's not.  Each core can do only one task at a time.  If you only run 3 apps on a 4 core processor, that leaves the fourth core free to do back ground tasks.

Specifically?

Intel Core i5-4570S 2.9 GHz Quad-Core Processor $199.97 (with the latest UEFI on your mobo, it'll most likely automatically overclock a litte bit over 3 Ghz) or
AMD Phenom II X4 945 3 GHz Quad-Core Processor $128.73 or greater.

Me, personally, I've had better luck with Intel processors.  For SDR, I believe processor speed is more important than number of cores.  Again, me personally, 3GHZ MINIMUM.

As for the motherboard, use the most popular "form factor" of ATX.  That's just a standard size.  After you select a processor, PCPARTPICKER will then only list the mobos that will work with your processor.  Just select the cheapest ATX mobo that will meet your needs--in this case, you want a PCI slot for your audio card.  Lots of choices out there.  If you're going with a solid state drive, make sure there are some SATA ports on the motherboard.  Also, see what kind of video processing is on the mobo.  Chances are, if there are flickers on your screen after you get everything up and running, you'll probably want bump your video processing up by installing a better graphic processor unit.  Make sure there's a PCI-E slot available (most likely will be as that's the norm today.)

Make sure of what type of memory your mobo can handle.  It if can handle "dual-channel" memory, then make sure you buy TWO memory sticks and put them in the correct slots.  That effectively doubles memory access speed.  If it can handle "triple-channel" memory, then 3 memory sticks.

Also, with memory speed, make sure what you buy will run at the speed you are looking for *without* XMP enabled.  I have not had good luck with eXtreme Memory Profile enabled.  XMP, as far as I'm concerned, is a way for memory manufactures to fool the customer.

How much memory?  Probably not as much as you think.   If you're only going to have a couple of apps running, it's been my experience that 8GB of memory is plenty today.  The way to check to see if you have enough memory installed is to check and see if there's *any* virtual memory being used (in Win7, resource monitory, memory, hard faults/sec).  If you see a lot of activity there, you can bump up the amount of memory to 16GB and you'll most likely zero out your virtual memory usage and speed up your PC.

Then it's just a matter of selecting an ATX case, an ATX power supply (add up the power required for all the components in your PC and bump up the wattage 25% to determine the size power supply you'll need, keeping in mind if you want to add more components in the future), keyboard, mouse, monitor, and some sort of optical drive.

Oh, and cooling:  If you're not into "at or near 100% processor/GPU usage", one case fan and the stock CPU cooler is fine.  I was an extreme computer user for the past couple of years.  I'm over that now.

Hope this real advise helps.  Good luck.
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M6NQR
Member

Posts: 16




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« Reply #26 on: April 05, 2016, 09:00:37 AM »

To be honest, it's getting to feel like people are just ranting and boasting about their own systems here. I was able to get a decent SDR experiece on an old Prescott P4 from 2005, we're not exactly living on the bleeding edge of computing power in this community, we just don't need it). Most of the stuff you can get today will probably be OK for SDR. No PCIe slots for a soundcard? USB works just as well. I think people are so used to ploughing lots money into transceivers and assorted paraphernalia they feel that they have to have an equally expensive PC.

CPU performance has experienced something of a plateau over recent years, 4 year old CPUs are still OK today, so no need to go for the most expensive option. GPU based DSP is still a fair way off, no need for a dedicated graphics card yet,  IGPUs on both sides (AMD/Intel) are plenty powerful enough. The only thing I would consider for an SDR PC is power consumption, which only really matters if you're using the thing near 24/7 and power is really expensive where you live. OS wise, whatever works for you. Who cares? (Other than OS pedants on this forum that seem to believe their sacred OS is the right tool for any job and everyone else is a blaspheming infidel Grin). Virtualise if you want flexibility, run them all!
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N0YXB
Member

Posts: 1208




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« Reply #27 on: April 05, 2016, 02:10:24 PM »


You're like a poster boy for the Dunning–Kruger effect.


Interesting, thanks for that. I learned something new.
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KD8GEH
Member

Posts: 617




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« Reply #28 on: April 08, 2016, 11:07:34 AM »

Check this out and see if has what you need.  Has a resident com port, built in dual video.  I Love mine.  Using a A10 AMD cool as heck.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813132056


Just my opinion.

73  Dave
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W7SMJ
Member

Posts: 129




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« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2016, 04:58:46 PM »


You're like a poster boy for the Dunning–Kruger effect.


Interesting, thanks for that. I learned something new.

+1!
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