[Sidefx-houdini-list] hardware innovations

Mark Alexander malexander at sidefx.com
Wed Dec 14 11:20:33 EST 2005

I have an AthlonX2 4400 system (dual core 2.2Ghz, 2x1Mb cache) and I'm 
quite happy with it. It's much more reasonably priced than the 
Opteron-equivalent CPUs (especially if you want to put 2 dual-core CPUs 
in your system, for a quad) and it fits in a motherboard designed for 
any socket 939 CPU. Luckily, AMD's memory controller is so good that 
there is little difference between a dual core CPU and dual CPUs in most 
cases (the usual performance hit is the sharing of memory bandwidth).

Other than that, I'd say spend your money on memory (2Gb, professional 
mem like Kingston, Crucial or OCX; not cheap value stuff - you can 
increase performance by around 5% with good memory), and a fast, large 
drive. Almost any card from Nvidia within the past 3 years is more than 
sufficient for Houdini (from the FX series up). ATI cards are a little 
dicier, as their OpenGL support hasn't been as good as Nvidia's.

Having two CPUs means that you can fire off test renders on your machine 
with impunity and continue to work in Houdini while they render. On a 
single CPU, you can really tell when the OS is doing two things at once.

Also, both NVidia and ATI are threading their graphics drivers, so 
there's one more reason to dual :)


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