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Where are the Large RAM Systems?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the RAM-not-HD-size dept.

Data Storage 185

CaptCanuk asks: "I've been charged with finding a system with 16 GB of memory and have had a really hard time in acquiring one (especially with a PCIE 16x slot). Linux is at the forefront of these 'large system memory' systems and beyond beta versions of Windows XP, is the only OS that supports the 64 bit memory addressing required to use this much RAM. When I asked large beige box wholesalers, I'd get comments from 'Why do you want a 16GB harddrive...you want MEMORY? are you sure?' to 'No motherboard supports more than 4GB of memory; everyone knows that'. Where are these mythical large memory systems? Do you think such workstation configurations will become pervasive in the future? Will it take Microsoft's Windows XP 64 bit to legitimize their existence in larger quantities?"

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185 comments

Big Memory Systems (0, Offtopic)

Gary Destruction (683101) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743254)

If I remember right, I saw an option in the 2.4.x kernel that had the option for large memory support. The choices were either 4GB or 64GB. But come to think of it, I'm not sure if that's for RAM or memory addressing.

Re:Big Memory Systems (3, Informative)

brejc8 (223089) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743329)

That is the addressable memory space. Curiousley the x84 instruction set doesn't have a 32bit (4Gb) wall but reather an 64Gb wall due to the segment offset. This is the original hack which gave us 1Mb limit reather than the 64K.
The only reason linux gives you the choice between the two when compiling is to allow the address to be stores in one 32bit int.

Re:Big Memory Systems (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11743843)

Most CPUs starting from PentiumPro had 36-bit physical addressing, and as long as the mainboard and chipset supported it too, CPU could address up to 64GB of PHYSICAL memory. For this however, paging must be switched to the PAE mode, so page table entries will have another format and could contain bigger physical address base, that's what the "64G" Support in Linux' kernel was for. It has nothing to do with memory segments, or the ability of 8086 to address 1MB using 16-bit pointers at all.

On 32-bit CPUs, VIRTUAL addresses and segment sizes are still 32-bit and could not exceed the 4G size.

Re:Big Memory Systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11745272)

i was under the impression that processes still had the 32-bit barrier, limiting each process' memory size to 2GB - rendering PAE somewhat useless unless you're doing something that runs in parallel (which you could just do on multiple boxes).

Re:Big Memory Systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11744670)

Motherfucker, you're illiterate.

Re:Big Memory Systems (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 9 years ago | (#11745581)

X86 has not always supported 36-bit addressable memory. I think it was introduced with Pentium Pro, while 386 to Pentium MMX supported 4 GB only.

Even so, PPro+ cannot access all of the 64 GB as a single flat memory space, only 4 GB at a time. I forget the exact reasons for this, so perhaps someone can clarify.

I'm a bit confused... (1, Interesting)

tibike77 (611880) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743258)

... you want a 16 Gig RAM box and you expect to find it "in the offer" of some company ? Do you want to use it as a desktop or a server ? Why DO you need 16G RAM in a desktop ? Why do you expect to find a "server" at normal retailers ?

That being said, what stops you from buying the components YOU know exist that *can* support such a large memory and build the damn PC YOURSELF ?

Re:I'm a bit confused... (5, Informative)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743274)

Because if you're a company looking for reliability and ongoing maintenance, a self-build isn't necessarily the first thing you think of. You're a beancounter looking for an ongoing support contract from a reputable OEM you've heard of before, possibly with onsite or couriered-in replacement clause.

I'd like to throw out the possibility of clustering instead, though (mostly cause it's on my mind because I've been dealing with several support cases on clusters recently). Why is this not an option for extra power, resilience, etc..

Re:I'm a bit confused... (4, Informative)

Zapman (2662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743608)

Whether to use a cluster or not depends heavily on the problem domain. Until very recently, clusters didn't work so well with large databases, etc.

You also seem to be shopping specs rather than throughput. Your mention of 16x PCIexpress is what gives this away. The only cards that support this now are high, high end graphics cards, and these cards don't even need it. There's no real difference between the AGP 8x and PCIex versions of these cards.

That said, you're not going to find what you're looking for in the beige box world. You're looking (realistically) at about 4 different venders: Windows: Dell, IBM, and HP. UNIX: IBM, HP, and Sun.

You're also only looking at servers (not desktop or towers).

My experience is with Sun, and a little Dell and IBM. So I'm going to speak to those. Sun makes magnificient hardware. Their support organization has had problems recently, but the hardware is good enough that we don't need it often. Sun's V880 servers are amazing. up to 8 CPU's and up to 32 gigs of ram, with great growth potential (12 PCI slots, several of them 64 bit, 66 MHz).

We've had lots of problems with our Dell hradware. Whole lines of their servers have been crap, and dell replaced thier 16xx line with their 17xx line for us for free. Our exchange server runs on a 6550 IIRC, which has at least 8 gigs of ram. This model probably can go higher in ram, but I'm not sure.

We've been really impressed with the IBM hardware we've started to purchase. It's been pretty stable, fun to work with, etc. IBM has a long history of making great servers. They probably have several models that will help.

Re:I'm a bit confused... (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743679)

We've had lots of problems with our Dell hradware.

As you mention that, we've had a whole string of HDD failures at work on our new Precision Workstations - not Dell directly of course - they just put the things together, but it's emblematic. Having said that, my two Dell notebooks have been pretty solid so far, aside from a(nother) broken HDD which was likely caused by rough handling. It was a good excuse for extra capacity anyway.

If you're in the Exchange area, you're actually limited to 64Gb even though available hardware can go to 128Gb+ - Windows 2003 Enterprise x64 is trapped at 64Gb at present. Not sure if the forthcoming HPC edition or the R2 release will go further. Not even sure if Exchange 2k3 can harness that amount of RAM (not my area).

IBM servers have been great in my experience so far, I must say. I've also been an admin for some old HP Servers which have been running fairly reliably since NT4 was in short pants (one node of the RAID 4 failed about two years back, that's about it even though we had to get a bunch of spares to keep in reserve after that). The only other screwups have been software-based.

Re:I'm a bit confused... (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744952)

I could see an instance where 3 800 Mb channels of FireWire 2 would help throughput, and no, that's not a graphics card, and yes it is a PCI-X card.

I have also worked with High Speed color scanners, and a cutting edge one could easily need the RAM and PCI-X to scan to RAM and write inbetween stacks and to do it fast.

Also, to the questioner:

Buy Linux Format, they weview huge ass Linux servers with tons of RAM every month (though more like 8GB if memmory serves correctly).

Re:I'm a bit confused... (1)

Zapman (2662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11745165)

Out of curiosity, what did you have on the other end of those firewire ports? Anything that could really push 800 Megabits? [1]

3 firewire2 ports is only 300 megabytes/s, which is less than the scsi3 360 cards, that fit happily within the bandwidth of a 64 bit, 66mhz PCI slot. It may be a PCI-X card, but I still contend that it doesn't NEED to be. I can't speak to the High Speed Color scanner. That'd probably be a pretty cool application. Though would you really need 16 Gb of ram?

[1] Now, I admit, I had to dig a little bit to find out if firewire2 was in megabits or megabytes. According to this article [pcworld.com] it's megabits)

Re:I'm a bit confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11745498)

Now, I admit, I had to dig a little bit to find out if firewire2 was in megabits or megabytes.

The GP did clearly indicate "Mb" (Mega bits) as opposed to "MB" (Mega Bytes).

Re:I'm a bit confused... (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744048)

Dell, IBM, and HP aren't reputable enough companies for you? For products that we pay for the extra support, I've never had an issue with Dell or HP support. (O.k. I usually have to speak with Indians now and again with HP, but that's not a big issue for me.) I want to know what companies your business consider's reputable enough.

Re:I'm a bit confused... (1)

DetrimentalFiend (233753) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744459)

Exactly....

Anyway, http://www.aberdeeninc.com/abcatg/2UServers.htm (the 64 bit one there) is a sample option. I'm not sure who you're calling, but this shouldn't be too hard to get taken care of.

16 GB RAM (0, Redundant)

BladeMelbourne (518866) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743262)

I can give you a 486 DH2 66 MHz with 16 GB of memory. Oh wait that's 16 MB. Sorry, my bad.

Re:16 GB RAM (1)

BladeMelbourne (518866) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743294)

Damn beer fingers. DX2 not DH2...

PS: Comes with 10 mbps ethernet and sound card (both are those new ISA cards, believe it or not). Available for a limited time only!

Re:16 GB RAM (1)

RogerWilco (99615) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744220)

Bleh,

I can offer a 486DX4-100 with 36MB RAM and a VESA Localbus Mach64 4MB
it's even got it's BIOS upgraded to support the 6.4 GB harddisk.
I call it the "486 on steroids" concept.

Re:16 GB RAM (1)

adamjaskie (310474) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744531)

OOh, nice. I've got a VESA Localbus Diamond Stealth in a mobo with 40 megs of RAM and a 80.3MHz Pentium Overdrive for 486 processor, but I don't have a case for it, and the hard drive was transplanted to my server, which is a Pentium 233 MMX.

Re:16 GB RAM (1)

Cmdr TECO (579177) | more than 9 years ago | (#11745328)

I can offer a genuine IBM PC -- remember, no one ever got fired for buying IBM -- with 16K.

Cassette tape interface, too.

I gotta ask (2, Interesting)

Bilzmoude (811717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743263)

Yeah, I know... it is not an answer... and it doesnt really matter... but out of raw curiosity... what are you doing that you need that much memory? Bilz

Re:I gotta ask (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743280)

If you ever need to render a movie like finding nemo, you would appreciate a system with that much ram - or rather, a thousand networked systems with that much ram. (Render Farm)

I guess that is the most well known use for so much RAM, probably also high end databases.

Re:I gotta ask (2, Interesting)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743304)

High-end databases would have been the first thing I'd have thought of actually. I was under the impression that render farms, as they don't have to run 24x7 for years on end, tend to be more in the vein of mahoosive clusters of cheaper boxes than a concentrated small cluster as you'd use for big databases (Oracle, DB2, SQL Server)

Re:I gotta ask (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743347)

I think you are spot on with the render farm comment! This appears to be the way of the future. String a thousand low end systems together for very little cost, achieve massive performance gains.

3D. The problem shifts toward the modelling application itself, I haven't found any that scale across multiple platforms - multiple processors yes, but not machines. Maya 6 doesn't do that, so I guess neither does anything else currently available. (I may be mistaken though, I kind of hope I am too)

Re:I gotta ask (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743382)

Agreed; farms/clusters seem to be the thing - I mean, look at what Google are doing [computer.org] - If I was looking at a big installation tomorrow I'd be inclined to take a set of blades or a bunch of generic-internal 1RU units from Dell or someone stacked together on a hefty gigabit network, though I suppose it really depends on what you want from the server at the end of the day.

I haven't kept up with software on render farms since I left my last design agency (now at a large software company which often contains $ in the name), but I would think if the software doesn't scale well right now, it's only a matter of time before the ability is easily within reach for even small studios.

Re:I gotta ask (2, Informative)

jonadab (583620) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743516)

I can think of a couple of things...

How about working on enormous multilayer images in Gimp that are ultimately
destined to be printed as large, high-gloss posters? That'll eat some RAM.
The piddly little images I have worked with (you know, 600dpi for 8.5x11
letter-size, tiny little things) can use up more than a gigabyte each, with
only four layers; a complex image can easily have over fifty layers...

Video editing springs to mind.

Databases perform better if they can fit all the data in RAM, especially if
the data are read far more often than written. It's easy to imagine a DB
that goes past 4GB.

I'm sure there are other applications where you could want that much RAM.

Re:I gotta ask (1)

Bilzmoude (811717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743832)

Sure, I can think of a dozen reasons myself... there are a ton of modeling examples I can come up with off the top of my head... Even for website caching, it would be useful. I am more curious to know what the OP wanted it for in the sake of curiosity. :)

One use (2, Interesting)

Mycroft_514 (701676) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744949)

I can see is in CASE tools. I already was forced up to 2GB of RAM and that won't be enough for very much longer.

If I had to model the Peoplesoft tools, well 4GB won't do that either.

It will take time (1)

alexwcovington (855979) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743270)

It always does. Though the complement of RAM in an average system has stalled over the past few years due to heavier disk caching and the moving of a lot of heavy graphic processing to subsystems, 16 GB of RAM will inevitably become less unusual. It will take a stable environment and software complement to break the 4 GB barrier, though.

Re:It will take time (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743303)

Or you could just write better software. Really, I gotta wonder, what the hell are you running that requires that many pages to be in memory at the same time. Obviously you need this kind of stuff if you're running a huge database or something, but a desktop machine? You're kiding right?

Re:It will take time (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743319)

where does it say desktop in the post? I'm going blind!

Re:It will take time (2, Interesting)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743747)

I think that would be implied by the requirement for a 16x pci express slot. As far as I'm aware, the only cards for these slots are video -- pci express raid & network cards do plenty with only a 1x pci express.

Re:It will take time (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743782)

aha!

Good point. I am blind after all.

fairly baffled by that one, though by my experience, maybe he needs 16GB+ in order to run Steam [steampowered.com] without his system taking a massive dump. /me resentful of Steam

Re:It will take time (0, Flamebait)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743847)

Games aren't the only things that need good video cards. Perhaps they do large 3-D renderings or something. I know a company that does fluid dynamics, and would require a system with lots of memory for the calculations, and a good video card to display the results.

Why must slashdotters be so myopic?

Re:It will take time (3, Informative)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744083)


Really, I gotta wonder, what the hell are you running that requires that many pages to be in memory at the same time.

How about the entire genomic sequences of >4 organisms? That way you can compare them to each other simultaneously, and learn which sequences are similar and which are different.

Here's another application, off the top of my head: simulate the gravitational mechanics of any large system of objects. Think you want to swap that kind of thing to disk?

I submit that there are many scientific applications of this much RAM; and you're not likely to recognize or understand the need unless you're in the field yourself. A LOT of bleeding edge computing work is being driven by scientific researchers who demand, really, a heavy amount of resources to do their simulations on--and computing structures that are designed for database work/gaming is just not comparable.

Personally, we use HP quad Opterons, with 64GB of RAM each (running Linux, btw); and while you could build that kind of thing yourself, the reliability issues at that scale just aren't worth it.

Re:It will take time (2)

Xner (96363) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744656)

Really, I gotta wonder, what the hell are you running that requires that many pages to be in memory at the same time.

Three words: Computational Fluid Dynamics.

Re:It will take time (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743353)

It will take a stable environment and software complement to break the 4 GB barrier, though.

Such as Apple's OSX, their Power PC and Xserve ranges have supported 8Gb ram configurations for ages.

Re:It will take time (4, Informative)

Smitty825 (114634) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743706)

OS X does not totally take advantage of more than 4GB of RAM. It can address tons of RAM, but each running application is limited to a maximum of 4GB of addressable space in Panther.

When Tiger comes out, non-gui applications will be able to address the full 64 bit address space, however, GUI apps will remain limited to the 32 bit address space. See here [apple.com] for more info.

Try this link (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11743277)

Here is an idea, why dont you just fucking google it [justfuckinggoogleit.com].

Re:Try this link (1)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744592)

It's amazing how a little google, goes a long ways . . . :)

Having fun here [ioncomputer.com], I can come up with the following pretty quickly.

Total with Additional Items: $64,923.00


No problem, easily within my budget. ;)

Re:Try this link (1)

St. Arbirix (218306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744933)

Funny you mention them. Don't they store *all* of their database in RAM? That'd probably be a good company to ask.

Open your eyes... (4, Informative)

DrPepper (23664) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743281)

...there all over the place:

Dell Itanium [dell.com]
HP Itanium [hp.com]
IBM Itanium [ibm.com]

Re:Open your eyes... (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743358)

The IBM seems a little light on maximum quoted disk as compared to the other two, which in themselves don't seem that massive (my desktop box has 280Gb, though admittedly not in a fault-tolerant config).

I'd be looking at extra storage too. SAN?

Re:Open your eyes... (1)

Jjeff1 (636051) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743500)

Exactly, you don't buy a machine of this size without attaching it to some large storage. Probably a SAN/NAS, though you could also go with a direct attached SCSI enclosure. It's not just because you might have a lot of data, you need to keep a (probably) 4 processor system well fed with data for best efficiency.

Poster should also keep in mind the heat, noise and power considerations of a box this size.

And just to put in my 2 cents, an HP DL145 [hp.com] support 2 Opterons and 16 GB memory for under $20K US.

Re:Open your eyes... (2, Interesting)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743752)

Poster should also keep in mind the heat, noise and power considerations of a box this size

Hell yeah. Monster UPS underneath, to hold up the servers, switches, blah blah in the event of power outage, also the server room lights and the aircon and the security thereof so you can maintain operation or at least gracefully shut down in the event of outage. It has to be in a decent room of its own - you don't want the sound of a jet taking off in the corner of your open-plan office.

And failover? if you're gonna go one-big-box, then you're in the single point of failure area (ooh, we're back to clustering again).

Of course you may just want an impressive box in the corner and not really worry enormously about 24x7 ops. If that's the motivation though, why not just buy an impressive case with a bunch of flashing lights?

Re:Open your eyes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11744716)

There's a difference between "they're", "their" and "there". You'd think that with computers more powerful than the combined computing power of the planet during the Moon shots, YOU ILLITERATE CLODS WOULD GET IT RIGHT.

Re:Open your eyes... (1)

DrPepper (23664) | more than 9 years ago | (#11745325)

Congratulations, you spotted a mistake on Slashdot - I'm really surprised that nobody else picked me up on that one. You are prize winner #SD3497459685654.

Once you pass the age of 6, you will begin to realise that minor writing mistakes are made everyday. Live with it.

3 clicks from google (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743282)

IBM eserver xSeries 445 8870 (88701RX) [dealtime.com] can take 64 GB of ram, that enough for ya? I got a wild idea, why don't the "editors" of Slashdot do a 5 second google search before posting pointless Ask Slashdot questions like this and save us all a lot of time. Hell, it might even improve the quality of the site!

Re:3 clicks from google (5, Insightful)

miu (626917) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743340)

I don't think that most of the questions are selected to answer the question. As you correctly point out, the question can be solved with a search engine within minutes. Rather the question is supposed to encourage discussion - why does he need 16 G RAM, what are other people using such systems for, maybe someone has lab tested systems from several vendors and wants to share their results, how does the support offered by various OSs actually work. etc.

"Discuss among yourselves" (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744241)


Well they certainly do encourage discussion. I think you could post a question about rubarb pie to Ask Slashdot at start a spirited discussion about Google and how to use it. What I wonder is, is there and question that you could "Ask Slashdot" that would encourage a discussion about something other than Google?

Hey, maybe I should Ask Slashdot that!

--MarkusQ

Re:3 clicks from google (0, Offtopic)

willfe (6537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743829)

How is it the Slashdot editors' (or the question poster's) problem that you chose to bitch and moan about how easy it is to find an answer (not necessarily the right one) to the question? Seems to me you spent the time digging by choice; nobody put a gun to your head, did they?

The "quality" of Ask Slashdot has been on a steady decline lately, not because of a lack of quality of questions, but because of smartasses like yourself who'd rather complain than help.

There's exactly three kinds of Ask Slashdot replies I've seen in the last few months: 1) "Google it, you idiot!", 2) "Why would you ever want that, you idiot?", 3) The occasional, actually helpful, answer.

This is as idiotic as "concerned parents lobbying to get rid of violent TV" -- if you don't want to see questions that annoy you, take the Ask Slashdot section out of your preferences and quit reading the damned things!

I know, maybe you should post your smartass question as an Ask Slashdot question! That'd be fun. Harder to just claim "google it!" for that, isn't it?

And yes, I noticed you posted a link to some server, and included only its memory capacity. Does it match the other requirements in the Ask Slashdot question? You did actually read the whole question, right?

3 clicks from google-And then you have eggroll. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11744407)

The irony is that there's something else you all can be doing instead of reading Slashdot, and answer "Ask Slashdot" questions.

That's funny (5, Informative)

Hulver (5850) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743286)

I went to HP and was able to find one after about 5 clicks.

Or, I went to AMD's page here [amd.com] and clicked on one of the manufacturers listed. Where I found this [appro.com] dual opteron supporting 16GB ram. Took me all of 2 minutes.

Appro (4, Informative)

Gaima (174551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743293)

http://www.appro.com/ [appro.com] do same damn fine boxes, including 1U (yes, 1U) quad (yes, yes, quad) operton boxes that take 32GB of RAM.

I only wish the company I work for could afford boxes like that :(
Oh, and there's that "need" thing I keep hearing about.

Don't buy x86/amd64 (1)

keesh (202812) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743316)

Power4 and UltraSparc kit has supported a *lot* more than 4GBytes of RAM for years. If you want serious kit, buy a serious arch.

Re:Don't buy x86/amd64 (1)

fredan (54788) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743703)

since when hasn't amd64 been able to address more than 4GB ram? It's a 64-bit arch! If I want a serious arch, then I would go for alpha.

Re:Don't buy x86/amd64 (1)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744498)

What's not 'serious' about AMD64? It has excellent integer and decent fp performance, solid hardware and software support, low cost, and true big memory support (48-bit physical).

UltraSparc, in particluar, offers lackluster performance (excluding some very specific applications) and is quite expensive. Power4 is also extremely pricey. Don't be ashamed to use AMD64 because it's 'only' x86+. It's a solid, high performance platform.

Wow. (2, Informative)

afay (301708) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743328)

I just found a number of boards within about 30 seconds. That's a new low for an ask slashdot.

Here's a few [tyan.com]

Every board there except for the single processor ones supports at least 16 GBs of memory. Many have 16x pcie slots and at least one has 2.

Wost. Ask Slashdot. Ever. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11743330)

You need a PCIe slot? ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY SURE ABOUT THAT? If you are doing high-end visualisation, why not get a dedicated graphics workstation that supports massive amounts of RAM and hefty graphics cards?

Gobs of memory & Linux [sgi.com]

Gobs of memory & HP-UX [hp.com]

Gobs of memory & Solaris [sun.com]

Thousands of phamaceutical, oil and research companies around the world use this kit to get results, so why can't you?

Tyan / Opteron motherboards (2, Informative)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743348)

There are quite a few motherboards that can handle 16G (or 32G) memory, they're mostly dual/quad Opteron boards. Tyan has a line.

If you also want PCIe x16, it's harder - Tyan lists this baby (Thunder K8WE) [tyan.com], but I don't know if that one is actually available already.

Why? What? (1)

OrangeSpyderMan (589635) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743354)

You seems to know you need 16GB - but you don't explain why or how you came to that figure. I guess it's to run an app or some DBs - do you have currently a box with 4G or 8G that's being RAM starved for doing the same task? 16GB + boxes are fairly commonplace as many have already pointed out - www.sun.com sells lots of them and the OS (Solaris) support is just fine for capacity well in excess of 16G, but as is HP-UX, AIX, OS/400, etc.... I do wonder if whoever asked you to source this box did the right thing if you're reduced to asking slashdot or beige box providers...

Windows XP (1)

Fubar420 (701126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743395)

Oh come now people, isn't it clear? He wants to run WindowsXP without swapping!

Re:Windows XP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11743545)

This was a really lame joke, dude. XP can't even address this much memory, so how do you expect it to use it as swap?

Next Ask Slashdot: (5, Funny)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743396)

CaptCanuk's Boss asks: I've been charged with finding a qualified employee to handle big computer purchases. Now that most tech jobs are shipped to India, qualified personell in USA and Canada should be easy to find, but my employees aren't even capable of browsing Dell's web pages. I've tried everyone at my company, but they just scratch themselves and make loud screeching noises, then get back to reading Slashdot. So I ask: Where are those mythical competent workers? On the moon? Because they sure as hell aren't posting to "Ask Slashdot".

And the one after that (etc... You get the idea) (1)

harryman100 (631145) | more than 9 years ago | (#11745662)

CaptCanuk's Boss's Boss asks: I've been charged with finding a qualified employee to handle Human Resources Matters in our IT department. It appears that all our employees in this area have become to lazy/stupid to do their own job, and insist on outsourcing all of the actual work to India, and all of the research to Ask Slashdot. Help me, I'm too busy to spend 30 seconds looking up the answer.

Supermicro boards (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743424)

allow large memory. The cost of 2 GB DDR sticks might make you cry, though.
http://www.supermicro.com/products/mother board/Xeo n800/

(edit out the url space)

Spec sheet vs. reality (2, Interesting)

wchin (6284) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743464)

The Opteron systems I've seen that support > 8GB of RAM do so with registered ECC 2GB DIMMs. Until recently, it wasn't easy to find 2GB DIMMs. The cost is somewhere between $450 to $1200 per DIMM (for DDR333), and you'll need 8 of them. You can find some by Transcend on NewEgg. Crucial carries them at > $800/DIMM.

So even though there have been quite a few Opteron motherboards that have 16GB support on the datasheet, vendors haven't had 2GB DIMMs to fill them out readily.

Has anyone tried a 2GB DIMM in an Apple G5 system?

The Usual Mac Response (1)

MacBorg (740087) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743622)

It is possible (if you want to spend a small fortune) to cram a G5 tower with 8x2GB DDR3200 sticks. Not exactly a cheap proposition, but it can do the trick. OS X can address that much, the applications themselves are either limited to 2GB or 4GB, I don't recall which.

Re:The Usual Mac Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11743887)

OS X can address that much, the applications themselves are either limited to 2GB or 4GB, I don't recall which.

Because, of course, the reason people buy boxes with 16GB of memory is so they can run 8 apps using a maximum of 2GB each.

That way you can neatly avoid the extra fault tolerance you would get from running 8 separate boxes with 2GB each.

And with the price of 2GB DIMMs as they are you can also avoid the cost savings of just having 8 separate boxes.

I wish I owned a MAC so I could chime in with non-sensical answers to every bloody question.

For what?! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11743639)


Why do you need 16 GB RAM? Why else?


byte *data = malloc(16000000000);

Sun/IBM/HP (list could go on) (1)

bbrack (842686) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743667)

Sun has UltraSPARC, Opteron and Xeon models IBM has POWER and Opteron models HP has Itanium, Xeon and Opteron models And it only took me 5 minutes to look at the specs of all the above models. Just look at the entry level servers or high end workstations on most manufacturers web sites...

HP Opteron, iWill (1)

t482 (193197) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743711)

Don't only look at amount of RAM look at access speed from the CPU and CPU contention. AMD HyperTransport addresses this somewhat.

HP DL585 supports model 852 processors, running at 2.6GHz, 1GHz HyperTransport and PC3200, running at 400MHz. 64-32GB of RAM depending on speed.

HP [hp.com]

For a white box check out iWill (or Tyan motherboards)

iWill 8 Way Opteron supports 64 GB RAM [iwill.com.tw]

IIRC you will need a 64bit processor (1)

bravenight (691199) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743743)

An Opteron for example. Try a quick customization of your own: PC's For Everyone [pcsforeveryone.com] The default motherboard can take 8gb and higher end boards go from 16gb to 64gb. If Dell & friends can't supply you with what you want find a local custom build shop that has been around a while and has a good service record. As others have pointed out you can also build it yourself. For support there are plenty of third party on-site support companies, some specializing in Linux. Find one with reps in your area. HTH

Opteron (4, Informative)

photon317 (208409) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743774)


Buy an SMP opteron box, they'll support all the memory you want and then some. Most of the Opteron motherboards I've seen in use have 4 memory slots per cpu socket. So for instance with a quad opteron boards you could stick 16x 4G sticks in it for 64G of ram. Incidentally, it's not that only linux supports "64-bit addressing". The memory addressability is a function of the processor and/or memory controller (which is integrated in the processor in the case of the Opteron). There is no processor I know that can actually physically address 64 bits of memory (which would require something on the order of 65,536x 256Terabyte sticks to fill). IIRC correctly, the Opteron memory controller can physically address 40 bits of physical memory, which puts the theoretical limit for it at 1TB of RAM.

Which cave are you living in? (1)

The AtomicPunk (450829) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743804)

That you haven't heard of Opterons? There are quite a few Opteron servers that support 64GB of RAM.

It's kinda scary that you're "in the business"

Windows 4GB process limit (4, Informative)

wimbor (302967) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743880)

One additional thing to consider if you are planning to use Windows is the 4GB process limit (which is NOT the same as a total memory limit) in a 'normal' Windows server.

The operating system (Windows Server Enterprise Edition) will work with more than 4GB memory, but a process running on that server can only address 4GB of memory, of which 2GB is reserved kernel space (in normal circumstances, not including the /3GB switch, bla bla bla, ....).

Check out:

http://www.brianmadden.com/content/content.asp?i d= 69

Of course there are some tricks and things you can do, but still... keep this in mind.

This is due to the fact that you are working on 32-bit hardware that can only address 4GB directly, as far as I understand. Does Linux have this limit too? Or are there other 'tricks' that the Linux kernel applies to go above 4gb? Maybe other Slashdotters can elaborate on this.

Answers (3, Interesting)

4of12 (97621) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743928)


Q: Where are these mythical large memory systems?
A: They've existed for years in mainframe and scientific computing circles, just as 64 bit hardware has existed (Alpha chip, SPARCv9, MIPS) for years and OS's capable of dealing with 64 bits have existed for years.

Q: Do you think such workstation configurations will become pervasive in the future?
A: Yes.

Q: Will it take Microsoft's Windows XP 64 bit to legitimize their existence in larger quantities?
A: "Legitimize" is a word I don't like to use in the same sentence as Microsoft. But your intuition is correct. Once Microsoft brings out a reliable 64 bit OS that is backward compatible with its 32 bit offerings, you'll see more popularity and lower prices for systems with more than 4 GB of memory. Let's hope everyone's learned the Bad Way of Doing Things from the 16->32 bit Windows transition a dozen years ago. OTOH, I suspect glitches in the transition will be leveraged to encourage upgrading...

All over the place (3, Informative)

‹berhund (27591) | more than 9 years ago | (#11743935)

Dell PowerEdge 6600, 6650, 7250...
IBM xSeries 336, 346...
http://www.supermicro.com/products/motherb oard/Xeo n800/
http://www.tyan.com/products/html/barebone. html

In short, every place I've checked so far.

took me 23 seconds to find that... (1)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744363)

...Sun [sun.com] sells this [sun.com] for relatively cheap (although those 4GB sticks are ~$2200 a piece).

I'm a bit confused -- did you only mean whitebox systems, or were you just too lazy to actually look at any of the big manufacturers?

hp xw9300 (2, Informative)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744418)

The recently released hp xw9300 is exactly what you want. It has room for 2 Opteron processors, up to 16gb of ram, and dual PCIe x16 graphics cards.

It starts at around $1900, a decent price for a dual-proc workstation. It has SATA II 300, an NVIDIA chipset (NForce Professional 2200; based on NForce4) and 8 dimm slots for registered DDR.

Here is the board that has me drooling. (2, Informative)

MrSnivvel (210105) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744532)

http://tyan.com/products/html/thunderk8we.html That bad boy has two PCI-Express slots to boot. Son, you just have to look for them...

/. strikes again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11744595)

So...the Slashdot moderators haven't discovered Newegg.com yet? Or any of the other myriad places that actually stock server mobos? Is the scope of their system building knowledge really limited to placing an order with Dell?

You should... (1)

sofo (18554) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744664)

Find some suppliers that are flat-out chuckleheads.

There are boards out there that support 16GB of memory and resellers that are happy to sell them to you.

Keep looking and I'd suggest looking at Tyan's web site first then asking around for a supplier who can source their large memory boards for your system(s).

This is really simple (3, Informative)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 9 years ago | (#11744669)

Go look at a Sun 20z [sun.com]

The large system there has 4 GB RAM (4 1Gig memory sticks - substitute 8 2 GB RAM sicks gets you 16 GB memory). True, these don't have PCIe - Sun won't be getting PCIe until later this year, but the IO on this system isn't to be beatten.

If you want even more memory, try the 40z and 16 2GB RAM sticks for even more memory.

Don't expect Intel systems with Dual memory controllers to get you there - you need real systems.

Workstation? No. Server. (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 9 years ago | (#11745532)

Workstations don't come with that much memory because a machine with 16GB of RAM cannot be classified as a workstation.

Go look at server motherboards:

http://tyan.com/products/html/opteron.html
http ://tyan.com/products/html/xeon.html

There are TONS of 16GB and 32GB motherboards on that page.
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