Computers & Networks

x99 HPC Build 00: Introduction

morreale Monday 08 of June, 2015
It was time to build a new computer. My present computer celebrated first power up 11 years ago and is known as Blackbird after the SR-71. It’s been upgraded many times over the years with new peripherals, monitors, memory, and hard drives. It’s based on the ASUS P4PE motherboard. I’ve build other computers based on Gigabyte and Supermicro motherboards.

My first computer was an IMSIA 8080 with a Z80 CPU board, 24 K bytes of static RAM, and a Northstar 5.25 floppy disk drive. It ran Northstar DOS and BASIC. I built it from a kit when I was in high school. I had help from the technician at the shop where I purchased it to install a white wire mod to make the front panel work with the Z80 CPU board otherwise it would have never worked. I’m very grateful for his help.

Anyway, I wanted a new High Performance Computer (HPC) that I could upgrade over the years and would have enough CPU power for applications like photographic processing (Photoshop, Lightroom) , video production (Premiere), electronic CAD (schematic capture, PCB layout, IC layout, & SPICE circuit simulation), 3D CAD modeling (Sketchup), and mathematical modeling (Mathematica), This meant the new computer should have a CPU with multiple cores, large amount of RAM, and powerful graphics card that supports parallel and floating point processing. I’m also curious about some of the new games as well even though I don’t game much.

I’ve been reading about computers and technology for years to keep up on what is happening with PCs and the technology used build them. It’s amazing that we can build a desktop computer that would have been considered a super computer not so long ago. Current day processor containing more than 5 billion transistors is just amazing. I read reviews and identified specific components intently for a couple of months. These sites have been very useful and helpful at identifying relevant components, and include:
Anandtech, TomsHardware, and Tweaktown are three of my favorite sites. After selecting candidate components, I would read reviews and forum sites to see what users liked and did not like about the hardware, or find out what problems or issue where associated with a particular component. I used Amazon and some of the forum sites at the sites list above for to get this information. The intent was to use this information to select system components with a long operating life and with excellent reliability. The final Bill of Materials (BOM) follows:

Image Case: Corsair Obsidian 750D Full Tower (CC-9011035-WW)
Image Motherboard: ASUS Rampage V Extreme
Image Video card: ASUS STRIX GTX 980 (STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5)
Image Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA P2 1000 W (220-P2-1000-XR)
Image RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR4 DRAM 2400MHz C14 memory kit (CMK32GX4M4A2400C14R)
Image Storage: Samsung 850 Pro 512GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-7KE512BW)
Image CPU: Intel core i7-5930K (BX80648I75930K)
Image Optical Drive: Pioneer BDR-2209 Blu-ray/DVD/CD writer
Image Storage: WD RE 2 TB Enterprise Hard Drive: 3.5 Inch, 7200 RPM, SATA III, 64 MB Cache (WD2000FYYZ)
Image CPU Cooler: Phanteks PH-TC14PE
Image Operating System: Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit

Figure1 shows a preview of the system build.

Figure 1 BlackBird15 X99 HPC System

Future blogs will provide a short description of the component, my impressions of the components, unboxing photographs and unboxing videos, and then the assembly of this new HPC which I call Blackbird15.

Image source NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Collection