Question How to build a silent vertical PC for scientific computations?

May 12, 2020
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I would like to build a PC that serves the following purposes:

1. In the first months after building it (approx. 4–8 months long) the machine will perform scientific computations more or less continuously under Debian Linux. I will need ≥ 8 logical processors for the computations plus 2 spare for the operating system and other temporary tasks, a total of ≥ 10 logical processors. I need high stability, so I highly prefer ECC RAM for the purpose. The computations are CPU-intensive. All the other resources are not needed: the scientific tasks consume 500 MB RAM in total, the software threads communicate through the shared memory a few bytes per week, if at all, and they write a few dozens of bytes every day to disk. No GPU computation is involved (beyond what the operating system would do anyway). The machine will stand in a living studio under a table at 15 °C (in cold winter with the heating turned off) – 35 °C (on hot sunny summer days). There is not so much space in the studio, so, tower or tower-like casing will be welcome. The machine will be clocked down to the minimum frequency via cpufreq and the machine should not disturb my sleep 5–10 meters away. During the day the machine will occasionally be used for office work (texts will be read, documents and presentations will be created with Libreoffice, e-mails will be read and answered, texts will be printed out, faxes will be sent, documents will be compiled with LaTeX, video and audio calls will be made via Zoom, Skype and Facebook). Initially, a monitor with a VGA D-sub, a DP, and a DVI port will be connected to the machine, later a second display with a still unknown display interface (presumably HDMI) will be added as an extension.

2. After this computation phase, the machine moves to a living room in another apartment. The PC will be switched on only sporadically and it will not run at night. Windows with AutoCAD 2020, AutoCAD 2020 Architecture, MS Office, Skype, Viber and WinRAR will run on it; usual office and home tasks will be done as above. CDs, DVDs and Blue-rays will be seldom played for entertainment, and optical media will be even more seldom created. Every now and then files will be transferred via Bluetooth and SD cards. At least two displays (via as yet unknown interfaces), an old printer, and an old scanner will be connected to the machine. The machine will not be clocked up or down; it can be normally loud.

The machine must remain usable about 10 years long in total.

Question: for the tasks described above,
A. Which processor do I choose?
B. Which motherboard do I choose?
C. Which casing, power, and cooling systems do I choose?
The location is Europe, 230 V / 50 Hz.
 
Last edited:
I would like to build a PC that serves the following purposes:

1. In the first months after building it (approx. 4–8 months long) the machine will perform scientific computations more or less continuously under Debian Linux. I will need ≥ 8 logical processors for the computations plus 2 spare for the operating system and other temporary tasks, a total of ≥ 10 logical processors. I need high stability, so I highly prefer ECC RAM for the purpose. The computations are CPU-intensive. All the other resources are not needed: the scientific tasks consume 500 MB RAM in total, the software threads communicate through the shared memory a few bytes per week, if at all, and they write a few dozens of bytes every day to disk. No GPU computation is involved (beyond what the operating system would do anyway). The machine will stand in a living studio under a table at 15 °C (in cold winter with the heating turned off) – 35 °C (on hot sunny summer days). There is not so much space in the studio, so, tower or tower-like casing will be welcome. The machine will be clocked down to the minimum frequency via cpufreq and the machine should not disturb my sleep 5–10 meters away. During the day the machine will be occasionally used for office work (texts will be read, documents and presentations will be created with Libreoffice, e-mails will be read and answered, texts will be printed out, faxes will be sent, documents will be compiled with LaTeX, video and audio calls will be made via Zoom, Skype and Facebook). Initially, a monitor with a VGA D-sub, a DP, and a DVI port will be connected to the machine, later a second display with a still unknown display interface (presumably HDMI) will be added as an extension.

2. After this computation phase, the machine moves to a living room in another apartment. The PC will be switched on only sporadically and it will not run at night. Windows with AutoCAD 2020, AutoCAD 2020 Architecture, MS Office, Skype, Viber and WinRAR will run on it; usual office and home tasks will be done as above. CDs, DVDs and Blue-rays will be seldom played for entertainment, and optical media will be even more seldom created. Every now and then files will be transferred via Bluetooth and SD cards. At least two displays (via as yet unknown interfaces), an old printer, and an old scanner will be connected to the machine. The machine will not be clocked up or down; it can be normally loud.

The machine must remain usable about 10 years long in total.

Question: for the tasks described above,
A. Which processor do I choose?
B. Which motherboard do I choose?
C. Which casing, power, and cooling systems do I choose?
The location is Europe, 230 V / 50 Hz.
With you requirements you should be looking at a tower server and I would just get one that is prebuilt. Going with on like this from SuperMicro would be ideal. I don't know how loud it will be, but it would fit all your other needs.
 
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