Question Workstation setup help

Jul 23, 2019
Dear all,

I am all new here and I hope my post is at the right place?

I am setting up a workstation for my small structural biology lab (1 or 2 users cryo EM and X-ray crystallography) and I sold it to my boss that I can do better assembling it myself rather than buying a pre-configured expensive workstation. The budget is very comfortable but limited to below 10,000€ and any cents below will make my boss smile as well as any fail from my side on this rig could have very nasty consequences :-(

I have oriented myself towards a Threadripper workstation.

CPU: Threadripper 2990 WX (guess for budget reason I will have to downgrade to 2950X but not really a problem I think)
Cooling: Be Quiet ! Dark Pro 4 for TR4 socket
Motherboard: Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme X399 (because it has 4 PCIe properly spaced to fit 4 GPUs and supports 10Gbit Ethernet)
RAM: 128 GB RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 (8x16)
GPU: ideally, 4 RTX 2080ti (blower) (most cryo EM softwares are going the CUDA way)
PSU: Corsair AX1600i should get enough juice

the real big doubts are coming from the OS/Data on NVMe/SSD/HDD (note the MB has only 6 SATA ports but 3 NVMe too)

I was originally thinking about
-1 Samsung 970 evo 1TB M.2 for the OS (I will need a dual boot Linux/windows)
-1 (best 2 in RAID 0 but let's stay realistic) Seagate Firecuda 510 2TB M.2 (for the scratch data produced by some of the programs during processing not to bottleneck)
- a RAID 10 (unfortunately RAID 5 isn't supported by AMD and I don't have free PCIe for a dedicated controller) array of 6 HDD (8-10TB, datacenter level such as Exos, Ultrastar, Red??) for raw data. The RAID being able to feed the CPU/GPU fast enough and relatively safely handle the data. Note that a typical cryo EM dataset is 2000 "movies" of 2.2GB each => 4.5 TB

My doubts right now are:
  • I have read somewhere that RAID management with X399 is a pain and that only the OS disks can be RAIDed (not what I plan on) and I do not have the possibility to add a dedicated controller (4GPUs)
  • Which kind of HDD 512e? 4Kn? I am lost there
  • Should I try to cut on the workstation components to actually have a dataserver (NAS with 10Gbit Ethernet)
Any suggestions, including further things I haven't thought of are welcome !