- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti4600
- Disk: Maxtor 200GB 7200RPM ATA/133 Kit (with ATA133
- Network Interface Card: 3Com 3C996B-T
- Gigabit Ethernet Switches: Dell PowercConnect 5224
We selected these graphics adapters based on
our experience with very good performance on the NVIDIA chipsets,
and a compelling price point for this particular board.
Our testing of different disk setups led us
to a very simple configuration... 2 ATA/133 disks on a basic 2-channel
ATA/133 controller, using software striping under Windows 2000.
With the 7200RPM disks, we can do large reads
at 90+MiB/second. For approximately the same price, there are
250GB 5400RPM disks available which provide more
capacity, but less speed.
Also, we've found that the really cheap RAID
controllers we tested were actually slower, and required more CPU
usage for the same IO patterns. Further, more expensive RAID
cards did not significantly improve performance for
our typical reads (512KiB and up, typically sequential), and would have
been cost-prohibitive for this project.
One other method which we examined was to use
external FireWire disk enclosures. While this would have provided
the performance we required, the portability & ubiquity of these
drives was considered a liability in a public computer
As many other groups have done significant
testing of gigabit ethernet adapters, we leveraged existing test results
narrow the number of adapters we tested. We chose the 3Com
3C996B-T based on its very consistent performance on the
PCI bus configuration which the lab machines have (32-bit, 33MHz).
Also, our tests showed a slight performance edge
over the other adapters we tested. One side advantage, which we
discovered by accident, is that Broadcom makes both the
chips for the 3Com NIC, and for the Dell switch ports.
To get the port count, features, and price to
make this project feasible, we chose the Dell PowerConnect 5224.
proposals from Extreme, and Cisco proved to be far too expensive for