Hardware Selected


     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 to
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.  Other
proposals from Extreme, and Cisco proved to be far too expensive for this project.