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Mac OS vs Ubuntu for high performance computing

asked 2011-03-18 10:35:33 -0500

Dug_the_Math_Guy gravatar image

updated 2011-04-28 08:37:32 -0500

Kelvin Li gravatar image

Hi I am considering investing in a new PC which I'll be using Sage ( and R under Sage ) a lot and will be doing computations that will be intensive at times. I am considering either Mac Snow Leopard with a new quadcore MacBook or the latest Ubuntu running on a partition on a quad core Windows 7 machine. I would like to know what differences there might be running Sage on these two platforms, with special interest toward performance. I'm just getting involved with Sage but have to make a decision about hardware and OS very soon. Any info would be much appreciated. Doug

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Not that I'll be able to help much with your question, but what sorts of performance do you care about? Sage has many components, and different ones (like ATLAS, for example), may be tuned better or worse depending on the particular cpu, etc. So providing more specific information may help you get a better answer.

John Palmieri gravatar imageJohn Palmieri ( 2011-03-18 13:23:38 -0500 )edit

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answered 2011-03-21 16:18:09 -0500

mhampton gravatar image

Is this a laptop you are talking about? If so, go with the Mac. But if you will mostly be using the machine remotely then it probably gives more bang for the buck to put linux on generic hardware.

To get a better answer I think you'd have to describe what sort of tasks cause bottlenecks in your workflow.

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answered 2011-03-21 18:55:19 -0500

For the components that John mentioned in his above comment (e.g. ATLAS) you may want to visit their forums to see what users have to say about inter-platform performance. (A good place to start is, for example, ATLAS' FAQ page.) Some may be better tuned for certain systems and since these packages form the core fo Sage it may be educational to investigate.

As far as I know, Python performance doesn't really vary from platform to platform. Also, it seems like there's an even divide between Linux and OS X users among Sage developers so if there are any glaring performance issues with Sage code I'm sure they would've been caught.

Finally, for usability purposes, I agree with mhampton: Linux boxes are easier (and cheaper) to set up for remote access. Macs tend to have fewer issues and a somewhat more stable environment.

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Asked: 2011-03-18 10:35:33 -0500

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Last updated: Mar 21 '11