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Good computer for fast computation

asked 2011-05-17 15:53:44 +0100

G-Sage gravatar image

Not sure if this is a good place to ask this, or not. But, I'm thinking of buying a new computer (PC, Windows 7) sometime in the next few months and I would like it to be pretty fast. It will be a home computer that I will use personally (I don't do anything that is computer intensive like gaming), but I would also love it to run Sage quickly if I am doing a lot of calculations. At the same time, I don't want to break the bank. I'll probably spend $1500 or less.

I don't know exactly what to ask, but I wonder if any of you know which aspects of a computer I should emphasize the most? I mean, I know I want fast processors and a lot of RAM. I may try to get an Intel i7 with 8 processors and I'll definitely get at least 8 GB of RAM. Is a graphics card important here? I have heard of graphics cards being very good at certain computations but perhaps you'd need to do programming to specifically have the graphics card do those calculations? Any thing else I should look at?

A related question, is there a way to divert resources to Sage? I'm currently searching for a graph minor (that I know doesn't exist), for example, and it looks like it's taking up 50% of the system RAM. Are there any simple ways to force it to use more resources to make it run faster?

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Sideremark about your minor problem : if you use CPLEX 12 (for which there exist free non-limited licenses if you are a student or a researcher -- look for IBM academic Initiative), the computations will be *MUCH* faster, even without taking into account the fact that all your cores will be used. *MUCH* faster is to be understood with the fact that this LP formulation is exact, though pretty bad for any practical aspects ! Which kind of minors are you looking for ?

Nathann gravatar imageNathann ( 2011-05-17 16:35:49 +0100 )edit

Oh, and the ressources a LP solver use are mostly remembering its way through the branch and bound. If all your ressources are not used at the moment, you shouldn't worry, they will be at some point :-D

Nathann gravatar imageNathann ( 2011-05-17 16:36:36 +0100 )edit

@Nathann I'm looking for various minors. In some situations, I'm looking for complete graph minors. In other cases, I'm looking for forbidden minors, such as those that are forbidden for a graph to planar, and that sort of thing. Thanks for the mention of CPLEX 12, I'll probably look into that.

G-Sage gravatar imageG-Sage ( 2011-05-17 17:47:24 +0100 )edit

@whoever downvoted me, a downvote by itself is mostly useless. If you think what I said deserves a downvote, then you should also explain in a comment why it deserves a downvote. A downvote by itself does nothing. Let's be honest, I don't care about how many karma points I have on here. My question is somewhat not exactly Sage related, but some of it is very Sage related. So, I see nothing wrong with it and I will not stop from asking such questions (if I have any more) based on a downvote. I might based on helpful comments from other users.

G-Sage gravatar imageG-Sage ( 2011-05-17 17:51:52 +0100 )edit

Disk I/O and networking speeds can also play a role, depending on what you are doing. I don't know much about computing with GPUs, but I don't think Sage has any components that are specifically tailored for the GPU. Also, Sage does not run natively on Windows (yet), so you can either dual-boot Windows with Linux or run Linux in a virtual machine, but the latter would incur performance and adminstration overheads. Ideally, if you want a fast, easy-to-manage Sage machine, just install Linux and forget Windows. :-)

Kelvin Li gravatar imageKelvin Li ( 2011-05-17 21:41:19 +0100 )edit

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answered 2014-09-19 16:04:56 +0100

balduin gravatar image

I answer the question, about your $1500 three years later, but I think you have all ready bought your fast computer. In 2014 a fast computer should have a SSD Hard Disk >= 120 GB or more, 8-16 GB RAM DDR3-1600 or better an i5 or i7 for the consumer section makes not a great difference which CPU you have. The graphics card is not important if you only want to draw some of your plots the build in graphics card of the i5 or some models of i7 is enough, but an Nvidia or AMD Graphics card is also a good option.

About GPU's power, yes it is true in some cases the GPU can speed up computation extremely, but this works not in all cases. Today (year 2014), their are only a few programs that uses the GPU power for calculation, because it is difficult to write software for combined GPU <-> CPU power usage.

It is important to say, today you could use Sagemath Cloud for your computation. On Sage math cloud you could use a lot of power if you want Sage math cloud limits

As Kelvin Li says, if you really want to compute fast use Linux, because Sage works really fine with Linux. Linux Distributions that I know which has a nice Latex and Sage support are:

  • Manjaro Linux (Arch Linux for) - which has up-to-date Sage packages, also Latex (texlive-*) packages, a really high quality documentation and a dedicated community.

  • Fedora - which has up-to-date Sage packages but they are some minor versions behind the latest packages, good Latex support (texlive-*)

  • Ubuntu or Linux Mint with the additional PPA-Sagemath-Repository , both have a good Latex support and a large user base

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Asked: 2011-05-17 15:53:44 +0100

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Last updated: Sep 19 '14