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Computer build for Physics and Math

  1. Oct 23, 2014 #1
    Hey folks!

    I'm a proud poppa of a dedicated physics and math student. He's outgrown his laptop and is interested in putting together a system exclusively for crunching numbers and doing physics and math related output. He does not require a gaming build (which seems to dominate the "build" community out there...!), but would like to assemble a powerful system that will last.

    Our budget is around $1500. Room for expansion would be good, and any advice about operating system preference - and anything else - would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance for your help!

    -DJ
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 23, 2014 #2

    phinds

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    A reasonable-speed processor should be OK but your budget probably would allow a fast one. Big thing is to get lots of memory. 8 gigs minimum for going forward but your budget would probably allow for 16. It would also be a good idea to get a big hard drive (1 terabyte or more) and set it up as a dual-boot system with windows and linux that way it should be easy to handle any software needs.
     
  4. Oct 23, 2014 #3
    Will he be running specialized software using big data sets?
     
  5. Oct 23, 2014 #4
    Great - thanks, phinds.... This is a first build, so I'm thankful for your advice!
     
  6. Oct 23, 2014 #5
    Yeah, "big data sets" sounds like exactly what he's wanting to tackle...!
     
  7. Oct 23, 2014 #6
    For $1500 you should be able to get the latest processor and 16GB of RAM.
     
  8. Oct 25, 2014 #7
    From Wikipedia, "A CPU core can execute 4 32-bit instructions per clock (using a 128-bit SSE instruction) or 8 via AVX (256-Bit), whereas a GPU like the Radeon HD 5970 can execute 3200 32-bit instructions per clock (using its 3200 ALUs or shaders)." Some software packages like MATLAB are GPU compatible.
     
  9. Oct 25, 2014 #8

    phinds

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    that doesn't seem to make sense. WHAT wikipedia article?

    And what does it have to do with the OP's question?
     
  10. Oct 25, 2014 #9

    nsaspook

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  11. Oct 25, 2014 #10

    Mark44

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    It makes sense to me. Current CPUs contain a handful of arithmetic logic units (ALUs), but some of the graphics processing units (GPUs) contain hundreds of cores that can run concurrently.
    I believe the connection is that MATLAB calculations can take advantage of a GPU like the Radeon mentioned. nVidia also is a big player in this market.
     
  12. Oct 25, 2014 #11

    phinds

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    Ah ... that makes sense. Thanks.
     
  13. Oct 25, 2014 #12

    Mark44

    Staff: Mentor

    As an aside, I just got a new nVidia video card so that I can write some massively parallel code. I don't care at all about games and whatnot, but the programming capabilities are a draw to me.
     
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