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Hardware Upgrades

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Minecraft, WinMX

It is that time again where an upgrade is coming and this time it’s big. Before I get in to it lets just recap what our server has been like in the past.

From 2009 to 2012 we used a Core i7 920, then in 2010 that was coupled with 24GB of RAM. Then near the end of 2012 the CPU was upgraded to a Core i7 940. Also in 2012 we switched from using a traditional Hard Drive to a Value orientated Solid State Disk, this was later upgraded to a slightly faster midrange SSD.

Now these specifications put us quite high up in relation to other Minecraft servers. But still our CPU Architecture is from late 2008. It has reached a point where it is time to upgrade. The Minecraft modding API is coming out soon and we intend to take full advantage of it. To do that we are going to need the latest multi-core CPU, system architecture, memory and solid state drive money can buy.

So we are going to base our new server around the robust X79 chipset. Some of you may already know that our current server uses the X58 chipset, well X79 is the next generation of that chipset. It is in a word, extreme. Extreme bandwidth, Extreme Memory Channels, Extreme PCIe Channels. The performance is off the charts.

So that’s the system but what CPU are we going to stick in this thing? Well the best of course the Core i7 3930K. And boy are we going to overclock it. This is a six core Intel processor with 12MB’s of L2 Cache and a clock rate between 3.3GHz and 3.8GHz (With Turbo Boost) for comparison our current CPU has four cores, 8MB of L2 Cache and a clock rate of 2.93GHz to 3.1GHz.

But it’s not just about Cores, Cache and Clocks. The new processor is based on the Sandy Bridge-E architecture. (The E is for Enthusiast). This processor has no wimpy GPU under its heatspreader it is all processor die baby and it just screams. In-fact it’s faster than every 1155 CPU Intel make including the latest Core i7 3770K Ivy Bridge based processor.

So that’s the chip, what are we going to fill those memory slots with? 64GB of DDR3. This is an enormous amount of memory. Almost three times the amount we currently have installed. And that’s not all, it’s quad channel. Our current server has Tri-Channel memory, we are upgrading to Quad-Channel which increases our memory bandwidth even more. But as if all that wasn’t enough our system can support up-to 128GB of memory leaving us room to grow in the future.

One last item, the Solid State Disk. This is extremely important for minimizing lag. It is where all the blocks are stored and retrieving those blocks as fast as possible makes everything feel so much smoother. Traditionally we have used Value and Midrange SSD’s in our server and while those are good they aren’t the best and their performance isn’t as good as we’d like it to be.

So we’re kicking it up a notch and investing in a high end SSD. In-fact the one we have chosen costs 70% more than our previous midrange SSD. It is also a good 15x faster in every performance metric. Throughput, random access, access latency, IOPS. You name it this thing is a screamer, we are going to be using the Corsair Neutron GTX 120GB.

And so that is our upgrade we hope to have it completed by late next month. We may launch the server with just the CPU + Motherboard + SSD and continue to use the 24GB of RAM up until March it depends on which memory we decide to use (the Prices of DDR3 are steadily climbing so looking for a good deal is paramount to keeping this build within budget). Already the Processor has been purchased and is shipping its way to us. The motherboard and Solid State Drive have already been chosen and are merely awaiting stock at our supplier.

So thanks for reading I hope everyone is excited for the new specs, I know I am. I will be documenting the builds progress in our forums you can view the thread here.