PC for manly men?

So, after suffering a hard disk failure, I figured it was time to buy a new PC for (Oracle) research purposes and the choice seemed to boil down to:

  1. Buy a Dell or HP high end PC from their website and pay serious money for it.
  2. Pick a proper server off Ebay – cheaper but may have pitfalls including warranty, dodgy sellers and delivery. (it was interesting to look for E10K Sun boxes on there)
  3. Spec a PC myself and get a box shifter to build and ship it.
  4. Upgrade my current PC with a selection of new bits.

I chose #3 and bought it from a company call Scan. I’m pretty happy with the result and the service I received although due to some DOA parts it took a little longer than I’d hoped…at least they had the problems to deal with instead of me!

#1 is expensive and you’re sort of limited to the options they offer. I costed up something similar to what I’ve ended up buying and it was nearer 3,000 pounds rather than the 1800 ish that I paid.

#2 is cheaper than #1 but these type of machines are really noisy, albeit solid pieces of kit and more akin to what I’d work on during my day job.

#4 and #3 are similar except for who gets the grief of making all the new bits work together, and every time I try to build things myself I get grief with it (usually parts arriving DOA or incompatible with each other). Scan had to deal with a DOA motherboard and CPU amongst other things…rather them than me.

So, #3 it was…and it arrived a few days ago.

Specification is:

Pictures (Click on them for bigger images) below:

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Not quite an “enterprise server” and I’m sure it pales into insignificance against any of the kit Kevin uses, but pretty quick.

I’ve configured it for dual boot of Vista 64 Ultimate and Oracle Enterprise Linux 5 (using EasyBCD) and I’m about to start doing some installations and benchmarking…should be fun.

I installed VirtualBox on the Vista 64 OS and it’s working very nicely…well, it’s set up and working…we’ll find out how nicely it’s working when I install Oracle and HammerOra and give it a bit of a kicking!

Who knows, I might even find time to blog about it!

Oracle Optimized Warehouse Initiative (OWI)

I enjoyed a trip out of the office today with my manager. We went down to the Oracle Enterprise Technology Centre, in Reading, to hear about the Oracle Optimized Warehouse Initiative. It was basically a half day pitch from Oracle and Sun today, although there are other dates with different hardware vendors (IBM, HP and Dell).

It was an interesting day, although I didn’t really hear anything new, per se. I think the main things I took away from the session were:

  • The availability of a set of reference configurations providing matrices which cover various permutations of user count, storage cost focus, warehouse size and hardware vendor.
  • The possibility of using the reference configurations either minimally, to simply cross check a proposed hardware specification for a given workload, to ensure it seems appropriate, or going the whole hog and using an “out of the box” reference configuration, delivered to your office, fully configured with all software installed, in a box, ready to run in your data.
  • Oracle are pushing RAC and ASM heavily in the DW space – no surprise there.
  • HammerOra and ORION are used by Oracle and the hardware vendors to assess the reference configurations…and there is nothing stopping you using them for your own benchmarking efforts

It was interesting to hear about the Proof Of Concept facility that Sun has, in Linlithgow, Scotland. The facility allows Sun (and an Oracle customer) to take a server off the production line and, working with the customer, test their workload on that machine to see if it’s going to work or not. Neat, and since we’re going to be using some Sun kit for a DW shortly, it sounds like an opportunity.

Funniest thing of the day for me, was the last slide in the pitch given by Mike Leigh of Sun which had the title “The Power of 2” and was illustrating the benefits to customers of Oracle and Sun as a united force. I didn’t really take much notice, as I was too busy smiling, as I looked at the title and it made me think of Doug and his Parallel Execution and the ‘Magic of 2’ paper (the Magic of 2 bit actually being from this paper by Cary).

If you’re building a warehouse, or just want to get an idea of whether your hardware is appropriate for the job, it’s probably worth reading up on the OWI.