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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Network upgrade time

    Right, one of my regular schools is coming up for funds to upgrade the system. (CC3)

    Primary school, with a suite of 30 computers + 14 dotted around the classrooms, and another 3 random machines. Will probably add another 10 to that number to allow for planned expansion of the school.

    Curriculum server is an IBM unit, Xeon HT 3ghz with 1gb (!) of ram.
    Desktops are also IBM, Celeron D 2.93ghz machines with 512mb (2 x 256mb DDR400)

    Network performance is getting worse and worse, and to me the obvious bottleneck is the server, memory raising the most eyebrows.

    Now, what I've suggested to them is a two pronged approach, starting with a memory upgrade on the workstations. Ripping out both the 256mb modules and slapping in 1gb - a £20 upgrade per machine, so a minimal outlay to something that should make a fair bit of difference. Being a primary school, very little demands a great amount of processing juice, and simultaneous application performance is often accidental (little fingers pressing lots of buttons, over-zealous double clicking, 25 instances of Word open as well as their favourite Maths game). So even the memory is probably being generous. I might even suggest 512mb per machine taking them up to 768mb, saving a good couple of hundred quid.

    Also, as the second prong, a new server. One of the new range Xeons with a good dose of memory, as the IT resources are often only really used in bulk - all or nothing. And this of course results in it running dog slow on 1gb of ram.

    Now, would anyone have any further suggestions to help on performance, a better way of doing the above, or even a completely different strategy? Budget obviously isn't huge, and would like to help them as much as possible.

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    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    If you're up for minimising cost, I wouldn't bother with a whole new server - a shed load of memory will probably make as much difference as anything else. If disk I/O is bottlenecking (likely) check that you've got the best match of disk to controller (e.g. for a SATAII controller make sure you've also got SATAII drives) and remember big drives are faster, maybe a couple of 500Gb disks would be a bonus.

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    synaesthesia (20th May 2009)

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    That's something I loosely considered, what's the performance difference roughly between the 3ghz P4 based Xeon and the Core based versions?

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    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    I believe, but don't quote me on it, that the P4 Xeons use hyper-threading, so they have one core that looks like two, and the Cores have two proper cores. I don't know what the performance difference is, but probably not enough to worry about - if you were going to use it as a terminal server it would need beefing, but with fat clients I/O is more important than raw processing power.

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    Processing capacity of Quad core Xeons is massive compared to non Core Xeons.

    I agree though it may not be the processor you need to upgrade, RAM looks to be the first priority (look to 4GB) and Storage the second priority (willing to wager it has slow IDE/SATA hard drives possibly not even in Raid), third priority is Gigabit network card.

    Really, as you may need to upgrade three of the four core components of the existing server, you would be better off buying a new quad core server with 10,000rpm SAS drives in Raid 5, and then you shoudl also end up with 3 years warranty on it too!

    Butuz

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    synaesthesia (20th May 2009)

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Aye, warranty is indeed the big selling point of a new system.
    Also, the clients may be "fat" however as its CC3 not everything is packagable properly and some stuff runs from the server itself via public/shared directors.

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    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    Hmm, tricky. I've seen tests that don't rate 10kRPM drives versus 7200RPMs, but the warranty is a good point, I hadn't thought of that.

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