Recommendations+For+Computer+For+SmartSDR?

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Would appreciate some thoughts from those with solid performing windows machines for their SmartSDR work.

Have been using a three year old HP Win 7 box with less than stellar results.  Thought it would be good for PowerSDR when I bought it.  It has an I7, gobs of RAM, a SSD for C drive, large mechanical drive for D, NVIDIA mid range graphics card.

Worked kinda OK with PowerSDR.  Some pops in the audio, and some issues with PSDR hanging.  Latency monitor showed some pretty good DPCs from graphics and the network card as well as long delays for hard page faults.  Since getting the 6700 in June, works OK with SmartSDR most of the time, but do think some of the disconnects I get are due to my computer.

My 6700 is in shop for PEN at moment, so been using old 3000 and PSDR.  Finding my computer even worse now.  Lots of pops and PSDR hangs.  Close to unusable.  Have updated all the drivers, played with network card settings to no avail.

So, I do not want to spend as much for a new computer as I did for the 6700 but guess the time has come to think about a new box.  Partial to Dell as that is what we have a work and can get pretty good deals.

Sorry for long post, but would appreciate hearing from SSDR users that have really solid performing Dell (or other) win7 computers.  Type of drive,graphics card, etc.

Many thanks!

73, Tom
K1FR
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K1FR

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Posted 5 years ago

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Bill-W9OL

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Go to Neils Website.
He sells Flex Specific computers and his service is impeccable.
neal Campbell <nealk3nc@gmail.com>
http://www.abrohamnealsoftware.com/products.php
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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Tom, beware an advertisement follows!

I offer services to help tweak and tune your current PC and if that doesn't work out you can also buy a fully configured and installed FlexReady PC from my company. I have extensive experience in selecting the best components to run a program such as Powersdr and SmartSDR.

If you purchase my tweak and tune service (to get your current PC fully operational) and it doesn't solve your problems, I give full credit of the tweak and tune service towards one of my FlexReady PCs.

73
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Nick - W2NER

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Well, I have a 6500 running on windows 7, I5, 64 bit and 8 gig of ram with a SSD drive.  Works great! It's also running on Apple mini mac hardware using bootcamp.  I went the direction because the Apple hardware is superior to anything out there.  I would say its time to re-install windows for you or get a new system.  I would bet a new frsh install would cure all your problems.  One thing I suggest is to have a system dedicated to just the Flex (which is what I do). 
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Bob G W1GLV

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Kill the automatic updates also.
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David Vernier

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Your current computer should be fine! I'm running win7 on a 4 year old MacBook Pro in a bootcamp partition and have no issues at all. Quad core I7, 8GB ram, 512 GB SSD and Nvidia graphics. You might want to try a clean reload on Windows 7 before investing in a new computer...
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W5XZ - dan

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my low end, 'budget' k3nc spec'd homebrew rice rocket is still humming along nicely; Asus m5a78L-m motherboard, AMD fx-6300 cpu, 8 gigs matched Kingston Ram, ATI HD 7790 video card ( drives 2 monitors nicely ); drop him a note, he's very helpful, if you want to roll your own and save some $$.
73, w5xz, dan
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DrTeeth

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Your PC needs nothing more than some servicing. It has more than enough grunt for what you need it for.

You don't need a new computer or anything special at all. All you need is free so watch out is somebody is looking for $s.

Something like this http://etoolsonline.com/computer-house-cleaning/ (though ignore anything to do with registry cleaning, plus may not be a need to defrag a SSD - I don't know for sure) and this http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/delete-files-using-disk-cleanup#delete-files-using-disk-c... - use the 'clean up system files' button if you have it.

Make sure you have the latest drivers for everything and only get them from the manufacturer's site.

Your PC is better specced than mine and I have no problems, in fact, I am running my 6300 off my lesser specced laptop at the moment without issue.

Good luck.
(Edited)
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Larry Loen WO7R

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Are your sure this is a hardware replacement?  I'm with G4DWV.  You should have plenty of power to run that stuff.  What else are you running?  I'd look into that first.
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SteveM

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Tom,


Are you sure it is not network related? Your machine is 10x better than mine (Core2 Duo) but it sounds like mine, interfaced to a 6500, is doing better than yours.


If it's not a network issue, you must be bogging down with other processes. Like those before me said - a fresh install of Win7 should take care of that.

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Walt - KZ1F

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Feel free to reach out to me directly, kz1f@arrl.net. Your computer is fine. Can you boot to a system recovery partition? My first guess is malware and/or virus. I've never heard of a hard page fault and I've been doing this (software) 43 years. If you are reading pages in, not so bad. If you are writing pages out, not good. SSDR has a lower footprint on your machine than psdr. If you can restore your system image, do that and let windows reapply its patches.

Walt - kz1f
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DrTeeth

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It would be advisable to back up any personal data that would be wiped 110% by this procedure.

I would advise a tune up first, one does not replace one's car because it starts misfiring.
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Bill Roberts

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I agree that your computer is adequate.  Some may have told you that you might consider doing a fresh install of the operating system but that is a lot of hassle.  Of course, delete all the programs you don't anticipate using.  Revo Uninstall FREE is good for doing a thorough uninstall of software.  Do an occasional registry fix with Ccleaner FREE.  Use either Control Panel or the Tools section of CCleaner to disable all but the essential programs you have starting up.  Also, make sure that your drivers, particularly the video drivers are up to date.  An old or misfunctioning driver can increase latency.  Finally, there are latency checkers our on the web for free that will tell you exactly which program and/or device is using the most resources and thus, causing latency.  Search for Latency Checker.  For whatever it's worth, until recently I reliably used a 3 year old Dell I7 with Windows 7/64  and PowerSDR 2.7.2 and I did not see a need to do an OS refresh.
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K1FR

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Thanks to all for all the helpful replies.  Lots of ideas to work on, and will go down the list and review each reply again.

Definitely have something at issue with machine.  Have run all the nasty gremlin finders I know of including tdsskiller, combofox, cccleaner and all the standard things like antimalwarebytes, ad aware, and MSE.  Have just recently again assured all drivers are current.

It does appear something serious is going on in the NIC - 10000 usecs reported DPCs on Latency MOnitor.  ALso getting hard page faults up to 200000 usecs. 

Going to try updated the BIOS and run down some ideas found on web re NDIS.SYS that might help with the NIC.  Failing that, afraid the advice of many for clean install is where this may end up.  Ugh!

Thanks again.  Great support on this community.  Will save community bandwidth until I have something to report.

73, Tom
K1FR
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Andrew Russell

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Tom,

I suspect that you should not get any hard page faults if reading from the SSD if its working properly.

No SSD here but when I put in a hybrid drive hard page faults became zero.

Andrew


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Andrew Russell

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Well markedly reduced to almost nil.
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Larry da Ponte

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A hard page fault occurres when the block of memory you need has been swapped to disk, an SSD won't keep this from happening although it should lessen the impact. Reduce the memory pressure.
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Walt - KZ1F

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who calls it that? Not IBM, Microsoft, or Linux. In windows, every app loaded gets paged out. A ptage fault is processed much more efficiently than a standard disk read. Regardless of a 7k, 15k, or ssdd, as a program is loaded it is paged out. The page data set (or page.sys) is generally larger than one's total memory. If you want your computer to run its perceived fastest set the size of this to equal you system memory size. As a program updates a counter or othwise creates new data modifying a page marks that page as dirty. That, in and of itself, isn't bad. Its when the OS or a program, accesses a page not currently loaded into memory and that page you just modified is residing where the new page will resdde a page fault occurs. Seeing that page was marked dirty it must be paged out before the new page can be paged in. If the selected frame wasn't marked as dirty the page fault would still occur but there would be no page out required. By limiting your virtual memory size to you real memory size there would never be a page out required. For those really anal about their computer's performace, modify the page file to equal the ram size, I.e. 8GB
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Jay / NO5J

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I was also under the Impression that pagefile on an SSD would result in shorter lifetime for the SSD. Is that no longer the case? 
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Jay / NO5J

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Wouldn't More RAM be the better solution?
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Walt - KZ1F

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that depends. If you are trying to run more programs than your real or or system memory will allow then you going to be paging. If, on the other hand, the number of programs you load is less than or equal to the amount of memory you have then you won't be having any page out operations and rules you won't see any page related performance issues. So if you're over committing memory yes adding more memory would would eliminate or reduce page out operations but if you're not over committing memory just changing the size of your page file to equal your memory size accomplishes the same goal for less money. Reducing your page file would prevent you from over commuting memory. I think what you might be thinking of is writing to a solid state drive is far more expensive than reading. Whether you page or download programs porn or PDFs you are going to be eriting to the ssdd. I am unaware of any mttf on ssdd due to writes.
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Nick - W2NER

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In real world conditions, more ram limits the use of the page file.  Once you get to 32 gig its not needed but does help to off load application switching and reserve memory for use with other running process use.  I'm sure the OP issues has to do with installed apps, old running background apps and needs to be cleaned out.  Unless he is very technical, a new fresh install is his best option.  I do this for a living and I have seen people brick their system.  That's my opinion.
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Jay / NO5J

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I think the mttf is only an issue with some of the SSDs, the older cheaper ones. I avoided SSD for now but did go with a seagate hybrid drive. 8gb of which is SSD. So far the 16gb of ram seems to be enough for SmartSDR, DXLab, Fldigi, WSJTX, web browser and email programs I tend to run. I'll upgrade to 32gb when it won't get the job done. I'm a fan of overkill. Costs a lot but it's less hassle. I tend to only assemble new PCs when the old one breaks beyond repair or is no longer overkill. 
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Walt - KZ1F

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Well, as I said in a previous post, buying business class machines 'because you can' is perfectly acceptable. That is what helps drive the economy. My concern is how some equate 'because I can' with 'because I have to'. If prospective flex owners perceive in order to run a $5,000 radio they need a $20,000 windows PC, this hurts FRS and I don't believe anyone gains if that happens.
(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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I checked into mttf, 1,200,000 he's. I'm thinking that's way beyond warranty. None of the programs we talk about here are disk intensive.
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Jay / NO5J

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Only cost me about $800 and my old box that cost me about $300 struggles but can run SmartSDR and PowerSDR concurruntly. Wouldn't even dream about $20,000.00.

PCs "can" last a long time. Cheaping out "can" end up costing more over time. My kids and grandkids enjoy Grandpa's hand me down PC's and get new ones when they need something better. Keeping PC's out of there budgets means they sometimes ask to splurge on Grandpa's hobbies around christmas. Why spend money on good coax when RG-8 will get the job done. Next several years I plan on spending nothing on PC's. Anything that meets the minimum PC requirements should be able to play. Thats all you actually need, today at least. A penny saved, gets spent eventually, or your doing it wrong. I actually cheaped out on some of the parts in this PC. Caught some of the parts at "Sale" prices. Choosing to go the Intel route this time added $200 I could have saved by choosing AMD parts like I have in the past. The old box survived through the second year of the SDR-1000 and PowerSDR and the Flex-5000a. It's still running but I cheaped out when I built it and only installed 4gb of ram, now 8 years later the ram that box needs is no longer made. I'm hoping the 16gb of ram I put in the new box remains adequate, but I bet I'll outlive it.

I'm still using the original keyboard I got with my first used Intel 386 PC its an IBM model M. That PC new retailed for something like $2400 and all that survived of it is this keyboard. I like this old keyboard so much I dumpster dived my self a couple of spares in case I ever manage to kill this one. I bought that 386 8 bit system complete, 20mb hardrive and all for about $500 used. A strictly DOS machine, not enough of anything required to run Windows 3.1. It went into the dumpster I found the 2 spare keyboards in. Along with 4 Commodore PET computers I no longer had storage space for. I didn't upgrade to a new PC until 1995 when the first Pentium based machines hit the christmas sales.
The box after that one was the first self assembled machine as all the rest have been. 

I've had the computer hobby a lot longer than I've had the radio hobby, I got interested in radio first and computing a couple years later, when I was allowed access to the high schools teletype terminal on the dialup connection to the school districts mainframe, sometime in the mid 70s. When SDR became something that was a possibility I finally got licensed. I had to be. What a cool idea, A new way to play computer that includes my other favorite obsession. Luckily I've been able to afford both hobbies. Like Peter Pan I'll never grow up No! Not me!
(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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Here is what I have running on my laptop booted to run Windows (SSDR and Turbotax) only.

DDUtils
DM-780
HRD Logbook
Lync Basic
Performance Monitor  <-- used to make this point
Task Manager <--- used to make this point
SmartSDR
SmartSDR AlertHelper
SmartSDR CAT

total memory footprint, including Windows 7 (pig) AccuWeather (junkware) and all the other garbage that comes with a Dell

Memory in use - 4GB almost exactly. It's an 8GB system which supports the page count below below.

Page Writes/sec - 0 (maximum)

I can, with almost absolute certainty, state nobody (99.99%) on this forum will ever use 16GB...ever. That includes grandchildren too. 4 billion, if counted, would take
27 years to finish. 16 billion is 4 times that.

This is primarily for those lurking on this forum contemplating buying a Flex 6000. I do not believe you could find a machine for sale at Dell that couldn't successfully handle a Flex 6000. I have a 6500, four panadapters. Firing up the other 3 raised the 4GB but only about 200MB. CPU with all four panadapters running plus everything else, 60% of a 2.8GHz I7 processor with 8 threads which equate to about 5 real processors.

A 6700 would probably maybe rise to 4.4GB.

The 'can' far exceeds the 'needs to'.

However, in defense of those who buy the biggest Dell PowerEdge boxes they can find. If nobody bought the next new bright shiney, this economy would collapse overnight.  So, as I am counting on the stock market to fund my retirement, "Party On Wayne, Party On Garth" ;-)

Al, the scale is the factor to get it to show in the real time graph. The numbers are true values.
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Jay / NO5J

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Glad I could help you out with your retirement funding, with my retirement, It's all new and shiney, and barely begun. The money I spend now won't be available later. It was all planned for while I was still working and saving for it. No animals were injured, no children went to bed hungry. Make your purchases when its time. Spend as much as you want too. Be bold when your able.
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Walt - KZ1F

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More power to you Jay. I don't want to see prospective users get scared off.
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DrTeeth

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Walt, you have nailed your problem "AccuWeather (junkware) and all the other garbage that comes with a Dell". The first thing I do with a new PC is a crap-ware cleanout.
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Don - ik2egl - ai4sd

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let me suggest to use http://www.passmark.com performance test

I have been using with nn4nn to tune and upgradee my pc and I found it really useful
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Walt - KZ1F

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the problem with passmark is, "it's a 5" means absolutely nothing.If all you require is a 2 then 5 reflects excess capacity of  150% If you require a 10 than you have no excess capacity.

SSDR, if anything, is IO Bound. Put a performance monitor on your NIC when you have all your panadapters/ slice receivers running. Why 100% cpu is fine is if it is waiting for data to display from the radio itself, it is waiting, there is capacity for something else to use the processor. If running everything drives your cpu to 99.9% your system has excess capacity. If one had 2 chips and 128 processors, there is only so much processing power SSDR needs. The rest of it is ego and/or helping the economy. But, "its a 5" by itself is meaningless.

People should buy whatever it is that makes them happy. That's much different than what do I "need" for SmartSDR.
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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<quote>

who calls it that? Not IBM, Microsoft, or Linux. In windows, every app loaded gets paged out. A ptage fault is processed much more efficiently than a standard disk read.

</quote>

I'm sorry, but there's a whole lot that's incorrect in this post.  Since the dawn of Windows NT, there have been two categories of page faults: Hard page faults and soft page faults.  Just Google "hard page fault" or have a look at Solomon and Russinovich WIndows Internals book.  There was this same concept in VMS as well.

You can read about the difference between hard and soft page faults here: <http://blogs.technet.com/b/askperf/archive/2008/06/10/the-basics-of-page-faults.aspx>

Also, in Windows every app that gets loaded does *not* get paged out.  However, it IS true that we load pages of an app through the use of page faults.  Windows memory maps the executable image, load the first part of the executable, and then let paging take care of the rest.  This is how the app gets loaded initially.

Peter K1PGV

Windows kernel-mode developer by trade

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Walt - KZ1F

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Wow Peter, I am glad you mentioned Windows Kernel mode developer. And just how long have you been doing that? I believe you are referencing to someone's blog post, hardly an architectural design.That's different than being there at the time. I am referring that which was done in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Should you look at the Windows Performance Monitor, you'll notice they call it page writes and page reads. Maybe it's just your group that made the new designation. IBM, which created the virtual memory model and predates Bill Gates, also doesn't. I've been in that space for 43 years now. I was also heavily involved in OS/2 long before Windows hired Dave Cutler and splintered off NT. I also attended seminars done by Russinovich. And, you are contradicting yourself. This is not the forum to pick fights.
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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Mr. Corey: I don't want to argue with you.  I've been writing operating systems for more than 30 years.  I've been working with the Windows OS, at the source code level, for more than 15 years. The guy who writes the Windows Memory Manager is a friend of mine.  Mark Russinovich use to work for me.

Look in Resource Monitor, in Windows 7 or later, and you'll see the hard page faults reported.  Here's a quick screen grab from Windows 7:

In 1978, when both Dave Cutler and I were working at DEC, there was the concept of hard and soft page faults in VMS.  I don't know if this was Dave's doing or Dick Hustefedt's.

The link I provided, is a blog post from TechNet. Or, if you prefer, check Windows Internals, Sixth Edition, Part 2 here -- you'll see Russinovich and Solomon describe a hard page fault.  This really isn't debatable.

Your entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.  I might not know much about amateur radio, but when it comes to how the Windows OS works, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp.  Because I'm not guessing, or taking somebody else's word for it. I know from seeing the code.  Or writing it.

Now I'm done with this thread. 

Peter K1PGV

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Walt - KZ1F

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Walt - KZ1F

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the above is a screen shot of the section of Microsoft Performance Monitor referring to and capturing 'page read' and page write' statistics. I guess Steve's group didn't write that particular code or proof the doc on it.

Steve, people who resort to gratuitous name dropping are generally compensating for some other larger deficiency. And you clearly have no idea of my credentials. I'll leave that as an exercise for you.

And the truly sad part Steve is your little diatribe added zero value, as is generally the case. Paging had the most marginal of relevance to the discussion, beyond the fact it is very fast and efficient compared to std disk and page ins are faster than page writes. As for what was substantitive I couldn't help but note you had no issue with that.So it really was nothing beyond a personal attack.

 I am surprised Tim let that one slide.
(Edited)
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donato cardarelli

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Passmark could be use to get more data on your pc and gathering data how to upgrade it
You need a starting point considering that we do not a full knoledge how our softwae are using our system
We Have the windows service information and we know f that mart sdr is a video based application, skimmer is cpu depended and so on, but they are indication n we have to benchmsrkcand to improve.
WE know also othat we need to have a balanced system to make sll component wok at better (do not put a super video card in a low cpu base system
So passmar is not intended on my side as a click and answer application but an improving system
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Walt - KZ1F

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if you are concerned about your network speed, point your browser at speedof.me. If your download results are between 15 and, say, 30 million bits per second your your NIC network interface card its fine.
(Edited)
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Jay / NO5J

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Hadn't seen speedof.me before. Thanks Walt! Im connected to the 6500 with a separate gigabit ethernet card and 3ft of cat6, which doesn't see my gigabit router or my 100Mbps capable fiber optic internet connection to the 15Mbps/5Mbps connection the ISP provides but the 17.65Mbps/8.79Mbps test result means my internet is healthy enough to give me that warm fuzzy/dollars well spent feeling. Not bad for 80 miles north of dallas and 30 miles from the ISP, low noise rural life. Too bad the trees top out at 30 ft. 
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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Read and okay Peter's kind words, he has spent many hours with his head in the Windows codebase and is one of the most recognized driver experts in the country. We are not worthy!
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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Thank you Neal.  I'm blushing now... 

K1PGV

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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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If you are using Realtek chipset in your  NIC, see what version of the driver you are using. Look at the end of the driver version number and it ends with the year of release. If its not 2011 you got a bad driver which is full of DPCs.
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K1FR

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Thanks Neal!  Your post got me to go back one more time to the NIC driver.  Though not a Realtek mine was May 2014.  Latest I could find.  So, decided to take a stab in the dark and roll it back to last driver just to see what would happen.  Totally took the NIC DPC off the list with Latency Monitor.  Machine is really solid now.  Not sure what the issue was with the newer driver, but have had similar things happened with graphics drivers in the past.  Still some tweaking to do, I think but what an improvement!

And, thanks to all that made helpful posts.  Great community.

73, Tom
K1FR
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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I think Burroughs/Unisys had virtual memory before IBM (at least thats what they told me...)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I Used Virtual Memory on a Univac 1107 back in 1963.
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Walt - KZ1F

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It was late '60s IBM had MVS. I, frankly am unfamiliar with what the industry was doing prior to that. At the time I was in Big Blue country. My only point was page frames and mapping virtual addresses to page and offset were around before Microsoft. And my only point to even bringing up paging was it is very fast and efficient over normal disk access. So even if you have a machine that does page slightly, you likely will never know it. I also vaguely remember how IBM did 2 bit error correction but would be hard pressed to articulate how even though that has no bearing on what level of compute power is necessary.  My main point was something like passmark is only good for bragging rights, mine is bigger than yours or how can I make mine bigger. The degree of IO Boundness SSDR is, is a function of processor speed. The faster your processor the more time (wall clock and percentage) you instance of SSDR will be waiting for IO. With the the faster machine you have, the less important the cpu is.  SSDR is 100% dependent on input which comes either from inputs to the GUI or data flowing from the radio itself. So long as your processor can keep up with the data flow from the radio itself, no extra speed or thread count is meaningful. As for memory, according to microsoft perfmon the footprint of SSDR with all slice receivers and panadaptors running only took just over 4GB. The difference between 1 slice receiver and 4 was about 200MB. I suspect the difference between adding 3 more and 7 more is 260MB. So we're still talking under 4.5 GB. One would be hard pressed I think to find a machine with less than 8GB, my phone has 16 and my tablet has 32 64bit memory. Even though my tablet it Android ( I like Microsoft even less now, thanks Steve) it will be running my complete shack shortly. In 12 months most of the rest of you will have Window Surface III tablets and carrying your shack around in your satchel. Price over radio, a few hundred dollars. 

    The only reason I am investing in this type of discussion is I know of several potential buyers of the 6000 series that went elsewhere (more than those who expressed that publicly on here) because reading the mail on here led them to believe the software required too large of a computer investment and was too buggy at this point. People are already whining about the v1x to v2x upgrade cost. That revenue will not sustain FRS long. They need net new buyers. Allowing people to believe they'll need Dell PowrEdge dual Xeon sockets with 20GB of memory is long term counter productive, if we want our investment realized.

And with that I end my involvement with this thread.

Walt Corey - kz1f
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Neal - K3NC, Elmer

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From the wikipedia:
" In 1961, the Burroughs Corporation independently released the first commercial computer with virtual memory, the B5000, with segmentation rather than paging".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_memory
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DrTeeth

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Page faults are normal - http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-performance/in-windows-7-what-is-a-memory...

Plus, a page file is always used no matter how much memory is installed. The best thing one can do for a pagefile is to give it a fixed size (same min-max) so it does not get fragmanted.
(Edited)
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Richard McClelland, AA5S

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For those who are interested in setting up fast machines, this article about Intel's new PCIe 750 line of SSDs is relevant:  http://semiaccurate.com/2015/04/02/intel-releases-750-pcie-ssd-line/  I thought I should bury this in a related thread rather than start something new, since this is so far off topic.
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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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Regarding the PCIe 750 NVMe Drives AA5S mentioned:  In my professional life, I'm very involved NVMe technology. I would not put one of these drives in my personal system today.  There is great promise in NVMe , and I'm a strong supporter of it.  However, these products and the software device drivers to support them need some time to "settle down" and mature before they can be used in applications where people need them to just work as part of their everyday systems.

These drives are very cool for people who want to be on the "cutting edge" -- They are not yet good for people who just want to get stuff done using their PC.

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Richard McClelland, AA5S

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Thank you for the useful information.  The article referenced the 'newness' of NVMe as well.