In my institution, there is a lot of talent available, but for computing we only have a handful of rather old servers available. My expectation is that many institutions do have the budget to buy 128GB(+) RAM servers priced far north of the 10K pricing mark. Servers that are likely using the Xeon Intel technology, which might be very good processors, but perhaps not optimal, when one aims to squeeze the most out of the budget (bang for the buck).
The aim is to build a 128(+)GB RAM Computing server for less then 10K. I was wondering if anyone has any experience/tips regarding buying/building such a 'budget' server. Also, I can say that I am open to any 'hack' or 'trick' that might get the job done. Examples of this could be:
1.) Use AMD processors, instead of Intel processors. I find it hard to find out how much this can be a (cost saving) option. Pricing for servers is not very transparent.
2.) Use consumer hardware instead of server hardware. In the link, it is shown how one can get 128GB of RAM onto a normal PC motherboard: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2938855/hardcore-hardware-we-stuffed-this-pc-with-128gb-of-cutting-edge-ddr4-ram.html .. As far as I can see, using the new DDR4 RAM 8 slots motherboards plus 8x16 ECC RAM kits, this machine could be well under 3K and perhaps it is even possible to put 8 * 32GB RAM kits into such a motherboard and have a 256GB RAM Computing Server for ~3K (2 x http://tinyurl.com/h3e8om5). I also heard that Xeon processors have some advantages (e.g. larger cache), but is this really worth the extra money in our case? Also, I generally find that the servers are not running on full speed because there are too many large jobs using only one core at certain times, which might influence the overall picture. Assuming it is even a workable solution: ~3K is quite a different number then the 20K+ one might need to pay for a Xeon computing server.
3.) Cloud services: Although some of the data we would like to analyse might perhaps be best kept behind a firewall, it seems that there is a trend of using such services. It seems that people are even analyzing dbGAP data on AWS, these days, but perhaps these approaches are immature/expensive (if you take: equipment depreciation/power usage, etc. into consideration).
Also, one of this issues is that most vendors that sell server hardware do not put prices on their websites making it difficult to estimate the cost. I understand that these systems might require some service, but since all these things have to be included in the price, this will likely make it more expensive.