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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 10:31 pm 
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Hi folks,

Just a quick heads up that a number of manufacturers now have Z68 Express motherboards for Sandy Bridge processors available for pre-order. The Z68 chipset offers more than just the ability to overclock where that ability didn't previously exist with the H67 chipset but I think a number of potential users for sandy Bridge's integrated graphics will be disappointed that, so far at least, the Z68 will only be available on micro-ATX boards and larger.

Bob.

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OM-D E-M5, H-PS14042E, Gitzo GT1541T, Arca-Swiss Z1 DP ball-head.
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 10:56 pm 
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Given the Z is effectively a superset of the original two chipsets, it does kinda make sense it'll go into higher end desktop boards at first and slowly filter down into smaller form factor niche boards.

Personally I'm interested in the... I forgot the marketing name, but it can use a SSD to cache other hard disks. I debated running a large SSD in a new build, but cost as always springs up. Now you can have up to 64GB SSD cache of conventional hard disks and also not have to worry about drive space management.

I don't know exactly how many ticks and/or tocks my main system is behind now, but this would be a significant enough upgrade for me to consider.

I really should pay off the recent photographic purchases first anyway...

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Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 11:38 pm 
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Hi popo,

The name of the technology you mentioned is, I believe, "Smart Response".

I'm right in the middle of fleshing out the specifications for a Mini-ITX computer to run the telescope I'm putting together. A Z68 chipset would have been great to have instead of the current H67 (I think the integrated graphics is all I should need), if only to allow a degree of future proofing. That said the H67 should be more than adequate and, for this project, I really value the small form factor that Mini-ITX offers, even over micro-ATX.

Bob.

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OM-D E-M1 + ED 12-40mm f/2.8, H-F007014E, M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm 1:1.8, M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm 1:1.8, L-RS014150E.
OM-D E-M5, H-PS14042E, Gitzo GT1541T, Arca-Swiss Z1 DP ball-head.
Astrophotography: TEC 140 'scope, FLI ML16803 camera, ASA DDM60 Pro mount.


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 7:26 am 
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I've always been concerned about running desktop CPU mini-ITX boards. I went with a mobile CPU mini-ITX system in the past, and that runs warm enough under load. Having said that I do tend to keep my computers under full load if they're on.

Back on the chipsets, the main selling point of the Z as I see it is that it offers full overclocking capabilities of both CPU and GPU or whatever they call it now. I wouldn't have thought a "telescope controller" would have been very demanding?

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Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 8:49 am 
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Hi popo,

Not particularly demanding although my choice of mounting, with direct drive motors and high resolution encoders with the computer controlling the feedback loop in real time, might be a little more demanding than usual, at least in terms of minimising latency. But the computer will run MaximDL to control the camera and as the MaximDL license agreement states "you may install and use one copy of the Product on a single computer" that pretty much means that any pre-processing using that software would have to be done on the Mini-ITX form factor machine unless I can get Diffraction Limited to agree otherwise. :roll:

For those who are confused by the Z68 bit-tech have a helpful article What is the Intel Z68 chipset?.

Bob.

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OM-D E-M1 + ED 12-40mm f/2.8, H-F007014E, M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm 1:1.8, M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm 1:1.8, L-RS014150E.
OM-D E-M5, H-PS14042E, Gitzo GT1541T, Arca-Swiss Z1 DP ball-head.
Astrophotography: TEC 140 'scope, FLI ML16803 camera, ASA DDM60 Pro mount.


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 10:21 am 
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How about the AMD Brazos E-350 platform for your telescope?
I don't know exactly what kind of processing power MaximDL needs, but I know Brazos can handle newish games at low quality which is pretty decent.

It's at least a much cheaper alternative. =)

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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 11:16 am 
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Given Bob's budget on the rest of the kit it will be connected to, I don't think skimping on the PC is going to provide value! While I'm not familiar with the software itself, in a quick look it also does image processing and in those cases you can never have too much CPU power. There's value, and there's false value. My previous assumption of a control only application was incorrect there.

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Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 1:08 pm 
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Oh, it's something massive? :D

I had no idea, but I agree with your statement.

The system requirements don't look harsh, but then again it's pretty impossible to determine. Can't seem to find any user feedback either, except on cloudy nights, where people seem to have it running fine on "old" laptops.

Windows® 2000, XP, Vista, or 7.
Pentium or equivalent, or higher
512 MB RAM recommended minimum
50 MB Disk space for installation
1024x768, 16-bit color or higher, (monochrome images only can be displayed on 8-bit color video cards)
Mouse
Internet Explorer 5 or higher to display Help


But then again, I don't know what Bob's intended use is and how it will affect the hw.

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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 1:25 pm 
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Lorride wrote:
Oh, it's something massive? :D

Fair call. Gordon will testify that I am something fairly massive. :wink: :lol:

On the wider point (no, I'm not talking about me again!) while I'm not a fan of spending hundreds extra just for the last few megahertz of specified CPU speed the relatively small extra cost of a more capable motherboard and associated chipset are generally worthwhile. But that's pie in the sky (sorry, bad pun in this context) at the moment as a Mini-ITX Z68 motherboard doesn't exist yet. Even the micro-ATX boards that have been announced are not readily available. But heck, a Sandy Bridge CPU on a Mini-ITX platform provides more grunt than a server case could have provided not too many years ago so I mustn't be greedy. Next time...

Update: SweClockers are reporting (Googlish) that Zotac will be releasing a Mini-ITX board with the Z68 chipset on May 31st. Maybe I can hold out... 8)

Update 2 and a bit off-topic: Diffraction Ltd. have just got back to me (very quick service) and said that "as long as you are using it (MaximDL) only on one computer at a time, we don't have a problem with using separate computers for imaging and processing". Great to see such a realistic approach and it means I can forget about Z68 for the next build.

Bob.

_________________
OM-D E-M1 + ED 12-40mm f/2.8, H-F007014E, M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm 1:1.8, M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm 1:1.8, L-RS014150E.
OM-D E-M5, H-PS14042E, Gitzo GT1541T, Arca-Swiss Z1 DP ball-head.
Astrophotography: TEC 140 'scope, FLI ML16803 camera, ASA DDM60 Pro mount.


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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 10:17 am 
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Been doing some fantasy shopping this morning deciding if I should again look at a major desktop upgrade since my last one was only a minor bump.

I'm still at a dilemma on hard disk strategy. My current box uses 2x1TB WD Green mirrored. I know they're slow drives best suited to bulk storage, but I'm using the old ram quantity trick to OS cache it and offset that.

The biggest thing I'm not sure about going to a single SSD as main system drive is I'm not confident enough on reliability and longevity. My main system has always ran a mirrored raid array so I have minimal downtime in the event of a disk failure, and it has saved me before. Mirrored SSD is far too excessive on cost.

This smart response thing seems almost ideal. This time around I'd probably go for 2x2TB WD Black as system drives and dangle some fast 60GB-ish SSD off it.

The only problem I have left is the shopping basket value is now into 4 figures and I haven't finished yet...

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Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 1:42 pm 
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Hi popo,

Good luck! I guess the Z68 chipset's Smart Response is the major feature for you as I doubt you'll be using the integrated graphics?

On the SSD front I've just pulled the trigger and ordered the parts for my Mini-ITX system (Gigabyte mainboard) and while I was as restrained as I could be for most items I did splurge on one of the new Crucial m4 SSDs. It will be the only drive in that machine (so Smart Response not really relevant and the H67 chipset will do me just fine) but as I've been using a Crucial C300 SSD boot drive in my main machine for nearly two years I've no worries about reliability. It's as solid as a rock and the machine runs about 16/24 every day. Mind you I do the bulk of my data storage onto conventional HDDs rather than the C: drive.

Bob.

_________________
OM-D E-M1 + ED 12-40mm f/2.8, H-F007014E, M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm 1:1.8, M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm 1:1.8, L-RS014150E.
OM-D E-M5, H-PS14042E, Gitzo GT1541T, Arca-Swiss Z1 DP ball-head.
Astrophotography: TEC 140 'scope, FLI ML16803 camera, ASA DDM60 Pro mount.


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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 2:08 pm 
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With the number of apps making use of GPU acceleration on the up, I would go for add in gfx in any desktop system. About the only feature the intel GPU helps is in video transcoding, which I don't do any of.

It is probably paranoia on my part regarding the reliability, more specifically endurance. On my current system, the windows install and program files combined take just under 70GB. Let's say I pick a 120GB MLC model to give some headroom. Nominal endurance is 3000 cycles, a conservative value for recent 34nm to 20nm devices. Assuming perfect wear levelling and a write amplification of 1x, then that is equivalent to writing about 330GB a day for 3 years. I know in practice that is a non-issue, but still I guess my old habits die hard. Given the small capacity of SSDs I guess I could just image it from time to time to elsewhere. Not so practical on a 1TB fairly full hard disk. I think I'll also have to look for software than can count the hard disk data transfer to see what typical transfers actually are. I know the built in windows system monitor does that but it is a pain to use...

_________________
Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


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