CG Workstation – The Baby “Titan” Supercomputer

The TYAN FT77A

There are though a number of GPU computing dedicated barebones, that allow you to mount as many as 10x double slot wide PCIe cards, among which the TYAN FT77AB7059 & FT72B7015 barebones that allow you to house up to 8x GPUs and two LGA 2011 or 1366 Xeon CPUs respectively in a single, 4U rack-mountable case. In this build we will be focusing on the FT77A chassis and s2011 CPUs, but for the most part the older 1366 FT02 platform will be producing identical results when equipped with the same GPUs.

FT77A-B7059_front_600

In a nutshell, the FT77AB7059 is a 4U case supporting dual E5-2600 series Xeons based on the  C602 and being powered with 3x hot-swappable 80+ Platinum 1200W PSUs, featuring a rated capacity of 2400W, with the 3rd PSU providing redundancy.

FT77A-B7059_Top_600

Through an impressive count of 24x dimm-slots, registered ECC RAM buffer can reach 768GB, while with regular unbuffered DDR3 dimms we can go as high as 192GB. Max supported speed is PC3-12800 (1600MHz) @ Quad Channel per CPU.

As far as storage options go, you won’t be impressed by the 2x SATA/4x Mini-SAS ports offered by the C602, but this is not a file server barebone. Internally you can mount up to 6x SATA 2.5″ SSD/HDD drivers, or 4x 3.5″ HDDs, that should suffice to feed the average GPU rendering node just fine.

The niche of this system though 4x PLX8747 Chips. In pairs directly linked to each Xeon CPU, each one of these is capable of supporting 2x Gen3 PCIe 16x lanes, for a total of 8x ports comfortably spaced apart to allow for the installation of 8x double-slot GPU cards.

A clever power distribution board spans the distance along the slots, providing 2x 8-pin PCIe connectors and the appropriately sized cables allow powering all your cards without extreme cable clutter. 8x power-hungry cards in such a tight space require all the air-flow your can give them, and this system will be far from running very cool or very silently at full load…c’est la vie.

pcfoo_ft77a_pcie_power_rail

 

As expected, this highly specialized compute platform comes with a pricetag to match its impressive GPGPU and memory footprint. The barebone itself will set you back around $5,000 , thus making it a choice limited to very serious and wealthy enthusiasts and of course professionals that will actually have a return of investment.

The older TYAN FT72B7015 platform for LGA1366 5500 Series Xeons will set you back $4,200. Keep in mind that prices vary greatly as the supply and competition between vendors is very limited.

Remember that with both cases, in this price you get  the well engineered 4U case, the included high quality PSUs and the custom C602 2P board. Just add CPUs, RAM, GPUs and a main SSD or HDD drive for a complete system

Page 3: Configuration Options

10 thoughts on “CG Workstation – The Baby “Titan” Supercomputer

  1. Hi Dmitris, Once again I need you advice. I think to update my GTX 680 to Titan or 780ti EVGA is going to release GTX 780ti with 6Gb of RAM, but the question is do I really need floating point precision of Titan for VrayRT and Cycles? Thanks, Roman

    • No, I don’t think you will see major differences between the Titan (Black or not) and a 780Ti. It should be the same card as far as VRay RT / Cycles / Luxrender / Octane.

      I’ve seen very predictable performance scaling with all Kepler cards so far (e.g. you add 2 cards with the same cores * clocks aggregate as a Titan, you will get Titan-like performance, you add 2 Titans or 2* 770s = 2* performance etc)

    • I don’t believe OS GPU limitations are that relevant. As long as the GPGPU program detects a CUDA enabled device, should be able to use it, and you can do so even over LAN. Win OS might be limited to 7 or so GPUs driving monitors, but in this built one of the GTX cards or if you wish for an 8th dedicated viewport card is needed to do so. The rest is pure compute.

    • Do some research. Chances are that this chassis will be available in competitive prices. Now that Haswell-E is out and s2011 platform is obsolete, Tyan & its vendors will probably try to push the stock off the shelves. GPGPU performance won’t be affected either way. Using GTX980 – hopefully the 8GB version is not that far, should be ~$700ish – you will probably get better compute all-around, for less power consumption & probably noise. Important when we are talking 8 GPUs.

  2. Dmitris, Just got the info from guys over Octane’s forum that GTX 980 which is maxwell architecture apparently is not quite fast comparing to GTX 780 (keppler). I think i would stick with GTX 780 for now. I read from other forum , that somebody got problem with 8x GTX 780 on Tyan FT77A . it only run 7 GPUs. That make me wary a bit. link attached below: http://hashcat.net/forum/thread-3330.html

    • The performance of Maxwell cores – at least with OpenCL instructions – is far superior that that of Kepler, on par or better than R9 290X in some cases (which is lotsa faster than GK110). I guess Maxwell GPGPU engine will be revised in the future, but if 780s suffice for you atm, you should be fine. Especially if 3GB VRam will do it for you, there are lots of offers and rebates on 780s that need to “go” and make room for 9xx orders. 6GB 780s are in far shorter supply and I doubt you can find them @ great prices. As far as the 8 card limit goes, I think you can still install manually the 6th-8th card if Windows and/or NVidia driver fails to automatically detect them. It is a BIOS issue I think and not that of the OS. I know ppl using 8-GPU setups, tho I never had one setup myself. You should manually guide the GPU(s) the were not connected to find drivers from the location those are deployed (C:\nvidia for example) through the Device Manager > Install Drivers > Have Disk option.

  3. Seriously considering one of these for home use. When doing compute work, I’m sure it’ll be noisy, but curious if those 180mm fans spin down enough to be acceptable while sitting in the same room.

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