Old Intel Xeon servers for plotting: how old is too old?

Yeah for sure check it out. I give it 24 “threads” as it’s recommended to specify physical cores. My system has 128GB of ram and has no issues with the 110GB ramdisk when using 256 bucket; I run it natively without a plot manager.

Managed to sort out the speed issues I was having earlier…and as soon as I did that and optimized for parallel plots MadMax started making noise.
Now im re-optimizing for MadMax but from what I see I’ll easily double my plot count per day and not have to worry about losing plots partway through the day for any reason as I’ll just have one going at a time vs 12.

Still running through tests with various numbers of drives in RAID 0 (along with bucket size and a ramdisk) but I think I should be able to hit well under 30 min plot times easily without using an NVME.

I’ve actually just sold all my nvme’s (was going to purchase more smaller ones) but I think there’s no need for them as I have a ton of 10k/15k sas drives around and MadMax completely negates the need for an NVME. Also need to consider the space to store the plots if doing 45-50/day lol, the increase in speed with an nvme is probably not worth it for me.

Just found this thread… My $.02. Ivy bridge for me is kind of the starting point of worthwhile in terms of performance per dollar, because of the low price of DDR3 as well as how low the prices of the old chips are. I’ve got one Westmere (Nehalem die shrink) and it’s OK since it was cheap, but much worse in terms of speed per watt than the ivy bridge. Totally worth it to rebuild as ivy bridge to reduce power bill if I end up plotting more (I’m done for now).

I have a dual E5-2690v2 with 256GB of ram which was formerly getting about 52 plots per day using about 30 spinning disks as temp drives (it’s in a 36 bay chassis), but that’s a lot of effort. Switching to the madmax plotter, I’m able to get a single plot using ram disk to plot in less than 25 minutes. It’s only a bit more (perhaps 56-58 plots per day) but far simpler and easier to manage. But the performance is definitely there on the Ivy bridge and later, then it’s just a matter of the upfront cost tradeoff (cheaper for older) vs the power bill (higher for older).

1 Like

You are right about power, my R515 dual opteron (with 12 disks) uses 370W mostly just farming and plotting 4/day. Yet my R720 dual E5-2650V2 (with 8 disks) uses around 300W plotting at nearly 100% processor utilisation.

Thanks again for this info.!

I got MadMax up and running today. I tested it with 2 NVME drives ( temp 1 and 2) first just to see the numbers and was getting about 29 minutes a plot. I then setup ram disk as temp 2 and am getting about 25 minutes a plot. I was hoping for around 20 minutes like you since we have basically the same setup, but I guess either your Ram or NVME drive is faster, otherwise I have no idea. But I guess I can’t complain too much about 25 minutes. Going to see if I can tweak anything to get it faster, maybe raid 0 2 of my 2TB NVME drives, can’t really think of anything else to do at the moment to speed it up.

What’s your configuration? Are you on windows or Linux? There’s many reports that the ramdisk implementations on Windows aren’t very good, and you need to run Linux to get big benefit from ramdisk.

My dual X5670 now does 12 plots a day consistently, going up to 24GB ECC reg. ram cost me ~18USD that’s the only thing I’ve spent on this. Plots directly to 7.2KRPM SAS disks (one per plot), not tried Mad Max (would it be better?). I could probably optimise it with better plot scheduling, but at the moment it’s not on the same network as everything else, and moving plots off it is a sneakernet job, so happy for it to do what it’s doing for now.

I have a dual X5670 also. I was able to do about 26 plots per day with 16 individual drives and 96 GB of ram. Assuming you have a smaller number of drives, what you have is not bad. Going to madmax probably would not be faster. Madmax works well when you have either enough ram for a ramdisk (128GB+) or if you have very fast nvme drives. This same X5670 can now do madmax plots in 45 minutes, but I achieved that by running a 12 disk raid0 using 10k SAS drives.

1 Like

I’m running latest Ubuntu desktop. One of two things I can think of is my Ram speed. I keep forgetting to check but I think the speed is 2133Mhz. I think with the 2400MHz it will shave some time off. I’m going to check tonight when I get a chance. I also tried a different NVME drive to see if it made a difference (was using a Samsung 970 Evo Plus and then tried an SK Hynix Gold P91) and the times are pretty much identical - 25 minutes give or take while running the Chia GUI simultaneously for farming. If I close the Chia GUI it saves about 20 to 30 seconds a plot. The other thing I can think of is I am running Ubuntu desktop and I heard running the server version may be faster. Does anyone think this will make a worthwhile difference to switch?

Not sure if the server version is inherently faster, but you could certainly avoid running the desktop to save some resources without reinstalling, simplest way:

# systemctl set-default multi-user.target

and reboot, then if you want to change it back

# systemctl set-default graphical.target

and reboot

1 Like

Here is my cheap plotter. By far the best $ per plot performance I have spent.

The server is approximately 7 years old. Here are the specs, cost and current performance.

Supermicro 1U X9DRI Server (X9DRI-LN4F+ Motherboard)
Dual E5-2670 V2 2.5GHz Processors (20 Cores)
128GB RAM (12800R ECC Registered Memory)
DVD Drive
560w Power Supply
4 Gigabit Ethernet Ports
Crucial 500GB SATA (boot drive)
Samsung 980 Pro 1TB (plotting drive)
NVME PCIe Adapter (RIITOP w/Heat Sink)

Total cost: $814.35
Current Production: 31 Plots per day

Currently waiting on another 32GB of memory so I can attempt plotting with a RAMDrive. Should arrive in the next week. That is an additional $122.95.

Thanks for the great info.! Once I move my farmer to a different machine I will give it a try and see if there is any improvement.

Doubtful that desktop or server makes a difference. What processor(s) do you have? And what amount of ram? Faster ram would probably help - but depends on your processor. I’m getting 25 minutes on Dual E5-2690v2 on crappy DDR3 1333 Mhz ram. I’m pretty sure that system is close to the limit, but with a newer generation processor and DDR4 ram, definitely faster is possible.

You can switch off the gui though, even with the desktop. If I remember correctly, you should be able to hit like ctrl-alt-F2… Or maybe control-alt-backspace. I don’t use desktop so not sure on that, that might give you a few more seconds too…

I’d be careful about adding just 32GB of ram. Right now you probably have, 8 slots populated? That means you’re in one of the optimal configs of running 8 channels (4 per CPU). Unless you add another 8 sticks of memory, you might go from a great memory config to a crappy one.

With 128GB of ram, you should be able to run a 110GB ramdisk already for temp2. I’ve heard people doing that just fine.

My current 128GB of RAM is all 8GB sticks. I am adding 4 more sticks. Balanced across the 4 banks. Should be good.

You can give it a try but I’m not sure that will work properly, because it’s 4 banks per CPU, and using 20 slots sounds unbalanced. 8, 16, 24 with dual CPU or 4, 8, or 12 when using only 1 CPU.

I’m running dual E5-2680v3. Currently have 128GB of Ram and going to double check speed tonight.

With those processors, ram speed is probably the best guess for going faster. Are you using discard mount option, and/or using fstrim? I suspect mount without discard and manual fstrim between runs works best.

After I add the memory, I’ll make sure I run a plot the same way I did before to test that the speed is the same before making any changes.

I just got the chance to check ram speed and as I suspected it is 2133. So I guess my plot times seem to be in line with my specs. I edited systemctl to have fstrim run hourly on all my drives.

I just bought another Dell T7910 on FB marketplace this week for pretty cheap ($500 and they threw in dual monitors, PCIE NVME card, and a bunch of other things) . It has super basic specs. but soon I’m going to upgrade the processors, ram, and throw in an NVME, and then run it side by side with my other machine.