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steve podleski May 4, 1999 17:18

PC system for CFD
I'm considering buying a Polywell worstation to do mesh generation and CFD calcs.

I've looked at Dell, Gateway, HP, Compaq, and Micron, Quantex and a couple of independent local vendors. They are either more expensive, less capable, not expandable, unknown components, unresponsive, or rude.

The Polywell P3-500Bu2 has a 500Mz Pentium III upgradeable to 2cpus; 512Mb of RAM expandable to 1Gb; 18Gb 7200 IDE hard disk; 120Mb Super Disk; 100Mb Zip Drive; 21" monitor; 40x CD ROM; ELSA Gloria Synergy AGB graphics; and Windows NT 4.0

Does anyone have any experience or opinions on Polywell?

John C. Chien May 4, 1999 18:10

Re: PC system for CFD
(1).If you are planning to do programming on your own, then first find out whether the computer can handle the programming languages and environment you are trying to use. The software determines the hardware. You must make sure that the hardware actually can handle it. (2). If you are planning to use commercial CFD software, the contact the software vendors first, and determine exactly the system software and the hardware you need to run their CFD software. Still, the software determines the hardware. (3). Do not go the other way around, that is hardware determines the software. Don't buy the hardware first!!! (4). As for the PC service, it is important to have the service included and easily available for the first year!!! Expect to run into different small problems. (5). As for the PC reliability, most of the components, except CPU and hard-drive, are now made in Taiwan. ( regardless of the brand.)

Oleg Mikulchenko May 4, 1999 21:51

Re: PC system for CFD
Hello, Steve,

Did you see web-site ? What is your source of the information about the Polywell P3-500Bu2 ?

I found good Desktop PC: Poly 800B9 High-End PC ( It is possible to use NT, Linux, Win'95 Multiple Boot with System Commander. It is one restriction - motherboard support expandable SDRAM to 1GB only. May be there are another motherboards supported SDRAM to 4GB from another companies.

Best Regards,


reyman May 5, 1999 08:00

Re: PC system for CFD
Steve, there's also NT-SGI available with dual processors which might be comparable to the system you described. and if I remember correctly, they're very affordable. we use SGI Octane's and Indigo2's (IRIX 6.5.2) and they have been mostly compatible with all kinds of software but it would be a good idea to contact the software vendors you will be buying from in advance of your computer purchase to see what they have to say about hardware requirements.

Erich May 5, 1999 10:48

Re: PC system for CFD

We, like Reyman, use SGI octane's. If you must go pc, I would get an SGI Visual NT workstation. They can even support up to 4 processors,etc and are reasonably priced. Never heard of Polywell...

Good luck, erich

steve podleski May 5, 1999 19:10

Re: PC system for CFD
I've checkout the SGI Unix stations and they are WAY too expensive. I'm limited to a $4K budget. Also the Windows NT SGIs are also too expensive for an equivalent PC made by other manufacturers.

All my applications (mesh gen, CFD code, and post processing) will run on Windows NT. In the future, if we decide to need more horsepower, we'll go Linux and parallel a bunch of Pentiums.

Y.M. Wu May 5, 1999 23:53

Re: PC system for CFD
Hi, Reyman,

Octane was claimed by SGI a "visual workstation". What does that mean? Is that suitable for CFD calculation? How is its performance?


John C. Chien May 6, 1999 13:14

Re: PC system for CFD
(1). PC has been very reliable. So, don't worry about the reliability. (2). But, there will be random problems, such as a).cards are not properly seated, b).plugs are not properly seated. c).loose connections. d). memory card not properly seated, etc...or illegal CPU.. So, you have to have a good service shop to deal with these minor problems. When it is not running, it is a big problem for you. It is important to buy the PC from a store with good service and support. (3).There will be software installation problem, system upgrade problem or usage problem later on. So, you need to know whether you can talk to the PC service engineer easily and get the quick answer. (4). As I said, the PC parts have been very reliable, so, the only problem is the service and support.( not mentioning the virus problem,etc..) Most PC from Compaq, IBM,.... are all made in Taiwan nowadays.

steve podleski May 6, 1999 14:00

Re: PC system for CFD
John, all the possible problems that you mentioned are of concern and that is why I am asking for input on Polywell.

John C. Chien May 6, 1999 17:59

Re: PC system for CFD
(1). If they have sold their PC to institutions or companies, you can try to get the names and find out whether there are problems with their systems or not. (2).Or you can visit their local outlet store, if there is one nearby.

reyman May 7, 1999 09:50

Re: PC system for CFD
First of all Octanes are really expensive. These computers are great for graphics designers, say someone who makes really shiny glossy magazines like Wired. They're also really great for using open-Gl. So they're primarily graphics computers and secondarily speed computers. Ours are not really that fast, they have dual 250 Mhz processors and 256 megs of ram upgradeable to 4 Gig. We usually use them for computational chemistry and computational biology, which are very graphics intensive, so they're being used for appropriate purposes. As Mr. Chien pointed out, PC's are reliable for speed. CFD requires speed and RAM. For CFD, we use a Sun 6000 with 16 parallel 333 Mhz processors which has 8gigs of RAM. FLUENT 5.0 is parallel processor capable as well as others, but the need for parallel processing is most often reserved for enormous flow problems that can often be broken into several smaller pieces and being so large and complex, are probably not benchmarked anyway. I access the SUN through a Dell NT-PC with Exceed invoked which itself has a 400 Mhz processor. Sometimes I use an Indigo2 or Octane for postprocessing and always do so when I want to print out pretty pictures of fluid flow. HOWEVER, PC's are reasonably fast and now are quite comparable in graphics capabilities. So I would recommend new buyers to look into a PC just as Mr. Podleski is doing because the tradeoff for very good graphics and similar processing speeds is not worth the extra cost for CFD applications. Personally, I'm investigating the new NT-SGI since it costs about $10k while a new Octane is $50k (at least I think thats what we paid for them...too expensive IMHO). MOST IMPORTANTLY, remember that CFD has been going on relatively successfully with a minimum of resources for some time now and to make things more complicated does not necessarily make them better and just because something costs more doesn't mean its better. For an example of successful CFD accomplished with the basic resources at hand, please respectfully see: John C. Chien, Thu, 29 Apr 1999, 3:55 p.m.

Joao Guilherme Rocha Poco May 7, 1999 15:59

Re: PC system for CFD
I am trying to buy this taylored server to use with Fluent.

Dual Pentium III 500MHZ (in a box) ASUS P2B-DS motherboard with SCSI-2 and Ultra Wide SCSI 1Gb of SDRAM Kingstom PC100 (4*256Mb or 2*512Mb->better) 1HD 9.1 Gb SCSI-2 (80 Mb/s) or UltraWide SCSI (40Mb/s) Matrox Millenium 8Mb AGP G200 or Diamond Viper 16 Mb Two or more fans and the rest of machine.

What could be the expected behavior in relation to another with a unique CPU? Thank you in advance.

Y.M. Wu May 8, 1999 05:32

Re: PC system for CFD
Thanks for your comments. Currently, I am one of the users of a SGI Origin 2000, which is good as a public server. But, obviously this machine is not economically beautiful to professionals who want to start their own business (including Octane accroding to your comments).


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