Number Crunching Machines

Database Management Systems
IT architecture
SQL Server
I just started at a new workplace and have been presented with a group of servers running software called Calcserve. I'm not entirely sure what they actually do but it is some sort of number crunching for various trust funds etc. What concerns me though is that I have worked on AS400's now for 10years and have allways believed that they were a superior number cruncher. Can anyone tell me how AS400/ISeries compare with Windows servers (or indeed any other machines) in the world of pure number crunching? Thanks in advance.

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I’m not as familiar with AS400s as all that, but I would offer that just on the surface, AS400 machines would be superior just because they don’t have the overhead that Windows machines have to have (even a Windows NT Server box has a GUI, which takes up resources).

Having said that, a 10 year old computer isn’t going to run at the same speed as a new one — so unless the machines are equal, I don’t think there’s any way to make a comparison. If the hardware is equal, though, I’d put my money on almost anything over a Windows machine.

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  • Larrythethird
    The AS400, being a RISC based computer, will do very good job of number crunching. The hardware and the OS were designed for a true server environment. Most Windows servers are bastardized PCs. A more powerfull CPU and more memory are the only differences between a Windows PC and a server. Windows spends so much of it's CPU utilization running the GUI. Any other OS could beat the pants off of Windows on equal computers, although Windows is a decent application server.
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  • Howard2nd
    When I google 'CalcServe' it returns 0 findings. That tells me that it is a VERY limited application of custom origin. Now it does not matter if the servers are AS/400's or Linux or Windows or little men in boxes with abacuses. Are they working for the company now? Working at a University I have had the opportunity to use a great many different systems. Cray 1, Cray X, T1000 massive paralled, SGI, Sun, IBM up thru S390's and of course System 34, 36, AS/400 - and they all have good features and bad. And everyone of them had specific applications that were optimized for processor and memory. So asking which is the better 'number cruncher' can be misleading. When I want to do video editing (lots of numbers in renedering) my Mac G5 will make an AS/400 look sad, If I could find an application like iMovie for the 400.
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  • Solutions1
    My experience is that few people outside AS/400 circles (which includes me) think of the AS/400 as a "number cruncher." At an IBM facility, I stood next to a "number cruncher" being put together for Lawrence Livermore Labs, and it was a complex of Unix boxes, not an AS/400 in sight. This example is not unique - I doubt there is much seismic analysis or weather analysis being done on AS/400s. That said, does it matter to you? In many cases, even modest number crunching speed is fast enough to move your performance choke point to some aspect of I/O - onboard cache, disck cache, I/O bandwidth, etc. As an example, if you are computing portfolio betas for lots of smallish portfolios, bringing in the source data may be your limiting factor on performance. If in fact you do have a need for a lot of number cruching, todays "best practice" is in many cases some form of grid computing - spread the problem across some "white box" PC's using some "white box" operating system.
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