what sort of hardware should I invest in?
Thread poster: Anne McKee
Anne McKee
Local time: 12:55
French to English
Nov 20, 2004

I have an HP computer with a slow (so slow its like watching paint dry at times)Celerom processure and only a 20 Gigabit hard disk. I want to invest in a new system where I can load Trados in the future, any dictionaries and translating tools that are necessary and that processes quickly. Can you give my any ideas of what I need and any other equipment that will be necessary for my translating?

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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 06:55
SITE FOUNDER
AMD 64, fast hard drive, lots of memory Nov 20, 2004

We have built a few systems lately for the office, with a focus on speed.

We purchased parts from newegg.com for just under $700 and built systems with 2G of RAM, AMD Athlon 64 processors (3200 and 3400) and 10K hard drives. This is a very good mix for speed. The large allotment of memory means you don't have to go to hard drive (which is a slow component) much, and the fast disk means when you do go to disk, you get the best performance. The 64-bit processors help Linux to run quickly, and will help with Windows when a 64-bit version of it becomes available.

I don't know which companies would put these systems together as a package, and what they would cost in a package. And of course, your market may be different.


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xxx00000000
English to French
+ ...
Get some RAM Nov 20, 2004

You might want to see if your computer is not in dire need of RAM. I know adding 512 MB to mine has done wonders.

Best,
Esther


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Bruce Popp  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:55
French to English
check current usage, configuration suggestions Nov 20, 2004

If you're running windows, you can use Task Manager (right click on an empty part of the task bar and select it from the pop-up menu) to view CPU usage, page file usage and memory usage. You can check on the hard disk usage from Windows Explorer by finding "Local Disk (C:)", right-clicking on it and chosing Properties from the pop-up menu. This will show you a pie chart of used vs. free space on your hard drive.

If you're in one of those paint drying scenarios and the CPU usage stays pegged at 100% then you probably are ready for a new computer. If the CPU usage is high but there's a lot of hard drive activity (watch the orange hard drive light on the case), then more memory might help you.

If you are buying components to assemble your own computer newegg.com has excellent prices and service; I strongly second Henry's recommendation.

Since you're asking this question, then I suspect you don't want to try assembling your own computer just yet. In that case here is some Windows specific advice.
+ You want Windows XP Pro, Microsoft Office, and a subscription to an anti-virus service (McAfee and Symantec/Norton are industry leaders). Many people generate invoices and keep accounting records with Excel spreadsheets, but an accounting package like Peachtree, QuickBooks or Microsoft Money Small Business may make it easier to keep things organized and spot payments that are overdue.
+ Any Intel Pentium 4 (or AMD) processor will have plenty of power for all except the most demanding applications (Dragon Naturally Speaking 7 or 8, high-end computer games).
+ View 512 MB of RAM as an absolute minimum and 1GB as very desireable. Many advertized configurations have much less RAM installed; this keeps the prices low and eye catching. You will want to look for the configuration options to increase the RAM (for more money).
+ If you are surving with a 20 GB hard drive now, an 80 GB hard drive on the new computer will likely be adequate and 120 (or even 160) GB would give you much more room to grow for only a little more money.
+ Make sure the CD drive can record CDs. It may be good to have a DVD player. Besides watching movies on the computer, I have DVD versions of Encyclopedia Britannica and encyclopedie universelle Larousse.
+ You may want to check that it has a modem; of course this is essential if you have dial-up internet service.
+ Any current computer model will have built-in sound. You'll want speakers to go with that. If you already have speakers, you can probably reuse them.
+ Again any current computer model will have a built-in printer port, USB 2.0, Ethernet interface (to connect to a Cable or ADSL Modem), serial port and the like.
+ Probably you will want a printer. I like HP Deskjets, but I know people who have Epsons and love them.

I appear to have become long-winded. I hope this is helpful.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 06:55
SITE FOUNDER
For me, its hard drive speed, not volume Nov 20, 2004

Bruce, correct me if I am wrong, but I wouldn't guess you need volume for TRADOS, etc., as much as you need speed. I find that I can buy fast hard drives with small volumes (ex. 10,000 rpm / 36gb - $105) for the same prices as slower hard drives with high capacities (7200 rpm / 120 gb - $109). Because I am not saving multimedia files, I never come never maximum disk usage, and my computer starts up and applications load 33% faster. I would think this is very important for TRADOS matching from large files.

But I am not familiar with how quickly TM's can build up in volume.


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Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:55
Member (2003)
Polish to German
+ ...
Go for Henry's solution with AMD Nov 20, 2004

What I can add is, buy not one, but FOUR HDD's.
Take EIDE/SATA (or, if you can afford SCSI) smaller disks (40 GB will be enough) and a controller for RAID 0/1.
With this option you gain speed (as you create a stripped-matrix, which gives maximum speed performance) and safety (doubled HDDs, if one fails your data will never be lost).

I do plan to install this option in the nearest future.
Until then I work with a single SATA HDD with 160 GB.
I'm using CAT and have created some large TMs, but 160 GB is too much, I do not need so much in a single HDD. I would say 80 GB are sufficient. If you go for RAID, you will not need to invest into very expensive WD Raptor with 10000 rpm, but only 36 GB. You can take allmost any HDD with 7200 rpm and 40 GB, when you set two of them as a stripped RAID 0 matrix, they will perform better than Raptor for competitive price.

Choose a mainboard, which supports double-channel memory. This means nVidia chipset for Athlon.

As allmost everything abou processor, memory and HDD has been said, I would like to add somethin about the video system.
Do not choose graphic cards, which are recommended for game players and praised as the fastest and best. They are fast only for games. For "normal" computing or even watching movies on your PC a muc cheaper video card will do. Do not take nVida, as the picture quality is very poor. Take Matrox or ATI, but with bigger memory.
And last but not least, buy yourself a TFT screen. Recently I've seen one 19 inch TFT for only 299 dollar at www.ecost.com. They still have this offer - look here: http://www.ecost.com/ecost/ecsplash/shop/detail.asp?dpno=637281

Regards
Jerzy


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Bruce Popp  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:55
French to English
HD speed Nov 21, 2004

Yes, I agree hard drive speed does matter. There are two factors with hard drive speed, the rotation speed and the interface speed.

The common interfaces these days are Ultra-ATA (also called EIDE), Serial-ATA (also called SATA) and SCSI (pronounced scuzzy). Off the top of my head the respective speeds are 100 Mb/s, 120 Mb/s (or is it 140?) and a few hundred (maybe around 300) Mb/s. This determines how fast data can move between the electronics in the hard drive unit and the motherboard.

The common drive speeds (again without checking) are 6400 rpm, 7200 rpm and 10,000 rpm. This affects how fast the data moves between the spinning media and the hard drive unit's electronics, through the read/write heads. Seek time is the time it takes the read/write heads to change poistionof the read/write heads over the media and this also matters.

For the absolute tops in speed you want a 10,000 rpm hard drive with a SCSI interface.

The complication is that SCSI interfaces are not commonly available on motherboards for desktop PCs. (I'm making a distinction here with servers and workstations.) Whereas many motherboards now support SATA.

There is a definite price tradeoff between a really fast 10,000 rpm hard drive with a SCSI interface and 7200 rpm hard drive with a SATA interface. If you're settling for a smaller size on the faster drive that needs to be factored in as well.


If you're really looking for speed you should also consider the speed of the front side bus (FSB). In the Intel architecture the common speeds are 333, 400 and 800 Mb/s. Again faster is better, but you must have compatible memory and faster memory is more expensive.

Changing subject ...

My suggestion is to get a 80 GB drive, but I did want to point out that it is possible to get a 120 GB or 180 GB for only about 20 or 40% more (and get 50 or 100% more capacity). I find that patents always seem to come as PDF files (of graphic images) and these can get big. Besides, who knows what can happen, you might develop an interest in digital photography.

And changing the subjest again...

RAID-0 is unprotected, you probably have it now but didn't know it. RAID-1 is two mirrored disks (no striping): never lose data to a bad hard-drive again. Operator error is another issue and that is why you still need backups. Some motherboards have built-in RAID-1 support. Higher numbers involve striping data on more disks for redundancy and faster access.

And finally ...

Most motherboards have built-in graphics that are more than good enough for anyone other than gaming addicts. You don't need an add-in graphics accelerator.


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Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:55
Member (2003)
Polish to German
+ ...
AMD vs. Intel Nov 21, 2004

The new Intel 64 bit processors will share the same architecture as the AMD´s 64 bit have now...
So then it will be vice versa. This is because the Intel 64 bit architecture is not compatible with the actual 32 bit applications, whreas the AMD architecture is. The MS operating system Longhorn (and the current XP) in their 64 bit versions are developed for AMD and NOT for Intel.

I work with AMD Athlons since four years and never have had any issues so far. OTOH, if you want a PC to run 7/24, the Intel may be the better choice due to possible overheating with AMD. But then you must choose other components, suitable for such work, ie not the simple EIDE HDD´s but SCSI.

To answer Bruce: current EIDE (parallel ATA) HDD´s are available with 7200 rpm and very rarely with 5400 rpm. If choosing such drive, don´t choose the one with 5400 rpm. With limited budget choose a Maxtor Diamond Max with a buffer of 16 MB. Otherwise go for a HDD with 8 MB buffer memory, but don´t take any with 2 MB.
For almost the same amount you can get a SATA drive. Then choose Maxtor Max Line with 16 MB or Seagate with 8 MB, depending on budget.
If your budget is limited, and your motherboard does have SATA support, then go for a SATA HDD, otherwise take an usual EIDE. The differences between them are not that big.

If your motherbard however supports SATA, then it has a controller with build RAID function. This is never used in PC´s by default, as RAID ALLWAYS needs at last TWO HDD´s. If your budget does allow that, than buy two smaller SATA HDD´s (ie WD Raptor with 10000 rpm) and build a strip matrix RAID 0. With even more money you can double the HDD´s and build a RAID 0+1 matrix, this is stripe and mirror, for an optimum on safety and speed.

All above said can be topped by SCSI drives, which are available with 10000 rpm and even 15000 rpm. But they are extremly expensive. Deciding for SCSI you will need an extra controller, and a good one does alone cost approx. 100 $...

Regards
Jerzy


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Bruce Popp  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:55
French to English
more on AMD vs Intel Nov 21, 2004

For some time AMD processors have been the equal of the Intel processors, or even better. Until recently (with the involvement of nVidia...) the motherboards supporting AMD processors have been far inferior to those supporting Intel processors. Currently the motherboards may even be at parity.

Word of mouth that I hear is that Windows for 64-bit processors is not ready for general use. Henry said he was running 64-bit Linux.

For Windows XP, a 32-bit AMD processor is probably a very reasonalbe option.

Let's not lose track of where we started...

Transanne asked for recommendations for configuration of a PC to use for translation work. I think the information is all here in this thread. However, there's a lot of other information that needs to be sorted out and put aside. Things like SCSI hard drives, Linux on 64-bit processors, and RAID are very relevant to servers and workstations (for CAD and GIS) but way beyond what is needed for a good desktop PC for a translator.

Many of the commercial PCs out there are more than good enough if one pays attention to some of the configuration options (notably RAM, CD burner, maybe a DVD player, processor choice and perhaps front side bus (FSB) speed).

Oh ... and I fully agree with suggestions for a 17" or 19" flat panel monitor. That's a good size (so you can have multiple electronic dictionaries open, Internet Explorer browsing Eurodicatom, and Trados or Word running) and the prices have come down to the point that they are reasonably competitive with CRT monitors. A good monitor can outlast several PCs so this is an area where spending some extra money is a good investment.


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tectranslate ITS GmbH
Local time: 12:55
German
+ ...
Compiler has nothing to do with CPU instructions Nov 22, 2004

Tayfun Torunoglu wrote:

I always have a doubt on AMD, not quality or speed but else:
Can you compile software on AMD and run accross all systems a pentium can do?
I mean if you compile a software (in VisualStudio or Borland or else) in AMD based architecture/configuration, will it be compatible with other systems as wide as it could do as in a pentium when it is distributed?

[Edited at 2004-11-21 09:00]

Strange question. Of course you can. You can even compile Mac binaries on a PC if you absolutely want to. The processor has nothing to do with that, just the compiler.
You can tell any good compiler to create binaries with/without MMX (2)/SSE (2) etc. instructions, compile Win32 binaries in Linux using gcc and so on. The processor will do as instructed - remember, during COMPILING, it doesn't actually have to EXECUTE the code, just translate it.


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xxxHirschmann  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:55
English to German
+ ...
Forget about nVidia graphic cards! Nov 28, 2004

If you don't use your computer for gaming but for work to make €€€ or $$$, there are much better graphic cards than nVidia's.

I use a Matrox G550 that is much faster and more accurate when dealing with 2D images you, as translators, have to deal with.

Most "advanced" graphic cards are optimized for high throughput in calculating textures (the surfaces of 3D wire models of objects contained in computer games consisting of millions of polygons).

The Matrox G550 is optimized for pixel shifting which means that scrolling through a Word document with lots of large images is much faster than with the most costly nVidia graphic card.

BTW, I have built a PC using an AMD Athlon XP 3000+ and other select components which makes my PC running Windows 2000 "uncrashable". I never had a computer as stable as my current one, including Macs with Mac OS X 10.3.6.

In my opinion, AMD Athlon processors are superior to Intel Pentium processors.


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Frank (Wei-fang) Luo
United States
Local time: 06:55
Chinese to English
+ ...
Celerons are useless Jan 31, 2005

If you find real (i.e. non-celeron) pentiums expensive, go for an AMD based system.

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Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:55
Member (2003)
Polish to German
+ ...
More reasons to throw nVidia's graphics away Jan 31, 2005

Hirschmann wrote:

If you don't use your computer for gaming but for work to make €€€ or $$$, there are much better graphic cards than nVidia's.

I use a Matrox G550 that is much faster and more accurate when dealing with 2D images you, as translators, have to deal with.

Most "advanced" graphic cards are optimized for high throughput in calculating textures (the surfaces of 3D wire models of objects contained in computer games consisting of millions of polygons).

The Matrox G550 is optimized for pixel shifting which means that scrolling through a Word document with lots of large images is much faster than with the most costly nVidia graphic card.

BTW, I have built a PC using an AMD Athlon XP 3000+ and other select components which makes my PC running Windows 2000 "uncrashable". I never had a computer as stable as my current one, including Macs with Mac OS X 10.3.6.

In my opinion, AMD Athlon processors are superior to Intel Pentium processors.


I have a direct comparision between nVida TNT and an early Radeon, then between Radeon 9600 SE and nVida fx 5200.
The main difference is not the speed, but ... the image quality. When using a huge 21" CRT you could really see the improvement in quality after switching from the TNT to an early Radeon. Afterwards I wanted a new video card and I followed the advice of a local reseller and bought this fx 5200. Well, maybe the card was faster - but I had nothing of it, as I do not play any games - but the picture quality dropped significantly. First using a TFT 18" brought good quality picture. However, after switching to the new platform with Radeon 9600 SE now, the picture quality increased much.

Regards
Jerzy


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