From: Fred Salsbury (
Date: Wed Aug 27 2003 - 06:22:05 CDT

Dear John --

Thanks for the extensive reply!


On Wed, 27 Aug 2003, John Stone wrote:

> Dear Fred,
> I believe that the problems with SMP machines and NVidia boards
> have been fixed since I wrote that email. In the last year I can
> say that the NVidia SMP problem we used to see seem to have gone away.
> I tested the Wildcat 7100 series drivers back in April/May and at
> the time they did not support SMP kernels at all. I.e. the driver
> won't even load. This was a documented limitation with the Wildcat
> drivers I tested at the time. I suspect this is still the case, but
> to make sure, you should send an email to the 3DLabs folks. Also,
> the Wildcat Linux drivers are picky about what motherboards they support,
> I had to get a loaner machine to try out with the Linux drivers because
> none of our machines had the right motherboard chipset to work with the
> drivers I tested.
> Regarding CPUs, I personally favor Athlon-based systems as they
> perform better on the codes I tend to run. Your mileage will vary.
> The Wildcat Linux drivers don't support Athlon yet, so if you have
> an Athlon, your only option would be to go with NVidia or ATI.
> Of the 3 major vendors with Linux drivers, NVidia's drivers are
> the most mature and full-featured. ATI's are next maturity-wise,
> and the 3DLabs drivers are the youngest and have the most work
> ahead of them as far as stability and completeness goes.
> In the long run the 3DLabs hardware is definitely the way to go,
> as their cards perform faster than the others, at least with VMD,
> I can't give them much of a recommendation yet since I only got to run
> test drivers, and they don't support the Athlons I have in my office.
> If you're interested in the 3DLabs cards, I'd definitely suggest to get a
> "demo board" to try out with the Linux drivers before you commit to
> them since they weren't quite ready for running VMD last I checked.
> For what it might cost to purchase a Xeon based machine, you could
> probably afford to buy a real Unix box from Sun or SGI, with a good
> graphics board even, so I'd recommend against going with Xeons.
> I'm biased as I personally would MUCH rather use a stable machine like
> a Sun/SGI box than a PC for graphics work. So, unless you've got a good
> reason to blow cash on a Xeon, I'd stick with more cost-effective
> options or else just buy a real workstation.
> I hope that's somewhat useful information for you.
> Thanks,
> John Stone
> On Tue, Aug 26, 2003 at 08:49:41PM -0400, Fred Salsbury wrote:
> >
> > Hello all --
> >
> > I've been using VMD for a few years, but I am new to this list.
> > I am looking to acquire a workstation primarily to use with VMD and I was
> > looking through the archives of the mailing list, and I came across the
> > following remark by John Stone (in reply to someone mentioning wanting to
> > run on a dual Xenon workstation:
> >
> > >>>>
> > Several of the vendors have had problems with their OpenGL drivers
> > on SMP machines, so any comments you have about the stability you get on
> > such machines would be very interesting.
> > >>>>
> >
> > Can someone comment on this? I was pondering either one of the new dual
> > 3.06MHz (1MB L3 Cache) Xenon workstations or a P4 3.2GHz desktop, and with
> > either a Nvidia QuadroFX 1000 graphics card or a 3Dlabs Wildcat4 7110
> > graphics card. So I'm wondering if there have been noticeable stability
> > problems, and is an AMD athlon workstation would be better then.
> >
> > thanks!
> >
> > Fred
> >
> >
> > Dr. Fred Salsbury
> > Assistant Professor
> > Department of Physics
> > Wake Forest University
> --
> NIH Resource for Macromolecular Modeling and Bioinformatics
> Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
> University of Illinois, 405 N. Mathews Ave, Urbana, IL 61801
> Email: Phone: 217-244-3349
> WWW: Fax: 217-244-6078