I am waiting also to hear about the WWDC for what is in store, if anything, for the Mac Pro and in particular the addition of Thunderbolt.
Though cores may be seem like the place to put your money, what I have found is that disk I/O is the slowdown in the link. Here's what I found. I replaced a failing standard SATA hard drive in my MacPro with a really cool 16 lane PCI SSD 480GB hard drive card. The performance boost was very noticeable even to my staff.
The MacPro is a 2 CPU 3ghz quad core xeon machine with 8gb of RAM. I saw almost no real performance boost when I went from the 4gb to 8gb memory upgrade. The machine is about 4 years old.
What I am drooling over is the possibility of a new MacPro with the state of the art processor package AND a Thunderbolt connection. If I can combine a PCI SSD drive with that, then not only will I get the best data throughput, but backups will be much faster.
PaperCutPro contains about 64gb of patient data collected since 2000. As a physician I have to have access 24/7 and from everywhere, so everything has always needed to be the fastest. But in my experience the faster the data transmission to and from the storage media gives the best bang for the buck.
Ron Smith, MD
FileMaker is multithreaded, but each process can only use one core. So multi cores are not of value to a single user. But as a server, each user can have a thread on a core if available. So, the more cores, the better multi user performance.
How many simultaneous users do you have?
Speaking of screaming fast hardware, I sure hope the rumored Mac Pro with Thinderbolt comes out Monday at WWDC!
One more thing on performance, hard drives and extra ram can be bigger boosters of performance than CPUs. Even a Mac Mini with maxed out ram and Pegasus thunderbolt is a lot faster than the latest stock Mac Pro or xServe. Remember to use RAID10 for optimum database performance and not RAID5.
Thanks to all for the input. I too am waiting to see what the new Mac Pros offer. As far as drives, I agree. We have always tried to use the fasted drives we could afford.
It is my plan to move some of what we are doing to 12 in the next few weeks so I'll know the right questions to ask when I arrive at DevCon.
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We are all talking 10.000 rpm drives, raid 5 or 10 etc. etc. when planning how to configure servers.
We should also consider SSD for the live databases. And then just using the Hard Drive for system, programs and backup.
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RAID5 is a good balance for giving lots of disk space per drive and redundancy. It is not optmized for speed and is especially slow for writes, which hurts databases. RAID5 also has a documented silent corruption which is pretty rare, but then again, how important is your data. RAID10 is much better for a database, but it does return only 50% of the disk space as usable.
SSDs have yet to hit the enterprise level because they wear out faster. Granted they are much faster and there is a lot of focus on them. And they also have been flaky in RAID situations and required custom drivers, etc. So they offer a lot of potential, but I would not make a production system use SSDs. On the disk side of things, there is still the argument of SAS versus SATA. SAS clearly is the enterprise level and focuses on speed and his its roots in SCSI. SATA returns much more disk space and is much cheaper. I still find most mid-level enterprise systems using SATA and only truly enterprise level systems using SAS. If your data space is not large, then SAS is a good way to go. If you need more space, SATA is a good compromise.
I'm also very interested in the hybrid SSDs that have lots of traditional hard disk space on platters with a smaller amount dedicated to solid state memory, but it puts the storage on the solid state area that is read most often. It still, this isn't really for a production server, but it might make for a great development machine that is really fast.
Well it doesn't look like the Mac Pro turned out to be that impressive of an upgrade..
I have heard that FileMaker does not take full advantage of multiple cores, thus multiple processors is actually more important. This was the rumor before 12, and I have no data or experience to corroborate this rumor.