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Author Topic: Opinions on use of ancient computers to run Mach3  (Read 5885 times)

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Offline simpson36

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Opinions on use of ancient computers to run Mach3
« on: December 19, 2008, 07:33:37 AM »
My little notebook computer is getting destroyed, so I have resurrected an old server that has been gathering dust and plan to use it for Mach3. It is a dual processor P3 pushing 850mghz each. These were the days then 'dual' meant two separate processors. The motherboard is a very expensive SuperMicro server board and running the mach 3 tests show a dead flat line and 'excellent' grades up to 65khz where it fluctuates. There are certainly faster computers, but I don't think any higher quality than this old beast.

I read somewhere that mach3 is multi threaded at least in some processes, but now I can't find that info again.

Anyway, I was just interested in opinions on the wisdom of using such a 'slow' machine for mach. It appears, surprisingly, that this machine is doing a far better job than the new notebook I am currently using.

Incidentally, I bought a completely sealed silicon keyboard that actually can be rolled up!  I don't care about rolling it into a ball, but the 'completely sealed' part is appealing. 'Food service' keyboards or keyboard covers were fairly common at one time. Apparently no longer as I could find none.


Re: Opinions on use of ancient computers to run Mach3
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2008, 07:52:41 AM »
"slow" is relative.

"slow" at playing Crysis, mebbe.

Fact is you simply can't beat older, quality, hardware.

Your Dual P3/850 Supermicro will be faster and more importantly vastly more stable at many, many, many tasks than the latest top of the range core 2 quad laptop.

You don't have to know Mach3 that well (I don't, as a relative newbie to it) because Mach3 is code, and this applies to all code.

Still, this never has and never will stopped people from deliberately going out and buying something because they want it (eg core 2 quad laptop) and then whining because it runs some bit of code less than optimally, like it is somehow everyone else's fault but theirs.

Not only is stuff like your old quality hardware more suitable, it is also more affordable, than any new consumer grade kit, and when you ask me what computer is running Mach3 etc in my workshop I am as likely to answer "an ex corporate server I got for 50 quid, including the TFT" as I am to give you a precise Dell make and model number, because the fact is you can't claim to not be able to afford an older computer for the workshop, if you can't afford that then you can't afford Mach3, a bunch of machine tools, and light and heat.

cheers

vmax549

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Re: Opinions on use of ancient computers to run Mach3
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2008, 11:11:37 AM »
A point to note make sure that windows is running under the Multi processor driver and NOT the standard single driver(;-)


Just a thought , (;-) TP
Re: Opinions on use of ancient computers to run Mach3
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2008, 11:21:47 AM »
The only way to know how well it works is to try it and see.  Every machine is different.  Some slow machines work fine, and some screamers are flaky.  I'm running my knee mill on a 540MHz pig, but it works fine.  You'll have to get used to some people immediately blaming CPU speed for every problem you have, but in my case, I've always found other causes, and never once had a problem that could be definitively blamed on CPU speed.  If you have any concrens about speed, you can also add a SmoothStepper, which off-loads all the real-time work of creating the pulse trains to dedicated hardware, making the PCs life far easier.  I did this several months ago, and it gave me far better performance, due to the much more precise timing.  My rapids went from a shaky 150 IPM to at least 400 IPM, with no changes in configuration other than motor tuning.  Installation was a total no-brainer, and the machine has worked much better ever since.

Regards,
Ray L.
Regards,
Ray L.
Re: Opinions on use of ancient computers to run Mach3
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2008, 01:02:16 PM »
I'm running well  on a 667Mhz machine, but I'm on an early 3.0 release, not the latest. I run the 25khz kernal. Its been a very reliable machine, and I'm hesitant to move to the latest release because I don't want to rock the boat, but apparently the lastest release is less CPU intensive than the early 3.0 versions, so I'm probably being over cautious.

Paul T.

Offline simpson36

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Re: Opinions on use of ancient computers to run Mach3
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2008, 07:47:29 AM »
Thanks to everyone for the valuable comments!

The old server has Windows2000 pro and is definitely set up for the two processors. The task manager shows the load on each processor separately. This machine was never actually used as a server, but as an animation machine for 3ds MAX. Expensive servers had the only dual processor boards at the time. The 850mghz processors were an upgrade from the previous P3's. I don;t recall the speed of the original CPUs, but I do remember upgrading the two to 850s was something like $800 (the price had dropped all the way to that tiny cost . . LOL!!)

Anyway, using my actual XML, I ran my most complicated .tap with backlash, CV, tool comp, etc and it didn't come near maxing either processor. I can actually dedicate one processor to Mach and have the other do everything else, but that does not seem necessary at all.

When I get my goofy silicon keyboard, I'll move the beast to the garage and run the mill with it and post back the results.

Does anyone know what parts of Mach are multi threaded?
Re: Opinions on use of ancient computers to run Mach3
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2008, 08:25:00 AM »
If you're into the investigating OS usage bit have  ago with Quickslice which gives a graphic display of cpu usage by process.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=6247BB76-13C5-4E0E-B800-53DC1B84A94C&displaylang=en

direct link to executable

http://download.microsoft.com/download/win2000platform/qslice/1.00.0.1/nt5/en-us/qslice_setup.exe

Offline Jeff_Birt

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Re: Opinions on use of ancient computers to run Mach3
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2008, 09:34:45 PM »
Quote
Fact is you simply can't beat older, quality, hardware.

Following that logic I think I'll break out my old C-64 and try to run Mach on it ::)
Happy machining , Jeff Birt
 

Offline RICH

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Re: Opinions on use of ancient computers to run Mach3
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2008, 08:24:49 AM »
There are a number of posts made in the FAQ thread relating to computers.
We scan the spectrum of functioning pc's from 400mhz / 512 memory to 3 ghz /2 gig memory here.
They all work. The pc should be dedicated to cnc. As noted, you just have to try it always starting with the
driver test.
RICH

Offline simpson36

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Re: Opinions on use of ancient computers to run Mach3
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2008, 10:36:06 AM »
I think the comparison between older high quality hardware vs more 'modern' cheap stuff is a valid one. C64 is old AND cheap, so it does not qualify for consideration     ::)

This old server was overclocked to 1ghz and ran that way 24/7 for many thousands of hours in a rendering farm with both processors pegged at 100% hour after hour, day after day, week after week, year after year. I honestly have to wonder if todays super hot running computers can match that.

From what I've been reading the new Core 2 chips are not nearly as self destructively hot as my current Pentium D and its cousins.

However, the point at issue here is if the new 'green' chips throttle back to save energy. Again I don't know much about that yet, but based on my experience with my laptop similarly slowing itself and the consequences for the timing sensitive Mach processes, I think it would be worth looking into to see if the new processors might not be suitable for Mach for that reason.

It is just a point of curiosity as I have no plans on building a Core 2 Quad with 16 gigs of DDR3 to run Mach   :)