SELA’s New Classroom PCs

July 9, 2011

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During the last few months, SELA’s IT group has been evaluating new PC hardware for our classrooms. If you’ve ever visited our headquarters in Ramat-Gan, you know that we have nearly 20 classrooms of various sizes equipped with 10-25 PCs. Replacing them all at once is a rather expensive endeavor.

Before this replacement, our classrooms PCs enjoyed a mixed variety of hardware, including:

  • High-end Intel Core i5 workstations with 4GB RAM
  • Somewhat outdated Intel Core 2 Duo workstations
  • Somewhat more outdated Intel Core workstations, and even an occasional Pentium IV…

After the first evaluation phase (which was somewhat marred by the Intel Sandy Bridge motherboard recall of early 2011), we have ordered 100 new PCs to replace some of the existing inventory. The specification is as follows:image

  • Intel Core i7-2600 CPU with 8MB cache @ 3.4 GHz
  • 8GB Kingston DDR3/1333 RAM
  • Gigabyte GA-H67A-USB3-B3 motherboard (featuring the obvious Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, SATA 6Gb/s connectors, and USB 3.0)
  • Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 16MB cache @ 7200rpm

We installed Windows 7 Enterprise (64-bit) on these workstations, and they are blazing fast. I’ve already had the pleasure of teaching two courses (Windows Internals @ the Dev Days and .NET Debugging) on these PCs, and it’s a real joy.

To get a general idea of what kind of workloads we are running on this hardware, you need to consider a sampling of the courses we deliver in these classrooms:

  • Windows Internals – requiring a virtual machine running Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 and a host with a kernel debugger
  • Parallel Programming – requiring at least 4 physical cores to demonstrate the benefits of parallelism
  • .NET Performance – requiring lots of physical memory and CPU horsepower to sustain micro-benchmarks and to run the Visual Studio Concurrency Profiler and other heavy-duty profiling tools
  • …and of course the entire suite of Computer Graphics courses, in which the photo- and video-editing tools require CPU horsepower, lots of physical memory, and a powerful GPU

You don’t buy 100 brand-new PCs every day: this is a significant milestone and a huge improvement to the training experience we’re providing. I hope you enjoy these new classrooms at your next visit to SELA!

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