As I have previously mentioned, building a shack like SDRzone requires a lot of thought, planning and lesson learning. Hundreds of cables supplying power, video connectivity, network connectivity and antenna connectivity. There is also technology refreshes to consider as well. And this post is about refreshing the strategy and computer technology.
Well you know how it is, you always want something faster and in my massive station rebuild I felt it was time to make some changes. The motherboard in Hamzilla was causing me some issues and I was limited to light duty due to some back surgery so it was time to plan the rebuild. I also was going to sell off the Flex 6700, however I decided to give it a try on my Intel NUC PC. Once I did I could see I had some network issues. Well, all this added up to a great deal of work and expense to resolve and resolve it with room to grow. The idea of One PC to rule it all died! So to be concise lets just spell the situation out.
- Nice SDR radios that will be used in demanding setups deserve great PC's to interface with! While dedicating the NUC PC to the flex showed extreme stability, it was not going to be enough PC to run Smart SDR, all 7 receivers, Slicemaster, and N1MM Logger with the room to spare I like to seer. If I were going to give it it's on PC then I thought I might as well do it up right. The result was to be a new PC built up from scratch myself named GodZilla.
- Elad FM DUO really doesn’t belong in my shack, for me it just needs to be my mobile rig, along with the KPA100 Elecraft Amp.
- The Anan 7K MKII would still be run on HamZilla. The i9 7940X in HamZilla is still is a solid fast and respectable CPU processor with 28 Cores. I opted to change the motherboard, and change the case, add a high-end graphics card and super heavy duty CPU cooler. Hamzilla is shown above.
- The radios would work best on a dedicated network or direct attach to the controller PC.
- A two Lan setup, one as an internal only control network would really be beneficial.
- Isolating this part of my network would be a smart idea from a security perspective.
These principals if you will are backed by the idea that a lot of the new SDRs today are coming with PC's built in already. My MB1 is a perfect example of integration and stability. Thew difference in performance and stability witnessed with the Flex and Anan having dedicated control networks and or direct attach to the PC was highly notable and desirable. Is this a revelation for me, nope, its always made perfect sense, I simply had to get there.
Hamzilla Makeover and Upgrades
How to make over HamZilla was difficult deciding. I was very very close to upgrading the whole enchilada with new CPU and RAM, however, I thought better to wait on a few more generations of CPUs and Motherboard standards. So the compromise was to beef up the graphics and speed a bit in such a way that much of the build will be ready for another Motherboard and CPU and DDR5 Ram in the future. Below is what was refreshed. The 1080 TI Graphics Card and 64GB Platinum DDR4 Ram was kept.
- Thermaltake Level 20 HT Black Edition 4 Tempered Glass Type-C Fully Modular E-ATX Full Tower Computer Chassis with 2 140mm Top Fan Pre-Installed CA-1P6-00F1WN-00
- VGA Supernova 1200 P3, 80 Plus Platinum 1200W, Fully Modular, Eco Mode with FDB Fan, Includes Free Power On Self Tester, Compact 180mm Size, Power Supply 220-P3-1200-X1
- Asus Prime X299- A II ATX Motherboard (Intel X299) LGA 2066, 12 IR3555 Power Stages, DDR4 4266 MHz, Triple M.2, USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, Intel LAN and Aura Sync RGB Lighting
- ASUS ROG Ryujin II 360 RGB all-in-one liquid CPU cooler 360mm Radiator (3.5"color LCD, embedded pump fan and 3xNoctua iPPC 2000PWM 120mm radiator fans, compatible with Intel LGA1700, 1200 & AM4 socket)
- WD_BLACK 2TB SN850 NVMe Internal Gaming SSD Solid State Drive - Gen4 PCIe, M.2 2280, 3D NAND, Up to 7,000 MB/s - WDS200T1X0E
- FormulaMod 8.8 Inch CPU Hardware Temperature Monitor External Expansion Display High Resolution LCD Screen for PC ARGB Computer case Secondary Screen
- EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti FTW3 Ultra Gaming, 12G-P5-3967-KR, 12GB GDDR6X, iCX3 Technology, ARGB LED, Metal Backplate
Performance Test Benchmark before 7142, after 7523. I suspect with more tuning it will score even higher.
Net Net this was a good refresh for HamZilla and the PC boots much faster and is much more stable.
Lets move on to the next PC!
What to name the new beast? Well, since it was going to tower over HamZilla, I just went with GodZilla. So, Zonies, meet GodZilla!
- CPU Type 16-Core AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, 4526 MHz (45.25 x 100)
- Motherboard Name Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Hero (Wi-Fi) (1 PCI-E x1, 3 PCI-E x16, 2 M.2, 4 DDR4 DIMM, Audio, Video, Dual Gigabit LAN, WiFi)
Motherboard Chipset AMD Bixby X570, AMD K19.2 FCH, AMD K19.2 IMC
- ASUS ROG Strix LC II 240 ARGB All-in-one AIO Liquid CPU Cooler 240mm Radiator,
- EVGA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti XC3 Ultra Gaming
- System Memory 128GB - G Skill TridentZ F4-3600C18-32GTZN 32 GB DDR4-3600 DDR4 SDRAM (18-22-22-42 @ 1801 MHz) x 4Video Adapter NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti (8 GB)
- Disk Drive Seagate FireCuda 530 ZP1000GM30013 (1000 GB, PCI-E 4.0 x4)
Disk Drive Seagate FireCuda 530 ZP4000GM30013 (4000 GB, PCI-E 4.0 x4)
Disk Drive WDC WD4003FRYZ-01F0DB0 (4 TB, SATA-III)
Disk Drive WDC WD4003FRYZ-01F0DB0 (4 TB, SATA-III)
It features fast a super fast CPU and Graphics Card, Ultra Fast Storage and Fast DDR4 Ram. The idea was to produce a real barnstormer for the Flex 6700 and monitoring setup I have planned for it.
As you cans see the goal was achieved. For those that may follow this path, just be careful that low pricing on parts are not the route you take. I chose a very solid midrange motherboard for this machine and stuck with EVGA on the graphics card as they continue to review better than others in terms of stability and support. Cheap parts with poor support don’t help much in the long run.
If you start comparing the two machines’ benchmarks you can see that despite using a highspeed NvM2 SSD drive in both machines, the faster bus in Godzilla enables the drives to perform much faster. This is one downside of not having fully rebuilt Hamzilla, however, the parts will perform better in a few years when I go to upgrade the CPU, MB and RAM. Invest in CPU cooling, the better cooler in Hamzilla yield higher overclocking with greater stability. Hamzilla has gone from 30% overclocked to 41-45% now. One thing that might cause you to scratch your head is that each machine has a dedicated SSD for the paging file, this also yields better performance as the paging has unhindered access to operate. Here are a few more notes on all this.
- ARGB light while pretty does create a 1%-3% system overhead.
- Yes, Hamzilla has both the 1080 TI and the 3080 TI. graphic cards. The older card runs all the extra monitors.
- The faster graphics card was put in Hamzilla because I do all my photography editing on that machine.
- GodZilla was built in a mid tower, if I had to do it again I would chose a larger case.
- Take your time building, map your build out carefully!
- Buy your parts from as supplier that accepts returns.
- Make sure you understand fan directrion for airflow so your cooling is optimized.
By way of this post I have shared how the shacks compute has evolved and some of the strategy behind the choices made. In this series we will go through the rest of the path to shack version V12 by discussing the networking and security next followed by the radios and programs that will be used as I move forward.
As always I hope you enjoy these post as well as find them helpful and inspire you to explore some of these concepts on your own!