Looking for some ideas how to build the best computer for my 3D GIS, I recently just finished reading Jonathan’s article (http://www.geospatial-online.com/geospatialsolutions/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=118595) on spatial-specific hardware. Although I consider it a very good start on a so necessary exploration, I would like to have more detailed opinions from all the practitioners in the GIS field who care enough to understand “how each hardware component of a [machine] contributes to a [geo-] processing task.
So here are some of the questions/topics that I have in my mind at the moment:
1. What makes a computer the best machine for spatial applications?
2. What boosts the computing performance in 3D GIS arena?
3. What BUS-CPU-RAM-HDD-VIDEO assembly you wish to (em)power your machine?
4. How do you deal with that heat from the powerful processor(s) and video chip that you installed in your dream GIS workstation?
5. How about the noise level?
I know that these are not the only questions. Please ask yours and share your knowledge.
In all reality, the bigger the better the computer hardware, the faster your machine will operate. I have just finished building a computer for use with our GIS needs and while it has a blazing faster response time, the GIS processing is still VERY slow while importing shape files and working with large DBF files. I have a strong background in computer hardware and software and very little with GIS in comparison, but the fact of the matter is that a faster processor will process more data more quickly, and faster bus speeds will allow the transfer of information, no matter what type of info, to be sent and recieved faster. More RAM will allow for more processes to run faster at any given time, no matter what the processes are. GIS software sucks up more computer resources than any other type of software I've ever worked with, with perhaps Adobe Photoshop as the only exception while working with massive image dimensions. I use 99% IBM-compatible PC components when building my computers since they are easily upgraded and readily available, not to mention cost effective. If you really want to get the best performance for a GIS application, build that machine for the sole purpose of GIS software use. I would recomment using Unix/Linux operating system or another open source operating system, but I can't since my experience is limited with these OS's and I'm not sure which GIS tools you are using, and which are supported by these OS's.
I hope that helps... I'm just stating my opinions based on my skills and experience, but I'd love to hear from others about this topic as well.