I am a PhD student who will be buying some computer equipment so that I can continue my research. The application is for artificial life research and I have written it in Java. I use mostly floating point addition and multiplication. The workload consists of evolutionary algorithms evolving gene regulatory networks that control development. I have also written the networking layer so that the application can be distributed over a number of PCs and return the results back to the server. Before anyone gets all "upitty" about this being written in Java, I did do my homework on this and the performance in Java is quite good. Not to mention the development time and scaleability. In addition the networking layer in Java was a major selling point because I knew I would have to distribute this application. I refuse to programming in C/C++ ever again.
Anyways, I am looking to purchase about 10-12 PCs to run this on but I need some advice as to what I should buy. Right now I am looking at the following set up per box
AMD 2600 XP ~ $70.00 (Should I get the Barton with the larger cache or the Thoroughbread with the faster clock speed?)
Biostar IDEQ 200V (400 FSB), mini pc, with VIA chipset (see newegg) ~$160.00
10 Gig HD ~$30.00
CD ROM ~$20.00
1x512 PC 3200 ~$75.00
Basically each PC will run about $360.00 a piece.
The question I have is, is this about the best choice I can make for hardware to run this on? I do realize I am paying about $80 more for each minipc but space it a bit of a premium so I am willing to bite the bullet on that unless there is something which would blow the doors off this.
Any advice anyone can give would be greatly appreciated. As well, if you know of some "secret" places for even cheaper hardware let me know! :)