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So here's my problem.

My Dad runs a company that does some rather computationally expensive stuff. This is not supercomputer level stuff, but it does take several hours to run the average job on his Core i7 desktop.

He asked me to look into a way to have his customers use the code on an hourly basis, namely via a server. Ideally he'd be able to buy a box for about $1000, and hook it right up to our home connection. Unfortunately, the data that needs to be both sent and received is on the order of several hundred megs. We live in a rural area, and the fastest connection offered is 1.5Mbit/s. Download. It's like .3Mbit/s upload.

Not workable.

What are the options for this kind of thing? Ideally, we'd have about 2GB of ram, 300-500GB of storage, and a nice dual core, and it has to run some flavor of Linux.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance

EDIT: Also, ideally the monthly price would be < $100 per month.

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Your budget is too low even for decent colo in a datacenter. – gekkz May 15 '10 at 19:02
up vote 4 down vote accepted

think about how to break the problem into separate independent threads/processes and go cloud - eg with amazon or rackspace virtual servers. spin up as many vms as you need for the time of computation and then shut them down. you pay per gig of storage and per cpu/hour. they are quite cheap if you use them rarely [ not 24x7 ].

you might be interested in this comparison of different offers in terms of efficiency.

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Happy 10K! Which answer pushed you over the edge? – Wesley May 15 '10 at 19:26
@Wesley 'Nonapeptide' - thanks. from stats it seems to be this one:… ; not inventive really. – pQd May 15 '10 at 21:54

You can rent by-the-U space in a colo for about $100 a month. That can include a monthly bandwidth cap of about 1Tb and will have a certain cap on burstable and sustained bandwidth speeds.

From there you can hack together a halfway decent server using a supermicro case and some Opterons. However, for $1000 you'd be hard pressed to outperform a decent i7. I think you may need to bump the initial budget up to at least $2000 to get a server.

Here's a by-the-U pricing page for a colo in my area just for reference.

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depends on your standards.. i'm using - they rent servers at leasweb in amsterdam and netdirekt in frankfurt. work reasonably well [ for that price.. ], no problems with bandwidth, avg monthly usage is at 3-4TB, but there were cases where it was exceeded. 5TB + hardware for 75$/month. – pQd May 15 '10 at 21:56
@pQd Thanks for the link! I'll keep them in mind for my own usage. – Wesley May 15 '10 at 22:20

Look into a Rackspace Cloud Server (

Don't listen to the commenter who said your budget is too low. $100 will buy you six thousand hours of time on a basic 256MB server... or 104 hours on a quad-core 15.5GB "monster"... or anything in-between.

I have used their service. It's easy to get started, and it works well. I've also looked into the Amazon EC2 but didn't like it... YMMV.

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It seems to me that You would like to keep processing inhouse.

It also seems that You are pulling datasets and transmit them back processed. If that is the case, then latency is not a problem, so You could look at satellite internet. I've been told it gets up to 1,5 Mbits upstream. There are areas where satellite internet is not dead expensive.

Also, if Your area is not too rural, You might have the chance to set up long range WiFi to a neighbour that has broadband (if there are neighbours with broadband).

Just wanted to add those possibilities.

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