Introducing Ben Whittle’s ‘Uber Computer’

Ben Whittle, one of our Engineers here at Virtue Technologies, has been with us for just over 3 years. Amongst other things he has always had a passion for engineering and technology in general. He is intrigued by how things work and enjoys building and fixing things. Ben says it’s been a while since he has built something he is really proud of. He noticed some impressive new hardware had been released at the end of last year and it got him thinking about building another machine. Introducing ‘The Uber Computer’.

Ben is letting us follow his ‘Uber Computer’ journey which he is completing in his own time. We asked Ben the following questions:

What inspired you to design the Uber Computer?

“I didn’t really want to follow the standard path of buying a pre-built chassis and filling it with components, and I actually don’t have a computer desk so I figured why not build a desk which will accommodate all of the components. This of course leaves the entire surface of the desk free for the peripheral components such as the monitor, keyboard, etc… I like the idea of having a lot of desk space without having a big tower sitting next to the monitor.”

What stage is the Uber Computer at now?

“The early stages. I have already put in a lot of hours into research and design and most of that work is complete. The basic frame is cut to shape and assembled but there is still a lot of building work to be done, the majority of the internal components will be standard off the shelf components and the desk is designed to accommodate them in the same way an ordinary chassis would, in other words it is pretty much a standard ATX form factor. This means that once the desk is finished, installing the components will be very simple. The vast majority of the desk itself, however, is designed and built from scratch out of sheets of plywood, aluminium and acrylic. Cutting all of this to the precise dimensions for it all to fit together perfectly, then polishing and paining it all is rather time consuming.”

What are the special features of the Uber Computer?

“From a non-technical perspective, the unique features will be mainly aesthetic. The top of the desk is all glass, and most of the vital components will be on display beneath the glass on the left hand side. There is a dividing section down the middle to channel the airflow over the components for optimal cooling. I wasn’t initially sure what to do with the space on the right hand side, a friend suggested a painting, which I thought was a fantastic idea. So I made a canvas to the exact dimensions to slot into the empty space, and my friend is currently painting something which will blend in with the general colour scheme of the desk. It will all be illuminated by hidden LEDs surrounding the entire perimeter of compartments, the brightness and colour are both variable. So to summarise, from a non-technical perspective, it’s a really quick, fancy looking PC.

From a technical perspective the specifications I have planned put it way above the standard gaming machine. I haven’t purchased many of the components yet so nothing is set in stone, with new hardware being released so regularly I won’t be buying anything until the desk is finished and tested. To give a rough idea of performance here’s what I’m pretty certain of so far.

The CPU should be a Socket-2011 8-core, 16-thread i7. With quad channel memory and 20MB of cache it is on a par with a mid-range Xeon chip, except I hope to be clocking this one to at least 4.5GHz.

The CPU will almost definitely be the Haswell Enthusiast architecture (unless something better is released in the meantime), meaning X99 chipset, PCIe 3.0 and quad channel DDR4 memory with a bandwidth of 68GB/s.

Primary storage will be NVMe flash in the form of a 4-lane PCIe card, should be capable of sequential reads of well over 2GB/s. Secondary storage will be two ordinary SATA SSD’s in RAID0, based on the performance from my current system this will easily crack 1GB/s.

Graphics will most likely be 2x nVidia GTX980s in SLi, although release of the 8GB versions of these cards with the 384-bit memory bus has been significantly delayed unfortunately.”

What is the intended usage of the Uber Computer?

“Gaming, although as much as I love it, it’s something I rarely get time to do. My brother on the other hand will probably get much more use out of it than I will.”

What is the Uber Computer’s unique selling point?

“Well if I was selling it I would say purely the design, a computer built into a desk is nothing new. There are actually a couple of mass produced desk chassis you can buy, but this one has been designed from scratch. The performance will be unique to a certain extent but anybody with a bit of cash to spare can put together a system which will perform like this. The artwork, shape and general design are what will make this project unique.”

Who is your main competitor?

“I suppose if I had to compare it, competitors would be products such as the Scan Computers Swordfish desk or the Harbinger desk. Although these are established products, mass produced and machine built. I couldn’t really finish a hand-built product to this quality within a reasonable timescale.”

Where do you see the uber computer in 3 years time?

“In a situation where I can pick the latest game of the shelf and be confident that my 3 –year old system will still run it smoothly without having to compromise on resolution visual effects. Although if it turns out to be a success I’d be happy to build another if anyone was interested.”

We will be following Ben’s Journey so stay tuned for more ‘Uber Computer’ updates.

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