IOMMU: I shelled out for the crosshair IV. The ASUS motherboard based on the 890FX chipset. If an upgrade is to feel like an upgrade, then why not a RoG setup.
With modern hardware, a kernel compilation takes 10-20 minutes (depending on how much I removed from a stock genkernel), X takes 20-30 minutes, and KDE still takes a few hours. It wasn't so long ago that a full (graphical) gentoo install would take a week or two, minimum.
Now, I can have a usable gentoo system running from stage3 in under an hour. A working machine up in two (X, opera, fluxbox etc), and leave the rest of the day for updates and extras to emerge in the background c.f. KDE.
What was once a traditionally computationally and I/O bound task, is no longer a problem when you have 6 physical cores to emerge packages (all with /var/tmp/portage in RAM for that extra burst of speed). I can even boost that to 'make -j11' with parsley's 4 logical cores. So, I find myself turning to other problems to throw parallel processing power at.
With great power comes great cooling
When emerging many packages (think about what happens when KDE releases a new minor version), I commonly seen that processor utilisation peaks and dives. A single core is loaded up as ./configure scripts check the system for the umpteenth time in series, then make -j11 hits and the console output turns to a mist of white scrollback. The feeling of the awesome parallel power is short lived however, and we're back to a single threaded install phase I/O bound by the Hard Disk and we thank the RAM gods for a job well done. Portage resolved what is to be the next ebuild to munch, and the cycle starts over again.
I play other games, such as doing runs of low-bit rsa keys. 256-bit keys are trivial, and 512-bit keys are feasible. 1024-bit keys are out of my league, but I'm just doing this with spare clock cycles.
What I have discovered is that finite and feasible computations (compiling and factorizing) probably don't make the best use of a multicore machine. I decided to partition up the resources instead, dynamically allocating them to where they would most be needed.
Next Post, Where I find VMWare and what's so special about an IOMMU.