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I do a lot of statistical computing in R, particularly text analysis which involves a lot of sparse matrix operations and EM algorithm calls. What hardware specs are most important for optimizing these procedures? Processing power, memory, cores?

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This also depends on how well the algorithms you have make use of multi-core CPUs (c.f. Amdahl's law) –  slhck May 29 '12 at 20:29
    
@slhck Yes, I should say that most of these are not multi-core optimized as of yet but it is moving in that direction. –  Trey May 29 '12 at 21:32
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1 Answer

If the data processing is mostly calculations on a small or moderate amount of data your processor would be the most important. As the amount of data you are using raises, the importance of disk access speed and RAM grows.

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I would add cache size. –  Yitzchak May 29 '12 at 21:32
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