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Old March 18th, 2006, 07:11 AM   #1
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Two Cores or Two Chips?

I'm looking at getting a new PC workstation of editing, etc. It looks like a pretty similar price to get a dual core chip or to get two processors.

Is there a big plus one way or the other for rendering/transcoding?

I'm using PPro.

Thanks.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 11:01 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Gribble
I'm looking at getting a new PC workstation of editing, etc. It looks like a pretty similar price to get a dual core chip or to get two processors.

Is there a big plus one way or the other for rendering/transcoding?

I'm using PPro.

Thanks.
Lots of posts on this subject and a lot of opinions, I chose dual-core, many will tell you dual xeon for hard core editing. I"m happy with my dual-core, bottom line, Premier Pro does not take advantage of this during render as I've found by watching my CPU cycles. What you might consider is a new Dell with a Dual core - XEON!!! Now that would be sweet.

Miguel
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Old March 18th, 2006, 07:51 PM   #3
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duality

go dual dual core... that way, you can sound cool at local bars.... ;)
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Old March 19th, 2006, 05:47 AM   #4
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If you just want 2 processors (instead of 4 as said above) I think I would go with a dual-core system. I seem to remember reading they are a bit more efficient (when talking to eachother etc.) since they are on the same "chip".
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Old March 19th, 2006, 06:02 AM   #5
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seriously, though...

There are a lot of processor tests on sites like tom's hardware, anandtech and overclockers', I don't remember any offhand, but they are all googleable... if you look hard enough, you will find tests that pitch 3d rendering, opengl view window response etc. in programs like photoshop, premiere, maya etc.

these will give you a good handle on what kind of performance variations there are between a dual processor, dual core and quad core setup... (sites like anandtech usually use standardized scoring methods for these tests, other tests often have realworld axes like frames per second etc. that help you see the performance difference...

in the end, a dual processor and dual core setup are going to function similarly, with some variation in performance depending on the function, the software, the motherboard, and a number of parameters... for example, a mobo that divides ram per processor means each processor has 1 gig of ram to itself, but if ever a task running on only one processor would have run better with 2 gigs of ram just for itself, there will be a performance variation... it comes down to apples and oranges at some level, is what i'm saying....

i think if you do a bit of research you will end up settling for a configuration that works for your cost and desires, and you will probably still be on a performance-par with every other possible configuration, unless you care about the difference between a score of 21.6 and 21.95....

-raza
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 10:01 AM   #6
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hi barry,

you are looking only at the price of the processors themselves. have you taken into account the cost of the ENTIRE system?

the cost differential between a single socket dualcore system vs. dual socket system is actually fairly HIGH.

a dual socket mobo is typically targeted at workstation-grade professionals. yesh, i realize the lines are blurring between workstation vs. consumers, but there is still a huge diff. an example:
http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_a...tyan+k8we&rd=1
$430+ for JUST a dual socket mobo.

a single socket mobo is typically targeted towards consumers/gamers, etc. it can go from $50-200.

on top of that factor, you have to consider dual socket mobos typically require ECC reg. RAM, which is 1.5-2x the cost of non-ecc/unreg RAM. on top of that, the power requirements are hefty for dual socket mobos and they usually can sport TWO dualcore processors making a quad core system possible today.

i believe the cost of the rest of the system components between the dual socket&single socket sytems are more comparable. so instead of $1,000 for a decent single socket dualcore, you're looking at $2,500+ for dual socket.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 11:23 AM   #7
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Yi,

Thanks for the input.

I was looking on Dell where they have the configuration engine that basically tells you what you need to do to add the second processor. I think I already had the memory that I needed even with the 1 processor, and it is possible that the mobo had two slots already. The total cost I was looking at was around $3K fully loaded either dual core or dual chip.
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Old March 22nd, 2006, 11:39 AM   #8
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Ahhh the great debate.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Gribble
I'm looking at getting a new PC workstation of editing, etc. It looks like a pretty similar price to get a dual core chip or to get two processors.

Is there a big plus one way or the other for rendering/transcoding?

I'm using PPro.

Thanks.
I have some pretty hefty experience with this area so I'll thrown in my $0.03 (inflation).

3 years ago I built, from scratch, a dual AMD Athlon MP system. Most of the important components were just plain more expensive. CPU, RAM (needed ECC ram), motherboard. But I also made the tactical mistake of building one of the FIRST dual Athlon systems the summer those chips came down just a tad in price. The down side is that the dual CPU market was not saturated some parts were hard to find.

Now days, everything is Dual this or that. My reason for this purchase was for a render farm for my roommates 3ds Max projects. We each built similar systems. The reason we used these systems instead of faster Pentium 4 systems was because the software provided noticeable gains on multithreaded applications.

The "Ooooo" and "Ahhhhh" of dual anything doesn't matter unless there is performance to back it up. And we performed lots of research into performance and render times. The 3ds Max software was not optimized for the AMD platform (compatible and optimized are two different things) so a single P4 ship was fast than an equally rated AMD chip. But almost all software was (or even still is) optimized for the Pentium fast-but-shallow CPU design. HOWEVER.... there were gains to adding a second CPU to help with the crunching. In fact there was about a 30% speed increase.

The reason we did not use a Pentium based dual setup is that these dual systems were still incredibly spendy, especially on the Pentium side of things.

Have said all that, read as much as you can about your software and make a decision based on if that software will actually benefit. I use Vegas, which is SMP aware. And due to licensing of the MPEG2 format I can render with dual CPUs on a single machine only, so I see benefits to SMP systems. This is not the case with network render (as another poster mentioned), but only because the license does not allow SMP renders on network farmed machines.

And as other posters have pointed out, your supporting hardware costs may be lower with the more "consumer" grade components of a dual core chip as opposed to a dual CPU system. I have not read too much lately about the dual core systems, but I have heard that AMD's are incredibly power efficient compared to Pentiums. Also keep in mind that dual CPU systems will have two CPU fans. My system with two CPUs fans is practically a jet engine sitting next to the desk. Very distracting.

I should mention that I was a computer science major in college (only 4 years ago) so I got to study CPU architecture in depth. I even designed a 10bit simple CPU from the ground up, and I'm talking from the lowest smallest gate (NAND, etc) on up..... So I get a bit excited whenever I have the chance to talk about pipelines and architecture. Not to get too detailed, but there is a fundamental difference between AMD and Intel CPUs. Intel has gone for pure speed, and that is good. Their chips are amazingly fast. But with that speed comes monster hungry power needs. Due to some other design factors, Intel chips have what is called a long instruction cache. This means that if the CPU predicts incorrectly what it needs to do, the CPU has to clear out the cache and re-load the correct data. This deals with branch prediction which is especially important for games (in that games are hard to have accurate branch prediction). This is good for encoding because all the CPU is doing is just crunching through the numbers. AMD chips have focused on doing more work per cycle of the CPU. This means that each cycle takes longer, so the chips run at a slower MHz, but measuring performance based exclusively on MHz is like measuring a video based only on the amount of cuts and fades used (in other words, meaningless). AMD chips have less of a "penalty" for when they predict the next operation incorrectly because they aren't so deep into their instruction cache. Think of the difference between a guy with a wheel barrow hauling dirt and a guy driving NASA's shuttle crawler. The wheel barrow can go very fast, but it isn't moving near as much as can be carried by the crawler.

As far as performance difference based exclusively on dual core I just need to point out that Intel's Pentium 4 Extreme or the Hyperthreaded systems, are not dual core systems so don't expect them to come even close to any true dual CPU or dual core system. Performance wise I would expect a dual core system to outperform a dual CPU system (all else being equal) because the CPUs (no matter the configuration) need to constantly talk to each other and share information. The close in physical proximity the fast communications can occur. As far as Dual CPU systems, Athlon decided to place some of the essential functions of a system, namely RAM access, directly into their CPUs. Intel still needs a "northbridge" chipset to act as a go between for RAM and the CPU. This could make them slower, but those systems run at such high FSB speeds that any effective difference may be purely academic.

So to sum up the whole post, make your decision based on your applications because that is what matters most and where any real benefit will be found. Also remember that yoru disk subsystem plays an import rol in feed data fast enough to your number crunching CPUs. Have a slow disk and it doesn't matter how fast yoru CPUs are. Also, run out or memory and it negates your CPU performance gains from any light speed setup.

Good luck with the purchase decisions. Let me know if you have any other questions relating to dual cpu systems. As a PS note for this post I shoud lsay that my P4HT based $4000 Alienware MJ12-7000 mobile desktop only processes 3% faster than my 4 year old dual CPU Athlon MP system, so a dual CPU system can be old and STILL be a real work horse. That extra money I poured into the system for the ECC RAM and RAID disk array keep that system neck and neck even 4 years later with the absolute latest technology.

jason
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Old March 23rd, 2006, 08:18 AM   #9
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i agree jason, most multimedia apps are still optimized for intel CPUs. i was peeved to discover that Adobe PP2.0 won't even install on my MP2800 system =(.

and since you're a student of comp sci, i'm sure you're aware that HT isn't dualcore so you can't really compare it to either dualsocket or dualcore.
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Old March 30th, 2006, 02:48 PM   #10
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The performance for dual-core vs dual cpu is about the same. For what it's worth dual-core is much better bang for the buck.
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Old April 3rd, 2006, 01:32 AM   #11
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Schedulers, clocks, etc

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yi Fong Yu
i agree jason, most multimedia apps are still optimized for intel CPUs. i was peeved to discover that Adobe PP2.0 won't even install on my MP2800 system =(.

and since you're a student of comp sci, i'm sure you're aware that HT isn't dualcore so you can't really compare it to either dualsocket or dualcore.
Right.... the HT systems still share the same instruction cache so when the next thread swaps in to play the entire instruction cache and memory cache have to be reloaded from L2 memory (on the CPU die, but still inefficient).

The better solution is dual core. The heat savings (aka power consumption) is amazing in a dual core when compared to two CPUs..... duplicate circuits necessary to run the clock and certain other segments make Dual cores the best answer.

jason
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