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Old May 12th, 2007, 11:44 AM   #1
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Xeon Dual core vs Xeon Quad for HDV editing

I'm looking to upgrade my present editing system, and I had it in mind to go with a pair of Xeon E5335 Clovertown (2.0GHz 2 x 4MB L2 Cache Socket 771) processors in a TYAN Dual Socket 771 Intel 5000X Extended ATX server motherboard. However, I noticed that Videoguys came out against using quad procs at this time, and preferred a pair of dual core Xeon 5130 Woodcrest 2.0GHz Socket 771 for their recommended Xeon workstation.

With reference to the quads they said this: "But will you gain anything for the almost $1,000 extra cost? I don't think so, not at the current time. While most of the NLE software on the market will utilize two cores, very little multi-threading beyond the 2 cores will actually go on. So you're paying a lot of extra cost for only a marginal increase in processing power."

When it comes to individual editing apps they have a point, but even at that I wonder how much longer that is going to be the case. I'm using Avid Liquid 7.2 and also using the Adobe Video Studio (soon to upgrade to the CS3 Production Studio) and for the present these are 32 bit apps that don't need the strength of quad core technology when run individually. But what if I want to render an After Effects composition and edit/render a four layer HDV snatch of video in Premiere Pro CS3 AT THE SAME TIME. That's been a no-no even for dual core systems, but how about with dual quads, 4 GB ram, and a Quadro 1500 (or 3450, the jury's still out)? That kind of multitasking just might be doable with this much processor power - but I'm not sure of that.

On the other hand, the 5335 Clovertown 2.0 Ghz quad weighs in at $750 (or $875 for the 2.33 Ghz model) versus the 5130 Woodcrest 2.0GHz dual core at about $325 ($500 for the 2.33GHz).

If I thought that I could get about the same performance out of a single 2.33 Ghz quad (alone in a dual processor mobo) as I would get out of a pair of 2.0 Ghz duals, that would be a hands down preferred interim course, since the eventual upgrade would not waste any cpu's. But I have no experience with dual processor boards, and don't know whether I can do more multitasking with a single beefier quad than a pair or lesser dual cores. My intuition says the pair of procs is better for performance, but I hate the thought of wasting them when I decide to spring for the quads. That is not likely to happen until Avid Liquid and the Adobe Suite both come out as 64 bit apps, so it could be a while.

I'm torn. Something tells me I'm not looking at this in the right way. Anybody got any insights or opinions to share that will tip the scales?
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Old May 13th, 2007, 10:50 AM   #2
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The Clovertown is a faster architecture, but not sure it is worth the extra money over a dual dual. It should run a little cooler, but Woodcrest and Clovertown are light years better than Irwindale.

Actually, the only thing that concerns me is the Quadro card with Liquid. Ask in the Avid forum for other users using one. Some of the nVidia cards can have issues with Liquid.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 06:00 PM   #3
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Studio CS2 PPRO2 isnít gunna run any better,
At least in my personal experience.


Dual Quads here
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Old May 14th, 2007, 02:01 PM   #4
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Salah,

I understand that what you have said for PPro2 is the same for PPCS3. However, what about multitasking? Can you edit a four layer project in PPro2 while you are rendering something in After Effects and still download from the internet with a half dozen IE windows open? Somebody told me you can dedicate cores in task manager so that multitasking is less integrated when you need the separation. Does your dual quad setup help you much with that?

I'm still at the stage where I'm creating composites and adding them to the editing timeline as I go. I would like to have AE and premiere Pro both up at the same time. And if i was piecing together a ChromaKey background in the process, then I would be inclined to run Ultra as well. But with all that i don't know if it would be better to have four cores clocked at 3.0 Ghz or eight at 2.33 (the processors for these specs are the same price at the moment).
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Old May 14th, 2007, 02:41 PM   #5
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Stephen, I think you're confusing bits and processors. :) Why would you need a 64 bit app to take advantage of more processors? You wouldn't, you'd need a multithreaded app. :)

Also, in the task manager you can set processor Affinity (which processor(s) gets to work on which processes). It seems most of the dual core/dual cpu/hyper-threading users don't know about this. Right click on a process in the task manager and set the affinity there. This way, if you want to render something in AE and still have full processing power (from another cpu or core), you just uncheck say processors 2 and 3 for AE, and then in your other app, uncheck processors 0 and 1.. Then your two apps are running on two fully independent dual core cpu's.. Or 2 cores each in a quad core processor.

Downloading files shouldn't use much processing power at all, ditto for web browsing. Just pages with a bunch of Flash ads will run slower, because Flash player uses quite a bit of cpu.

I like your idea of getting a quad core cpu and a dual core board, but the additional money for the board (maybe $200 more?) and the additional money on the quad core cpu (extra $1000), really adds up. An extra $1200 right now could buy a much nicer video card, or a really big screen. A nice pair of monitor speakers (and other stuff). And by the time the quad core gets cheap enough to buy a second one, you're not going to want to keep the current one, because something better is out, for less money. But of course, the 'something better' never runs on the same socket or uses the same RAM, or it does, but only for 2 months til they realize they need a new socket (for no better reason than to make people buy more motherboards, so they can sell more chipsets).

It's all a big game. I always say buy what you can afford, which is a good value (or absolutely necessary, if not the best value) and don't plan ahead very far. Maybe 6 months? If you plan much further down the road, something better will be out. Look how quickly SATA controllers were replaced with SATA 3G (or whatever the official name is). Firewire 400 took longer to be replaced by 800 I suppose. AGP for instance, seemed like it was only out a few months before AGP 2x came out, then 4x, then 8x. If you had a 4x AGP board with dual cpu sockets/slots and all the bells and whistles, planning on adding a nice video card and second cpu down the road, you'd later realize your motherboard was a limitation, because it didn't support the 8x AGP cards when they came out shortly after. So in trying to future-proof your investment (back then anyway), you ended up paying a premium and still getting stuck when you realize the video card would operate at half the bus speed it was designed for.

Unless you're going to get a second quad core cpu in the next few months, I would say don't do it. Or see if you can find a quad cpu server board somewhere. It'll be pricey, but may be cheaper to load it with 4 dual cores than to load a dual socket board with 2 quad cores. I don't know offhand how many physical processors XP will support, it may still only be two, with some number of cores each. If that's the case, you'd need to run 2003 Server, which would be a little pricey.

Like I said, it's all a big game. :) Do you wanna spend a lot of money now on the bleeding edge parts, or not much at all on good, valuable stuff.. Or somewhere in between, where you may shoot yourself in the foot because the technology changed quicker than you were expecting? I would check the Intel roadmaps and see where they're going. I know they're always about 2 steps ahead, and the thing that isn't out already has an end of life date set.

Eric
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Old May 14th, 2007, 07:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Shepherd View Post
Stephen, I think you're confusing bits and processors. :) Why would you need a 64 bit app to take advantage of more processors? You wouldn't, you'd need a multithreaded app. :)
Yeah, I can see I telescoped my thoughts a bit too much. The apps I'm mainly interested in, Avid Liquid and the Adobe CS3 Production Premium suite, are 32 bit apps for the present, and not likely to be changed much for the next year or so. Speculation is that at the next change they will become friendly to 64 bit OS and whatever higher levels of functionality that may bring. It is my own guess that when they are next revised, it will be advantageous to have a multicore system that handles a lot more than two cores or even four.



Quote:
I like your idea of getting a quad core cpu and a dual core board, but the additional money for the board (maybe $200 more?) and the additional money on the quad core cpu (extra $1000), really adds up.
A respondent on another forum set me straight on that, pointing out that it is not a good idea. Xeon procs are at their best when used in pairs, because of their SMP capabilities. Symmetric multiprocessing needs at least two cpus. If I was only ever going to use one, then I may as well go with a Conroe or Kentsfield in a 775 board and save the money. Somebody else said that in a dual processor system it is best of the processors come from the same batch. So a pair it must be, or forget the dual processor board.

However, as for the cost differential, the problem is a bit more complicated than you might expect. It comes down to what I think my apps need more: cores or processing speed. For about $875 I can get either a 5160 Woodcrest 3.0 Ghz dual core, or a Clovertown 5345 2.33 Ghz quad. And if both of those are overkill for the apps I want to run, then we can come down the scale on both sides in parallel. The dilemmea is not about cost, but about the different performance tradeoffs. My basic problem is that I can't tell which is more important for these apps, processor cores or individual core speed. For rendering it's cores; for everything else its clock speed, right? Then again, I like to multitask while one app is busy rendering. And the Adobe suite makes that very easy to do, if you have the cpu guts for it - or so I understand.


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It's all a big game. I always say buy what you can afford, which is a good value (or absolutely necessary, if not the best value) and don't plan ahead very far. Maybe 6 months? If you plan much further down the road, something better will be out.
I sure understand this. By the same token I have to plan to work with whatever I put together for the next two or three years. If 64 bit versions of these apps come out in that time, I want to be there to exploit them. For the forseeable future that will mean Xeons in a dual processor socket 771 configuration - which I see as more durable and upgradeable than any single socket system. That hardware will be ready to exploit just about any change in the apps that is likely to come in the next 3 years, don't you think? It's not about being cutting edge, so much as it is about being able to handle the software well for a good long while.

Anyway, if you had a choice between dual core at 3.0Ghz and quad at 2.33 Ghz at the same price point, then all else being equal, what would you get to run Avid Liquid and the Adobe CS3 Production Premium suite?

Stephen
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Old May 14th, 2007, 07:52 PM   #7
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Don't try to future proof with planned upgrades. It does not pan out as you would expect. Look at the Irwindale Xeons. The prices are still about what they were when they came out while the new Xeons are much less. Buy what you can afford for a period of time that is reasonable for you. For some businesses, that is 1 year. Others, 3-4.

Don't wait either. Big arch change coming in 08 - SSE4, another jump in FSB, new shrink, better scaling. - it will always change. Buy what you need.

It really is a toss-up. I went faster going from Irwindale 3.06 Xeons to a E6600 dual core. You can still edit while rendering another project with an encoder with 8 cores. But do you do that often? Only you know for sure.
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Old May 14th, 2007, 09:24 PM   #8
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You could render and edit at the same time with a dual core cpu or 2 separate cpu's, you wouldn't need 8 cores to do that. :) Set the Affinity for one app per cpu and you have 2 systems, essentially. As long as you're not using all your RAM for one app or the other, and not using all of your hard drive bandwidth for one app, they'll both run smoothly.

I'm still not sure why you're mentioning 64 bit future apps as part of this discussion. All of the Core2Duos, Xeons, Athlon x2's, Athlon64's, etc.. They're all 64 bit cpu's now. Just because a program uses a wider data path (64 vs 32 bits) and can perform more accurate math calculations, that doesn't mean it needs 4, 8, 16, 32 processor cores, it just means it's a better program (well in a perfect world).

Here's some info (too much!) on these and other dual and quad core Intel chips.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...icroprocessors

I guess you really just need to know if your software is SMP-capable or not (will it use multiple cpus or cores).. I have a dual Pentium II 333 system here, which was pretty cool back in 1998 (666MHz ;) but since most of my apps weren't SMP-capable, I was basically running a single CPU system. That's the problem you have here. The other thing is, you can't directly compare clock speeds across processor lines. And then there's the whole L2 cache side of things, which greatly changes performance.

Yes, the Xeons are designed for SMP, but that could be either in multiple cores or multiple processors with single cores. The Pentium II chips were designed for SMP as well, but most of the PII's that went to the consumer market were in single processor systems.

I think the whole multiple core processor thing has clouded peoples' thinking in the past year or so. It's almost as though people think 2 cores is different than 2 single core cpu's. I think 2 separate cpu's would be better, because they don't share cache memory, and they don't share the heat of doing double the work in one chip.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there's a good chance AMD will take over again as the price/performance leader. There are just so many variables to holding off for the future that if you wait for 6 months before buying, you'll want to wait another 6 months, and you'll never buy anything because there's always a much better deal coming out soon.

I'm considering building a new system too. But there are so many different cpu models and sockets out there now, it's really difficult to make a decision and feel like you did the right thing.
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Old May 14th, 2007, 09:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Knapp View Post

Can you edit a four layer project in PPro2 while you are rendering something in After Effects and still download from the internet with a half dozen IE windows open?
In a nutshell. No.
The limit is not cpus now, but the 32 bit os and apps.
I use Dynamic Link.

IE Never open it on these machines dediacted.
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Old May 14th, 2007, 09:50 PM   #10
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Eric, you are assuming the apps are not multi-thread. Tsunami is and will use at least 4 cores during a render op (max I have had at a time). You would also not set affinity on a multi-threaded app.
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Old May 14th, 2007, 10:24 PM   #11
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Salah, I don't understand the problem. Why can't you open Internet Explorer while that stuff is going? If you don't use Dynamic Link, there should be no problem using both apps for different tasks at the same time.

George, I realize you would not normally set affinity on multi-threaded apps, but my point is, if you DO want to restrict it to a specific core, then you free up another core to do something else at full speed. Sure it's not going to run at full speed, because you're not giving it access to all of your processors, but it will still work and get the job done. :)

Eric
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Old May 14th, 2007, 11:13 PM   #12
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I appreciate all the great feedback from everybody, but it still isn't getting to my basic question. So let me state it straight out. Let's forgot about the whole future proofing issue, it isn't the main thing.

This is a server type workstation dedicated to video editing with particular apps. The essential question is this:

if you had a choice between dual core Xeon at 3.0Ghz and quad Xeon at 2.33 Ghz at the same price point, then all else being equal, what would you get to run Avid Liquid and the Adobe CS3 Production Premium suite?
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Old May 14th, 2007, 11:15 PM   #13
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I would go with a dual cpu dual core. Then you get the single core speeds higher, and you still get 4 cores.. and it's cheaper too, you said?
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Old May 15th, 2007, 07:52 AM   #14
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I would go with a dual cpu dual core. Then you get the single core speeds higher, and you still get 4 cores.. and it's cheaper too, you said?
No. Same price, but that's if I go for the higher core speed. If I drop that to something on par with the core speed of the quad unit, then things get cheaper. Not sure I want to do that. By the same token, I'm not sure with these particular apps what the speed will gain me either for rendering or for general editing tasks. And then there's the value for multitasking.

Stephen
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Old May 15th, 2007, 10:40 AM   #15
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I guess the only thing you can do is find out the individual core performance of the 2.3GHz vs the 3.0GHz.. Then for anything not multithreaded, that will be your performance difference. And to some extent, you can compare the numbers directly. I'm guessing the extra 700MHz isn't going to be a *huge* performance difference, so the quad core is probably the way to go.

I had this debate in around 96 or 97 and the question was, is it better to run a dual cpu 100MHz system or a single cpu 200MHz system. Sure the numbers are much bigger now, but the issue is still the same. The 200MHz chip in the same processor line was not *double* the performance of the 100MHz chip. But a pair of 100's was. It's like horsepower in a car. Will a 200 horsepower car go twice as fast and have twice the power of a 100 horsepower car? No. It'll be better, sure, but not twice as good.

I say the slower quad core will get you more mileage in this case, because the 2.3GHz cores should be close enough to the 3.0GHz core performance, and then you get double the number of cores on top of that.

Hopefully this explanation is clearer? You WILL notice a performance difference on non-multithreaded apps, but otherwise you shouldn't have any problems and it should perform better than the dual core. :)

Eric
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