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Old May 31st, 2007, 04:51 PM   #1
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Xeon (servers) vs. Regular Desktops for HDV editing

I would like a quad core at least for sure, but I'm getting confused about the differences with Xeon and a regular desktop. Also, I'm hearing things about 8-cores by using two quad core chips for Xeon...what is that about?

Why would one choose Xeon over a normal desktop?

I'm trying to build a personal, one-computer, at-home system, but I want it to be as powerful as I can have it.
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Old May 31st, 2007, 05:13 PM   #2
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Quad cores are the X67xx series and are designed for single CPU boards. Quad core Xeons are the E53xx or X53xx series and are disgned for dual CPU sockets, so you can have 8-core processing power.

Going 8 core means a different type of mobo, like the Supermicro X7DW3+ with a different price tag and often different memory.

You mentioned "as powerful as I can have it", but that comes at a price. What kind of budget do you have in mind?
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Old May 31st, 2007, 06:53 PM   #3
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Well, let's forget budget for now. I'm just interested in learning for the sake of learning for now, then I can figure out my budget later.

So, would the Xeon quad/8 core be much better for video editing (I use Vegas, but will probably start using/learning Adobe Premiere, AfterEffects, and Avid as well) than a normal single computer quad core?

Also, aren't the desktop quad-cores QX6800 (2.93ghz), QX6700 (2.66ghz), and QX6600 (2.44ghz)?

I'm being told that server computers are double everything - double CPUs, double cooling fans, double power supplies, double hard drives - all for the purpose that if one fails, the other one kicks in immediately so that there will be virtually no down time (hence, servers are more reliable). Would this mean that even if it has 8 cores, it is only using 4 cores at any given time, while the other 4 cores is sitting idly just in case of failure?
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Old June 1st, 2007, 03:04 AM   #4
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I'm being told that server computers are double everything - double CPUs, double cooling fans, double power supplies, double hard drives - all for the purpose that if one fails, the other one kicks in immediately so that there will be virtually no down time (hence, servers are more reliable). Would this mean that even if it has 8 cores, it is only using 4 cores at any given time, while the other 4 cores is sitting idly just in case of failure?
Server computers often have redundant or even triple redundant power supplies. They usually have multiple fans, which may even be hot swappable, and good air ducts to improve on air flow and cooling capability. They have two physical CPU sockets and if populated they are all used. Same with RAM, every slot populated is used (depending on OS). There is no redundancy for CPU or RAM.

If you have a mobo with two X5355 CPU's on it and 8 GB Ram installed, it will effectively use 8 cores and use all 8 GB of RAM, if the OS supports that.

Disk redundancy is often created by using Raid configurations.

The major advantage of server type computers is reliability and expandability. It is not uncommon to have a server chassis with 8 or 10 hot swappable disk bays for instance.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 03:34 AM   #5
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So, then, the 8-core Xeon computer with 8gb RAM beats the quad-core desktop with 4gb RAM right? Would the server necessarily need to have redundant power supplies and fans, or can it still just run on one power supply, one fan, etc.?

I'm just trying to get render times for HDV video projects down as much as possible, and I'm thinking that 8-cores with Vegas 7.0e would do a much faster job than quad core.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 04:01 AM   #6
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So, then, the 8-core Xeon computer with 8gb RAM beats the quad-core desktop with 4gb RAM right? Would the server necessarily need to have redundant power supplies and fans, or can it still just run on one power supply, one fan, etc.?

I'm just trying to get render times for HDV video projects down as much as possible, and I'm thinking that 8-cores with Vegas 7.0e would do a much faster job than quad core.
First of all, 8 GB is only supported on 64 bit OS. If you use 32 bit WinXP or Vista, only 4 GB RAM is supported. So there would be no need to install 8, you could better limit yourself to 4 GB.

An 8-core Xeon will definitely be much faster than a quad-core, if multi-threading in Vegas is optimized for multi-core. Premiere Pro CS2 showed only marginal improvements, but CS3 is supposed to benefit much more from multi-cores. I don't know about Vegas.

A server does not require a redundant power supply, but most do use it for reliability. Cooling, power supply and disks are the three main causes of failure. One fan would not be enough, especially if you use multiple hard disks. You need a couple of large (12cm) fans in the front to pull cold air into the case along the disks, a good air duct to direct the airflow over the CPU's and chipset and at least one large fan at the back to push the heated air out of the case. The reason for the large fans is they displace much more air at lower RPM's and thus cause less noise than smaller ones. The air duct may allow for passive cooling of the CPU's, making for a quieter system.

Does Vegas allow for render farms? Using Vue6 Infinite I was able to set up a 5 PC render farm that helped enormously to reduce render times, sharing the load across all 5 PC's.

Last edited by Harm Millaard; June 1st, 2007 at 02:11 PM.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 03:32 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info. I'm looking to create a one-computer, at-home system. Therefore, the reliability of a server computer being used as an actual server isn't necessary. Desktop type reliability is good enough for me. If something breaks, I can fix it. It's not like anything catastrophic will occur to me if my computer is not working properly for a few days. Of course, I still want it to be reliable, but if a desktop can usually run fine without redunancies, then I'm okay with the idea of the server running in the same way (but I guess with more fans).

I'm not sure how well Vegas 7.0e uses multi-cores, and I'm not sure what you mean by render farm?

I know you can connect many computers together and do something called "network rendering" which can help rendering speeds. However, this would not be applicable to me, since I would only have one computer, whether it be a desktop or a server.

By the way, is there a 64 bit Windows Vista?
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Old June 1st, 2007, 04:05 PM   #8
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When Vegas renders, it will use all your cores as long as you are using multi-threaded filters. I'm not sure exactly how well it scales from 4 to 8. By scaling, I mean that performance goes up exactly/linearly with # of cores... if you increase 4 cores to 8, you want performance to go up 100%. This does not always happen... you might see a 80-90% speed increase. Not having benchmark figures, I can't tell you. (But regardless, 80-90% ain't bad.)

How well the processors scale also depends on your system architecture... I believe AMD currently scales better than Intel when you get into 8-16 core territory. (But again, I don't have benchmark figures so I can't tell you for sure.)

2- Some people on the Sony Vegas forum have quad-core machines and they perform very well. On a practical level, I don't think you can go too wrong with them (or even a dual core machine).
http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/...098&Replies=63

Quote:
First of all, 8 GB is only supported on 64 bit OS. If you use 32 bit WinXP or Vista, only 4 GB RAM is supported.
I think winXp 32-bit is 3GB max. Less in certain situations, like shared video or hardware acceleration boards taking up a chunk.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 04:20 PM   #9
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I think winXp 32-bit is 3GB max.
WinXP 32 supports and recognizes max. 4 GB, but keeps 1 GB for housekeeping and leaves only 3 GB max to applications, depending on your PAE settings.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 05:16 PM   #10
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Glenn,

What are multi-threaded filters? What if, just for instance, I have a regular .m2t file that I import onto the Vegas timeline. Don't add any effects or anything. Just want to render it out as fast as I can in 1440x1080 using the highest settings. Would Vegas still be using all 4 (or 8) cores then?

There are 8 and 16 core AMD processors?
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 01:54 AM   #11
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Multi-threaded (in practice) means that multiple cores are used when rendering.

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Don't add any effects or anything. Just want to render it out as fast as I can in 1440x1080 using the highest settings. Would Vegas still be using all 4 (or 8) cores then?
Hmm not sure and never tried. You can download the Vegas demo.

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There are 8 and 16 core AMD processors?
No. You can get 8-CPU systems with dual core AMD processors I believe (16 cores... yeah baby...). Never had the chance to play with them myself unfortunately.
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Old June 4th, 2007, 09:48 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Alex Thames View Post
So, then, the 8-core Xeon computer with 8gb RAM beats the quad-core desktop with 4gb RAM right? Would the server necessarily need to have redundant power supplies and fans, or can it still just run on one power supply, one fan, etc.?
Alex, I'm in the midst of putting together a dual processor Xeon system myself, but have been a little reluctant to reply to your questions because I don't use Vegas. But since I have been walking down the same road getting answers to the same kinds of questions you're asking, I thought I would chime in.

On the redundancy thing. The main thing about going with a server type workstation is the ability to use two processors on the motherboard. Having that and only using one proc not only misses the point, it will not make as good use of a single processor as a single processor board. But as was already pointed out, dual processors is not about redundancy as much as it is about expandability. The advantages of eight over four cores have already been discussed.

Server boards are also well equipped for multiple drive support in various RAID configurations. For video editing you want to have at least one drive dedicated for the video work which is separate from your main system drive. Better still are pairs or groups of drives in RAID configurations, particularly for PATA and SATA (1.5 & 3.0) drives .

Drive redundancy is about reliability in a RAID 1 config, but it is mostly about enhanced performance in a RAID 0. Eg. a single raptor or cheetah drive is fast all by itself, but drive access is faster still when you have a pair of them in a RAID 0. For a really high performance video editing system, particularly if you will edit uncompressed true HD (not just HDV), you might want to have a pair of raptors in a raid 0 as the system drive and 2 to 4 fast high capacity drives (500 GB and up) in another Raid 0 as the edit drive. If you wanted to safeguard your edits, you could designate a couple of drives for a Raid 1 and the others in a Raid 0, or compromise on a Raid 5. The thing is that most server motherboards will support 6 drives in configs like this before you have to go to the use of drive controller cards. And some of these can be arranged as swappable drives (which is where I would put half of a raid 1).


Quote:
I'm just trying to get render times for HDV video projects down as much as possible, and I'm thinking that 8-cores with Vegas 7.0e would do a much faster job than quad core.

How much of a performance increase you can expect is limited in many respects by your software and operating system choices as well as three other main factors: cpu power, ram, and for many apps gpu power. I'm trying to optimize for Premiere Pro CS3 (probably assisted by the Matrox RT.X2) and Avid Liquid Pro. They have very different limits and requirements. You will want to check these things out for Vegas.

If your software supports multithreading in the cpu (Liquid doesn't but apparently Vegas does) then the more cores the better, as long as you have the ram to support it - as others have already said. MINIMUM ram support is half a gig of ram per core. Something closer to a gig per core is better. BUT, you want to be sure that your software will work well in a 64 bit OS since that is what you need to make full use of more than 3 gig of ram. Most of the present generation of video editing apps are optimized for 32 bit, and the OS of choice among pros on the PC is still 32-bit XP Pro. Check out the present and future of Vegas on that. I know that the new Adobe products were designed to work in a 64 bit environment (but don't have a lot of good driver support just yet), but so far no plans have been announced for Avid Liquid to move into that. Something like that will surely happen, but for now there is no advantage to running Liquid in an 8 core machine. But Liquid is less dependent on cpu power than gpu power, which brings me to my next point.

Realtime editing of effects it is better achieved through hardware than software. For this purpose the Liquid software leans on the graphics card. The Adobe suite, and specifically Premier Pro, don't do much with realtime editing unless you use an accelerator like the Matrox card I mentioned which redirects the editing process to make greater use of the gpu. What I have found interesting is that the video apps of interest to me seem to have been optimized for Open GL bussing, and so tend to specify ATI cards over nVidia. For example, the card of choice for Avid Liquid and for the Matrox RT.X2 is the Radeon X1900XTX 512MB.

You would think that where the gpu is important, that the use of a crossfire or sli pair would be preferred. But that does not seem to be the case, perhaps because few server boards have more than one PCIe x16 slot.

Because we are at a point of transition in computing, with the recent introduction of multicore systems, and the plans to develop that further yet this year. I have decided that for me a server board is the way to go. I can upgrade it more easily without a complete overhaul. However, the Intel processor architecture may be poised to take a radically different direction, and if that happens all bets are off for the utility of today's boards tomorrow.

For now a dual quad server workstation is ahead of the software a bit, and I think that the next generation of that software will be designed for the present form of multicore processing. Which means you should be good to go with a high performance machine for the next three to five years in a dual processor system. That makes it server over desktop. To put that in terms of Intel standards, socket 771 with an x5000 chipset over socket 775 with a 975 chipset. Whether that should be quad core or dual core processors depends on how long you expect to go before replacing them. Dual core procs have faster individual cores, and apps that can't make good use of multithreading will do better with those. But spreading the load over four cores or more is faster with multithreading, cooler and the direction things are heading.

That's my take on it.
Sorry for the long post.

-Stephen
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Old June 4th, 2007, 07:45 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Alex Thames View Post
...
So, would the Xeon quad/8 core be much better for video editing (I use Vegas, but will probably start using/learning Adobe Premiere, AfterEffects, and Avid as well) than a normal single computer quad core?...
If you are serious about using Avid in the future, you should be aware that Avid does not work on all pc systems, so Avid certifies hardware for compliancy.

A lot of non-ceritfied hardware DOES work with Avid, but there are no guarantees.

Avid's website has info on system requirements as does their user forums.
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Old June 4th, 2007, 08:51 PM   #14
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Server mentality:
L2 MB = memory GB per core
Old school but that’s still M$’s thinking.
The lacking thing is MS XP(32) wont USE more than 4 GB (3gb max user VA with /3gb switch) so you have 8 cores starving for memory.
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Old June 5th, 2007, 10:26 AM   #15
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If you are serious about using Avid in the future, you should be aware that Avid does not work on all pc systems, so Avid certifies hardware for compliancy.
Yep. And one of my great peeves is the way they force you into paying too much for a system by limiting tech support on non-certified systems. For their newest product, Liquid Chrome Xe due out soon, the only systems they will certify for running that software are the XW8200 and XW8400 workstations from Hewlett Packard. But what really bites me about all this is that I can configure a system with all the same brand name components as an HP XW8400 (except for a couple of proprietary items) and bring it in at $4500, but the same thing from HP costs $8800. For the price difference I can pay for the Chrome Xe software, and the Xena card it is designed to work with, and still put nearly $1000 in the bank. [My opinionated aside: It seems that quite a few of their dedicated fans go along with this as a mark of distinction. The feeling I get is that they purposely set the bar financially higher on their higher end products in order to maintain a "professional" image in the industry. The implication being that a real pro will came up with the dough. By this the sheep are led.]

Things are a lot more open with Liquid and Liquid Pro 7.2, but I sure do recommend that you look at their system requirements before you decide to use them or configure a system that you want to use them.
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