i7 vs new dual-socket Xeon E55xx (an i7 with SMP & ECC support) at DVinfo.net

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Old April 24th, 2009, 05:17 PM   #1
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i7 vs new dual-socket Xeon E55xx (an i7 with SMP & ECC support)

I'm ditching my unsuccessful distributed network rendering systems (several 1U servers, a big gigE web view switch, several smaller PCs, rack mounting, etc) and selling them all to get something in a single tower to render as fast as possible, since distributed network rendering is limited by design. MPEG2 licensing requires a unique Vegas Pro license for each of computers being used in the render farm (this according to Sony Tech Support).

So I am left to look at i7 or the recently released and i7 based dual-socket Xeon E55xx systems. According to an interview with Intel reps I just read there is relatively little in the way of architecture changes between the i7 and the dual-socket Xeon E55xx series.

The Xeon chips are quad cores and each core has Hyperthreading which is specifically designed for great media encoding due to the new SSE4 instruction set implemented in the Nehalem core (the same Nehalem core is in the i7).

.... the real variable becomes ....

Can Vegas 8 or 9 Pro (I'll probably be making the upgrade to 9) linearly or even near linearly scale with the jump from 4 to 8 threads? From 8 to 16 with HT turned on?

Would it be possible to actually starve the CPU for data because the CPU is faster than disc IO could feed it video data?

Does anyone have experience running Vegas on >=8 core systems?

For the background information, 3 years ago I bought a $3K edit system that is a P4HT and is very long in the tooth. I edit SD video only at the point, but I hope to move to HD (and not HDV either, I intend to skip to tapeless HD either Sony EX based or Panasonic P2/AVCCAM).

So I am clearly looking towards the future and expecting I'll still be in business and that I'll be able to jump to HD before 2011.

Thanks for any input.
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Old April 24th, 2009, 07:09 PM   #2
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Jason,

I am using an I7 which isw a quad and hyperthreaded. I moved from a hyperthreaded p4. I run Vegas 8.0c for editing and then i render in the 64 bit 8.1a. there is a lot written on the I7 thread about having troubles with 8.1a and linking to DVDA. the machine renders fast, no question. I got it when I made the move to hd knowing the old p4 that was so solid and stable would not do the job. This machine will work with the native files just fine, though I still use neoscene as i like the better color correcting opition. Were i to do it over, I would get the highest end I7 and then over clock it slightly and i would build my own!!!

I ordered 9.0 for the 64 bit version to have something more stable that the 8.1a.

You might wait and see how othes find 9.0 on their I7's!!! Just a thought.
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Old April 24th, 2009, 08:52 PM   #3
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MPEG2 licensing requires a unique Vegas Pro license for each of computers being used in the render farm (this according to Sony Tech Support).
Perhaps a better solution would be a third party sofware encoder that allows for multithreading?
Also, i'm noticing alot of hardware solutions coming to the surface as of lately..

As far as starving the CPU from disc IO.....Highly unlikely. Especially if it's being output to a different drive.

Perhaps a better understanding of your final destination/requirements?
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Old April 25th, 2009, 04:02 AM   #4
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Jason, I do not know about the Xeon. I do know that overclocked I rendered a 65 minute SD project in 10 minutes with a i7 920.

If you want fast as possible you simply buy the fastest chip you can afford, technical details are irrelevant. The i7 is designed in a way that makes it ideal for video encoding, and online reviews/test results clearly demonstrate that.

Look at reviews for the Xeon, and the benchmarks will tell you what you need to know. From past discussions you have seemed to be on a budget, and the i7 920 is clearly the best value out there. It easily overclocks (with the right hardware configuration) to 3.4 - 3.8 with stock cooling.

There is a better chip coming out next year (as there always is) that may blow the current chips out of the water, a whole new design based on newer technology. But until then it is safe to say that for the budget-concious buyer the i7 920 is by far the best thing available.
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Old April 25th, 2009, 10:05 AM   #5
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Jason,

I'm somewhat caught off guard by your post and then the last line that says "I hope to get to HD by 2011"... I'm curious what type of production situation you are running... Why wait so long?

And if you are processing SD footage in Vegas, I can't imagine you really needing anything *more* than a single i7 box (4 cores, 8 HT threads). If Jeff is rendering a 65 minute SD project in 10 mins, that's 6X+ real time rendering. Seems reasonable enough to me, why buy bigger and exponentially more expensive equipment?

There can be some point where it isn't about the hardware anymore. SD footage with Vegas on an i7 should be ample...

Jon
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Old April 25th, 2009, 03:57 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jeff Harper View Post
Jason, I do not know about the Xeon. I do know that overclocked I rendered a 65 minute SD project in 10 minutes with a i7 920.
See, this is why I need to ditch the Core 2 Duo / P4 based systems i have now. I just rendered a 55 minute seminar (all SD footage, no CC at all) renderign to 720x480 WMV VBR and it took over 5 hours (granted I did do it via a dedicated network render, with all media stored on the 1U Dell Poweredge860 on a RAID0).

But the render times even on SD media are a great annoyance.
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Old April 25th, 2009, 06:23 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jon McGuffin View Post
I'm somewhat caught off guard by your post and then the last line that says "I hope to get to HD by 2011"... I'm curious what type of production situation you are running... Why wait so long?
Unfortunately, there is virtually no demand for HD projects of ANY kind in my market. The people wanting HD already have video production companies taking care of their needs. I am actually finding that it is beneficial to still be in SD because it has allowed me to get jobs that would have otherwise gone to the "friends with a cam."

The type of productions I do is primarily Weddings, corporate seminars, graduations, and I'm trying to move into web video (for local small businesses). And for all of that, I have yet to have a single request for HD, or even a customer that wants HD.

Good point on the i7 being fast enough for SD. That is probably the case.

I was just mainly interested to know if anyone has actually tried these new Xeon chips and how they compared to i7 systems.
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Old April 25th, 2009, 10:34 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jason Robinson View Post
See, this is why I need to ditch the Core 2 Duo / P4 based systems i have now. I just rendered a 55 minute seminar (all SD footage, no CC at all) renderign to 720x480 WMV VBR and it took over 5 hours
As I recall, Jason, prior to your buying the older Dell two chip workstation recently it seemed pretty clear you were wasting your money. As smart as you are I couldn't understand the logic. I know you thought the network thing would help, but that feature is pretty well known to not help with render times much, and just adds a level of complication to a straight render situation. You can't say you weren't advised against it.

Coming back to the present...

Demand for HD is growing fairly steadily, (I don't know this but I believe it) so it is coming, even to your town.

What's more when you move to HD cams, you don't need to shoot in HD. The widescreen SD looks fantastic and will really make you stand out especially in your market. You're videos will destroy your competitors just based on you shooting in a clear, 16:9 format. I think it is more important today to offer widescreen video than HD, though to have both available is an even nicer.
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Old April 26th, 2009, 08:07 AM   #9
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I've got two dual core AMD Opterons (which are old by today's standards)...

Using the correct software encoder (CCE) i'm getting 3.6X realtime on interlaced DV material..
Your setup needs to be critiqued...Othewise, you're chasing the wrong ghosts.
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Old April 26th, 2009, 11:14 AM   #10
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Yes, Peter but Jason uses Vegas, and he was rendering a wmv file, which takes longer than mpeg 2, which it sounds like you're talking about. That is comparing apples and oranges, unless your render time was for a wmv file of a similar dimension as Jason's.

Based on what your time was for your render, his 5 hours for a wmv file is not that far off, especially given the large dimension.

Jason, how long does it take you to render an mpeg 2 of the same length? I'm guessing 2.5-3.5 hours.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 11:37 AM   #11
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Yes, Peter but Jason uses Vegas, and he was rendering a wmv file, which takes longer than mpeg 2, which it sounds like you're talking about. That is comparing apples and oranges, unless your render time was for a wmv file of a similar dimension as Jason's.

Based on what your time was for your render, his 5 hours for a wmv file is not that far off, especially given the large dimension.

Jason, how long does it take you to render an mpeg 2 of the same length? I'm guessing 2.5-3.5 hours.
My MPEG2 render (which I performed right after the WMV) was about 3-4hrs, but I did two pass CBR.

A bit more detail for this situation:

For the WMV render, I opened a project file on my edit system (PC#1) with all media referenced via file share to my 1U Dell Poweredge860 file server (PC#5) with RAID0. I kicked off the WMV render and via the Network Render service (non-distributed) I assigned it to my fastest render machine (Core2Duo) PC#3. The file was rendered to PC#1 on its RAID0 drive.

So PC#3 was grabbing video data from #5 and rendering to #1. Both #1 & #5 have RAID0 drives for all video data.

Then I rendered to MPEG2 using 2pass CBR 720x480 on PC#1 using a version of the veg file that referenced all local media. I rendered to the same RAID0 drive on PC#1 as the WMV render.

Now it is possible that my RAID0 on PC#1 was a little too busy, but given that the WMV render took so long, but had a dedicated file server, I don't think the bottle neck for either was the RAID0 performance on PC#1.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 11:44 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jeff Harper View Post
As I recall, Jason, prior to your buying the older Dell two chip workstation recently it seemed pretty clear you were wasting your money. As smart as you are I couldn't understand the logic. I know you thought the network thing would help, but that feature is pretty well known to not help with render times much, and just adds a level of complication to a straight render situation. You can't say you weren't advised against it.
I do agree that the purchase would be ill advised if it was solely for Vegas rendering. However, my purchase was also for resale since I obtained a Xeon based poweredge 860 for roughly $100, and their resale price on ebay is $300 (and mine still has 1yr of Dell next day support on the system!). I am actually finding buyers for all the networking gear, as I anticipated.

I mainly wanted to see for sure if a distributed network approach would be of any value. Kind of a once and for all determination. And it isn't, as many people suggested.

Now that my curiosity has been satisfied, I hope to sell the gear at a decent profit, and turn that profit into a new render system and if I am lucky, possibly August's mortgage payment. :-)

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Originally Posted by Jeff Harper View Post
Demand for HD is growing fairly steadily, (I don't know this but I believe it) so it is coming, even to your town.
What's more when you move to HD cams, you don't need to shoot in HD. The widescreen SD looks fantastic and will really make you stand out especially in your market. You're videos will destroy your competitors just based on you shooting in a clear, 16:9 format. I think it is more important today to offer widescreen video than HD, though to have both available is an even nicer.
This is a very good point that I had not considered fully. Since I am still shooting on GL2s with 6:9 mode, that means I have to loose a bit of vertical resolution in order to shoot in-cam 16x9 or to crop in post.

I had been forgetting the advantage of shooting in native 16x9 on an HD cam. I will put that in the "pros" column of the great switch to HD cam decision.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 05:53 PM   #13
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Jason,


First, shooting with gl2's is still quite viable. I still have mine and use it on occassions. I found it better to shoot 4:3 and then crop to wide screen. I moved to the xl2 with wide screen ccds and of course like it for that to be certain. Weddings I often shoot 4:3 using both the gl2 and xl2.
when I went to the xlh1 this gave me more options ( for SD you can do alot more cropping and stabilization)!!! If it is low light I actually prefer my xl2 and gl2.

As mentioned, hd is getting stronger all the time. My last job I produced a dvd disc and a blu ray disc so that they can run whatever they have. People will pay more as they know that is the future and they want to be bomb proof, so to speak.

so, starting now with computer systems that can deliver hd and shooting in Hd, even if you output in Sd (and by the way properly down converted Sd is better than out of the camera SD in my opinion) you are preparing yourself so that when the big move comes about for you, you can make a professional level change from day one. Ther is a bit of a learning curve going to HD to be sure.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 11:36 PM   #14
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Jason,


First, shooting with gl2's is still quite viable. I still have mine and use it on occassions. I found it better to shoot 4:3 and then crop to wide screen. I moved to the xl2 with wide screen ccds and of course like it for that to be certain. Weddings I often shoot 4:3 using both the gl2 and xl2.
when I went to the xlh1 this gave me more options ( for SD you can do alot more cropping and stabilization)!!! If it is low light I actually prefer my xl2 and gl2.
Do you think the picture is better using the in camera 16x9 on a 16x9 project or shot in 4:3 mode and then cropped to a 16x9 project in post? I also have a 3rd cam (Panasonic GS320) which is 3ccd in native 16x9 and sometimes that cam looks better than the GL2 footage!

I have debated the in cam vs post crop many times. I have 5 weddings booked for this summer and I would like to finally settle on a method. I shot all last summer in 4x3 with a post production crop. But when I put the cropped GL2 footage next to the native 16x9 GS320, the GS320 looked sharper.

I shot an experimental wedding this past month using in-camera 16x9 AND using frame mode. I haven't had a chance to really check out the footage other than to notice that everything is horribly grainy because there was NO light, so I purchased NeatVideo and I'll run all the clips through Neat Video (another reason to get an i7 / Xeon E55xx system because NeatVideo slows things to a crawl . . like 1 frame every 3 seconds even on draft quality).
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Old April 29th, 2009, 06:38 AM   #15
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I rarely disagree with Dale, but on this subject I must.

With many people owning HD televisions now, and with most network shows being shown in 16:9 and/or hi-def, I find don't care to see anything on my set other than natively shot 16:9 or clean SD 4:3. The workarounds do not cut it for me.

Last night my customer watched her wedding shot on my FX1000s and she is going out today to buy a HD tv. I have tried shooting in 16:9 with the VX2100s and also tried post solutions, and they are just anemic compared to the real thing.

I would shoot 4:3, instruct my customers on how not to view it stretched, or buy new cameras. You can buy a used FX1 and used HV30 for your second cam as a budget solution to get started and you'd probably be better off. Of course this is only viable if you have the ability to purchase and are going to stay in the business. Those two cams are not particularly great in low light, but the FX1 is good enough for receptions with a light.

You are certainly at a crossroads Jason. If you just don't have it this year you can get by with the GL2s, but next season might be tougher.
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