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The Future of Multi-Threading in Gaming

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February 3, 2014 3:26:15 PM

Preface with this: Cost is not my issue - I have permission from my lovely wife to spend what I like on my first custom gaming rig (praise be to the gods of love, she loves me). My question revolves around the overall (especially future) usefulness of AMD's 8-core processors and their link to future software.

I am considering a build of near identical parts with the exception of my indecision between the AMD FX 8350, and Intel's i5 4670k.
I have read a great deal and understand the Intel processors are the favorite. They are more powerful for everyday use and most gaming applications.
Question is: Do I consider more seriously the idea that more and more programmers are going to utilize more cores/threads simply because they are available to be utilized? And in that consideration, does that not mean that a processor with more cores will be more "future proof"?
Note that I am not a multitasker, nor a streamer or 'Youtuber' (why that ever became a thing is beyond me, bunch of lazy good for nothings, [middle of the question rant, apologies]). I couldn't give a spit about 3D rendering and whatever whatchamacallits. I am building the machine to play my favorite games (mind you that I don't care for old games, I carry no nostalgia in my man-purse, so they'll all be modern), and for word and what have you. Thank you all.

To update:
Anything wrong with this build? (Keep in mind that where I limit myself is because of my own frugality and all of the many (many, many) things I've read about price to performance ratio and whatnots.)

Intel® Core™ i7-4770K 3.50 GHz - on - GIGABYTE Z87X-HD3 ATX
8GB (4GBx2) DDR3/1600MHz Corsair Vengeance
AMD Radeon R9 280X 3GB
120GB Samsung 840 EVO Series SATA-III 6.0Gb/s SSD

I will overpower the machine for future upgrades and such. The other details don't really matter.
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February 3, 2014 3:38:03 PM

Bear in mind that the 8 core FX chips, just like the "8-thread" i7s, aren't actually 8 cores. In the case of AMD's FX chips, they're four modules, and while each module has two double-precision compute units (which they're calling cores), they have to share a single floating-point SKU. That means that for gaming, an 8-core FX 8350 is really just a quad core. Same thing with hyperthreading on the i7, which only applies to double-precision calculations.

Also, bear in mind that most games are console ports, and most of those are lucky to be dual-threaded. We're only going to see quad-threading become the norm when most users have quad core chips. (More than 60% have dual cores, right now... and that's the people who use steam.) You don't need anything more than a quad core - which means it comes down to whether you want the faster i5-4670k, a locked i5, or the cheaper and unlocked, but slower, 8350.
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February 3, 2014 4:35:56 PM

While its great that games are getting better threaded, keep in mind that two cores or so are still going to be doing most of the work even then. The only way that I can see the FX 8350 be better prepared for the future/faster than the i5 4670k is that physics tasks stays on the CPU, which isnt likely with APUs.

This is where the appeal (at least for me) for APUs comes from. The CPU can be left to do serial tasks and scheduling, the IGP on APUs can be used to process physics and other highly scalable tasks, and then a dGPU can be used to render the game's graphics.
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February 3, 2014 4:39:54 PM

Okay honestly, if you have no issue on cost, skip the i5 simply because the SAME PC with a i7 and a High End Video card like the Titan would be 'choked' more with the i5 then the i7 (as we are looking forward not just on today's BF4 specs). AMD has no solution, and sadly with the Haswell release the FX8350 is now the same as a i3 core (OMG I couldn't believe watching BF4 playing that good! WOW!).

YES, physics of things (how thick one wall is to a handgun as compared to a motar round) and the improving AI, all are CPU based, which needs to optimally spread over multiple cores (threads) and only Intel with HyperThreading seems to be the best solution. I hoped at CES or E3 AMD would make the move, but until AMD can take it's current coreline and add a HyperThread solution (which would immediately double the performance over any Intel CPU, because AMD believe in more cores) but instead it has taken a huge jump back to manuever into the tablet / handheld market and 'cheap computing' with the new APU lines it has released.

Intel dominates, and if you want a 'investment', your best payoff would be i7 Haswell to last you the next 5 years without the consideration in the next 2-3 it isn't able to meet the 'demands' your putting on it. Your next consideration would be what you plan to use GPU wise. If your older like myself, then wanting a 120Mhz or more display to really 'define' the combat area requires you to seek a NVidia solution. If you want instead the capability (say when your sleeping or when not gaming) to 'make money' on your PC rig, you should invest in AMD GPUs then run some Litecoin or such to 'mine' for E-Coins.
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February 3, 2014 5:07:07 PM

DarkSable said:
Bear in mind that the 8 core FX chips, just like the "8-thread" i7s, aren't actually 8 cores. In the case of AMD's FX chips, they're four modules, and while each module has two double-precision compute units (which they're calling cores), they have to share a single floating-point SKU. That means that for gaming, an 8-core FX 8350 is really just a quad core.


The fact of the matter is that the FX-8xxx series do in fact have 8 physical cores. Therefore, it is a "true" 8 core CPU. The fact that each pair of CPUs in each module share the same FPU is besides the point to the heart of the question at the most basic level. Does the fact that they share the same FPU limit the performance? Yes, if both CPUs need to perform floating point calcs, then one core must wait for the other core to finish before it can use the FPU's services.

When it comes to games the Core i5 CPUs starting with the Ivy Bridge generation (and perhaps the Sandy Bridge generation) does dominate the gaming performance charts over the FX-8xxx. All benchmarks I have seen shows that the Intel does provide better performance. The only game that may perform better with the FX-8350 is Dirt 3 from what I recall. I will state that "better" is a relative term. The difference between say the FX-8350 and an i5-4670k at stock speed may be a margin 1 FPS in games that are not very CPU demanding like Bioshock Infinite. In games that are more CPU intensive, the difference could be 5 FPS to 10 FPS with Intel. That is a very general state since the actual performance difference is specific to each game. Skyrim is an exception to the rule (I am sure there are other games as well) where is significant performance difference between the Core i5 and FX-8350. I am talking about at least a 20% increase in performance. For whatever reason the 6 core Sandy Bridge-E CPUs does exceptionally well in Skyrim meaning at least 30% difference even though most benchmarks have shown that Skyrim only uses 2 cores. Though some people say it can use up to 3 cores sometimes.
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February 3, 2014 5:56:03 PM

DarkSable said:
Bear in mind that the 8 core FX chips, just like the "8-thread" i7s, aren't actually 8 cores. In the case of AMD's FX chips, they're four modules, and while each module has two double-precision compute units (which they're calling cores), they have to share a single floating-point SKU. That means that for gaming, an 8-core FX 8350 is really just a quad core. Same thing with hyperthreading on the i7, which only applies to double-precision calculations.

Also, bear in mind that most games are console ports, and most of those are lucky to be dual-threaded. We're only going to see quad-threading become the norm when most users have quad core chips. (More than 60% have dual cores, right now... and that's the people who use steam.) You don't need anything more than a quad core - which means it comes down to whether you want the faster i5-4670k, a locked i5, or the cheaper and unlocked, but slower, 8350.


Sorry I need to disagree, just as the Mod did. BF4, AC3, and other 2013 titles have been demonstrated on the same PC build (be it Intel or AMD) more cores / threads (AMD/Intel) makes substantial differences, and infact in the case of BF4 had earned the reputation of CPU HOG where there is a significant difference in performance even with the same GPU, PSU, OS, RAM of a FX as compared to a iCore. Basically put, the Hyperthreading solution solves and outperforms the AMD 'more core' answer with less cores and less 'work', and AMD has not (to date) provided a equal competitor (sadly :(  ).

Every chart shows i7 at the top, every chart shows the 'next' challenger was FX-8xxx or i5 (that is the TOP CLASS AMD verses the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Intel) then i3 or FX-6, until Haswell was released. Now the charts art top heavy with i7/i5 with i3 creeping up behind 'barely' the FX-8xxx and at CES / E3 - AMD response was : APU (????WTH!) for tablets and 'low end, low cost, low power solutions' (aka cheapo 'disposable' PCs).

I think, unless something is in the labs as we speak, AMD has given into Intel at this point because it has listened to the software makers and console makers (Sony & Microsoft) whom have stated the NexGen platforms will be SaaS solutions, including gaming (http://www.gamespot.com/articles/sony-unveils-playstati... ) where the servers are doing the 'game/application processing' and ONLY streaming 'video' to the 'device' (be it a tablet, laptop, desktop, even smartphone) that doesnt' matter about 'hardware' anymore (there is like a NexGen FPS I seen that includes a 'operational view' using your tablet while your squad mates play First Person view, as a support and 'eyes in the sky' mission aid).

In fact Windows 9 is actually supposed to be based mainly from the MS servers with a 'small footprint' on the 'computing device' and backup (save) all data to MS servers.
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February 3, 2014 6:05:38 PM

jaguarskx said:

The fact of the matter is that the FX-8xxx series do in fact have 8 physical cores. Therefore, it is a "true" 8 core CPU. The fact that each pair of CPUs in each module share the same FPU is besides the point to the heart of the question at the most basic level. Does the fact that they share the same FPU limit the performance? Yes, if both CPUs need to perform floating point calcs, then one core must wait for the other core to finish before it can use the FPU's services.


there is more to a cpu core than just logical processing cores. like, the cache (which is shared), a floating point core (which is shared) a decoder (which is shared). See a pattern yet? They aren't true 8 core cpus. The hex core extreme i7s are an example of a true 6 core cpu. the FX 6300 is not. I'm not a huge intel fan, but disinformation is disinformation. Saying that a logical core = cpu core is flat out wrong.
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February 3, 2014 6:13:18 PM

on topic, I'd go with intel if I were you. AMD has pretty much given up on the FX line so the 8350 is sadly as good as its going to get (unless you wanna go for the lol 9000s). meanwhile broadwell (haswell's successor) is said to be skipping desktops entirely so no matter what you'd have to upgrade your motherboard if you wanted to upgrade later on.

the real reason to go with intel is that like i said, the 8350 is as good as its going to get from AMD.... and it is already what, 2 years old? haswell is quite a bit better than it and when new graphics cards keep coming out, that gap is going to be very apparent. With no PCIe 3.0 support the AMDs will likely start bottlenecking high end graphics cards sooner. The only thing the 8350 really has on haswell is that it will get a bigger boost from mantel IF mantel gets widely adopted (don't hold your breath).
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February 3, 2014 8:50:35 PM

Tom Tancredi said:
Sorry I need to disagree, just as the Mod did. BF4, AC3, and other 2013 titles have been demonstrated on the same PC build (be it Intel or AMD) more cores / threads (AMD/Intel) makes substantial differences, and infact in the case of BF4 had earned the reputation of CPU HOG where there is a significant difference in performance even with the same GPU, PSU, OS, RAM of a FX as compared to a iCore. Basically put, the Hyperthreading solution solves and outperforms the AMD 'more core' answer with less cores and less 'work', and AMD has not (to date) provided a equal competitor (sadly :(  )


...you guys need to read what I'm saying better. I wasn't by any means saying that the i7 and the FX 8350 were of the same class performance... all I was saying as that neither of them are true octo-cores, meaning every thread is a separate core that can all be applied on the same or different tasks at once. Jagwar, you're dead wrong about the FX chip - it doesn't entirely have 8 physical cores, because a core should incorporate the ability to do floating point calculations without having to wait on another core doing the same thing. Games are almost entirely floating point calculations, NOT double-precision calculations.

Tom, read the last sentence of the paragraph above - there are about five games that use hyperthreading (and some of them are faster with hyperthreading turned OFF), and of those that do, they gain a very small % fps boost. This is not likely to change any time in the future, because properly coded games aren't making enough calculations that have to be ultra-precise to make any difference. $100 to gain at most 5% improvement in a half-dozen games is nonsensical, and the people saying you should buy an i7 are, as far as I've ever seen, mostly people who bought one themselves and are trying to reassure themselves that they didn't waste their money.

I don't know what your cloud point is, but that's never going to be adopted as it is. Cloud services do NOT have the internet infrastructure behind them to make them remotely feasible in the US, their data security depends entirely on the parent company (which as we've seen is horrible), and businesses, which dictate the market, are ALWAYS going to want company data stored locally and will always have a need for high-end workstations.

Ethereal, the only place that I can find that's saying that broadwell is going to be skipping the desktops is Fudzilla - do you have that from another source as well?
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February 3, 2014 8:53:07 PM

If you google for "battlefield 4 with hyperthreading on and off," you get a lot of sources like this one showing that the game will actually perform BETTER with no hyperthreading than with it on.
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February 3, 2014 9:02:36 PM

DarkSable said:
If you google for "battlefield 4 with hyperthreading on and off," you get a lot of sources like this one showing that the game will actually perform BETTER with no hyperthreading than with it on.


No need to argue. All that's unimportant. Going with i7-4770k with a GTX 770 OC'd and super cooled. Thanks guys.
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