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Single or Dual setup with Windows XP?

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Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
December 21, 2001 3:25:12 AM

I'm just about to upgrade to an Athlon 1900+ system (Soyo Dragon Plus!, 512 DDR), and I began thinking about a dual processor setup. Now that Windows XP is out, I don't know this for a fact, but I would guess that the Windows NT kernal in XP will actually utilize 2 processors. So for things such as games that require a lot of CPU, and video cards that thrive on CPU, wouldn't it make sense to get something like a dual 1400+ system instead of a single 1900+ system? I know dual 1400+ does not equal 2800+, but it sure might beat a 1900+.

Anyone know this for sure? Also, any drawbacks such as some software being incompatible with a dual processor system? Is software completely shielded from the dual CPU setup?

My inquiring mind would like to know.

Ron
Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
December 21, 2001 4:41:33 AM

Hmmmm, I figured someone would have a thought on this. It seems like a great idea, as long as there aren't hidden incompatabilities.

Ron
December 21, 2001 6:08:18 AM

Quote:
I know dual 1400+ does not equal 2800+, but it sure might beat a 1900+.

That's one of the most common misconceptions about dual setups. Dual 1400+ does NOT mean it's faster than a 1900+ in all but the most specifically written SMP programs. For most users with a dual setup, the second processor will be in idle mode more than 90% of the time. Even SMP games like Quake III will only have marginal benifits from dual processors. If you're using Photoshop or other SMP program to doing some heavy digital image, video, or audio editing that are like a gig large, then you'll benifit more from a dual setup than a single one. Otherwise, don't bother. Just get the 1900+ and use the extra money you save to buy a better graphics card.

See a real naked pic of Britney Spears <A HREF="http://www.geocities.com/stick_e_mouse" target="_new">here</A>!!!
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December 21, 2001 1:21:09 PM

i like the idea of dual 1800+ running dual 'cure for cancer' number crunching tasks
:) 

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December 22, 2001 1:02:46 AM

In most cases dual 1800+ cpus will run slower than a single 1800+.
Most programs are only written for one CPU so when you run that program with two most of the time you loose performance, but for things that are written for SMP operation two CPUs will give you a nice boost. If you do any digital image, video, or audio rendering two CPUs is probably better than one. For a simple home user one CPU is the way to go, spend the extra money on two hard drives instead of one and run them RAID-0, or buy more ram. Upgrades that would benefit a home user/enthusiast more than a graphics artist. Unless you simply want bragging rights :smile:

Welcome to the end of your life Mr. Intel CPU. Don't worry I promise its going to hurt.
Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
December 22, 2001 3:47:04 AM

Ok, that's what I was wondering. I know that a single threaded process can't be split over different processors, but I wasn't sure if Windows NT/XP/2000 was smart enough to process various tasks in parallel. Such as hard disk requests with one CPU and number crunching with another. Back in the day (old man alert! ;) ), Vax's used to perform this type of parallel multi-tasking.

But anyhow, I'll be pretty set it seems. Going to go with a Soyo Dragon Plus, Athlon XP 1900+, Overclocked Geforce TI200, 512meg DDR DRAM for my upgrade. I already have a 45 gig IBM 75GXP which is very fast (not WD 1000gig fast but it'll do ;) ), and all my CD-ROM/peripherals on either SCSI or USB.

I thought about Raid 0, since the Soyo has a Promise chip onboard, but I wonder if the performance advantage is worth the extra bucks? Although, another 45 gig hard disk like mine costs aroung $150 which is insanly cheap. Is it that much of a difference you think?

Ron
December 22, 2001 4:22:42 AM

Dual CPU will not be slower than one CPU. If a program does not use Dual processor it will just run with one CPU and the other one will set idle. That is it no proformance lost.
December 28, 2001 1:34:25 PM

WinXP Home edition only supports a single CPU. WinXP Pro does support dual CPU's though. Yes, your thoughts on the OS dividing some tasks and processes across the multiple CPU's are more or less correct.

If you are running a single threaded application, the OS will decide which CPU to assign it to. So the single new thread may get assigned to CPU2 while the OS stuff and I/O requests still run on CPU1. This can enhance performance a bit. But there is also a small amount of performance lost because the OS has to manage what tasks it has assigned across the multiple processors.

I have a quite rather old dual Pentium 166MHz system (Tyan Tomcat IIID) that has had WinNT 3.51, WinNT 4.0, and Win2K on it during its life. It still purrs like a kitten as a file server and SETI@Home server. I encountered several application that would display erradic behaviour or simple not work at all on a dual CPU system. This problem should (in theory) start to diminish as developers write code for the Win2K & WinXP standards, but its still out there.

For example, before I moved to Win2K I downloaded SyGate's proxy server / cable modem sharing application so I could share my cable modem off of my WinNT 4 server. Deep within one of the technical support readme.txt files there is a single comment that the application does not properly function on multiple CPU systems. The application's website clearly states it runs fin on WinNT4. Well it worked fine unless I put a good sized load on it, such as downloading mass quantities of binaries via NNTP. Then the application would blow up and Blue Screen the entire system.

In summary, I would have to agree with the other posts. Unless you have a clear need for additional CPU power for a particular application that thrives on multiple-CPU's (AutoCAD, PhotoShop, 3DMax, MPEG encoding) I would advise that you dump the money you would have spent on the dual-mobo and 2nd CPU into the system. The extra $300 or so that you save would buy a pretty phat video card, or a pretty large chunk of RAM. Either of which will make a single CPU system quite very happy.

-JasonSw2
December 28, 2001 2:20:06 PM

No. Dual CPU motherboards generally do not <<<Require>>> ECC memory. They will work quite happily with standard memory. its the kind of work most often performed on a dual CPU rig (being important stuff, and/or error sensitive) that drives the user(s) to install ECC memory to ensure that their data integrity is never comprimised (without their knowledge at least).

For example if I were the final C++ code developer for something like Netscape.exe and my rig were a dual-CPU system since thousands of customers will be using that .exe program, and a whole lot is riding on the accuracy of my work, I would definatly add the expense of ECC RAM. If the final .exe were compiled with a single bit error in it somewhere (which would be theoretically possible with standard non-ECC, non-parity SDRAM) who knows what kind of quality issues could result.

So, its not a requirement of the motherboard, it the requirement of the user in most cases.

My Dual P-166 rig is chocked full of whatever 72-pin SIMMS I would find. Some EDO, some non-EDO some 60ns and some 70ns sticks. That was the cool thing about the TomCat motherboard. It has 8 SIMM sockets total, for 4 pairs. Lots of flexibility there. Gotta love the old 430HX chipset.

-JasonSw2
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