Dual XEON's vs. Pentium-D


First I want to say that I have about 1 day to make a decision. I am a CAD Manager and we use Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 2.0 3D Software. For those who are not familiar with it. It's one of the most powerful 3D applications in the market.

Here is my situation. I have to choose Dell for our company because that's what our company decided on sticking with. We are a Dell house.

So no AMD comparisons please. AMD is faster but I can't choose it at this time. I am about to order 15 CAD Workstations.

I need to know if I should go with the latest Dual XEON's, or the Pentium D processor.

Here is the specifications of what I am thinking of getting.

Dell Precision 670
Dual 3.0 GHz, XEON Processor w/ 2MB L2 Cache, 800 FSB
nVidia Quadro FX 1400, 128MB Dual VGA or DVI
2GB, DDR2 ECC SDRAM Memory, 400MHz, 2X1GB

I am getting 15 of them at once. The title of this thread is what I am seeking here. Is the new Dual XEON's with PCI-Express, DDR2 and 800FSB better than a Pentium D @ 3.0 GHz.

Once I get feedback from you guys on this. I will order them.

It's not my money, so I don't care about price and it's not my choice to go with Intel or AMD. I must go with Dell and Intel at this point. Does anyone know if the extra money for the Dual XEON's will be worth it or is the Pentium D good enough.

We do high end 3D modeling, surfacing, assemblies and animation. We also run Stress Analysis on our 3D models and use 3D Laser Scanning technology to scan a product and bring in Polygon models with Millions of Triangles that we Reverse Engineer into 3D Solid Models.

Thanks for any advice. I will be stuck with my choice for about 3 years.

16 answers Last reply
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  1. If you are not budget contrained get the Precision 670 with a pair of dual core Xeons. High end CAD and CFD applications are usually very thread optimized and will take advantage of all that horsepower.

    I also have used ProE in the past and I recommend getting the best CAD optimized graphics solution they offer.
  2. Well,
    The 670's are XEON only with a choice of dual single cores or dual 2.8 dual cores. If the software your using is that CPU intensive and $$ is no object, twin dual core 2.8 Xeon's would be the way to go as long as they are 800FSB as well. The PD's are only available on the 380 and the problem here is they don't tell you what chipset they are using and if it will maximize whatever cpu choice you make. You could spend more and not see the performance increase you desire.

    You need to narrow your choices and get specific with what your thinking as well. Are we talking twin dual core Xeon's or one? Are two single cores what you have in mind and is that what you would compare to a single dual core PD? The 380 shows that you have a choice between 800 series and the 900 series PD's. Forget about the 800's. You should look to compare price/ performance between the Xeon's and 900 series PD's.

    If you are comparing a single 900 series PD and a 2.8 dual core Xeon, go with the 900 series PD. The MP Xeon's are still only 90nm if i'm not mistaken and according to intel's website where as the 900's are 65nm. Again, the only draw back may be the chipset dell uses. Is this a problem? Yes if your looking for the best match to wahtever CPU you choose and i don't believe they tell what the chipset is. I personally know of a case where dell coupled a P4 EE CPU with an 865p chipset rather than the 875 in an XPS machine. Poor choice in a top of the line rig, IMHO.

    EDIT: After re-reading your post I see you were looking at using 2x3.0 Xeon's and upon doing a little research it appears those would/should use the E7525 chipset. If $$ isn't an issue, why not 2x2.8 Xeon dual cores? They do only have a 1MB L2 cache per core but you will have 4 cores. Or, 1 dual core 2.8 Xeon now and another in the future if needed?
  3. I appreciate all the replies I have recieved up to this point.

    After further investigation. I realize that with CAD Software the important thing to look at is the Cache.

    I looked at the Pro/ENGINEER bench mark test and similar CPU's showed great difference in speed when the Cache was larger.

    The Dual (Single) XEON workstation I am considering is a Certified Workstations for Pro/ENGINEER. It's listed on the PTC website who makes Pro/ENGINEER.

    I also noticed that the Dual XEON's I am considering are the upgraded versions from previous XEON's. They have 2MB/Cache per CPU. The Pentim D shares it's cache between cores and does not have as large of a cache as the XEON's.

    The new XEON's are EMT64. Extended Memory Technology, using a larger FSB 800 compared to previous generation XEON's that used only 400. The new XEON's also use DDR2 memory and PCI-Express.

    I got some feed back from other Pro/ENGINEER users that run the new XEON's and they claim their powerhouses and reliable. A couple of them warned me about the Pentium D due to the Cache size compared to the XEON's.

    Looks like the configuration I have is a solid one and Certified by PTC. I am currently typing this message on a DELL Precision 380 with a Pentium D 3.0GHz Dual Core CPU, 2 Gig of RAM and a nVidia GeForce FX1400.

    The system can run the software just fine, so I guess the Dual XEON's should be a good choice.

    Thanks for all the feedback. You guys are great.
  4. Quote:
    The Pentim D shares it's cache between cores and does not have as large of a cache as the XEON's.

    The PD 900 series DO have 2MB L2 cache PER core! Your comparing to the 800 series which are the smithfield core, 90nm, and only 1Mb L2 cache per core. Which PD are you using on the dell 380. Most likely it's an 830 and not the 65nm, 2Mb L2 cache per core, greatly improved presler core 930. I highly recommend you do the research for yourself @ Intel's WS.
    It's unfortunate that you must choose and order now as the up and coming Conroe core set for release in Sept. may be the best choice of all.
  5. I don't have personal experience with the current Xeon's so I can't contradict from first-hand what your engineer friends have said. However, I can tell you that from a theoretical perspective a Xeon system would convey no advantage. I've already responded to a similar question in another thread but I'll do it again here.

    The problem with the Xeon DP platform is that both processors share a 800MHz FSB. That means of course means that no matter what two single core processors you pick your still limited to the 800MHz FSB. With the 800MHz FSB limit, a Xeon DP setup should perform the same as a Presler dual core setup as it's irrelevent whether two cores are on separate sockets in the case of Xeon or in the same socket in the case of a 9xx Presler. In fact, a Presler dual core setup would perform faster because you are allowed to use faster memory, officially up to DDR2 667, compared to DDR2 400 for Xeon. You wouldn't benefit from ECC and registered memory anyways which the Xeons use. As CustomPCz already mentioned, the Xeons do not have any advantage in cache as the 9xx all have 2MB per core also.

    The other Xeon DP option is of course dual cores giving you 4 physical cores. While this may sound beneficial, you are once again still limited to the 800MHz FSB. With each core only receiving 200MHz of memory bandwidth, they would be starved preventing them from performing at their full potential anyways. As well, the only dual core Xeon out right now for DP setups is the 2.8GHz Paxville. The concern of Xeon setups is that using 2 separate sockets increases power consumption compared to a single socket dual core solution, and Paxville is particularly inefficient.

    My recommendation is for you to get a Precision 380 setup. Because it's single socket, you actually get more for the same money and so should get a system with the Pentium Extreme Edition 955. You should see definite speed improvements just from the clock speed which would be 3.73GHz per core compared to the 3GHz for the Xeon setup. The major advantage is actually not in clock speed, but the FSB which is wider at 1066MHz allowing the processor to perform closer to it's full potential. As well, the Precision 380 supports DDR2 667 memory which is faster than the DDR2 400 ram on the Xeon. The 955EE also has 2MB of cache per core like the Xeons and also has HT capability. From what I can see the Precision 380 with a 955EE is the better option since it'll offer faster performance for a lower price and as an added bonus, it should also consume less power.
  6. MAN......


    You guys are just freaking smart. lol

    Now I have to go and make sure what price I can get for the Pentium D 9xx series.


    I still have time since our order won't go in until this coming Monday. Let me setup a configuration with the 9XX series PD and see how high I can go in the CPU Clockspeed and the RAM speed.

    If they have 2MB dedicated to each core, I should be good to go. I also need to make sure their EMT64 wich I am almost 100% sure they are.

    Hey, You guys are great, but seriuosly. You guys are too freaking smart for your own good. LOL

    Just kidding of course.

    Thanks again GURU's. You guys are the best.
  7. I know this will make things even more complicated for you, but if you are waiting until May, Xeon may be a decent choice once again. Intel is set to release a new Xeon DP platform revolving around the dual core Dempsey in a few weeks. The new platform will utilize 2 1066MHz FSBs along with quad channel memory providing nearly 3 times the FSB bandwidth and nearly 3 times the memory bandwidth. It will be available with processors up to 3.73GHz so it'll be able to support 2 Extreme Editions for 8 logical cores without FSB conflicts. Price is obviously a concern although it's supposed to be a line-replacement for the current Xeons at their price points.

    You can read more about it here.

    ExcaliberPC already lists them, but they're not in stock yet.
  8. Can't help it, have to throw a monkey wrench into this.... The P4 Extreme is REALLY Xeon cpus renamed and changed for the P4 sockets. For some fun, a Pentium M is really a P3 cpu (20% faster than a P4 at the same speed).
  9. Actually, the 3.73GHz P4 Extreme Edition was based of the Prescott 2M core like the rest of the 6x0 series and so is not a Xeon on a P4 socket. Besides, we are talking about the Pentium Extreme Edition which are dual core processors. 840EE and 955EE are based on Smithfield and Presler which are a desktop design. The current dual core Xeons are Paxville based and are completely different. The next generation Xeon, Dempsey is actually based off the desktop Presler and not the other way around.
  10. Quote:
    Putting registered+ECC RAM into the P-D system is my recommended setup for a CAD workstation.

    You're crazy.. I would stay away from running ECC on a CAD machine unless time was not a factor. ECC systems running CAD can run, on average, 10-20% slower than a similar system without ECC.
  11. I have a similar problem : definitely Dell, but which one?

    PERSONAL BACKGROUND : Electrical Engineer (Tranmission Lines, Westinghouse), University Lecturer (Operations Research), Emeritus Lecturer (Numerical Algorithms).

    HARDWARE BACKGROUND : CDC 6600 (1968), DEC 2020, SuperBrain (2MHz),..., Dell Optiplex 200 MHz Pro, Dell Precision WS 300?, and my current machine (since retirement Sep 2000), a Dell Precision WS 620, PIII Xeon 800MHz, 640MB ram, 18 + 36 GB Hitachi SCSI 10000rpm HD, 20" LCD Dell monitor, running Windows 2000.

    SOFTWARE BACKGROUND : Fortran 66-90, Lisp 1973-Allegro, Pascal (??, TP2-TP6, TMT), Oberon, Matlab V0 to V7.

    CURRENT USE : Lots of Matlab for teaching and testing, Fortran+BLAS Kernels for evaluation and testing, a little Pascal, Lisp, wxMaxima, Maple, etc. Software evaluation and testing, both source code and binaries (Windows only), and a lot of mathematical typesetting using TeX, plotting, etc. I use the Internet daily (3 to 5 hrs) over a dial-up 56K line.

    PROBLEM : I'll be 61 in 2 weeks' time and I'm about to buy, what will probably be, the last computer of my life. I have between $5000 to $8000 to spend on a Dell. Given the requirements above, what should I do?

    I would appreciate any advice on this. Thank you.
  12. Actually, Dell's are certified workstations and the software that I use also cetifies Dell.

    Their very powerful and I can get a great workstation for about $3,000.

    If I built one myself, it would not be certified and will void our support for the software.

    We chose to go with Pentium D 950's but it may not be Dell at this point. We are looking at two other certified systems.
  13. Quote:
    We chose to go with Pentium D 950's but it may not be Dell at this point. We are looking at two other certified systems.

    do the other 2 sell AMD opterons?
  14. Only one does. IBM.

    The other is a specailized company that makes Workstations for CAD only and are also certified by the company that makes the software. They only use Intel and nVidia as their partners.

    What should I be comparing Pentium D 950 @ 3.4GHz too? What is the comparable processor on the AMD camp. Then I can have IBM quote us with both.

  15. I think you did good by going with Pentium D 950 :D
  16. Sorry for the delay in replying. For 'technical' reasons I have been offline.

    My reason for buying Dell is that they are made here in Ireland and the customer service is good. Also, I have 3 Dell workstations and never had any trouble.

    You say that HP and Dell don't make $4000 machines that fit my requirements. Is there something special about my requirements?
    Do Dell or HP have a $8000 machine that would fit my requirements?

    I'm intrigued by the 'build your own' possibility. The last time I built my own was a Dynaco Stereo sytem in Pittsburgh 1969. That was easy. Just follow a very good instruction manual and know how to solder. Also, I was more daring then.

    Could you point me to where I could find more information on building a machine for my requirements.


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