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Need better performance for single threaded apps

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Last response: in CPUs
September 20, 2008 11:34:28 PM

My system : E6400 CPU clocked at 3200 mhz
4 gigs ram, clocked at 800mhz timings 4/4/4 12
3 separate mechanical hard drives, and the swap file is on it's own drive
Asus p5b
XP 64-bit

I run several applications, such as Adobe Acrobat and a program called SuperMemo that aren't as fast as I would like. Neither program is multi-threaded, so a quad core will NOT help. This computer is over 18 months old, yet I can't find anything on the market that is a significant performance boost. I'm disappointed.

The highest I've seen people safely overclock a quad core is to 3.6 - 4 ghz. That's hardly more than a 20% performance boost for single threaded programs.

Sure, I could get 1066mhz ram....for maybe 5% more performance, if any. I'd have worse timings if I did that, and would need a new motherboard.

Ideas? Do some of the new intel CPU lines offer a significant boost in instructions per clock over the E6400 CPU I already have?

I know that an SSD would probably give me the biggest speedup, but what about CPU performance? Certain tasks are pokey, mainly because the programs I have to use are inefficient. Need more power!

More about : performance single threaded apps

a b à CPUs
September 21, 2008 4:17:36 AM

Your best bet is an E8000 series Core 2 Duo. You could easily take an E8500 and go over 4Ghz w/ an OC, which would be better than your current CPU. I'm running an E8200 @ 3.6Ghz and I can tell my average 7200rpm, 16mb cache HD is slowing me down.
September 21, 2008 4:48:34 AM

Personally I don't think you need to make a jump for another CPU just yet. Penryn would promise 5~10% performance boost, and it will likely overclock further (3.6Ghz), but to spend another 100 bucks or so for about 10~20% is really not necessary.

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a b à CPUs
February 19, 2009 3:18:34 PM

There's currently no technology on the market that will boost singlethreaded applications on multithreaded processors.
If there was,I'd be delighted to know about it!

AMD was developing something like that, or at least told a press release in 2006 they where planning on doing so; but I haven't kept track of how far they have gotten!
a b à CPUs
February 19, 2009 3:28:58 PM

A modern CPU at 3.2GHz is no slouch.

I run an E8500 at 3.8GHz and don't see any problems with Adobe Acrobat. The E8___ CPU's have more cache that will speed them up a little more than just the improvement in clock speed would suggest. Tom's has done tests where they OC'd an E5200 and got it to perform better than a stock E8500, but they had to get significantly more clock speed to do it. My theory was that this was because of the difference in cache.

I have heard people imply that an old OS builds up "stuff" in the registry and whatever, and I have read recommendations to defrag hard drives occasionally. I have always dismissed things like this but my home computer got incredibly slow. I wondered if this was part of the reason, but I had planned to replace it anyway so I never tried any of these tuneup measures.
a b à CPUs
February 19, 2009 3:45:36 PM

There's currently no technology on the market that will boost singlethreaded applications on multithreaded processors.
If there was,I'd be delighted to know about it!

AMD was developing something like that, or at least told a press release in 2006 they where planning on doing so; but I haven't kept track of how far they have gotten!

Hmm, that sounds like the infamous "reverse hyperthreading" that Fuad (?) spouted a few years back, I believe. Supposedly it worked by "ganging" the cores together to form one giant supercore, with 6 or 12 decoders, multiple pipelines, etc etc. However the communications bandwidth would have been such that even the HT crossbar switch couldn't handle the traffic. Certainly it would be nearly impossible to get multiple ops done in one clock cycle, which is what superscalar cores do. At least, not at clock speeds in the GHZ range...

And I never saw any official announcement from AMD on this, merely the Fudzilla posting, much like the "dancing in the aisles" a few months before K10 was released.
a b à CPUs
February 20, 2009 6:44:57 PM

I'd agree!
a 3,8Ghz cpu is about the fastest core you can get for single threaded applications, with limitation the FSB and RAM speed, often lower then 400Mhz.
Best you can buy is a FAST core2duo, or AMD dualcore extreme, and pump it with dual channel 1033Mhz DDR (or overclock it).
I have a core2duo with 533mhz FSB/400Mhz Sodimm ram;an older model.
It has 2x1,66Ghz,and for some games it really acts as a 1,66Ghz.
The only good thing it has is that the ram and FSB is faster then a 1,66Ghz pentium4!

In windows you can allocate your favorite singlethreaded program to core 1, while running all the rest on core 0 (or reverse; via taskmanager).
It should free up little core space.
defragging, and uninstalling/removing programs from memory that are not necessary also is a good idea!
Make sure you install Vista SP1 or XP SP3. in most cases it brings minimal improvements.
You can also disconnect your internet, and disable your firewall/anti virus for the time being; and/or go into overclocking.

you could also buy a creative Audigy soundcard, and a newer image card. should offload some audio/video from your pc (hardware accelerated). and check if your system supports faster RAM.
You also might consider buying an expensive SSD SLC (eg:from Intel) and install on that one your windows and program. You'll probably pay a premium price for all these upgrades though; one must consider to take if he's willing to really get the best.
I think a core2duo extreme system with DDR3, or perhaps a core i7 extreme will outperform singlethreaded applications compared to a 3,8Ghz P4, but cost a LOT!
a b à CPUs
February 20, 2009 9:23:19 PM

Habeed - You pretty much answered your own question. A 20% boost in performance is about as good as it is going to get.
a b à CPUs
February 21, 2009 3:14:33 AM

Is there a possibility that there is something wrong with your current system? Have you run benchmarks on it, even a simple one like SuperPi 1.5?
December 16, 2009 4:29:42 PM

sorry in bringing alive an old thread.

But I agree with the OP, I have just upgraded to windows 7 on my core2duo 6420 and have noticed a very annoying problem.

I am seeing what I consider processing lag, meaning I have to wait for the processor for various tasks, examples are stuttering web pages when scrolling, mirc really struggling to scroll, stuttering flash video, creative audio console slow at doing stuff.

In all these cases I am seeing either 50% cpu saturation (for a single threaded app this is full saturation) or close to full saturation. Windows 7 for whatever reason has made cpu's less effiencient I expect mainly because now legacy 2D gdi stuff is reworked and is slower than XP. Of course review sites dont notice this as they all concentrate on 3D and game performance.

So I find myself now in a situation where various desktop apps lag, and modern versions of these apps such as outlook 2010 and IE8 do not use multithreading, as to why they dont I have no idea, only the developers know why. This means an app will either use 100% of one core and leave the other idle or use 50% of each of the 2 cores. So its not use me buying a quad core cpu as I am getting little net gain for these apps.

So the crunch point of my problem is that intel is strengtheing multi core stuff eg. introducing quad core with hyper threading on i7 but I am not seeing real world clock speed increases which help single threaded apps, the reality of the situation is for desktop usage single thread is still king, easily 90%+ of apps do not utilise multi threading. Multi cores kick ass for servers but for desktops they typically redundant unless for specific usage patterns such as gaming and encoding. So modern cpus whilst great on paper for real world usage dont seem too hit. My amd 64 x2 5600+ is noticebly twice as fast as my core2duo but on paper that shouldnt be the case.