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I7 920 vs Dual QC Opteron 2376

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May 5, 2009 11:34:33 PM

I am interested in making a build and have a random if not odd question:

I've been hearing about the great performance of the i7's, and seeing that the 920 offers a decent cost of entry I was looking at that. But, stumbling across the new Opterons made me curious.

What would be better in overall raw power, for Handbrake, and moderate gaming (looking at my single 4870):

Single i7 920 2.66 w/ Hyper Threading
or (2) Quad Opteron 2.3 w/ 8 logical cores

Thanks!

More about : 920 dual opteron 2376

a c 83 à CPUs
May 6, 2009 1:25:25 AM

Games rarely take advantage of more than 2 cores, which explains why the E8X00 series of C2D tend to stay near the top on gaming benchmarks. The I7 with higher clock would beat out the opterons simply for that reason. Along with that dual socket boards create latency between the processors and just won't work well for gaming.

However, I will confidently say that the opterons offer more raw performance, but that would only be relevant to 3ds max and other programs that would use all 8 threads to their full potential.
a c 99 à CPUs
May 6, 2009 3:22:16 AM

nater82 said:
I am interested in making a build and have a random if not odd question:

I've been hearing about the great performance of the i7's, and seeing that the 920 offers a decent cost of entry I was looking at that. But, stumbling across the new Opterons made me curious.

What would be better in overall raw power, for Handbrake, and moderate gaming (looking at my single 4870):

Single i7 920 2.66 w/ Hyper Threading
or (2) Quad Opteron 2.3 w/ 8 logical cores

Thanks!


I can answer two of those questions pretty easily. The Opterons will be faster for any heavily-multithreaded programs like Handbrake as eight real cores are faster than four real cores and then four virtual (HyperThreaded) cores. The Core i7 will be better at gaming as games tend to use only two to three cores but love clock speed and low memory latency. The extra cores in the dual Opteron setup will just sit idle and not help any while the lower clock speed and higher-latency registered memory will be a liability. However, a 2.3 GHz Opteron setup will be more than fine to play games with as most game performance depends on what GPU you have rather than what CPU you have. The one that is harder to answer is which one has more overall power, as power depends on what you run. Basically, the Opterons will be faster on anything that has 5-6 or more threads, while the Core i7 will be faster in applications that have fewer threads.

The units are pretty different in their capabilities in more ways than just the number of cores, though. The dual Opteron setup can handle quite a bit more RAM than the Core i7 setup, plus it is designed to be VERY stable since it's a server platform. You also may find different sets of I/O slots, such as PCI-X and lots of PCIe x8 slots on the Opteron boards, versus PCIe x16 and PCI slots on the Core i7 boards. The Core i7 can be overclocked on every single-socket LGA1366 motherboard made to date, while overclocking features on dual-socket servers like the Opterons and Xeons are very uncommon. You just need to decide what would be more amenable to your situation.

If it helps you any, if my budget permits, I will be getting a dual-socket workstation as my next machine. I use a lot of cores and RAM in several of my tasks. My machine MUST be absolutely stable, even if that means I sacrifice a little bit of performance to do so. I occasionally play games, but since I'm on Linux, they tend to be a bit lighter on my system (my socket 939 X2 4200+ at stock with a Radeon HD 3850 and a 2048x1152 monitor is usually good for 60-150 FPS in the games I play.) I also don't do the whole benchmark scene. A server setup like a dual Opteron machine would be the best fit for me and if that usage scenario sounds familiar to you, it may be better than a single-socket machine like the Core i7 for you, too.
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May 6, 2009 3:09:04 PM

I really don't see the point on buying a system with 2 processors when the games are barely using 4 cores. When we talk about Handbrake, the additional processors will help but the difference will not be too big really. Also i7 option is more flexible from many points of view.
My suggestion is to go with i7.
May 6, 2009 5:13:27 PM

Thanks for the advice guys, much appreciated. Going with the i7 thanks to your suggestions.
As a "Thank you", and because I just have it lying around the house, I have a 3850 512MB up for grabs if anyone wants it (I'll give it to anyone that posted a reply here, not to some random TH member.) Thanks again!
a c 99 à CPUs
May 6, 2009 7:08:17 PM

nater82 said:
Thanks for the advice guys, much appreciated. Going with the i7 thanks to your suggestions.
As a "Thank you", and because I just have it lying around the house, I have a 3850 512MB up for grabs if anyone wants it (I'll give it to anyone that posted a reply here, not to some random TH member.) Thanks again!


The i7 ought to work pretty well for your uses, plus it is less expensive than a dual-Opteron setup. I think you chose well.

By the way, is that Radeon HD 3850 512 MB an AGP unit? If it is, I would love to have it since my Socket A HTPC is stuck using a very cheap old PCI graphics card since okay AGP GPUs are very expensive nowdays.
June 24, 2009 2:54:04 AM

This is a great thread.

I have some core i7 setups (each 12GB ddr3) where I'd like to boot into fedora, then start VMware freebie VMs running a really small linux distro for distributed number crunching. These issues have come up -

I probably can only run one VM per core (i.e. not two VMs per core, via hyperthreading). Based on what I've read here and elsewhere, in this scenario, I expect that I need one core to run the main fedora OS kernel, and can use each remaining core (3) for each VM that I start, basically giving me 4 virtual linux boxes. Frankly, this seems strange as I am routinely running 7 CPU-intensive tasks simultaneously (each uses 100% CPU per thread for a period of hours) on fc10 while still enjoying firefox, email, etc on an off-the-shelf i7 920 nw/ 12GB ram. I wonder what'd happen if I ran a VM inside another VM on an i7...

I will need the VMs to run from a hard disk, so will I be punished for using one partitioned SSD hard drive (fast one; read 200mb/s write 100mb/s) for all kernels? I'd partition the SSD into primary partitions; one for each kernel. Each process would really only need the HD to load the kernel into memory; I'm going to use MOSIX for this so everything is going to be passed between memory via ethernet.

!