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CPU development slowing?

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May 30, 2009 9:17:33 PM

Is it just me, or has the development of CPU been slowing down quite a bit?

My first computer was an AMD at 950Mhz, I don't know the model. I got that in 2002.

Then 3 years later I bought another computer, which had a Pentium 4 @ 2.8Ghz. The P4 was roughly 3 times faster than my old AMD.

Then 3 years later, I bought another computer. This time it was loaded with a Q6600. With an x264 test between the P4 and the Q6600, the latter was about 6-7 time faster!

Fast forwarding to present, which is more than a year from the time I bought my current computer, and I think more than 1.5 years since the Q6600 dropped to $266. 1.5 years later, the i7-920 is the "mainstream" CPU (in terms of price), and it is not significantly faster than my Q6600. It is about 60% faster than my Q6600 with x264. Consumer 6 core CPU (I'm not even talking about mainstream prices for 6 core CPUs) aren't even in near sight. Since I buy a new computer every 3 years, am I not going to see mainstream CPUs at least 3x faster than my Q6600? Should I slow down my speed of computer replacement this year?

I've heard of something that silicon based CPUs will reach physical limits soon. Is that part of the reason why CPU development is slowing?
a c 83 à CPUs
May 30, 2009 11:06:10 PM

I7 should be more than 60% faster than a Q6600 clock for clock in a well multithreaded environment, at least theoretically.

We're actually at a point where software development is holding us back, most software can't use more than 2 cores which renders the I7 a small upgrade over a C2D for a lot of people because they can't use all 8 logical cores. Our current hard drives are also a bottleneck, the last few upgrades I've done have been unable to make windows feel any more fluid or snappier, simply because my hard drive is a bottleneck and I can't escape the load times.

Look at the server side where the processing power is actually fully utilized, I7 based servers are much faster than C2Q based servers.
May 30, 2009 11:38:19 PM

x264 can take as many cores as you have (well, no, I think it caps at 128 threads). x264 has specific Nehalem optimization codes. The developers claim it has 40% improvement over Penryn clock for clock. So 60% isn't a bad estimate.

I plan to get an SSD for my next computer for the exact same reason you stated.

I think i7s are faster for server work because of the memory controller (or whatever it is called). i7s are fantastic, but they're definitely not trashing the C2Qs.
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a b à CPUs
May 31, 2009 1:46:52 AM

Well, definitely wait 1-2 years and you can test drive 8 core Westmere.
a b à CPUs
May 31, 2009 1:22:55 PM

amdfangirl said:
Well, definitely wait 1-2 years and you can test drive 8 core Westmere.

Nehalem EX 8 Cores should be available sooner than that for those with more money than patience.
a b à CPUs
May 31, 2009 6:20:18 PM

Mousemonkey said:
Nehalem EX 8 Cores should be available sooner than that for those with more money than patience.


I think she meant the 6-core desktop variant of Westmere, which Intel says due 1H2010. The 8-core EX will be out this fall, IIRC and Intel doesn't bring it forward to counteract Istanbul. Most likely they won't be cheap by any means.

To the OP: I think both Intel and AMD realized about 6 years ago that bumping up CPU speeds is not the ideal way to get more work done, hence they went wider (3 and 4-issue core designs), smarter (better OoO execution, better cache algorithms) and deeper (more cores, hyperthreading in Intel's case). High clocks usually means high power consumption and heat. Intel's P4 design used a long, skinny pipeline that they could clock the bejeebus out of, but stumbled badly when it mispredicted a speculative branch, sorta like having a bullet train that goes down a straight track really really fast, but ain't too nimble when changing directions.
May 31, 2009 7:38:36 PM

Why is it not a good idea to have one extremely fast core instead of 4 slower cores?

Adding cores is not the way to go in the future IMO. Some jobs are simply not embarassingly parallel. Even in video encoding, once you use too many threads, like 16, you start losing quality as you increase the number of threads.

Another example from video. As you have more advanced video formats, multithread decoding is very difficult (because the nature of the way the video is encoded for compression efficiency sake). I was watching a 2160p H.264 video a few days ago (280mbps BTW), and my Q6600 struggled.

a c 172 à CPUs
May 31, 2009 9:13:40 PM

More than 30 years ago, my first CPU was a 1.77 MHz. Z80. I see nothing wrong with the speed of CPU development.
May 31, 2009 9:44:19 PM

chengbin said:
Why is it not a good idea to have one extremely fast core instead of 4 slower cores?

Adding cores is not the way to go in the future IMO. Some jobs are simply not embarassingly parallel. Even in video encoding, once you use too many threads, like 16, you start losing quality as you increase the number of threads.

Another example from video. As you have more advanced video formats, multithread decoding is very difficult (because the nature of the way the video is encoded for compression efficiency sake). I was watching a 2160p H.264 video a few days ago (280mbps BTW), and my Q6600 struggled.

um, because according to physics (ever heard of that?), having a single core that is "extremely fast" will require more heat dissapation than 4 slower cores. you cant just keep increasing coreclock speed. higher frequency=more thermal wattage.
i dont know the actual formula at the top of my head *last trimester* but if you didnt notice, intel stopped this "increase single core clock speed" stratagy with it's core2 series chips. efficiency is the future

use wiki man, seriously
May 31, 2009 10:03:21 PM

rambo117 said:
um, because according to physics (ever heard of that?), having a single core that is "extremely fast" will require more heat dissapation than 4 slower cores. you cant just keep increasing coreclock speed. higher frequency=more thermal wattage.
i dont know the actual formula at the top of my head *last trimester* but if you didnt notice, intel stopped this "increase single core clock speed" stratagy with it's core2 series chips. efficiency is the future

use wiki man, seriously


You don't have to be so rude.

I'm just pointing out the fact that it doesn't matter how efficient and how many cores you have, if you run into a program that can't multithread, it will be very slow. For example audio encoding is limited by the number of channel there is to the audio track.
June 1, 2009 12:26:53 AM

i7 would rape Q6600 in a x264 encoding Q6600 is just a gamer fav for its massive cache and great oc ability. It's price is inflated online atleast.
June 1, 2009 12:29:30 AM

rambo117 said:


use wiki man, seriously


...And always count on 'military intelligence'... The words 'wiki' and 'seriously' do not belong in the same sentence.

To the OP... Instead of measuring against decoding / encoding a codex, try running PS CS4 with both CPU's and equal amounts of RAM. PS CS4 is fairly well coded for using more cores and will take advantage of all 8 threads on an I7. I can guarantee you a much larger improvement than 60% in blending, rendering, etc. ACAD also shows huge improvements with i7's over previous C2Q's.

So far, Moore's Law is holding up well.
June 1, 2009 12:46:47 AM

IzzyCraft said:
i7 would rape Q6600 in a x264 encoding Q6600 is just a gamer fav for its massive cache and great oc ability. It's price is inflated online atleast.


I don't consider 60% faster "raping" a Q6600.

Or is my expectations too high?
a b à CPUs
June 1, 2009 10:58:57 AM

Of course they are.

CPU dev is slowing down because we've hit the point were die shrinks and ever-increasing thermals won't cut it.
June 1, 2009 11:56:22 AM

well the mhz/ghz races are over at least. I mean has anyone seen them sell a CPU at 4ghz stock speed yet. and I bet magnetic disk hard drives will be topping out soon too.
a b à CPUs
June 1, 2009 12:55:47 PM

Then, SSDs will take us to a magical world were Hard Disks no longer bottleneck our PCs like crazy.
a b à CPUs
June 1, 2009 4:39:48 PM

Too bad the next bottleneck is RAM; as long as only one device can access RAM at any one time, and the (relativly) slow speeds compared to the rest of the system, there will be a bottleneck with RAM within the next decade...

In short, we can't win. Still, considering we all had <2.4GHz P4's just 5 years ago, I don't see how CPU development has "slowed"
June 1, 2009 5:47:03 PM

well like i said before. where can you find a stock CPU that is sold at 4GhZ? CPU's are not getting any faster now and all there doing is putting more processors in your PC's now at the same speed of last gen CPU's(although the new CPU's perform better at the same speeds) this multi-core fad is not going to last long cause how many home users and gamers will really need a 20-100 core CPU in the near future when right now it is still being debated on if its really worth spending that extra cash on a 3 or 4 core CPU.
a b à CPUs
June 1, 2009 6:01:14 PM

captaincharisma said:
well like i said before. where can you find a stock CPU that is sold at 4GhZ? CPU's are not getting any faster now and all there doing is putting more processors in your PC's now at the same speed of last gen CPU's(although the new CPU's perform better at the same speeds) this multi-core fad is not going to last long cause how many home users and gamers will really need a 20-100 core CPU in the near future when right now it is still being debated on if its really worth spending that extra cash on a 3 or 4 core CPU.


Didn't Intel offer an EE P4 with a stock frequency of 3.8GHz?? Close enuff for gov't work :) .
June 1, 2009 6:04:22 PM

amdfangirl said:
Then, SSDs will take us to a magical world were Hard Disks no longer bottleneck our PCs like crazy.


actually SSD's are reaching their limit too, there is only one more generation left which is 32GB per chip, then we just have to get to the limit of how many we can stack together.
June 1, 2009 6:26:17 PM

chengbin said:
Is it just me, or has the development of CPU been slowing down quite a bit?

My first computer was an AMD at 950Mhz, I don't know the model. I got that in 2002.

Then 3 years later I bought another computer, which had a Pentium 4 @ 2.8Ghz. The P4 was roughly 3 times faster than my old AMD.

Then 3 years later, I bought another computer. This time it was loaded with a Q6600. With an x264 test between the P4 and the Q6600, the latter was about 6-7 time faster!

Fast forwarding to present, which is more than a year from the time I bought my current computer, and I think more than 1.5 years since the Q6600 dropped to $266. 1.5 years later, the i7-920 is the "mainstream" CPU (in terms of price), and it is not significantly faster than my Q6600. It is about 60% faster than my Q6600 with x264. Consumer 6 core CPU (I'm not even talking about mainstream prices for 6 core CPUs) aren't even in near sight. Since I buy a new computer every 3 years, am I not going to see mainstream CPUs at least 3x faster than my Q6600? Should I slow down my speed of computer replacement this year?

I've heard of something that silicon based CPUs will reach physical limits soon. Is that part of the reason why CPU development is slowing?


The only reason you experienced that 6-7 times faster increase was the multiple cores on an extremely intensive software package. You bench those processors with the same amount of RAM and same graphics card on a game and you won't see nearly that big of a difference.
June 1, 2009 6:33:23 PM

gamerk316 said:
Too bad the next bottleneck is RAM; as long as only one device can access RAM at any one time, and the (relativly) slow speeds compared to the rest of the system, there will be a bottleneck with RAM within the next decade...

In short, we can't win. Still, considering we all had <2.4GHz P4's just 5 years ago, I don't see how CPU development has "slowed"


Oh comeon, you can't already see the solution. I'd bet money that some geeky guys at AMD or Intel are already working on multiple memory controller solutions. We'll have to buy 4 or 6 matching sticks of RAM to fit two sets of RAM slots.
June 1, 2009 8:57:39 PM

gamerk316 said:
Too bad the next bottleneck is RAM; as long as only one device can access RAM at any one time, and the (relativly) slow speeds compared to the rest of the system, there will be a bottleneck with RAM within the next decade...

In short, we can't win. Still, considering we all had <2.4GHz P4's just 5 years ago, I don't see how CPU development has "slowed"


I said from the point when I bought the Q6600. How can I call a 6-7 time faster CPU developing slow? I thought I made myself very clear that it is Q6600 vs current CPUs (like the i7)
June 1, 2009 10:42:21 PM

I'm suprised no one mentioned Instructions Per Clock (IPC). And I thought this clockrate discussion was long over.
June 1, 2009 11:31:07 PM

captaincharisma said:
well like i said before. where can you find a stock CPU that is sold at 4GhZ? CPU's are not getting any faster now and all there doing is putting more processors in your PC's now at the same speed of last gen CPU's(although the new CPU's perform better at the same speeds) this multi-core fad is not going to last long cause how many home users and gamers will really need a 20-100 core CPU in the near future when right now it is still being debated on if its really worth spending that extra cash on a 3 or 4 core CPU.


wusy beat me to it, but more Ghz |= faster. The chips are getting faster, but the're doing so at the same clock speeds. Just look at P4 @ 3.0Ghz vs Core2@3.0Ghz vs i7@3.0Ghz. Granted, the last one isnt much of an improvement (unless you look at 65nm Core2 vs i7) core for core, but when you look at multi-theading, it would be a huge leap.
June 2, 2009 12:34:22 AM

Was rushing my last post and didn't finish typing.
The data out there (look at single-threaded Cinebench for example) does say the IPC-per-core increase from Core2 to i7 is not a lot. Under 20% I believe. And this effect can be seen in non-SLi/Crossfire'd games where even CPU-dependent 1280x1024 means minimal difference between Core2 and i7 clock-to-clock.

The topic for this thread is of course "CPU development" and the flavor of the day is multi-threading, yah! Basically it's the future of x86 as many have mentioned. And it so happens the hottest subject for the consumer market today is 'multimedia' while for servers it's 'virtualisation', both of those CRAVE multi-threading. In short conclusion "CPU development" is going as strong as it has ever been and if you don't keep up with the latest trend of technology utilisation you get left behind. Simple as that.

Quote:
I was watching a 2160p H.264 video a few days ago (280mbps BTW), and my Q6600 struggled.

Set ffdshow to chew on 6 threads if you're decoding it purely by software. 2160p is obviously still not a standardise format and so DxVA acceleration won't work.
Also Q6600 is very last gen. stuff so decoding 280Mb/s worth of H.264 will of course bring it to knees. Either clock it up to 3.6Ghz or invest in Core i7.
June 2, 2009 2:01:41 AM

Invest....... HAHAHA.....Or go AMD... I just love computers! There is always great tech from all sides :)  and there are always fights :ouch:  .... and fanboys/girls
June 2, 2009 2:09:46 AM

xtc28 said:
Invest....... HAHAHA.....Or go AMD...


It's a business tool. I use mine as one.

OT: Hey random, we've got a new guy to put on the troll watchlist. ;) 
June 2, 2009 2:12:07 AM

What is a Troll?
June 2, 2009 2:49:02 AM

xtc28 said:
Invest....... HAHAHA.....Or go AMD... I just love computers! There is always great tech from all sides :)  and there are always fights :ouch:  .... and fanboys/girls

haha, i know right? i just go for who has the best price/performance ratio (or whoever the hell i can afford). computers are the best thing on this earth...........and my girlfriend
;) 
June 2, 2009 2:55:23 AM

rambo117 said:
haha, i know right? i just go for who has the best price/performance ratio (or whoever the hell i can afford). computers are the best thing on this earth...........and my girlfriend
;) 

I just find deals on computers and I get what ever is avaliable... I am a bit of an AMD Freak though :lol:  Problem is... I own too many different computers, from many different manufacturers and some how I like them all for some reason or quality or maybe it is something else. IDK
a b à CPUs
June 2, 2009 1:16:47 PM

wuzy said:
Also Q6600 is very last gen.

Lies! 65nm lies on forever! :sol: 

xtc28 said:
Invest....... HAHAHA.....Or go AMD... I just love computers! There is always great tech from all sides :)  and there are always fights :ouch:  .... and fanboys/girls

Well if you spend on an AMD CPU you're still investing. Only the rich buy things without making an investment. If you do alot of encoding/decoding then i7 is definitely the investment of choice though.
June 2, 2009 3:47:37 PM

Absolutely Randomizer.....
a b à CPUs
June 2, 2009 5:06:33 PM

wuzy said:
I'm suprised no one mentioned Instructions Per Clock (IPC). And I thought this clockrate discussion was long over.


But its still the same speed! :D 

Theres some debate on weather to change the specs on CPU's from Hz (or equivalent) to IPC * Hz (which gives a clearer indication how *fast* a CPU is) for this very reason.
June 2, 2009 5:24:46 PM

yea imagine an old 100mhz CPU trying to process all of the instructions included in a CPU today. you would be waiting a long, long, time for anything to load
June 3, 2009 5:00:42 AM

captaincharisma said:
yea imagine an old 100mhz CPU trying to process all of the instructions included in a CPU today. you would be waiting a long, long, time for anything to load

just for sh**s and giggles, i wanna see an ol' pentium 100mhz handle bluray
xD
with a 4870x2

(agp edition)
a b à CPUs
June 3, 2009 12:14:23 PM

I've got a Pentium 333Mhz on my familty (dusty) PC and a spare Blu-Ray drive and 9800GX2...it would be a good experiment to see how well the GPU's work with no modern CPU to drive them...:D 
June 3, 2009 12:19:44 PM

gamerk316 said:
I've got a Pentium 333Mhz on my familty (dusty) PC and a spare Blu-Ray drive and 9800GX2...it would be a good experiment to see how well the GPU's work with no modern CPU to drive them...:D 



yea that would be a good test for Nvidia's cuda and the ATI alternative
June 3, 2009 3:36:46 PM

I gotta see this... wait a sec your 333 has an interface the 9800gx2 will work in???? Are you sure?
June 3, 2009 3:45:03 PM

I really doubt it .... As far as I know, the 9800 gx2 is a pci-e G-card. I really dont think it will work ina pci slot. Also your Blu-ray is more than likely going to be a sata drive and your mobo Ide ATA 66 maybe 100. The Blu-ray trans fers more data than the ol ata 66 or early ata 100 can carry at any given moment. So a pci raid controller or another type of adapter would have to be used.
June 3, 2009 3:46:48 PM

I think he would like to try it, but the PCI-E slot didn't come around till some years later.
June 3, 2009 3:54:57 PM

Would have to use the last avaliable pci NVidia card
June 3, 2009 3:54:57 PM

Hmm, but if you took an LGA 775 P4 and clocked it down to say 233, should be close enuf to tell shouldnt it?
June 3, 2009 4:00:14 PM

I dont really know. It would be interesting to see some benchmarks between the two. Although I believe that data transfer rates would still be rather high and not give an accurate comparison. Just use an nvidia 8400 gs PCI card on a 333 machine and then see what u have. I dropped one of these cards in my system to replace my gtx280 physx and blam what a difference than without it. it helps alot and I bet it would help tremendously in said rig. Although the proc will be missing some pretty important extensions for Blu-ray playback it might work......might.
June 3, 2009 4:03:53 PM

Many of our performance increases on our new processors come from Extensions embedded into the chip please keep this in mind when we are talking about speed. Ram controllers are also a big deal cache size and other issuses. We are constantly getting better performance in our new cores because of multiple resaons, not just clock enhancements. I remember a time when I had a 600 mhz AMD K62 with a radeon 9200 pro that had hell playing dvds. It also had 768 max out on ram. For some reason I dont believe it is possible to do this on the older machines.
June 3, 2009 4:43:48 PM

Even if he slowed that P4 down to a 233 he would need to disable some of the cache, I would go even lower to match it up say 133-166mhz. It would be an awful gaming experience.
June 3, 2009 4:44:57 PM

I dont think thatys enough to compare
June 3, 2009 4:44:59 PM

Someone try it. None of mine will boot that low. I tried ealier.
June 3, 2009 5:07:40 PM

i think it would be best to try to underclock with a Celeron or Sempron since they are only CPUs with most of the features disabled anyway.
!