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4 Core or 6 Core?

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December 9, 2010 7:37:46 PM

Is it worth investing in a 6 core CPU just yet or stick with a 4 core. I read that new games are only just utilizing 4 core CPU`s, so i pressume that it will be another year or two before 6 cores are utilized. The reason i ask is i have a Phenom BE x4 @ 2.6Ghz and was either thinking of getting the 970 x4 BE@3.5Ghz or the new 1100T x6 BE 3.3Ghz.

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December 9, 2010 9:02:16 PM

right now its best for just a 4 core. If you have the money to spend its still a good idea if you do things like video edditing and autoCAD :) 
a b à CPUs
December 9, 2010 9:16:01 PM

The best deal at present seems to be the 965, then OC it.
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a b à CPUs
December 9, 2010 9:21:48 PM

Yeah, you're better off with a fast clocked 4 core CPU as things are.
If you're using heavily multi-thread apps or doing lots of multi-tasking, the 6 core definitely has advantages, but just for gaming ... not so much. That will definitely change with time, though.
a c 99 à CPUs
December 10, 2010 1:44:41 AM

andy_93 said:
Is it worth investing in a 6 core CPU just yet or stick with a 4 core. I read that new games are only just utilizing 4 core CPU`s, so i pressume that it will be another year or two before 6 cores are utilized. The reason i ask is i have a Phenom BE x4 @ 2.6Ghz and was either thinking of getting the 970 x4 BE@3.5Ghz or the new 1100T x6 BE 3.3Ghz.


I'd probably get the 1100T BE if I were you. The Turbo CORE feature in the 1100T allows it to clock up to three cores up to 3.7 GHz, which actually would result in it being faster than the 970 BE in lightly-threaded applications. Anything using more than four threads will run faster on the 1100T because it has six cores versus the 970 BE's four. The only case where the 970 BE would be faster is if you have something with exactly four threads. Then, the 1100T runs at 3.3 GHz (Turbo CORE would be off because more than three cores are loaded) and the 970 BE runs at 3.5 GHz. The only real advantage of the 970 BE is that it is cheaper and original AM2 boards can't run the six-core CPUs. Somebody with an AM2+ board and BIOS support for X6s would be better served by the X6s IMHO. I'm guessing you have an AM2+ board since that chip of yours looks like an original Phenom X4 9950 BE.
a c 471 à CPUs
December 10, 2010 1:58:15 AM

Quad core...

... unless you got money to burn and want bragging rights which in the end will not mean anything since most consumer programs will not be able to use 6 cores.
a c 99 à CPUs
December 10, 2010 2:11:57 AM

jaguarskx said:
Quad core...

... unless you got money to burn and want bragging rights which in the end will not mean anything since most consumer programs will not be able to use 6 cores.


The AMD 6-cores cost what an entry-level modern Intel quad-core costs, so it's hardly "money to burn." Also, I remember lots of people saying "oh, get a single-core, programs will never use both cores on that dual-core CPU" only a handful of years ago. That was followed by "get a Core 2 Duo, nothing will ever need all four cores." Now dual-cores have fallen out of favor as many applications use 2-4 threads and thus run quite a bit faster on triple- and quad-core CPUs than they do on duals. The biggest "hump" to cross was introducing multithreaded programs in the first place, since it necessitated a big change in programming style. Now we're over that hump for the most part and adding threads is easier than going from single-thread to two threads. CPUs also aren't getting much higher clock speeds due to thermal reasons, so the only way to increase performance is to add more cores. The applications developers know this and most applications will follow suit, just like they have in the past. I'll betcha you'd be happier in 2-3 years with an X6 than an X4.
December 10, 2010 4:13:27 PM

Well i would like to start by saying thank you for the replies guys,its good to get other peoples take on things,and people who know alot more than i do. Well my mobo is a AM2+ but apparently i can run a AM3 CPU with a bios update but surley i would not really get the benifit from the AM3 CPU. My pc is only used for gaming,surfing the web and watching videos. I am not to bothered about bragging right tbh,as long as my pc can play the new games then i am happy.My pc does play all new games at the moment,i have 2 1 gig 4870`s in CF with the CPU i mentioned,i have the CPU OC @ 3Ghz,also a aftermarket cooler fitted,but my pc has started crashing alot,also i want to start playing games that have DX11,so i thought if i am upgrading my GPU i may as well upgrade the CPU as well.
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December 10, 2010 4:20:30 PM

Phenom II's kill Phenoms. AM2+ Phenom II 940 quad is awesome and cheap otherwise the 965 is a good price.
December 10, 2010 5:51:30 PM

Ok,thanks for the heads up on those CPU`s and it looks like ill be able to keep the mobo i have then. Cheers.
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December 10, 2010 7:13:30 PM

i'd just get a good cooler and overclock the current phenom if its a phenom II ... if its a reular phenom hten it'd be worth it to switch to a 4 core. the 6 cor emight give you more furture proofing... however by the time you are able to fully utilize all 6 cores the question is would you just have moved on from there wanting somethign faster?
December 10, 2010 7:31:24 PM

Go for a quad-core if you are buying intel and a six core if you are buying AMD. It is obvious that six cores are better but price is a matter to consider. Besides there are only a handful games that utilise all your six-core. i personally had a tight budget with my new build and i went for the intel i5 760 quadcore and is giving kickass performance with my nvidia gtx 460. it was a perfect budget combination. Also make sure to invest in a good motherboard with more number of power phases (it helps a lot in overclocking), and dont forget to buy a good cooler if you are going to overclock because the stock one is not that good. I would say that a wise decision would be a quadcore with a good motherboard, cooler and a kickass high performance graphic card. Go for the nvidia 580 if you have a good budget or else the go for the 400 series. I am not insisting on intel but i do on nvidia. Their fermi based tesla cards are much superior to ati although they are costlier but you do get what you pay for.
I insist on six core if you do a lot of video converting and editing because only those softwares and some games are able to use six cores. Do a little survey on the programs you are going to run on your computer and try to find out how many cores do they use and choose accordingly. After all you are the user, not us so you should dicide
December 11, 2010 12:11:43 PM

Thanks goofysmiley and chintandhanda for your suggestions,i do have another question tho,i may be able to get my hands on a Zeon CPU,now at the moment i dont know how many cores or Ghz.Its about 2 yrs old,i looked on the web site that i buy all of my pc goodies from and the cheapest Zeon quad core is £800 and the top one is £1340.00. Why are these CPU`s so expencive and would they be any good for gaming? Cheers.
a c 99 à CPUs
December 11, 2010 1:31:35 PM

andy_93 said:
Thanks goofysmiley and chintandhanda for your suggestions,i do have another question tho,i may be able to get my hands on a Zeon CPU,now at the moment i dont know how many cores or Ghz.Its about 2 yrs old,i looked on the web site that i buy all of my pc goodies from and the cheapest Zeon quad core is £800 and the top one is £1340.00. Why are these CPU`s so expencive and would they be any good for gaming? Cheers.


I don't know exactly which Xeons you are talking about, but some are very expensive because they are able to be used in multiprocessor setups and Intel charges a premium for that capability. Others are expensive because they're high-end parts, and similar desktop parts are nearly as expensive. If you would give us some model numbers, we could help tell you more about the particular chips.
December 11, 2010 3:13:11 PM

Intel Launched Xeon Processors as its first step towads multi-core processors. It was only on xeon that intel implemented the six core technology while most of the users were on either core2duo or core2quad. These processors are mainly oriented for servers which require more processing power and also use more cores at the same time. For a server PC speed is all that matters, they do not need any special graphics or need to run any hi-def games. The main aim of these processors is to give better performance to the servers. That is why they are this expensive. To inform you about how these processors came into being. It all started with HT(hyper-threading) which means actually 1 core but 2 logical cores. Then the idea came that as the temperatures on the CPU are a big limitation to increasing the clock speed, it would be better to increase the number of cores on the CPU. This means the processes get distributed on different cores enhancing the performance even at a lower clock speed, the better speed was also given by the increase in cache. The more the cache the faster the speed. Now choosing a CPU needs a lot more research than the old times. We have to look at the number of cores, the cache, clock speed and the speed of the memory supported by the CPU. There are a lot more aspects to consider than just walking in the shop and asking for a Pentium 4 like in old times. Now my friend the first thing that is a misconception is that cores will multiply your clock speed or the cache. It is not so. A six core at 3.6 Ghz is clocked at 3.6 GHz and this clock speed is distributed among the six cores so does the cache. It is not 3.6 X 6 Now the question arises, why is it done this way,even a single core could do it? The answer is that maybe there is a heavy process utilizing one core, the other slows down and so does your computer, whereas when you have more number of cores the process runs on one core keeping the others free and hence allowing you to do multi-tasking. It does not speed up anything, it just enhances the way the processor has to be used. More cores=more multi tasking. But here comes the sad part if you have a program that can utilize only 1 core at a time and you have a six core the clock speed provided to that program will be only 1/6 of 3.6. Hmmmmm... so that means a quad core with 3.2 will provide more than a six core with 3.6, hence enhancing the speed of the program. Now a six core wont be harmful now because there are mny programs that do use multi cores but the question is do you need it? There are CPUs in the market with 12 cores but there is only limited use of them as they are expensive. As i said earlier you need to identify your needs and then decide, consider a budget and then purchase according to your needs. I say this unlike others because i do not know you, i do not know what you are going to do with it, but you do so this is your decision.
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December 11, 2010 4:15:07 PM

chintandhandha said:
Intel Launched Xeon Processors as its first step towads multi-core processors. It was only on xeon that intel implemented the six core technology while most of the users were on either core2duo or core2quad. These processors are mainly oriented for servers which require more processing power and also use more cores at the same time.


The reason the first Intel six-core CPUs were Xeons is because Intel at the time had no client dies with more than two cores. The Core 2 Quads were simply two Core 2 Duo CPUs tied together over a shared frontside bus. The client chipsets like the i975 and X38 could not support splitting the frontside bus more than two ways, so there was no way to put more than four cores on one die without making a new die. Nehalem with its monolithic quad-core dies was due to be introduced soon and Intel probably didn't want to go through the trouble of making a new die for the Core 2 line when it was going to be EOLed soon. So they made their six-core CPU as a big monolithic beast with three dual-core Core 2 modules bolted to a huge L3 cache and sold it for thousands of dollars as the Xeon MP 7400 series. Apparently the high selling price and relatively low shipping quantity of the Xeon MP 7400s let Intel make this large and likely difficult to manufacture CPU without losing a lot of money in the process.

Compare this to AMD's approach. They also introduced their first six-core CPU as a server part, but they basically just expanded the current quad-core Phenom II-class die to house two more cores. The resulting die was a lot smaller than Intel's Dunnington and easier to make. They then went on to use that general die in a wide variety of other parts, ranging from all of the currently-selling Opteron 4100 and 6100 CPUs to the Phenom II X6s.

Quote:
For a server PC speed is all that matters, they do not need any special graphics or need to run any hi-def games. The main aim of these processors is to give better performance to the servers. That is why they are this expensive.


Processor speed is not all that matters to server operators. Reliability is extremely important to server operators, as is energy efficiency and memory capacity. Price is also a consideration as well. Not all server CPUs are all that expensive, either. AMD starts their Opteron line out at $99, and you can get entry-level Xeons starting at about $200 each. The reason why some are expensive is because they are either very difficult to make and/or the maker feels they can charge that sum of money for those parts. Servers are typically bought by companies with fairly large pockets, so the amount buyers are willing to pay is generally much higher than for desktop and laptop CPUs. That's why you see otherwise identical CPUs being sold at a premium based on the number of sockets they can support.

Quote:
To inform you about how these processors came into being. It all started with HT(hyper-threading) which means actually 1 core but 2 logical cores. Then the idea came that as the temperatures on the CPU are a big limitation to increasing the clock speed, it would be better to increase the number of cores on the CPU.


Wrong, the reason HyperThreading came into use was to try to keep the long pipeline of the NetBurs (P4) based-CPUs utilized. Pipeline stalls and flushes were notoriously painful on these CPUs and having a second thread to utilize unused CPU resources was a way to wring more performance out of the poorly-designed CPU microarchitecture. HyperThreading came about well before the "clock speed wall" was hit as HyperThreading was present in the very first NetBurst chips but Intel didn't realize that its P4s weren't going to hit their projected 10 GHz target until a few years later.

What you are describing is why multi-core CPUs came into play. That was about four years after HyperThreading first debuted.

Quote:
This means the processes get distributed on different cores enhancing the performance even at a lower clock speed, the better speed was also given by the increase in cache. The more the cache the faster the speed.


Not necessarily. The performance also depends on the latency of the caches as well. The Pentium 4 Prescotts were available in two versions, one with a 1 MB L2 cache and one with a 2 MB L2 cache. Performance was overall similar since the latency on the 2 MB cache was higher than that on the 1 MB cache.

Quote:
Now choosing a CPU needs a lot more research than the old times. We have to look at the number of cores, the cache, clock speed and the speed of the memory supported by the CPU.


It really varies by the manufacturer. You also need to be specifically aware of what features are enabled and disabled on Intel CPUs since they like to disable things like hardware virtualization, HyperThreading, and Turbo Boost on their lower-end CPUs. That and they have two different desktop sockets as well.

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There are a lot more aspects to consider than just walking in the shop and asking for a Pentium 4 like in old times.


Even back then it wasn't that simple. There are a lot of Pentium 4s, and only one line of them was worth a crap, the Northwood. There were quite a few people that accidentally bought a dog of a Willamette instead of a Northwood because they didn't know how to tell the two apart. The Willamettes stank compared to Pentium III Tualatins and Athlon XPs, while the P4 Prescotts and Cedar Mills were notably inferior to the Athlon 64s. You had to be somewhat intelligent and know what's going on to not get stuck with an inferior CPU even back in the Pentium 4 days.

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Now my friend the first thing that is a misconception is that cores will multiply your clock speed or the cache. It is not so. A six core at 3.6 Ghz is clocked at 3.6 GHz and this clock speed is distributed among the six cores so does the cache.


Not quite. All of the cores on a multi-core CPU being run at full load will run at the exact same speed. Core 1 runs at 3.6 GHz, so do cores 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. You do get more cache with more cores, since each core has its own L2 cache and adding more cores also means you add more cache.

Quote:
It is not 3.6 X 6 Now the question arises, why is it done this way,even a single core could do it? The answer is that maybe there is a heavy process utilizing one core, the other slows down and so does your computer, whereas when you have more number of cores the process runs on one core keeping the others free and hence allowing you to do multi-tasking. It does not speed up anything, it just enhances the way the processor has to be used. More cores=more multi tasking.


Multi-core CPUs actually do speed up programs that are single-threaded compared to a single-core CPU. The single-threaded program can completely peg one core at 100% and the other cores will run the other tasks the computer has to run, which can use up some CPU time. If you ran it all on a single-core CPU, both the heavy program and the background tasks have to run on that one CPU, so the heavy program will not be able to use 100% of the CPU and thus will run a little slower. Note that this speedup really only happens when going from one core to two cores; running a single-threaded program on a dual-core CPU versus a quad-core CPU of the same clock speed will be identical.

Quote:
But here comes the sad part if you have a program that can utilize only 1 core at a time and you have a six core the clock speed provided to that program will be only 1/6 of 3.6. Hmmmmm... so that means a quad core with 3.2 will provide more than a six core with 3.6, hence enhancing the speed of the program.


Absolutely incorrect. Like I said above, a six-core CPU rated at 3.6 GHz can run all of its cores at 3.6 GHz. A single-threaded program running on that 3.6 GHz six-core CPU will run faster than on a 3.2 GHz quad. The one active core on the 3.6 GHz six-core runs at 3.6 GHz, while the one active core on the 3.2 GHz quad-core runs at 3.2 GHz. 3.6 GHz is faster than 3.2 GHz, and everything else being equal, the program will run faster on the higher-clocked six-core.

Quote:
Now a six core wont be harmful now because there are mny programs that do use multi cores but the question is do you need it? There are CPUs in the market with 12 cores but there is only limited use of them as they are expensive. As i said earlier you need to identify your needs and then decide, consider a budget and then purchase according to your needs. I say this unlike others because i do not know you, i do not know what you are going to do with it, but you do so this is your decision.


The 12-core CPUs are server CPUs, and you can get one of them for less than a six-core Core i7 970. The biggest reason you would not want to use one on the desktop is that their clock speed is low and that most desktop programs don't currently take advantage of more than 2-4 cores right now. The one 12-core unit that costs less than the i7 970 (Opteron 6168, ~$750) runs at 1.90 GHz. It will perform very well at programs that use a lot of threads (such as most server applications) but will perform like a CPU from five years ago on single-threaded programs and perform like a $100 modern CPU on tasks that use only a few threads. There are some consumer programs like video encoding that will happily use all 12 threads and perform very well on the Opteron 6168, but others like most games will only use 2-3 threads and will run more slowly than an $80 Athlon II X3 due to its low clock speed.
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December 11, 2010 4:36:33 PM

To simplify- Don't buy a Ferrari if all you do is go to the shops now and then. :D 

BTW if you can afford an 800 quid Xeon whay don't you upgrade your whole system.

£800= X58 / i7 950 and GTX580 or similar.
December 11, 2010 7:14:45 PM

I am so ill informed then, i was told so by a retailer. I am really sorry to have posted this but that was what i believed. Thanks to MU_Engineer now that i know a lot more. After i saw the reply i did a bit digging on it myself, i was amazed to find out he is right i all the aspects. Also to mention i am not a master in all this but i like to learn new things about computers. Thanks again for your answer MU_Engineer and i do take it in a very positive way to learn something new. 10 points to MU_Engineer.
December 11, 2010 11:12:27 PM

Wow,many thanks for the replies,that is alot to take in but some very worth while information,this is the reason i use this site,there are some very well informed,intelligent people out there.I would just like to clear somthing up,and i do appologize if i gave the wrong impression,i am not buying a Zeon,i cant affored it but the company i work for have brought out another company and there are a number of spare pc`s sitting there doing nothing. Now some are servers and have Zeon cpu`s` in them but at them moment i dont have any other info on the cpu`s` than that. I have been told that i may be able to have one of these server`s as our company already have there own system,so these pc`s and server pc`s are just going to gather dust in a disused office.I dont use my pc for anything other than gaming,streaming music and films and surfing the web.But if i can get one of these for free,stick a highend GPU in there(depending on Mobo) are they any good for the above or would i just be better off spending around £200 and getting the latest amd cpu.
Thanks again for taking the time to put down all that information.
!