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Does a 2-processor configuration require two of the same processor?

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June 2, 2011 11:57:42 PM

This is kind of a multi-part question.

a. I have a 2.13ghz xeon, and have another slot for a cpu. I want to add another CPU, do I need to get the same processor for slot #2?

b. Charts I've seen have the i7 being MUCH more bang for your buck. Why did I pay so much for this thing that gets a quarter of the power of the i7? (example:)  http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html

c. By adding a 2nd processor, am I really DOUBLING my power?
a b à CPUs
June 3, 2011 1:55:17 AM

a. no idea (But most probably its better to get identical ones, coz otherwise applications may run faster/slower depending on which processor they get executed by)

b. How old is this xeon, and whats its complete model number?
Xeons are meant for servers, which are usually on 24/7, and mostly handle multi-threaded loads. So a 95w/125w processor , with only 4 fast cores,would bleed a lot of power here. Hence Xeons are clocked slower, have more cores,most new ones have HT, and also have lower power dissipation, relative to the amount of work done

c. Not of the entire system. Only small a fraction of power (used by the cpu) gets doubled.
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a b à CPUs
June 3, 2011 2:16:45 AM

A. I am almost certain the answer is yes

B. That...only you know lol

C. It all depends on the application you are using, and if it can utilize both processors efficiently. You may not get a 100% boost, but it may be close if the application is optimized for it
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a c 85 à CPUs
June 3, 2011 2:40:25 AM

for a second processor you need an identical matched pair. Forget it, just move on, any cheap dual core would be faster than that setup. "Why did I pay so much for this thing that gets a quarter of the power of the i7?" - you probably bought it 8 years ago when it was modern technology, duh.
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June 3, 2011 7:54:36 PM

It's a xeon e5506 2.13ghz --- and no it's not 8 years old, we just had this computer built a couple months ago. It's not hyperthreaded...
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June 3, 2011 9:24:21 PM

the motherboard is an intel s5520scr -- and i just realized that it seems $hawn thinks i mean power consumption -- i meant processing power. By doubling my processors, do i get a full 2x the processing power?

So, I know my options for upgrading processors with this motherboard -- i can upgrade to a xeon 55xx or 56xx -- however, i can't figure out if i am better off purchasing a 2nd processor at the same speed, or as you said upgrading to a more powerful 2.8 or 3.2 ghz? Which option yields more processing power/speed?

I've even gotten one recommendation to switch to an i7 motherboard, because I could get a motherboard+3.3ghz processor for less than one 3.3ghz xeon.

Because I haven't mentioned it already, the function of needing more speed is to render animation with 3ds max. The xeon i have is a 4 core.

Thanks guys
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June 3, 2011 9:30:54 PM

And also-- no, i haven't tried overclocking it. Should I?
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a c 85 à CPUs
June 4, 2011 12:16:52 AM

jessestormer said:
It's a xeon e5506 2.13ghz --- and no it's not 8 years old, we just had this computer built a couple months ago. It's not hyperthreaded...

i just assumed at such a low clock speed it would be an old one as you didnt give us a model number before. But seriously, Xenon's are server CPU's you shouldnt get them for a home pc.
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a b à CPUs
June 4, 2011 2:21:15 AM

jessestormer said:
and i just realized that it seems $hawn thinks i mean power consumption -- i meant processing power.

k lol :)  , well improvement in processing power certainly depends on the application your using, and in the case of 3ds max,it being rendering, i certainly believe u may get anywhere between a 1.5x to 2x boost. Even converting movies from one format to another will get dramatically speeded up, coz its multi-threaded :) 
On the other hand, single threaded stuff like converting an mp3 to aac on winamp or somethin, won't show ANY difference

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a c 85 à CPUs
June 4, 2011 5:34:26 AM

you already have 4 cores, adding another cpu you wont see any diff in performance except for the few applications that are threaded well enough to take advantage of more than 4 cores. You would be better off selling it to someone who needs a server and going for a core i5/i7.
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Best solution

June 4, 2011 8:12:01 PM

iam2thecrowe said:
you already have 4 cores, adding another cpu you wont see any diff in performance except for the few applications that are threaded well enough to take advantage of more than 4 cores. You would be better off selling it to someone who needs a server and going for a core i5/i7.

I'm with iam2thecrowe on this one. If you don't need the specific advantages of XEON CPUs (usually ECC memory and a truckload of memory slots to fill), the best upgrade path would be ditching the XEON and migrating to something like a current 4-core i5 or i7 CPU, which would probably also drop your total system power requirements by quite a bit (that is, if you're not using standard DDR3 memory, FB-DIMMs are power hogs...).

Also, answering your questions directly:

A) As a rule of thumb, you should get an identical CPU (same SKU, which means same model and stepping). Mixing CPUs from two different steppings of the same CPU model (like B1 and C1) might work, but as far back as I can remember Intel has recommended identical CPUs for multi-socket configurations. Your motherboard manual might shed some light in the subject, too. As for different CPUs (different model, that is), you're better off not even trying. I remember a weird experiment around the time the XBOX360 was launched which involved a 2-socket AMD server mobo, a 2-core AMD CPU and a 1-core AMD CPU of the same speed (it had something to do with the fact the 360 had 3 CPUs in it) and results were... peculiar, to say the least. Stability was NOT great, and even Windows didn't really know what to do with an even number of CPUs.

So, rule of thumb, if you're going multi-socket, buy everything identical to what you already have.

B) Dual (and multi)-socket motherboards are inherently more expensive for two reasons: they're built like tanks, to handle 24/7 operation and 99%+ uptime, which drives R&D costs up; and server-grade chipsets (and other components, like SAS controllers) are are also more expensive than standard components: multi-socket server chipsets are much more complex (they have to handle routing signals from more than one CPU), and SAS and FC are just plain expensive. Also, server-grade CPUs are not only screened for reliability (which increases production costs) but are also usually optimized for server-class workloads (again, each aditional tweaking step ads costs).

In short, server-grade usually compromises price for reliability, expandability (you can probably go as high as a 12-core, 24-thread config with that dual-socket motherboard, provided it accepts 130W CPUs and your PSU can handle it) and sheer raw processing power and memory capacities you simply don't need on the desktop side. You pay more, but you pay for other stuff you might not get on the desktop configurations.

C) Usually, CPU scalling depends on A LOT of factors. With most desktop-class loads, the answer is "NO". Just look at the numerous Extreme Edition CPU reviews, sometimes more cores actually DROPS performance (apparently, 4 threads is about optimal these days, and anything over 8 is mostly wasted). If you're talking about multi-OS virtualization, that another thing altogether. Also, 100% CPU scaling is VERY rare, even for workloads that are able to take advantage of the extra processing power. Most times, though, 60%+ more performance is likely to be seen.

Hope this helps.

Miguel
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June 6, 2011 9:55:07 PM

These are some very in depth responses, thank you all so much! This is also slightly disappointing though, haha...
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June 16, 2011 12:00:59 AM

Best answer selected by jessestormer.
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