Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Dual Xeons worth an upgrade over my 2600k? Am i wasting money?

Tags:
Last response: in CPUs
Share
January 9, 2013 12:20:21 AM


Need some advice to see if i am wasting money before i make a move to upgrade my current machine. My current machine is primarily used for work but i occasionally do some light gaming. My job requires me to run about 3 or 4 virtual machines at any given time using VMware workstation. Mostly so i can run multiple SW development environments that connect over VPN to various client networks.

I am currently running:
- i7 2600k
- 16g ram
- 240g Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe (OS and small storage)
- 128g Crucial RealSSD C300 ( holds virtual machine hard disks )
- ASUS P8P67 PRO
- 1Tb hd for long term storage

Recently my setup seems like it isnt fast enough and I want more speed. I am thinking of building or buying a dual xeon (or AMD) setup with more ram to gain some more performance. I am looking at CPU charts and the 2600k isnt at the top but it isnt at the bottom so i am wondering if the upgrade would really be worth it.

I am open to other ideas but be aware i run a 30" monitor @ 2560x1600 so offloading VMs to another machine doesnt give me the full screen desktop that i want.


a c 178 à CPUs
January 9, 2013 12:44:45 AM

boles said:
Need some advice to see if i am wasting money before i make a move to upgrade my current machine. My current machine is primarily used for work but i occasionally do some light gaming. My job requires me to run about 3 or 4 virtual machines at any given time using VMware workstation. Mostly so i can run multiple SW development environments that connect over VPN to various client networks.

I am currently running:
- i7 2600k
- 16g ram
- 240g Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe (OS and small storage)
- 128g Crucial RealSSD C300 ( holds virtual machine hard disks )
- ASUS P8P67 PRO
- 1Tb hd for long term storage

Recently my setup seems like it isnt fast enough and I want more speed. I am thinking of building or buying a dual xeon (or AMD) setup with more ram to gain some more performance. I am looking at CPU charts and the 2600k isnt at the top but it isnt at the bottom so i am wondering if the upgrade would really be worth it.

I am open to other ideas but be aware i run a 30" monitor @ 2560x1600 so offloading VMs to another machine doesnt give me the full screen desktop that i want.


I used to run a setup nearly identical to yours. If you're running VMs you may very well be limited by hard drive IO rather than anything else. Here's a few suggestions.

1. Never allocate more than half of your available physical cores to a single VM. Virtual processors are co-scheduled which means that if you allocate 4 virtual processors to a VM, all 4 cores (or 4 at least 4 threads in a machine with SMT/Hyperthreading, I'm really not sure how this is handled) will need to be idle simultaneously. This can actually increase VM latency and overhead which isn't nice.

2. Avoid committing too much memory to a single virtual machine. I'm sure that you're aware of this but VMWare Workstation VMs create vmem files which are used to dump guest-physical memory when a machine is suspended. This will be in the same location as the .vmx file but does not have to be in the same location as the root VHD file. If possible, put them on separate storage devices. I have all of my VHDs on a 2TB platter drive, but the vmem files are on an SSD.

3. Try running VMs with binary translation disabled. VT-x used to be quite slow when it was introduced with Pentium4 and Core2 but it's come a long way since then. Disabling binary translation can improve performance in some cases.

4. You can use VMWare Workstation to connect to another machine on a LAN or WAN which has VMWare Workstation or vSphere on it and remotely access virtual machines at whichever resolution pleases you. If the remote is quite distant you will notice some video compression but if it's local it should be seamless even at 2560x1600.

5. Dual-processor systems can be expensive and are usually detrimental to gaming. Consider getting a Sandybridge-E processor instead. The extra memory bandwidth and higher capacity may help. I regularly run a bunch of VMs on my rig (sig) while gaming.
January 9, 2013 1:13:59 AM

Pinhedd said:
I used to run a setup nearly identical to yours. If you're running VMs you may very well be limited by hard drive IO rather than anything else. Here's a few suggestions.

1. Never allocate more than half of your available physical cores to a single VM. Virtual processors are co-scheduled which means that if you allocate 4 virtual processors to a VM, all 4 cores (or 4 at least 4 threads in a machine with SMT/Hyperthreading, I'm really not sure how this is handled) will need to be idle simultaneously. This can actually increase VM latency and overhead which isn't nice.

2. Avoid committing too much memory to a single virtual machine. I'm sure that you're aware of this but VMWare Workstation VMs create vmem files which are used to dump guest-physical memory when a machine is suspended. This will be in the same location as the .vmx file but does not have to be in the same location as the root VHD file. If possible, put them on separate storage devices. I have all of my VHDs on a 2TB platter drive, but the vmem files are on an SSD.

3. Try running VMs with binary translation disabled. VT-x used to be quite slow when it was introduced with Pentium4 and Core2 but it's come a long way since then. Disabling binary translation can improve performance in some cases.

4. You can use VMWare Workstation to connect to another machine on a LAN or WAN which has VMWare Workstation or vSphere on it and remotely access virtual machines at whichever resolution pleases you. If the remote is quite distant you will notice some video compression but if it's local it should be seamless even at 2560x1600.

5. Dual-processor systems can be expensive and are usually detrimental to gaming. Consider getting a Sandybridge-E processor instead. The extra memory bandwidth and higher capacity may help. I regularly run a bunch of VMs on my rig (sig) while gaming.


Thanks for all the info and i will try your suggestions. I knew HD access was my initial bottleneck until i moved VMs to SSD however that seems to slow over time as i spin up more VMs. Is there any way to measure overall bottlenecks?

Still open to other suggestions as well since gaming is only about 3% of computer usage.
Related resources
Can't find your answer ? Ask !
a c 178 à CPUs
January 9, 2013 1:18:23 AM

boles said:
Thanks for all the info and i will try your suggestions. I knew HD access was my initial bottleneck until i moved VMs to SSD however that seems to slow over time as i spin up more VMs. Is there any way to measure overall bottlenecks?

Still open to other suggestions as well since gaming is only about 3% of computer usage.


Even SSDs can have their IO saturated by lots of tiny IOops. Operating systems are known for making lots of small 4K reads and writes; multiply that by 4 or 5.
January 9, 2013 1:21:30 AM

Pinhedd said:


4. You can use VMWare Workstation to connect to another machine on a LAN or WAN which has VMWare Workstation or vSphere on it and remotely access virtual machines at whichever resolution pleases you. If the remote is quite distant you will notice some video compression but if it's local it should be seamless even at 2560x1600.


What software do you use to do this? i have multiple ESXi machines on the network and always go through vSphere client which tends to be laggy for fast keystrokes in a sw dev world.
a c 178 à CPUs
January 9, 2013 1:24:36 AM

boles said:
What software do you use to do this? i have multiple ESXi machines on the network and always go through vSphere client which tends to be laggy for fast keystrokes in a sw dev world.


It's built in to VMWare Workstation, it's probably based on a similar if not identical codebase to vSphere client. Go to file -> Connect to Server and log in with the credentials of a machine user and you will be able to access and manage shared VMs on that machine.
January 9, 2013 1:29:28 AM

Pinhedd said:
It's built in to VMWare Workstation, it's probably based on a similar if not identical codebase to vSphere client. Go to file -> Connect to Server and log in with the credentials of a machine user and you will be able to access and manage shared VMs on that machine.


what version of workstation are you running? I am running old version that doenst seem to have that option. All i have is "Connect to ACE management server"
a c 178 à CPUs
January 9, 2013 2:17:17 AM

boles said:
what version of workstation are you running? I am running old version that doenst seem to have that option. All i have is "Connect to ACE management server"


9.0.1 but I believe that it's been there since at least version 7 or 8
a c 100 à CPUs
January 9, 2013 4:28:55 AM

boles said:
Need some advice to see if i am wasting money before i make a move to upgrade my current machine. My current machine is primarily used for work but i occasionally do some light gaming. My job requires me to run about 3 or 4 virtual machines at any given time using VMware workstation. Mostly so i can run multiple SW development environments that connect over VPN to various client networks.

I am currently running:
- i7 2600k
- 16g ram
- 240g Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe (OS and small storage)
- 128g Crucial RealSSD C300 ( holds virtual machine hard disks )
- ASUS P8P67 PRO
- 1Tb hd for long term storage

Recently my setup seems like it isnt fast enough and I want more speed. I am thinking of building or buying a dual xeon (or AMD) setup with more ram to gain some more performance. I am looking at CPU charts and the 2600k isnt at the top but it isnt at the bottom so i am wondering if the upgrade would really be worth it.

I am open to other ideas but be aware i run a 30" monitor @ 2560x1600 so offloading VMs to another machine doesnt give me the full screen desktop that i want.


A dual processor setup would very likely give you a good boost in performance due to the higher core count and much higher memory capacity. Having better I/O from your disk is important too, I would at the very least put the VMs on an SSD for better performance. Having extra RAM for disk caching would be a good boost here as well. Personally I am a fan of Opterons due to their good across-the-board feature set, high memory capacity, and low price but if you are willing to drop a grand a pop for dual-processor Xeons you can get some very nice ones that will outpace the Opterons in many cases. The lower-priced Xeons are usually a bad deal as they have too many features restricted or disabled. The old numbering scheme made it easy, you always went with a Xeon that started with an X if you wanted everything to work, but now you have to look much closer at the model numbers to see if you are getting a crippled or fully-functional one.

Pinhedd said:
I used to run a setup nearly identical to yours. If you're running VMs you may very well be limited by hard drive IO rather than anything else. Here's a few suggestions.

5. Dual-processor systems can be expensive and are usually detrimental to gaming. Consider getting a Sandybridge-E processor instead. The extra memory bandwidth and higher capacity may help. I regularly run a bunch of VMs on my rig (sig) while gaming.


Gaming isn't significantly affected by multiprocessor systems unless your CPUs are low-clocked and have limited to no Turbo Boost function. That is really a thing of the past as most current multiprocessor CPUs do have reasonable amounts of Turbo Boost, with the exception of some lower-priced Intel units you should avoid anyway. Older server CPUs certainly could be bad to play games on, such as most of the Opteron 2400s and 6100s with their clock speeds right around 2 GHz and no Turbo Boost. Ditto with cheap Xeons, even through today. All of the current Opteron 6300s run at or boost up to over 3 GHz and most of the Xeon E5s do too which will give you plenty of grunt to play games. You can't really overclock current multiprocessor CPUs like you can on single-CPU boards but you shouldn't need to overclock a reasonably modern CPU to play games well. And by well, I mean at playable framerates at reasonable resolutions, not being a framerate-chasing idiot who says their system is "CPU-bottlenecked" because it goes up from 220 fps to 250 fps at 1024x768 low detail when they overclock it by 500 MHz.

Take it from somebody who has nothing *but* multiprocessor workstations at home and has dealt with several generations of CPUs in them. Turbo Boost really does eliminate the many slow cores vs. few fast cores tradeoff as you get both out of the same chip. It sure makes using multiprocessor systems with anything less than the >130 watt top-end chips costing multiple body parts much more pleasant for mixed usage. Using some of the older, boost-less chips was certainly a bit painful at times.
!