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cpu choice for 3D/Video workstation

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June 8, 2003 10:48:33 PM

Hi,
I was wondering, which setup between those would give me the best performance (with also money in mind!):

1: P4 3Ghz (or 2.8 overclocked to 3.22) 800Mhz FSB (hyperthreading)
2: dual Xeon 2.88Ghz 533FSB

If the xeon setup would be the best, should I pair it with PC1066 RDRAM or with DDR? Currently, xeons only support 266Mhz DDR, and that seems quite slow, considering that all new 800FSB systems run on dual 400mhz DDR...

I know that there will be new Xeons that will run on a 667FSB, but they will probably be way too expensive.(?)

Correct me if I'm wrong: hyperthreading sure is great, but it can't do the job as well as a true dual CPU system.

Let's also keep in mind that I currently have a Quadro FX 2000 graphic card, which takes a great part of the workload off the CPU. But it doesn't replace it, as the better part of 3D rendering is done with a software renderer (CPU intensive).

So which setup would be the best?

Thanks
June 9, 2003 4:56:28 PM

Dam good question, and I'd be interested to see the answer. I don't know if any review that compared dual Xeons to a hyperthreaded P4.

Realistically speaking the dual Xenons would be way more expensive than a P4. I don't think they would be worth it.

--------------
Knowan likes you. Knowan is your friend.
June 9, 2003 5:26:55 PM

Forget the dual Xeon, just simply overkill for your needs. Just get some dual channel DDR with the P4 and you are set.
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June 9, 2003 7:20:51 PM

Down to how much money you want to throw at it I guess.

For the cost of the Xeons and suitable board for either memory type you'd be able to get The P4 hyperthreading platform with a lot of money left to go towards a Quadro FX500 which would give the greatest performance boost.

<b>Vorsprung durch Dontwerk</b>.....<i>as they say at VIA</i>
June 9, 2003 8:00:42 PM

Thanks for your input.

I don't think dual xeons would be overkill. In fact, it was my first choice before the P4 @800FSB came out. Keep in mind that I'm working with Maya and Pixar Renderman Artist Tools (3D DCC), and with Shake and Avid Xpress (video). My point is: I don't need a renderfarm (!) but having a dual proc system (or at least hyperthreading) is a must. Oh, and I don't need a Quadro FX500, I got an FX2000!
June 9, 2003 8:59:44 PM

Quote:
but having a dual proc system (or at least hyperthreading) is a must.

Sounds about right! I'd try to go that way too. The only problem, really, is money... the 2.8 Xeons are quite expensive, so you could try 2.6, which would cost much less...

But if you keep the price in mind, I think you should go with a well-configured state-of-the-art 3.0Ghz P4 with lots of memory and excellent hard drive - maybe SATA RAID? With the money you'll save by not going Xeon, you'll be able to get lots of other goodies... consider that! :smile:

And about this:
Quote:
Correct me if I'm wrong: hyperthreading sure is great, but it can't do the job as well as a true dual CPU system.

Certainly true. But I was still very impressed when I first saw HT personally... Much better than what I had read and thought... :cool:
June 10, 2003 1:00:40 AM

Slight misinterperation on my part there - I read your card as a FX200 (do they exist? lol)

Anyway, as you've got the latest Nvidia workstation VGA card then I guess cost isn't much an issue and a dual CPU setup is a logical step to make it a true workstation.

As Intel have now discontinued Rambus support on their latest boards I'd say go DDR. Though this time next year Intel should be pushing DDR2 and there'll probably be another 0 added to that FX500 card ;-)



<b>Vorsprung durch Dontwerk</b>.....<i>as they say at VIA</i>
June 10, 2003 2:19:20 AM

Ok, then I guess I will forget about the RDRAM. But still, my main concern about Xeons is that they can only be paired with "slow" (ie:266mhz) DDR. Maybe will the next-gen be using faster DDR?! I just don't want to get stuck with like, 1 or 2 Gb of RAM no one would be willing to buy... when I realize I've made the mistake of buying it!

As for storage, I will probably stick to a good ol' single drive setup...for apps and OS! All my projects, image sequences and AVIs will be stored on an Medea 320Gb external [SCSI] drive array.
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June 10, 2003 3:40:09 AM

First of all, rendering 3D models takes very little CPU power, so the P4 would be the best option because it can help with other programs. BUT!!!

If you're doing FEA/FEM, you need as much power as possible! If you're not familiar with those terms yet, Finite Element Analysis is what you use to do stress testing! It can take many hours to process that information!

Imagine you were running SDRC I-Deas (Ford C3P, same thing) and designed a new car body you wanted to crash test. Now, you would add an engine and so forth from the parts bin, until you had a complete car. But testing the complete assembly in FEA could take WEEKS on a PC. This is where dual processor really save time!

Now I seriously doubt you'll ever do such an extensive project at home, but even if you wanted to stress test, say, a frisby hitting a brick wall, it would take hours to do many elemets.

So for general purpose use (including normal 3D modeling, which is fairly easy on the CPU), the P4 3GHz would be fine. For anything that requires hours of crunching hundreds or thousands of large numbers, dual Xeons would be choice.

<font color=blue>Watts mean squat if you don't have quality!</font color=blue>
June 10, 2003 3:54:02 AM

While I agree with your post overall, I just have to say this:
Quote:
(including normal 3D modeling, which is fairly easy on the CPU),

This sounds about right. The modeling stage of 3d-editing won't really use two processors to their full capabilities. But!...
Quote:
rendering 3D models takes very little CPU power

Rendering 3D models takes a lot of raw CPU power! And it's widely multi-thread-friendly, which means it'll really exploit the two processors. Complex scenes can take lots of time to render, but only if you want small movies or something. Single frames might take a couple of minutes in complex scenes. So going Xeon might only be a good alternative if you render lots of frames at once (i.e. a few seconds of video), in which case it'll really pay off, or you simply love raytracing or are impatient. So I agree with you, in the end... :smile: I'd go with P4 3.0Ghz.
June 10, 2003 6:24:08 PM

I agree too, but...

Quote:
Rendering 3D models takes a lot of raw CPU power!

You bet it does! I'm almost always rendering something that involves raytracing... I remember rendering a 5 second (@24fps, 720X480) sequence involving an extremely bump-mapped glass and a liquid filling it; it took 10 hours to render (P4 1.7ghz 768mb PC800). Speaking of liquids, I also use a particle-based CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) program that can be VERY cpu-intensive. I also use a program to simulate Hair dynamics (and this takes an even worse amount of time to calculate). Both of these apps support multiple procs, and I think it sure ain't for nothing! But as I said before, my main concern with Xeons is that they can only be used with slow DDR (though new 533FSB mobos have dual-channel support).
June 10, 2003 6:27:44 PM

Given you've got a high end storage solution and VGA card It really makes sense to go for the Dual CPU setup. The line of work you're in could very well require this in the near future.

The new dual CPU platforms and chips availiable soon will have the desired FSB and memory speeds albeit the cost. But then you could go good for a couple of years without needing an upgrade and no job would be too big for you then.

<b>Vorsprung durch Dontwerk</b>.....<i>as they say at VIA</i>
June 10, 2003 8:20:34 PM

Hi! Just wonder if you have considered the Opteron? No agp yet but quit soon I've read somewhere.

If not go with the dual Xeon and RDram! Expensive but probably needed. Maybe you can get a good deal on those RDrams?

GL

Turk
June 10, 2003 10:43:29 PM

I would totally go with Dual CPU's for the job/tasks that you have described. I have a dual CPU setup of P3 500 Non-xeon and i compared it to a single p3 500 non xeon and the time to do something was drastically reduced(old technology but my point still stands)

Isnt intel coming out with a New FSB for the xeons and a new chipset fairly soon with in the next 3 months i believe. When Prescott hits i would say the new chipset and fsb will be out.

Mike
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