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the practical limits on a single cpu

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a b à CPUs
February 3, 2002 1:51:16 PM

i often wonder... beyond our tech-head desires to have make our computers faster then percieved possible by normal users, does anybody think that the cpu industry might be reaching a point where pushing single cpus farther just isn't as important as loading up with multiple cpus? from what i have heard on the subject, a dual cpu config would be superior because of multi-tasking reasons. and if you ask me, when it comes to cooling the cpus i'm pretty tired of having to support the latest and greatest with these oversized cooling fans.

i would love to see an article about the real speed and pricing benefits of dual cpus when stacked up against a single cryo-cooled, or some other monstrosity of a cooling system, cpu. especially now that many operating systems are begining to support dual cpus and because of the pricing curve, which makes the most recent and "best new new NEW" cpu 1/3rd more expensive then its almost-the-same-damn-thing predicesor. dual cpu motherboards are even getting cheap.

even if it isn't more practical, why hasn't some mainstream oem corp tried to market a 'PhAt' multi-cpu build for us insecure people who measure our worth by the processing power in our box. wouldn't dual cpu buzzwords override the intel-driven 'mhz are everything' public beliefs?

i wait for the day when PRICE of processors arn't the things being manufactured because the company just overclocks what they had before with a bigger fan. i want to measure my computer by the actual amount of hardware inside and go back to when my heatsink didn't need a makeshift pully system to install.

a b à CPUs
February 3, 2002 2:11:33 PM

Interesting thought, yeah, I remember the days when heatsinks didn't exist on cpu's. I've often thought, if amd and intel made physically larger cpu's, would that not mean that we could use smaller heatsinks, granted, lots of people don't want a massive cpu, but i would rather that than have a jet engine-like extractor fan inside my machine. Its because everything has to be smaller that everything gets hotter, so does common sense not tell us that bigger IS in fact better? the chances are though, that when dual cpu's become the 'fashion' then two 700's will obviously NOT be enough. I mean, if we are going to have two cpu's we want at least 3ghz running through each cpu giving combined power of 6gig. Just so it beats Mr Jones's system next door, and we get good benchmark scores.
February 3, 2002 3:24:27 PM

good thought, but doesnt seem to be practical.

dual processors in every home isnt quite possible, since the average user Joe thinks of price, then utility and then technology.

I know a few people who are more than content with a 486 that they bought over their 386 because all they do is use a DOS based accounting package and print documents in Wordstar. even that 16MB in their system is waste, full 15 MB of it. whereas there are many power users who would like to have a fastest system by any means be it a dual processor or a heavy duty single processor machine. these guys know what they need and go for it. the ones that do not know and do not need too fast a system, are quite happy with their single processor systems.

one thing to consider here is beyond a certain limit, the extra power of your computer isnt even perceptible! that limit might be different for different people, but its true. while Intel and AMD keep advertising their faster and fastest processor, and majority of the people buying them, are buying them because nothing lower than that is available or advisable. not because they really need those things! and with the extra cost associated with dual processor systems, SMP capable operating systems and the better hardware that to work with these high performance system doesnt justify SMP getting into next door systems.


<font color=red>Nothing is fool-proof. Fools are Ingenious!</font color=red>
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a b à CPUs
February 3, 2002 3:41:24 PM

basically though, it all depends on what you use it for. take this, my dad, who always has to have better than me, has got a duron 750, 256mb pc133, 20gb etc etc. a decent system. for storing spreadsheets and typing documents. But now he is whinging because windows doesn't load as quick as what it does on my system. and now he's considering a P4!! I said, yes of course daddy. what a good idea. Burn money.

He's a bit stupid really, cos he's bought a scanner and a digital camera last year, and they have been used about 5 times. And now he wants a new printer too, because the epson stylus 640 is about 2yr old now. Despite the quality and print-rate being very acceptable.

A lot of it is competition with your friends/colleagues/whatever. Most people want a good system, because it's better than the blokes down the road, but me with an Athlon 1.13 am satisfied. I don't think i'll change this chip for quite a while as I am very happy with it. Despite my mate Dan have a 1600XP. And Richard who's got a GF3 Ti500. Some people are impulsive and want the fastest (AMD) or they want the 'best' (Intel). But the way I see it is, mostly it's unnecessary. for gaming, as i've discovered, as long as you got a good graphics card, then you don't need a ridiculously fast processor.

One thing that may shock some people is, I also have an older Cyrix M2 333 @ 266mhz on a TX pro 2 m/board with 128 mb ram and a 2 gig hard disk. And this is the most reliable system I have ever had and the CPU cannot be touched, or the surrounding motherboard because it's simply too hot, especially with a P133 hsf on it, and i've been running this system for about 3 years now. Not 1 glitch. Hung quite a lot when upgrading to Win2k with 32MB ram, but the extra sorted it.

Spec of a PC depends on what you use it for, but most people want the fastest anyway, even if it's not necessary.
February 3, 2002 4:00:53 PM

It doesn't seem practical yet but it may soon take off depending on AMD and intel stratagies. If AMD wanted to massively push CPUs out their doors they could have worked on a SMP chipset sooner rather than later. Worst mistake I see (if making SMP popular) is how they wield the 760MPX and MP processor series. You have to get two MPs rather than XPs to go dual. Afaik the two really aren't all that different except for about $30-60 for two of the same speed or PR rating. If there's another difference I'd be all ears. They'd have to sell it to the OEMs, that's for sure. That wouldn't be to difficult given that WinXP does dual.

The XP/MP convention is a total waste and delayed my upgrade into the middle of this month. And why? Cause they figure OEMs and IT departments will shell out more. Only problem is most corporations trust nothing but intel and want new gear at a lower price point. 845 anyone? That does well simply because they can say they have P4 systems and didn't have to pay out the arse. They don't care if the performance is dumbed down to the level of the last generation P3s because it's all about saying they have their P4 upgrades done. With their mentality they'll go Xeon over MP because it's pentium and touted by blus skin freaks a little aliens.

AMD aimed their 760MP/MPX configurations at the wrong market. If they wanted to keep the MP name they could have let the 760MP/MPX do dual XP and made the MP special by having more cache (which it kinda needs... badly). This would have meant Joy to all but well... AMD shot the 760MP in the foot before it had a real chance among enthusiasts.

Admittently I have to say I'm getting two MP1900+s for video editing/mpeg2 encoding. If I could do the same with XP1900+s I'd be saving $144 after buying both. Am I really getting $144 more performance on top of what I would pay for two XPs? If I am someone please tell me so and why because the way I see it I'm simply paying more for a different letter in the alphabet. $144 could double my ram or buy a lot of DVD-R media.

Well there's my little rant. Almost as long as an article on this site. :p 

Intel is god, cleanroom is life, and the wafers are all that matter.
February 3, 2002 4:18:21 PM

CPU do not get hotter because they are smaller, but because they are faster. I agree that a larger CPU is more easy to cool, but it will also use more electricity. The new .13 chips will run cooler then the .18 at the same speed, but the .13 will be faster then the .18 an produce more heat.

My case has so many fans that it hovers above the ground :eek:  .
February 4, 2002 12:17:08 AM

To clear something up, I dont think they are "overlocking" old cores and calling it something new Jive Turkey. I had a similar gripe so I asked some Cpu engineers why chips are produced and marketed the way they are. Here is what they said:

When you design a new core, the key thing is to make sure it works. Once all (read: most) of the bugs are worked out, you box it and sell it. Chances are you spent 3-5 years designing it, so you have to recoop some of your money. Over the next 2 years, you find faster and more efficient ways to process info in the core. You add a path here, shorten a path there... and wham, you get a 100 megahertz or so. You box it and sell it, and go back to looking for other optimizations. If they waited until they pushed the core as far as it would go, the company would go broke and we would only get new chips on the market about every 4 years. As it stands now, we have WAY more choice ( perhaps too much). Its all about scalability.
As for the heat, the new Silicon on Insulator will help a little. But until they radically depart from x486 ( fat chance) the heat issues will remain. More circuits, smaller space, faster speed = serious heat.

Benchmarks are like sex, everybody loves doing it, everybody thinks they are good at it.
February 4, 2002 12:37:53 AM

yes, but then you have, probably the majority of people that don't know, but think they NEED the fastest/lastest/dual cpu because they figure theres no way you could have ie, outlook express and mp3's going at the same time on one cpu :eek: 

happiness is finding a stick of ram in your mail.
February 4, 2002 7:14:35 AM

well, I build systems, very top-notch systems for other people using the best possible components available in India, I hand tune the BIOS, Windows and other things to make the system to be most reliable and faster as possible. Its very satisfying when I get the bootup time under 25 seconds.

Yet, what I own andwork on for last two and a half years is my favorite old K6-II 350 MHz on a RedFox ALiAGP motherboard, older rev A that doesnt even support ATA/66. Still, I get this system to boot in under 40 seconds. I am not thinking of any upgrade yet, I thought of it once and I just replaced the cheap cooler with a intel stock HSF and overclocked it to 500, as simple as that! No other part in the system has changed since Aug 1999, except the cooler and a switch from 4.3GB HD to a 10.2GB one last year.

As for my clients, I try to convince them what they really need, and keep the upgrade as a later option. And almost everybody of them is convinced!

Pushing SMP systems should work fine in some cases and places, but as I said earlier, an average user thinks of price first, then utility and then technology. This SMP campaign could receive a mixed response, because SMP is not cheap. Cost is a major factor for the average user. Say about 10% of them will get a SMP system, and 100% of them will be doing nothing with it. SMP capabe operating systems are costly, so are the applicatoins that take advantage of it. The average user thinks his system of a P-III box with lots of RAM (its cheap) running Windows 98. Not much more than that.

Maybe somebody like Compaq or HP should give it a shot with their SMP Home PCs, and we will know!


<font color=red>Nothing is fool-proof. Fools are Ingenious!</font color=red>