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Dual Processor Gaming Question

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December 5, 2007 2:26:43 PM

Hey all, just looking for some advice - if this is in the wrong section then apologies, please move it.

Basically, I have an old gaming PC, an AMD 2700+ and a GeForce 7600. I've got the oppurtunity to 'acquire' an old server from work, and was thinking about stripping it for parts, specifically swapping the motherbaords and using the 2 x Intel Xeon 2.8GHz processors from the server.

So basically, I'm wondering what kind of performance increase I'm likely to get. I'm not expecting to run Crysis or anything, I'm just a little confused re. whether older games (Farcry, FEAR, HL2 etc.) will take advantage of having 2 processors. I know older game engines don't support multi core processors, but would they take advantage of having 2 separate CPUs?

Thanks for any advice. :) 
December 5, 2007 2:44:57 PM

Does the server board have any graphics ports? (PCI-E or AGP) I'm honestly not sure how this would turn out, but I don't know that you'd see too much of a difference between the server system and your current one... mainly because your GPU would be a huge bottleneck to the system if the server board even has an expansion slot for a graphics port.

*edit* You could make a wicked file / web server though. :p 
December 5, 2007 3:30:38 PM

rgeist554 is right.

but to answer your question in theory, most games STILL do not take advantage of multiple processors. Not so sure about fear, but I know for a fact that Far Cry and Half Life 2 don't. Even Crysis, which was advertised to work best on quads, really only utilizes two cores.

That said, within two or three years, we will probably start to see thread branching, in which programs are written to take advantage of how ever many cores are present. Thus, to 'future proof' your system (not a safe phrase to use in the computer industry) you'd be best going with a multi core system. However, your rig is still fairly outdated, especially the video card, which is what rgeist said.
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December 5, 2007 3:58:08 PM

Well dualcore is a good thing for UT3 and GOW for example. Your 7600 will perform OK with that judging by the UT3demo.
Some people here seem to think that you become a better gamer by having the latest hardware...thats not true!
I dont know how separate cpu's go with multithreading exactly but i guess i should be fine...?
December 5, 2007 4:16:42 PM

Cool, thanks for the responses. Looks like I'm best just going from scratch when I get the money. Was wondering if this would be a reasonable intermediate solution with the greater FSB and cache of the Xeon, but it doesn't look like it's worth the hassle.

In answer to rgeist554, the motherboard has a PCI-E slot, so I could port the card over, for what it's worth.

Thanks for the clarification re. multiprocessor support too - was pretty sure that it'd be the case that they aren't supported, but what just curious as to whether the distinction between and multi core and separate CPUs would make a difference, basically whether the load balancing would happen on a lower level that could compensate.

Ah well, looks like I'm getting back to saving! :p 
December 6, 2007 10:31:53 AM

rayzor said:
rgeist554 is right.

but to answer your question in theory, most games STILL do not take advantage of multiple processors. Not so sure about fear, but I know for a fact that Far Cry and Half Life 2 don't. Even Crysis, which was advertised to work best on quads, really only utilizes two cores.


Supreme Commander
Lost Planet PC (there's a setting called "concurrent operations"-I think, set to 4 for a quad core and the increase is huge).
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2quad-...

Unfortunately, I don't like either game.

Intel paid Crytek about 4mil$ to put ads and say whatever in interviews. (2mil$ from nvidia)
December 6, 2007 2:04:36 PM

i am still hoping that crysis will attain better performance on quads with future patches/updates, but i have no concrete evidence to support this hope :( 
December 6, 2007 2:55:40 PM

Even if it does gain better performance from Quads, I just don't think it's going to give you a 20 FPS difference. Crysis is more GPU intensive at the moment, and there really isn't much that can be done about it. If you are having severe frame drops, you can try changing the way the CPU handles the physics. (This helps a lot and makes object movement look much more smooth) Open the console and type "sys_physics_CPU 0" without quotes.
December 6, 2007 3:44:57 PM

although.... for the OP, it will still probably be better than what he is using now...
December 6, 2007 8:33:17 PM

What chipset is that server board using? Most recent server chipsets have multiple FSB's. Usually one per CPU. So running 2 dualcore CPU's might be even faster then running a quadcore on a single FSB.

Remember that Intel's quad is 2 dualcores glued together sharing thesame bus. That's actually 3 devices hanging off thesame bus (The 2 dualcores + the northbridge) So in theory a multi-CPU board can give larger bandwidth to the memory and the rest of the system.

However transfers going from one dualcore to the other dualcore would be slower. Instead of 2 devices talking to each other on thesame bus, you'd have to take a diversion through the northbridge to get onto the other FSB and the other dualcore.

Does this server board use FB-DIMM? Because if it does its's a 5000 series chipset and has 2 FSB's hanging off the northbridge. Either way: Compared to your current system it would be an improvement.
December 6, 2007 9:55:43 PM

i would have to agree with vtolfreak on that one. your increase might not be huge as mentioned in earlier posts but it would be better over all. that said if u through in a 8800gt (if ur getting the server for free its a small upgrade cost since u have a pci-e 16x) and i think you would get some very nice performance in the interim from now tell you do build an entirely new pc. its our call. on the quad core note for things like crysis. i am running a fx-60 (sometimes overclocked sometimes not) and it never maxs out both cores,,,say 85 percent at best while call of duty 4 pins the graph at 100% on both) some games are more effecient than others. besides even playing crysis on meduim, looks very nice.
December 7, 2007 10:41:19 AM

Ok, the board uses an Intel E7320 chipset, and if we're being exact, the processors are 'IBM 2.8GHz 800MHz 1MB L2 Cache Xeon DP with Intel EM64T'. I don't think that the board uses FB-DIMM, but feel free to correct me!

Thanks
December 8, 2007 9:42:53 AM

yeah from that chipset and what i read up on it yould should get a better increase in performance. if the server is free, i wouldn't pass it up.
December 17, 2007 9:44:11 AM

I thought that only NT will allow multithreading apps,am I wrong?
December 17, 2007 8:08:38 PM

very wrong. xp allows them as well, vista is supposed to be even better parrallel computing but vista has plenty of other troubles. you can actually manually assign tasks to core if an app isn't multi-threaded in xp. most new games take advantage of two cores effectively (COD4 maxs out two cores) and even crysis is supposed to use four cores but it doesn't max them out from what i have read though they are alll in use.
December 22, 2007 10:50:44 PM

rgeist554 said:
Even if it does gain better performance from Quads, I just don't think it's going to give you a 20 FPS difference. Crysis is more GPU intensive at the moment, and there really isn't much that can be done about it. If you are having severe frame drops, you can try changing the way the CPU handles the physics. (This helps a lot and makes object movement look much more smooth) Open the console and type "sys_physics_CPU 0" without quotes.

I have dualcore opteron and 8800GTX and for me its CPU what was limiting me in Crysis (overclocking CPU increased FPS greatly and they still was at 100% CPU usage).
I am getting Quadcore after new year as i prefer to have come CPU power at spare in case i am running also something else and 100% utilizing CPU usualy means its limiting factor.
I am not sure if 4 cores increase FPS much but there will be at least some improvements and spare core can be used in many ways (for system proceses, TS/Ventrilo, Fraps etc).
December 24, 2007 5:03:40 AM

rgeist554 wrote :

Even if it does gain better performance from Quads, I just don't think it's going to give you a 20 FPS difference. Crysis is more GPU intensive at the moment, and there really isn't much that can be done about it. If you are having severe frame drops, you can try changing the way the CPU handles the physics. (This helps a lot and makes object movement look much more smooth) Open the console and type "sys_physics_CPU 0" without quotes.

xrodney said:
I have dualcore opteron and 8800GTX and for me its CPU what was limiting me in Crysis (overclocking CPU increased FPS greatly and they still was at 100% CPU usage).
I am getting Quadcore after new year as i prefer to have come CPU power at spare in case i am running also something else and 100% utilizing CPU usualy means its limiting factor.
I am not sure if 4 cores increase FPS much but there will be at least some improvements and spare core can be used in many ways (for system proceses, TS/Ventrilo, Fraps etc).


i run an fx60 overclocked at 2.9 when i play crysis with 2 8800gtx's (@1080p). it does max out two cores no question however the fastest amd cpu still bottlenecks a 8800gtx to some degree. so yes when u over clock ur opty your going to see a large improvement because your giving your gtx more breathing room. from what i have read on other posts with peeps running core2quads....the cpu's are not maxed out...they tend to be running at about 80% or less on all four cores. so while i think you partially correct in the fact in that having a few more cores help....i do have to agree with rgeist that crysis is more gpu intensive otherwise all four cores would be maxed out. now is that bad coding? or just hype to get you to upgrade your cpu...i dare not say with any degree of certainty. who knows maybe in a patch or two we'll see all four cores pegged at 100%...either way i think there is no question next gen gpu's should help crysis out consideribly when they are released.
December 26, 2007 1:52:59 PM

Quote:
I have dualcore opteron and 8800GTX and for me its CPU what was limiting me in Crysis (overclocking CPU increased FPS greatly and they still was at 100% CPU usage).
I am getting Quadcore after new year as i prefer to have come CPU power at spare in case i am running also something else and 100% utilizing CPU usualy means its limiting factor.
I am not sure if 4 cores increase FPS much but there will be at least some improvements and spare core can be used in many ways (for system proceses, TS/Ventrilo, Fraps etc).


If you remain on the same chip architecture (we'll use Netburst for this case) and keep the same speed in Ghz. You will see almost no performance increase between 1 and 2 cores unless the application being run is optimize to utilize multiple cores. (Even then, a game like Crysis just isn't a game where you can pop in a single piece of hardware and see a huge gain in performance).

Example of DC vs. Single Core on same architecture:
http://www23.tomshardware.com/cpu_2007.html?modelx=33&m...

If you'll notice the Dual-Core Pentium D 930 gets the same FPS as the Pentium 4 at the same clock speed.

While you will almost always see some increase (no matter how small) between one and two cores, throwing more cores with the same architecture is not always the best solution. It's all dependent on the situation. In your case, multitasking would benefit pretty well from multiple cores since you can assign different apps to certain cores. (You may want to check for malware or something if you are at 100% CPU usage though, I'd say that is a bit odd - unless your are encoding or something in the background :p )

If, however, you add more cores on a different, better architecture you will likely see a notable performance gain. (Ex. Netburst -> Core)

December 28, 2007 12:48:37 PM

i have no idea, but the situation seem not good....
December 28, 2007 1:24:28 PM

Don't be frightened, we are just getting a little technical. :) 
!