Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Racing For Two Processing Units

Single-Core CPUs Ain't Dead Yet
By

Next, we put together typical systems both for the AMD and the Intel architecture. Within both platform boundaries we wanted to have roughly about the same processing power, comprising either a 2.2 GHz dual-core processor or two 2.2 GHz single-core chips from AMD, and the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 at 3.2 GHz, two 3.2 GHz Xeons or the latest 2.8 GHz Xeon dual-core. As there is no faster version available, we have to live with the reduced clock speed for the dual core.

Of course, we could have compared Intel devices at 2.8 GHz only, but this would have left the Intel setup far behind in any performance comparison against the AMD platform lineup we used for benchmarking (see below).

AMD Platform System Lineup

AMD Platform Single Processor System, Dual Core CPU Dual Processor System, One Dual Core CPU Dual Processor System, Two Single Core CPUs
Platform Socket 939 Socket 940 Socket 940
Processor(s) Athlon 64 X2 4400+ (2.2 GHz)
$520
Opteron 275 (2.2 GHz)
$1,100
2x Opteron 248 (2.2 GHz)
$700
Motherboard $200 $280 $280
RAM 2x 1 GB DDR400
$200
2x 1 GB DDR400 ECC Registered
$250
4x 512 MB DDR400
ECC Registered
$250
Total Cost $920 $1,630 $1,230
Comments Non-upgradeable. Second dual core CPU can be added. Single core CPUs can be exchanged by dual core chips.

Each processor uses its own memory.

We did not intend to search for particularly cheap components, so we decided to go for mid-class parts whenever possible. We also focused on NVIDIA nForce4 Professional chipsets when researching prices. We made sure that the price for a Socket 940 dual-processor motherboard reflected one that comes with dedicated memory for each of the two sockets. We picked the most affordable memory modules from the top brands that would accommodate our motherboards (4x 512 MB for the dual processor setup vs. 2x 1 GB for the single CPU dual-core lineup).

Intel Platform System Lineup

Intel Platform Single Processor System, Dual Core CPU Dual Processor System, One Dual Core CPU Dual Processor System, Two Single Core CPUs
Platform Socket 775 Socket 604 Socket 604
Processor(s) Intel Pentium Processor Extreme Edition 840 (3.2 GHz)
$1,000
Intel Xeon Dual Core Processor 2.8 GHz
$1,100
2x Intel Xeon Processor 3.2 GHz (2 MB Cache)
$700
Motherboard $200 $280 $280
RAM 2x 1 GB DDR2-667
$250
2x 1 GB DDR2-400
ECC Registered
$250
2x 1 GB DDR2-400
ECC Registered
$250
Total Cost $1,450 $1,630 $1,230
Comments Non-upgradeable.

Pentium D 840 would deliver almost the same performance at $ 500 less. However, it won't support HyperThreading.

Second dual core CPU can be added.

Two cores and four threads thanks to Hyper Threading.

Single core CPUs can be exchanged by dual core chips.

Two processors with two threads each thanks to Hyper Threading.

As was the case with Intel CPUs, the premium dual-core chips results in a system price that is considerably higher than that of a single-core dual-processor machine.

However, cost-saving options exist. Since Intel is very well aware that AMD's architecture is superior, the pricing has been adjusted accordingly. Unless you don't explicitly insist on having HyperThreading, you can drop the Extreme Edition and go for a regular Pentium D 840. This will reduce your processor price by 50% and have an impact on performance of between zero and a few percentage points only.

React To This Article