Which Intel / AMD Quad CPU?

Started by FrankB, March 17, 2008, 10:58:01 am

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FrankB

I've lost track of all the different version names of Intel's and/or AMD's quad core processors.
I'm referring to their "names" such as Phenom, Kentsfield, etc...
Which is Intel's and AMD's latest Quad CPU version? And what's next and when?
Last thing I remember when I looked up AMD's quad a while ago was that it had a few defects which are supposed to be mended in the next version...

I thought this might be a good place to ask the question as I assume a few of you have just recently updated your knowledge on these CPU things (as everyone is waiting for TG2 multi-core).

Thanks in advance,
Frank

rcallicotte

I'll stick with Intel, from past experience with driver problems not that long ago when using an AMD.

<ducks>
So this is Disney World.  Can we live here?

mr-miley

calico.... stand up you coward and take the wrath from the AMD community like a man (/woman?)  ;D
I love the smell of caffine in the morning

rcallicotte

Right.  I know the value of both, but have found Intel stands up fine.

Quote from: mr-miley on March 17, 2008, 12:28:53 pm
calico.... stand up you coward and take the wrath from the AMD community like a man (/woman?)  ;D
So this is Disney World.  Can we live here?

mr-miley

Only joking  ;D . I've used both and can't say I've noticed any difference to be honest. I must admit I have a leaning towards AMD, but that has no technical basis, I am just natualy drawn towards the underdog  ;)
I love the smell of caffine in the morning

moodflow

I recently did some research on this as well.

At this point, intel's quad cores are not 'true' quad cores in a intra-core communications sense.  They are a true quad core otherwise, as there are 4 execution cores on the die.  However, CPUs have to communicate over the FSB (front side bus), which technically slows things down.  I don't think this would make a noticeable difference when rendering images, atleast from my logic.  It likely wouldn't be noticeable on anything else either.  This should be resolved with Intel's Nehalem processor due out later in the year or early 2009.  Nehalem - a funny name - sounds like somone just cleared their throat.

AMDs quad core (the Phenom) is a true quad core right off the bat.  The execution cores communicate with each other directly on the die, which is a few orders of magnitude faster than using the FSB.  But unfortunately, the CPU technology they are using is not as efficient as Intel's at this time, meaning less efficiency and slower processing speeds.  But AMD also had another setback with this processor, and that was a calculation bug that was due to a physical flaw in the chip.  This would cause the system to lock up.  It was a rare occurance, but significant enough for them to send out a BIOS patch that would disable some of its functionality, and slow it down.

I believe this is now resolved, but they are still behind on speeds and efficiency.  I am currently waiting for their 3.0GHz processors (quad of course) to come out, which should be sometime later in the year, pending no problems.

I'll take whatever will get the job done best, Intel or AMD, but like Mr. Miley, I tend to gravitate towards the underdog. 
http://www.moodflow.com
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Oshyan

Ultimately terms like "true quad core" don't really mean much in the end. It's true that AMD's architecture for multi-core processors is theoretically more efficient, but in practice Intel's design is ultimately superior. As of the introduction of the "Core" architecture Intel has really stolen AMD's thunder. It was about time really as Intel's Netburst architecture frankly sucked out loud. ;D

Anyway at this point Intel's Core architecture is the current state-of-the-art and although AMD's Phenom CPU's are low-priced, ultimately Intel still has the price-performance crown I think. The Q6600 quad core 2.4Ghz CPU has been the "sweet spot" for price/performance on the Intel side for about a year now, but we're nearing the tail end of that timeframe I think. If I were looking at a new system now I'd personally consider waiting a bit. If you'd have bought a Q6600 6-8 months ago you would have got a really good deal for the time, considering overall performance in the market, etc. Now the Q6600 hasn't changed price much in months and is becoming less attractive IMO. On the other hand the Q6700 and other higher-end CPU's are just overpriced IMO.

Intel released the Wolfdale .45 nanometer series earlier this year, but the major advances were only with SSE4 instructions and a lower power consumption from the die shrink. Not much interesting in terms of performance and the top speed is only dual core at 3.0Ghz. That's quite fast actually, but really not *that* fast considering it's more than a year after the 2.4Ghz Core 2 "sweet spot" CPU's were available for very cheap. So in other words it's not yet a big step up from the move to .45nm.

However within a few months we should see new .45nm CPU's, more of the Penryn generation (that refers to the overall architecture generation, not the specific CPU series, e.g. Wolfdale is of the Penryn architecture generation), some with as many as 6 cores. At that point you'll either get really good deals on the previous generation (still nice performance and now cheap), or you can spend a bit more and get some of the new improvements: faster clock speeds, more cores, less power usage for a given speed, etc.

Buuuut, wait even a few months longer, to Q4 '08, and you will see the introduction of "Nehalem" on the high end. These are "only" going to be quad core at first, but they will include the return of simultaneous multi-threading (SMT, like Intel's previous hyperthreading), except that this time it's supposed to be a lot better than hyperthreading was. So you'll have 4 physical CPU cores but the possibility to execute 8 threads at once. There will also be dual sockets for these. Assuming the same clock speed as we currently have, these will outperform current generation Intel CPU's. They should also be available at even higher clock speeds, although obviously at a price premium. This will also mark the introduction of Intel's own onboard memory controllers, finally making them "true quad cores" as Moodflow put it. Again this should improve performance even further. Word in the industry is that Nehalem should be pretty awesome.

All that being said I frankly wouldn't look at a computer purchase within the next 6 months as being an all-out, high-end replacement for a current system. Everything is so cheap these days it really makes sense just to buy a workhorse for cheap, to tide you over. You can grab a quad core system with 4+GB of RAM for less than $600US in some cases. You don't need an amazing graphics card unless you're doing gaming, and even then there are some amazingly cheap, high-performance options (8800GT). So personally I'd buy now or soon, possibly waiting until the next (and last) iteration of the Penryn architecture to get the best prices, and then wait until I can see how Nehalem turns out and particularly what the price and clock speeds are like. If the price is right and clock speeds are high, I think early 2009 would be a great time to buy a new fully configured workstation with 8+GB of RAM, etc.

As for AMD, well I didn't talk about them much. I've been an AMD user for years, but there's just no getting around the fact that Intel's Core architecture has taken the crown from AMD. They're playing catch-up now. If AMD pulls something great off I'll be right back to recommending them - I'm not invested in either one. But for now I think it generally makes most sense to go Intel, and I think the Q6600 is still the "sweet spot".

- Oshyan

FrankB

Wow

Oshyan, thank you very much for sharing your insights and thoughts on the subject. That was really helpful.

Cheers,
Frank

Harvey Birdman

Yeah, that was an interesting read.   :)

rcallicotte

Cool, Oshyan.  Thanks so much.  This is excellent.
So this is Disney World.  Can we live here?

Moose

...and just to follow up on Oshyan's info for anyone who's interested in the techie details (well laymans tech, anyway) of Nehalem, here's a link to the latest updated info (as of a couple of days ago) from intel - http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=180891

Here's a quote from one of the articles linked to in the above link:

QuoteNehalem effectively includes the only remaining advantages AMD held over Intel with respect to memory performance and interconnect speed - you can expect a tremendous performance increase going from Penryn to Nehalem because of this. Intel is expecting memory accesses to be around twice the speed in Nehalem as they are in Penryn, which thanks to its aggressive prefetchers are already incredibly fast. If you think Intel's performance advantage is significant today, Nehalem should completely redefine your perspective - AMD needs its Bobcat and Bulldozer cores if it is going to want to compete.


I sure hope AMD do have something up their sleeve or else Intel will have free reign to charge as they choose - but it's hard to support AMD currently, I hope they can pull through.


efflux

March 19, 2008, 01:11:25 pm #11 Last Edit: March 19, 2008, 01:13:58 pm by efflux
Nehalem sounds good to me. I'm still running old PIV 3.0 GHz HT machines. I have a dual core Mac as well but it depends on software compatibility. Soon upgrades will start to make more sense and my move to Linux for a lot of things is starting to make Mac look like a poorer option for the future. TG2 works in Linux Wine by the way. Hopefully that won't get broken but I'll still have the Mac anyway even if I dump Windows completely.

FrankB

Quote from: Moose on March 19, 2008, 09:49:28 am
I sure hope AMD do have something up their sleeve or else Intel will have free reign to charge as they choose - but it's hard to support AMD currently, I hope they can pull through.


Agree. I have never owned an Intel CPU until today, it was always AMD mostly because of the lower price. But now that the performance differences play a key role, Intel simply is the better choice at the moment. But I hate to say it, primarily because I fear that Intel prices will go through the roof because AMD doesn't seem to be able to compete. No competition, monopoly, exaggerated pricing. Not good for any of us.
But at the same time, people wouldn't buy a too-weak CPU just for ideology. A vicious circle, as it leads to AMD having less chances to catch up.


rcallicotte

@Oshyan, where would be a good place to find this lower pricing?  I've done a beginning search and am not finding a system for under $600 that has a quad-core and 4G of RAM.  Any help would be good.
So this is Disney World.  Can we live here?

Oshyan

Quote from: calico on March 22, 2008, 02:25:15 pm
@Oshyan, where would be a good place to find this lower pricing?  I've done a beginning search and am not finding a system for under $600 that has a quad-core and 4G of RAM.  Any help would be good.


I was thinking particularly of the case of building your own system where I'm pretty sure it's possible with a little deal searching. Otherwise you'll probably have to catch a good deal like one of the ones Dell often has.

- Oshyan