Computer Processor Comparisons

Archived discussion from Toril-2.
Silverast Rubicyn
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Computer Processor Comparisons

Postby Silverast Rubicyn » Thu Mar 31, 2005 2:33 pm

Hey All!

First I wanted to thank everyone a while back for helping me when I was first building my PC, it rocked, thanks a ton!

Even though that wasn't too long ago, the time has come for me to once again upgrade my PC. The only reason for this is that a good friend of mine has a pair of those nifty Geforce SLI cards that he's hooking me up with, so I'm going to be making the switch from a P4 3ghz to an AMD64 3200+. From what I understand the AMD64 3200+ is 2ghz ... now this is where my questions come in.

Even though the speed is 2ghz, I've heard that it blows away a P4 3ghz ... is that true?

And the second question is ... originally I wanted the 3500+ (2.2ghz, I'm basically putting together the same system as my friend, and this is what he got), but the price for it was practically double, and since I'm on a budget I had to settle for the 3200+. Is there a reason why its so much more money for a 200mhz boost in speed? Oh yea, I should also note these are the 90nm versions of the chip ... my friend said they are better because they run cooler and use less power.

Any input would be great, I'm ordering the pieces tomorrow, and should have my new SLI system up and running by Mon/Tues. Thanks a ton guys! :)

-Talsor/Ed
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Postby Sarvis » Thu Mar 31, 2005 4:34 pm

Well, the 3200+ should be about equivalent to a 3.2Ghz processor. Basically Athlons run slower (2ghz in this case) but do a lot more operations per cycle. That's where they get the 3200+ number from, by comparing the number of operations their chip is doing to Pentium's actual chip speed.

I'm not sure it'll "blow away" your 3Ghz pentium, but it should be a bit faster!
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Postby Yasden » Thu Mar 31, 2005 11:28 pm

And because they do a lot more operations per cycle, their lifespan isn't even close to that of an Intel chip. Just something to chew on.
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Postby selerial » Thu Mar 31, 2005 11:34 pm

Yasden wrote:And because they do a lot more operations per cycle, their lifespan isn't even close to that of an Intel chip. Just something to chew on.


Though by the time that mattered, if you wanted to get a replacement CPU for the same speed (if any were still available) they'd probably cost 25-50$..
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Postby Yasden » Thu Mar 31, 2005 11:48 pm

That's not true if you're working the hell out of them, especially in a server environment. You can burn through AMD's in 6 months. But that's neither here nor there. I was just informing him of the trend with AMD processors.

Anyway, I just wanted to let Silverast know his options. Your friend's system is way more spendy because the old rule of new technology falls into play here. The newer the technology, the more expensive it will be. To be honest, I've fiddled around with a couple 3+ ghz systems and they don't seem to be really all that much faster than my 2.3ghz P4 I got over a year and a half ago (I bought it when 2.8's? I think it was were fresh). Also, what sort of RAM are you using? If you're using the machine for heavy online gaming, I'd make sure you can potentially squeeze 2gigs of RAM via 4 expansion slots (333mhz+) onto the board.

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Postby rylan » Thu Mar 31, 2005 11:54 pm

I have yet to see an AMD processor die within 5 years due to normal or even heavy use unless something else dies first like the cooling fan.
Where do you get that info from, Intel? The AMD core has a lower operating frequency and generates less heat on the same process than the Intel core. Just because it is doing more work per cycle doesn't mean its going to die in 6 months.
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Postby rer » Fri Apr 01, 2005 12:14 am

I think he was exaggerating, but AMD chips do tend to have lower life cycles than Intel Chips.

Silverast, is the 3GhZ CPU a 32- or 64-bit processor?

That would be where you'd notice some good differences in speed.

One of my co-workers just put together a similar system with an AMD 64 and is getting over 14000 flops. Add to that his dual GPU/SLI creation with 256Megs DDR3 and he's got a damned fast gaming machine (forgot how much RAM he said he has in there :( ).
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Postby Jhorr » Fri Apr 01, 2005 1:19 am

A commonly overlooked bottleneck in speed is actually the hard disk. You can have the fastest CPU available but if your information is bogged down going from the disk to RAM and vice versa, you'll be slow as molasses.

I have an AMD64 3200+ 90nm system and also a P4 2.6Ghz. The AMD system seems much faster but it also has a SATA drive where the P4 system does not. I think this is why it seems faster, not really the CPU.

Something to keep in mind.

Also, if you are running those SLI cards, make sure you have an adequate power supply, especially for AMD64. In particular, make sure the power on the 12V rail is good (>28A or so?).
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Postby Yasden » Fri Apr 01, 2005 1:48 am

SCSI > IDE, nuff said.

And I was referring to server environments when stating the 6 month lifespan of an AMD.
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Postby selerial » Fri Apr 01, 2005 2:47 am

Yasden wrote:SCSI > IDE, nuff said.

And I was referring to server environments when stating the 6 month lifespan of an AMD.


The first sentiment is true, but the second still smells a lot like FUD to me. As it so happens, I work in a "server environment" - a data center. I laugh at the prospect that any company would buy a part knowing that they'd have to buy a replacement in six months. Server-level parts are generally far more expensive than their consumer-level counterparts. Theoretically they are higher quality, though through visual inspection you wouldn't be able to guess the quality of one stick of RAM vs another. Finally, I'm the guy that has to poke around in these servers or occasionally let a Compaq/Sun etc hardware tech in to work on them, and I can assure you that in my five years here, no one CPU has had to have been replaced regularly on a server due to a 6-month burnout. But that's really neither here nor there to the original post, I just dislike seeing something which seems patently fishy without some sort of backing link (find an article on Tom's Hardware or a similar site backing this and I'll consider changing my view).
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Postby selerial » Fri Apr 01, 2005 3:06 am

My home rig is a 3200+, though I only went for the 32-bit rather than 64. Ah well, when the time comes I'll just upgrade the motherboard too.. I've got a 250GB SATA drive, 1GB of RAM (forget which type), and a Radeon 9800. I've had it for eight or nine months and it runs Half-Life 2 and World of Warcraft just fine. Assuming you're going to be running apps of a similar nature, the 3200+ should be a reasonable processor for those and probably future apps for a couple years.

Ultimately the CPU is important, but the RAM, HDD, and especially the graphics card are in combination what really make the system. But, again, it really depends on what sort of usage you're looking for from the hardware.
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Postby Kifle » Fri Apr 01, 2005 3:11 am

Tom's Hardware? Isn't that place Intel biased anyway?

If you're gonna be gaming a lot, which it sounds like you are since you're upgrading just because of an SLI vid card, the AMD64 is a good choice. They outperform Intel in the gaming department, although Intel is still good. Also, I'm going to have to agree with rylan on the chip burnout thing. The life expectancy is much more reliant on cooling rather than workload (except in the case of the HD and how much paging you do). Keep your components cool, don't OC them, and you'll have a chip that will last you until the new technology makes it look like it's moving at a snail's pace. Also, if any company built CPU's at the server level that had a common burnout in a 6 month time-frame, that company wouldn't last long...AMD has.

About your original question, no, the AMD 64 2ghz will not "blow away" an Intel 3ghz. I hardly doubt you will find much of a performance boost at all really. However, if you where going to be runing a 64bit OS, then yeah, you'd probably see the performace gain. Most of the "performance gain" is seen only in benchmarks which are not very indicative of real life performance. What is really going to matter here is that you're getting a 939 64bit chip and SLI. Basically, you're just prepared for the next wave of tech...
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Postby Silverast Rubicyn » Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:24 am

Yea, the chip I'm getting is the same as Jhorr's, 3200+ 90nm. Like I said, my friend just built this same exact system (except he has the 3500+) and he said it flies. My current p4 is 32bit, and it's pretty good, its just that my old HD and crappy video card are bogging down my frames per second in WoW :) Originally I was getting hooked up with some other pci-e card that extremely high end, but I couldnt find a p4 board that supported pci-e. The only one I found was an albatross one, and it was consistently out of stock on newegg, before they stopped listing it alltogether. I really wanted to use this badass FREE video card, so I decided to upgrade to AMD. And then since I was doing AMD , he told me he had another pair of those SLI geforce cards so ... well you can see how this unfolded from a simple upgrade to a complete new system :P

I'm ripping the ram out of my p4 system, corsair xms extreme 1gb dual channel. I'm also buying a 160gb SATA 7200rpm barracuda HD.

Basically the point of this post was to be a little bit more informed of the differences in the different chips. I'd like to think over the past few months I've learned alot about intel chips, but I've never had any experience with AMD. And since you guys helped me like champs last time, I thought I'd ask again :)

You guys rock, thanks for the responses! Ordering the new stuff tomorrow, hopefully will have it on monday, then I'll be rocking a new AMD64 SLI system :) Woohoo I'll finally be able to enable all my video settings in WoW and turn them all up to high!

-Talsor/Ed
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Postby rylan » Fri Apr 01, 2005 1:49 pm

Kifle wrote:Tom's Hardware? Isn't that place Intel biased anyway?


Yes, Tom became an Intel whore several years ago. Its unfortunate how his 'reviews' have become blatantely biased.

Anyway, performance wise AMD and Intel are fairly equal with their various chip ratings. AMD's big edge, as mentioned is their Athlon64, since you're all set for Windows 64-bit. The thing to remember about AMD based systems is it wants lower latency for maximum performance... so CAS2 low latency memory will make an impact. With Intel systems its more dependant upon clock speed, so you need higher speed memory such as DDR2 for max performance, which has higher latencies.
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Postby Silverast Rubicyn » Fri Apr 01, 2005 3:45 pm

Thats cool Rylan, that means that my RAM will perform better in the AMD system, because I remember the review I read on it said that it has low latency.
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Postby Kifle » Fri Apr 01, 2005 10:48 pm

Heh, Low latency is a subjective marketing term really. Most RAM will come as CAS2, but I've seen CAS2.5 and even 3 being pawned off as low latency. You can just get CPU-Z and check yourslef...or if you are comfortable with bios, just check there.

Also, if I where you, and if I had the money, I'd get a low storage 10k rpm HD instead of a 7.2. And definately get SATA. Just keep your old HD as a storage.
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Postby rylan » Sat Apr 02, 2005 12:19 am

Thats pretty cheesy if places are marketing CAS2.5 or 3 as low latency. In my opinion PC3200 DDR shouldn't be marked low latency unless it can do 2-3-2-6 1T timing.
Good point about the HD. The 10k rpm drives are pricier, but they do rock. Either way a 7200rpm SATA will be much better than your old HD.
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Postby Iaiken Toransier » Sat Apr 02, 2005 4:22 pm

Hey Silverast,


The one thing that I find most people need to understand is that mhz (while important for large batches of number calculations that use the instruction cache) is not really that important for application performance. Please don't take any offence if I write things simply enough so that non-comp geeks can understand too. (non-geeks mud?)

Why AMD is currently better than Intel:

The Mhz myth has long followed Intel, this is the line of thought that by increasing the number of cycles per second, you can increase performance. This is ONLY true for cpu centric calculations that exclude the rest of the system. If you wrote a loop to add one register to another over and over without ever going outside the CPU, the Intel would perform better as it would perform 3000ish opperations per second while the amd will only process 2000ish.

Application performance is based on Mhz and Latency; Mhz and latency are both interdependant as well. Latency is the time that it takes for a signal to get from one point in the system to another... think of it kinda like driving time. Mhz is dependant on latency because if you increase the number of cycles per second without decreasing latency, you are engineering a "hurry up and wait" architecture. This is where the cpu gets an instruction set, burns through it, waits for the information to go to the ram and waits for the next set of instructions then it does this all over again. Latency is somewhat less dependant on cpu cycles because of the system clock and interrupts. This is really hard to explain without doing some stupidly complex math, if you want to find out more, there are math proofs all over the net.

The Northbridge and the not-so-Northbridge architectures also play a key role in performance as they handle all (or most) of the I/O fror the CPU. The not-so-northbridge is just a word I made up for the current AMD Northbridge, the northbridge as defined by IBM is the controller chip that controls I/O of the RAM and the Southbridge. Currently AMD Northbridges do not have a Memory controller (because the memory controller is on the CPU) and simply interface with the Southbridge, what's more, chipsets such as the Nforce4 and the new ATI chipset do not have a Southbridge as both are encompased in one chip.

Onboard Memory Controllers. This OLD technology gives AMD a huge latency advantage over Intel because the AMD chips are cutting out a lot of extra distance that those electrons used to travel. Imagine you were an AMD CPU and you wanted something to eat(information from the memory). You first check the refrigerator(cache) and when it's not there you just drive straight to the corner store. An Intel CPU, however, checks the fridge, then drives all the way to it's mom's place to ask her to pick him up something to eat, she figures out what he wants and where it is, drives all the way there and back, gives it to him, then he drives home before eating it. Once again, there are a ton of math proofs on the net.

Thermal conciderations. Without some sort of retarded cooling solution you're not gonna get that Intel Prescott any faster, it's just going to double as a space heater if you try and overclock. AMD Winchester CPU's however have room for upto 30% overclocks not only of the CPU, but the Hypertransport Bus and the PCI Express Bus as well. Additionally, the Athlon64 3000+, 3200+ and 3500+ are all identical chips and can all be overclocked to the speed of an FX-55 (2.61ghz) with little difficulty with a faster bus to boot.

Non-CPU conciderations:

Hard Drives, SATA or SCSI over Sata are a must for any drive that houses a page file or application cache (adobe products) or just application installs. This drive doesn't need to be huge, 2 mirrored 36gb Raptor 10krpms were more than enough for me. Then for all of your mass movie, music, and other media storage needs you can make use of ATA drives in one form of raid or another.

RAM plays an intregal role as well in CPU performance, it is best to buy a ram set with VERY agressive timings and then drop the timings so that you can clock the rambus to match your CPU's bus. This will again cut down on latency caused by your ram waiting for your cpu to sync or vice versa. Different bus speeds here can kill your performance as you can miss almost an entire clock cycle while one waits for the other.


Anyway, that's my lamans guide to CPU performance. As for AMD's chiplife, I've been running my 3000+ at 2.618ghz on air and it doesn't spike above 38C under a full load. Somehow I think my Prescott is going to burn out first it gets upwards of 50C.

There are other conciderations for one to think about such as how much threading your apps do, if you're threading a lot you might as well take advantage of Intel HT as you cut down on a lot of latency there. Athlons just do software threading which is exactly like running each thread as it's own seperate application.

Next Stop: Parallel instruction processing. ie CELL!

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