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Old Mar 3, 2012, 09:09 PM   #1
Tutor
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Suburb of Birmingham, AL - Home of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
All We Know About Maximizing CPU Related Performance

For those individuals who have successfully built or currently successfully build their own system(s) and/or have successfully modified or do successfully modify their prebuilt system(s) for maximum CPU performance, and for those individuals who are earnestly interested in successfully building or modifying their own personal prebuilt system(s) for maximum CPU performance, this thread is dedicated to being a one-stop-shop for locating information helpful for successfully maximizing CPU performance. There are other threads (and forums) for the expression of views by those who advocate (or believe) that doing neither is best and there are other threads (and forums) for software, including OS, installation [such as http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/ind...owtopic=185097 ] and tweaking [such as http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/ind...ic=233891&st=0 or http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/ind...owtopic=196771 ], but this isn't one of those threads. So with that opening in mind, I hope that those of you who are experienced and successful at maximizing CPU performance by system build and/or modification contribute your knowledge so that those who truly desire to learn how to enhance their system's CPU's performance are enlightened. I hope that those of you who truly desire to learn how to enhance system CPU performance by system build and/or modification get your questions answered clearly and satisfactory.

By using the phrase "CPU Related Performance" I intend that this thread also include information regarding other modifications such as, but not limited to, better cooling, faster storage, video card upgrades for OCL/CUDA assist, PCI-e based CPU assist, and memory upgrades.

Please revisit this first post regularly as I will be continually compiling here a resource summary for building and modifying different systems. This summary includes:

I. Modifying an Intel Mac Pro :

1) Mac Pro 1,1 -
(a) CPU swap [For possible Xeon 5100 CPU configurations see http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Xeon/T...on%205100.html ; for possible Xeon 5300 CPU configurations see http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Xeon/T...on%205300.html and for standard/approved configurations see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_Pro ] and/or BSEL/VID mod [ http://www.o0o.it/pro/ ];
(b) EFI utility for 2006 MP [ http://forum.netkas.org/index.php?ac...4.0;attach=888 ];
(c) ZDNet utility [ http://www.zdnet.de/magazin/39192217...of-mac-pro.htm ] works best with 800 MHz ram;
(d) smcFanControl [ http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/23049/smcfancontrol ];
(e) more powerful fans at front and back of base. Caveat: may -> greater noise;
(f) Combo of preceding will likely work best;
(g) For other very helpful information such as steps to follow, perceived level of difficulty, and time to complete, see the following posts: ... .

2) Mac Pro 2,1 -
(a) same as Mac Pro 1,1, except (depending on your CPU) BSEL/VID mod may not be needed and EFI utility for 2006 MP isn't needed;
(b) For other very helpful information such as steps to follow, perceived level of difficulty, and time to complete, see the following posts: ... .

3) Mac Pro 3,1 -
(a) same as Mac Pro 2,1, except 800 MHz ram comes stock, no BSEL/VID mod needed, and CPU options differ [For possible Xeon 5400 CPU configurations see http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Xeon/T...on%205400.html and for standard/approved configurations see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_Pro ];
(b) For other very helpful information such as steps to follow, perceived level of difficulty, and time to complete, see the following posts: ... .

4) Mac Pro 4,1 -
(a) CPU swap - long 3mm allen key needed for the job [For possible Xeon 3500 1-CPU configurations see http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Xeon/T...on%203500.html; for possible Xeon 5500 2-CPU configurations see http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Xeon/T...on%205500.html and for standard/approved configurations see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_Pro ], but Westmere 6-core options [For possible Xeon 3600 1-CPU configurations see http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Xeon/T...on%203600.html; for possible Xeon 5600 2-CPU configurations see http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Xeon/T...on%205600.html and for standard/approved configurations see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_Pro ] require EFI utility for 2009 MP [ http://forum.netkas.org/index.php/topic,852.0.html ]. Lidless CPUs were impossible for me to find. The standard covered Xeons will fit under the heat sinks that Apple uses for the dual-processor 4,1s. Swap requires 4 washers (bought mine from The Home Depot) and additional thermal padding. See, e.g., http://forums.macrumors.com/showthre...=781908&page=1 .
(b) smcFanControl [ http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/23049/smcfancontrol ]; and/or
(c) more powerful fans. Caveat: may -> greater noise;
(d) Also consider getting DDR3 1333 MHz memory if you use Westmeres via the EFI utility;
(e) Combo of preceding will likely work best;
(f) For other very helpful information such as steps to follow, perceived level of difficulty, and time to complete, see the following posts: #3 -wonderspark (Bonus- PCI card/Storage upgrade info); ... .

5) Mac Pro 5,1 -
(a) same as Mac Pro 4,1, except no EFI utility needed and only Westmere CPUs [For possible Xeon 3600 1-CPU configurations see http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Xeon/T...on%203600.html; for possible Xeon 5600 2-CPU configurations see http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Xeon/T...on%205600.html and for standard/approved configurations see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_Pro ] should be considered. Mac Pro 5,1 comes with DDR3 1333 MHz memory;
(b) For other very helpful information such as steps to follow, perceived level of difficulty, and time to complete, see the following posts: #7-jasonvp; ... .

6) Mac Pro 6,1
(a) CPU swap;
(b) Memory swap/upgrade;
(c) Storage swap/upgrade;
(d) For other very helpful information such as steps to follow, perceived level of difficulty, and time to complete, see the following posts: ... .

II. Building your own system:

Please keep in mind that you must be willing to continuously learn and eventually do for yourself; than pay it forward to the newcomers.


1) Single CPU system -
(a) Gigabyte motherboards recommended for a good combination of price/performance/flexibility. Consider an X79 Sandy Bridge (socket 2011) motherboard and a Xeon 1650 [3.2 -> 3.8 GHz] - has error correction support - $583 for best price/performance if you can use 6 cores or a Xeon 1620 [3.6 -> 3.9 GHz] - has error correction support - $294 for best price/performance if all that you need are 4 cores http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Bridge. For the best performance if you going to be over- or under- clocking the system, get memory at least one, and preferably two, steps higher than that recommended by the motherboard manufacturer. That means, e.g., if the manufacturer recommends DDR3 1333 MHz memory, get DDR3 1600, or preferably DDR3 1800/1866 memory, because you'll need that headroom whether you overclock or underclock, unless you rely solely on just increasing the CPU multiplier on an unlocked CPU. Tweaked i7 3960X [ http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/562206 ] and 3930K [ http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/590733 ] single processor systems are beginning to displace older 2P+ systems even on pages 3 and 4 of top Geekbench 2 scores, yielding Geekbench 2 scores in the 27,000 - 30,000 range; thus, surpassing the benchmarks of the top of the line 2P 2010/2012 Mac Pros, even those with the 5690X processor swap. Keeping my system's V-core within Spec VID, the best that I could achieve with the 3930k was a Geekbench 2 score of 27605 in Windows 7 [ http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/850697 ]. Moreover, the performance delta between 2 proc self-builds and 1 proc self-builds appears to be narrowing; thus, the glow of 2 proc self-build systems appears to be fading, especially it view of the widening cost delta of 2 proc self-build systems over 1 proc self-build systems.

ASRocks have gotten very good reviews and their literature says (and some of the reviews have mentioned that claim) that it has a feature whereby you can lock down the things that Intel has lately tied to the BCLK so that you can over- and under-clock the Sandy Bridge cpus just like with the Westmere cpus (they call it: " Untied Overclocking Technology"). Here's how one of their manuals describes it:

2.26 Untied Overclocking Technology
This motherboard supports Untied Overclocking Technology, which means during
overclocking, BCLK enjoys better margin due to fixed PCIE buses. Before you
enable Untied Overclocking function, please enter “Overclock Mode” option of UEFI
setup to set the selection from [Auto] to [Manual]. Therefore, BCLK is untied during
overclocking, but PCIE buses are in the fixed mode so that BCLK can operate under
a more stable overclocking environment.

Before buying an ASRock motherboard, I suggest that you confirm whether ASRock's literature is accurate. You should call or email them.
(b) Cases/cooling - I prefer the Antec Twelve Hundred. See 2(b), below.
(c) For other very helpful information such as steps to follow, perceived level of difficulty, and time to complete, see the following posts: ... .

2) Dual CPU system -
(a) EVGA SR-2 motherboards for Nehalem and Westmere CPUs are still the best for dual CPU builds. EVGA SRX was for Sandy Bridge E5s, but its been discontinued. Asus has Sandy Bridge E5 dual CPU challengers, but I do not recommend them - the original and replacements I've had were all poorly manufactured and all were not dependable. Gigabyte has a 2P E5 Board - the Gigabyte GA-7PESH1 Dual Socket LGA2011 Motherboard, briefly reviewed at http://www.ocaholic.ch/xoops/html/mo...mid=714&page=0 , which is now a part of Gigabyte's lineup of single and dual processor Sandy Bridge E5 single and dual processor motherboards: http://b2b.gigabyte.com/products/lis...89&v=16&ck=101 .
Gigabyte also introduced its line of bare bone dual processor rack servers based on the Intel Xeon Sandy Bridge E5 Family: http://www.gigabyte.us/press-center/....aspx?nid=1138. Also see http://download.gigabyte.us/FileList..._catalog_b.pdf for Gigabytes' brochure.

2 proc Sandy Bridge E5 mobo shootout:
Supermicro X9DAi http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/599576
Intel S2600CO http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/658811
HP Z820 Workstation (often it's like the Tyan motherboard) http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/654366
ASUSTeK Z9PE WS-D8 http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/580661

For the best performance if you going to be over- or under- clocking the system (only an option on the EVGA SR-2), get memory at least one, and preferably two, steps higher than that recommended by the motherboard manufacturer. That means, e.g., if the manufacturer recommends DDR3 1333 MHz memory, get at least DDR3 1600, or preferably DDR3 1800/1866 memory, because you'll need that headroom whether you overclock or underclock, unless you rely solely on just increasing the CPU multiplier on an unlocked CPU;
(b) Case/Cooling - There are Mountain Mod cases [ http://www.mountainmods.com/computer-cases-c-21.html ] and Lian Li cases [e.g., http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811112312 ] that are roomy and completely functional. However, since I like sleek styling, a front grill look and I'm more interested in cooling, I now use modified Antec Twelve Hundreds [ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811129100 ] because, for cooling - then desired styling, nothing beats these metal cases for the price. They have 3 - 120mm front panel ("FP") fans. I've reversed the flow of the top one to be an exhaust and swapped its positioning with the DVD drives, but a little more on that later. There's a 120mm fan on the side for additional cooling for the GPU. There's a 200mm fan on the top (we all know that heat rises). There's a grill on the rear for the card slots to exhaust PCIe card heat. But most important to me are the 2 120 mm fan accommodations on the rear. I've set them up as 2 air intakes for dual fan radiator cooling, i.e., ->fan->radiator->fan----->reversed FP fan->) for 2 Corsair 80s [ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16835181016 ] for cooling two CPUs.
(c) SR-2 recommended bios settings:
i) Under Frequency/Voltage Control for overclocking change the following to:
PCIE Frequency Setting - 102-103;
ii) Under Voltage Configuration for clock tweaking change the following to:
All Bootup and Eventual Vcore to "Auto;"
All Bootup VTT's to 3.50 to 3.75, depending on stability needs;
All Eventual VTT's to 3.75 to 1.4, depending on stability needs;
IOH to 3.75 to 1.4, depending on stability needs. Leave all other parameters at default, except disable VDroop.
iii) Under Signal Tweaks change the following to:
Only PCIE Signals 1 and 2 should be "Auto", all of the rest should be set at their maximum negative value;
iv) Under CPU Configuration change the following to:
Only Max CPUID Value Limit should be disabled; everything else should be enabled, including but not limited to, Intel® SpeedStep(™) tech, TurboMode tech, and C-State tech.
v) Under Memory Configuration change the following to:
Try Auto/Default states for all until system is completely stable.
vi) Advanced Settings:SATA Configuration:Configure SATA#1 as [AHCI]
vii) Power Management Features:ACPI Configuration:General ACPI Configuration: Suspend Mode: [S3(STR)]
viii) Power Management Features:ACPI Configuration:Chipset ACPI Configuration: High Precision Event Timer: [Enabled]


(d) For other very helpful information such as steps to follow, perceived level of difficulty, and time to complete, see the following posts: ... .

3) 4+ CPU system - For Intel And AMD chips - SuperMicro (and now Asus) motherboards. Supermicro has a board with 4 full length PCI-e 2.0 slots and 4 G34 sockets and 16 ram slots that can handle 64 GB of unbuffered memory (and up to 256GB registered ECC) [ http://www.supermicro.com/a_images/p...GL-6F_spec.jpg ]. Asus has also introduced quad processor servers. They are the RS920-E7/RS8 server [ http://www.asus.com/Server_Workstati...rs/RS920E7RS8/ ] and RS926-E7/RS8 server [ http://www.asus.com/Server_Workstati...rs/RS926E7RS8/ ]. Both support the Intel 4600 series 4-way Xeon® Romley-EP 4S and are equipped with 32 DIMM slots, onboard VGA and 6+1 expansion slots. They can contain eight hot-swap hard drives and 1+1 redundant power supplies and retail for between $2,500 to $3,000 w/o HDs, ram and CPUs. Supermicro has two quad processer (Xeon Sandy Bridge 4600s) motherboards: the MBD-X9QRi-F+ -B: http://www.supermicro.com/products/m...0/X9QRi-F_.cfm and the MBD-X9QR7-TF+ -B: http://www.supermicro.com/products/m.../X9QR7-TF_.cfm . Before 3D Fluff ceased updating their cinebench scores site, an Opteron 6174 system with 48 cores and threads, running at 2.2 GHz on Win XP 64 bit, reported the highest reported Cinebench 11.5 score of 27.2 [ http://www.cbscores.com/index.php?sort=rend&order=desc ]. Now the latest G34 processors have 16 cores each and run at 3.1 Ghz each (not 2.2 Ghz); so they would probably have higher Cinebench 11.5 scores than the Opteron 6174 systems. The quad CPU Sandy Bridge 4600 systems are even better performers.
(a) These systems don't support CPU tweaking very much;
(b) For other very helpful information such as steps to follow, perceived level of difficulty, and time to complete, see the following posts: ... .

III. My Fav Resources::

(1) 270-WS-W555 DSDT native power management modifications
http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/ind...owtopic=233891

(2) DSDT — What is it and how do I get it?
http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/ind...owtopic=278170

(3) DSDT editor and patcher
http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/ind...owtopic=223205

(4) DSDT Forum
http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/ind...?showforum=228

(5) Decompiled original Apple DSDTs
http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/ind...owtopic=152566

(6) nvidia 670 etc
http://www.tonymacx86.com/mountain-l...-th-print.html

(7) Chameleon Wizard - Utility for Chameleon
http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/ind...owtopic=257464

(8) The all-in-one guide to Vanilla OS X Mountain Lion + Chameleon + DSDT for beginners
http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/ind...owtopic=280756

(9) Latest : Chameleon 2.1svn Official PKG Installer & Binaries
http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/ind...owtopic=231075

(10) System Info, an app to get hardware and kexts info
http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/ind...owtopic=219584

(11) FakeSMC – absolutely essential – tricks OS X into thinking it’s a real Mac
http://www.projectosx.com/forum/inde...showtopic=1643

(12) NullCPUPowerManagement – generally required initially to prevent kernel panics, may not be needed once AppleIntelCPUPowerManagement is patched after install.
http://www.osx86.net/view/16-nullcpu...2--64-bit.html

(13) Kext Utility v2.5.1
http://cvad-mac.narod2.ru/Kext_Utility/

IV. Cool Performance Innovations:

1) EIC Solutions has an interesting solution. These [ http://www.eicsolutions.com/blog/pre...protector-1043 ] pre-packaged air conditioned enclosures, if priced right, might spell the end to water cooling and case envy, and lead to the occurrence of higher and more frequent turbo boosting, better over clocking performance if you are into that, and prolonged system life.

V. Credits:

This summary is based on information gathered from various sources and resources regarding maximizing CPU performance, including posts in this thread and forum.

VI. Suggestions:

For anyone who has successfully built or currently successfully builds his/her own system(s) and/or has successfully modified or does successfully modify his/her own prebuilt system(s) for maximum CPU performance, please describe (or provide URL references to) what you did in sufficient detail for replication by someone who may be new to this endeavor? It might also be helpful to those new to this endeavor to get answers to questions such as the following: How do you evaluate the level of difficulty involved and why? What are the gotchas and other caveats, and how do you recommend countering or contending with them? What are the costs involved? What's the estimate of time it will take from start to completion? How do you measure the success or maximization of CPU performance achieved? Was the performance gain worth the cost, time, effort and any downsides?

For all who are interested in this thread, what's new in CPU/CPU-GPU assisted performance and what might it mean to maximizing CPU or CPU-like performance?
__________________
21 tweaked, multiOS rendering systems - oTitan RD TE > 58 (86,432 CUDA cores). 13,120 ATI Stream PUs. 206 CPU cores. Benches: CB11.5-48.5; CB15-3,791; GB2-58,027; GB3-71,691; LuxMark/Sala-12,330.

Last edited by Tutor; Dec 9, 2013 at 01:23 PM. Reason: Subject to continuing updates
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