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Old Dec 14, 2012, 05:10 PM   #1
macstatic
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Cores vs. processor speed

Which 2010 Mac Pro would be faster (mostly Photoshop but also video editing and music recording software)?:

4-core 2.8GHz (single CPU)
8-core 2.4GHz (dual CPU)

I'm also wondering if turning off cores is the same as having less physical cores? I've read that Photoshop's ultimate setup is with 6 cores, which leaves the question if the CPU speed difference above in that case makes much of a difference making the 4-core the better choice?
I assume the amount of memory also makes a difference.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 05:12 PM   #2
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I assume the amount of memory also makes a difference.
true.

Going by your proposed use (any video editing) I would say that, disregarding cost, the 8 core option would be best.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 05:35 PM   #3
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 06:06 PM   #4
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I should have written "Mostly Photoshop but probably also some video editing and music recording software)" as I'll be buying the Mac Pro foremost for photographic applications.

I'm contemplating which Mac Pro to get because Diglloyd's Mac Performance Guide among others says that more cores actually leads to slower performance with Photoshop. He also states that cores can be turned off using a processor control panel (part of Apple's developer tools) but it's unclear if this gives the same result as buying a Mac Pro with less cores to begin with.
My idea of course is that the 8-core could be useful for software which actually takes advantage of them, while turning them off for software which doesn't (Photoshop etc.). But at the same time I'm not sure how much difference the processor speed (and memory) makes in relation to this.

I know CPUs can be upgraded in these Mac Pros, but at a cost. In that case a single CPU would be more cost effective. Actually I missed out on a very good priced 2009 4-core 2.66GHz model, so considering that these 2010 models cost more I'd rather "get it right to begin with", skip any CPU upgrades and instead have a computer that would last longer by getting a faster one for little higher price.

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Old Dec 14, 2012, 07:07 PM   #5
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I'd get the 4-core, and if you find you need more cores, buy a 6-core 3.33GHz CPU for under $600 and drop that in. That's what I did, and I edit HD video for a living.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 07:27 PM   #6
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I am certain that PS and other CS apps are capable of using multiple processors and making use of every single core. So in your case, the 8 Core model would be faster. For creative work, I would recommend a bare minimum of 8GB RAM (CS, Aperture etc.), preferably 12 or 16GB+ (FCP X, After Effects, DaVinci or other apps).
Certainly you checked into this issue prior to posting.
2.4GHz is the slowest of the bunch for Adobe always.
http://macperformanceguide.com/Revie...resSlower.html

It has not changed in CS6. The only reason to get a 8+ Core Dual Proc Mac is for the Memory slots. Even Lightroom has shown to not properly use all the horsepower. So if your workflow needs 48+GB of memory then you have no choice. Otherwise go Quad+ with the highest GHz. Even a 2.3GHz Macbook Pro beats the 8-core 2.4GHz Mac Pro in PS. If you are not super hard core in Video and Music any Mac will suffice.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 07:46 PM   #7
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 07:53 PM   #8
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I don't know about Adobe screwing up.

I'm happy with my dark UI, and I got Audition and SpeedGrade, along with some nice improvements in Photoshop and After Effects. I think CS6 was a worthy upgrade, and it thinks I have 12 cores, of which I limit After Effects to use only 8 of them on my 6-core 12-thread CPU. It's stable and gets the job done lickety-split!
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 09:10 PM   #9
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In an effort to keep current info intact Wonder's After Effects.app is an Adobe CS app that does use all available resources and the more cores and memory the better. Lightroom is pretty much the same as it will use everything just not as well.
PS starts to migrate into the "GHz matter a bit more" and by the time InDesign rolls around I would rather have a 3.6GHz Core 2 duo iMac than a 12-core 2.66 Mac Pro. A highly clocked quad is perfect for most design work. A hex even better for the added headroom. Adobe is showing that the changing of the GHz myth takes nearly 10 years to implement in their flagship product. $1799.00 a speed bump.
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 04:53 AM   #10
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On my 8-core MP Photoshop doesn't use more than 4 cores 90% of the time. Except for video & rendering, 4 fast cores will generally be faster than 8 slower cores. Even in 2012.
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 05:54 AM   #11
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Well, hats off to Adobe for screwing up and still expecting $800+ from educators! I paid my own money for the educational version of CS6 Master Collection, an upgrade from CS5 I bought off a friend (legal copy). All because I thought I was going to get a nice dark UI, some cool new features but most importantly, amazing improvement in performance. Sorry I don't use Lightroom so I can't comment on that but I find Aperture and even FCP X over Adobe applications to be a much better solution.
I wouldn't blame this one on Adobe, especially when your conclusions are based on a false premise. With After Effects it assigns a certain amount of memory per core, and it does scale ridiculously well with parallel processes on tasks like rendering. It's not like Lightroom doesn't scale. It's just at high numbers it gains more from fewer cores at higher clock rates. Geekbench tends to highly favor core counts, both physical and logical, yet 64 bit Geekbench benchmarks currently place the 6 core over the 8 core. This is not unusual behavior due to poor optimization. Also Aperture writes too much data to disk. Lightroom is reasonably fast and doesn't expand the required storage so much. What I dislike about Adobe is typically their processing algorithms compared to Capture One or Phocus. Even if you prefer Aperture, I wouldn't automatically expect the 8 core to be faster there.


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PS starts to migrate into the "GHz matter a bit more" and by the time InDesign rolls around I would rather have a 3.6GHz Core 2 duo iMac than a 12-core 2.66 Mac Pro. A highly clocked quad is perfect for most design work. A hex even better for the added headroom. Adobe is showing that the changing of the GHz myth takes nearly 10 years to implement in their flagship product. $1799.00 a speed bump.
This isn't just Adobe. If you look at a fairly modern 3d modeling like modo, it can address up to something like 24 cores, yet it won't do so in all tasks. It seems like tasks meant to run in real time are not typically split up into n-threaded processes. Some of these algorithms also don't really scale well. Much of the math behind a lot of this stuff is pre-existing where the software developers merely find a way to implement it. With highly parallel stuff, the tendency seems to be to address it via OpenCL acceleration. If you look at a company like Boxx, they suggest 12-16 core machines for some workflows. Others suggest overclocked quad core workstations, much like you just suggested. I agree with the assessment. I just don't put all of this on Adobe. As I pointed out the W3680 actually geekbenches higher, in spite of it seemingly favoring core counts.
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 06:18 AM   #12
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On my 8-core MP Photoshop doesn't use more than 4 cores 90% of the time. Except for video & rendering, 4 fast cores will generally be faster than 8 slower cores. Even in 2012.
I was going to post the same.

On this 1,1 I notice PS and other CS programs don't max out the processors. Not even close when having 10+ large-image windows going.

Video will max the system at times. 1080 is particularly difficult on this computer, when editing/converting.
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 12:19 PM   #13
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 12:44 PM   #14
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6 core is the 'sweet spot' apparently - I'm still using a QC and have the option of upgrading to 6core as it looks like a fairly easy upgrade.
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 01:28 PM   #15
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It's not false to assume such, considering the amount of money Adobe has stolen from me in the last 7 years. You would expect a company of this size to provide quality software. If you're not an educator, you're SCREWED with a bill of $3 grand + $800 bucks every thus many years for upgrades. Don't forget about taxes and other fees. I'm still looking for a reasonably priced six core processor that would work in the QC '09 MP. If you look at my sig, I am only getting a GB of 9,613. This is approx. 50% slower than the 2600k PC I built a while back. Sold that one to rack up some cash for a future project.
Yeah the 2600k is a couple generations newer. That is comparing high end 2011 mainstream desktop cpu to the low end of 2009 Nehalem EN. It's not surprising. You could drop a W3680 in that. They run around $600, and you'd need to upgrade the firmware to match the 2010 mac pro. I get that Adobe charges a lot for the upgrades they provide. People say the same thing about Autodesk. What annoys me about Adobe is their flakey behavior on licensing policies. They refer to it as a monthly rate, yet the rate they like to quote only applies if you sign up a year at a time.

Anyway back on topic, you seemed annoyed that the 6 core was faster than the 8 core with Adobe. I pointed out that the 8 core wasn't that great of a machine for most users. The 6 core was actually more expensive, and its geekbench score was higher. Real world differences in most applications should show an even bigger gap between the two. I mean when the benchmarks aren't even in favor of the 8 core, why blame Adobe there? I wished Adobe would come out with 10 bit displayport support on OSX. They didn't. It turned out to be on Apple's end. In my opinion we get stuck with a lot of these companies.
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 01:34 PM   #16
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In my opinion we get stuck with a lot of these companies.
This, unfortunately.
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 01:55 PM   #17
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 02:13 PM   #18
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Don't rely on Geekbench alone as an indication of how well real world software will run on the CPU.
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 02:18 PM   #19
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This, unfortunately.
I avoid these types of companies where I can, but it's not always possible. Certain products are just so completely entrenched. After Effects is one of their products that has actually seen real improvements. It gained a CUDA raytracer, particles, and a 3d camera tracker in CS6. That is impressive, although these functions may need some time to mature. They could use better scripting and a complete migration away from the evil that is javascript.

Quote:
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This is the comparison:
http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/compare/392827/1406077

I'm not annoyed that the 6 core is faster than the 8 core in apps, I am actually surprised. I was going to buy the MP 4,1 8 Core but saved $800 by getting the QC model. After learning about this, I'm looking to upgrade the chip to a 6 Core. I couldn't have stuck with the PC anyways, all my pro apps that I paid for ran only on OS X. I don't think you can stick an OS X license key into a PC version. Like most people, buy a MP 4,1 QC and upgrade almost everything. I stuck a GX 670 in there, SSD, OWC RAM... The CPU is next.
Well they're the same architecture. The 8 core has 1/3 more cores spread between two chips. The 6 core is clocked 50% higher. The dual package cpus and boards cost significantly more, so your money doesn't go as far. I think Adobe allows you to crossgrade. You can do it at the time of upgrade or contact their customer service, so you're not totally stuck with Apple.
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Old Dec 15, 2012, 06:30 PM   #20
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Take into account price/performance. If the quad-core takes, lets say throwing out a random number, 30 minutes to render a 720hp movie or something like that, and the "8core", which btw isn't a true 8core, it's 2 cpus, on 1 chip, in 20 minutes, does the increase in price equate to the increase in performance, or not? There's something called the megahertz myth by the way, but it wouldn't apply to this. Generally if a application doesn't make use of all cores properly a higher clocked intel cpu will outperform a lower clocked intel cpu even if it has more cores. But, if I were you I'd just stick with a quad-core and be happy with it. No point in paying a premium for 2 extra cores only to have possibly less than stellar results from it. also, just to clarify on the megahertz myth some, more cores and processor speed doesn't always mean better results, it can depend on the architecture. Take amd's bulldozer for example, 8 cores, higher base clock speed, yet slower than intel's i5 2500k.
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Old Dec 16, 2012, 10:34 AM   #21
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Old Dec 16, 2012, 11:08 AM   #22
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Can't run Aperture or FCP X on a PC. Nor can you safely read/write to HFS disks. I'd rather be stuck with than not.
HFS+ isn't one of my favorite things about OSX. The FCPX point is valid, but I think Lightroom far exceeds Aperture.
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