8-Core vs. Quad-Core vs. Snow Leopard

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Apple Genius, Jul 10, 2009.

  1. Apple Genius macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2009
    1. I heard that Leopard doesn't even USE the full capacity of the 8-Core Nehalem processors, but in the future Snow Leopard will. Is that true?
    2. I'm thinking about buying an 8-Core Mac Pro. Is this technology so advanced that it won't be obsolete in 3 years?
    3. If I buy a new quad-core Mac Pro and don't think it's very fast for me, can I trade it back toward the 8-core?
    4. Is the fastest Quad-core (One 2.93GHz Quad-Core) faster than the slowest 8-core (Two 2.26GHz Quad-Core)?
    5. If I buy the quad-core can I upgrade it later to 8core and utilize all 32GB ram?
  2. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    1. Yes? No? Depends on what you do.
    2. There is no such thing as "future-proofing". That said, it will still run in three years.
    3. No. You pay 10% of the purchase price to return it if you open it.
  3. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    1. I am not sure about Nehalem but my Xeon is doing ok.
    Picture 4.jpg
    2. Nothing and I mean nothing is ever future proof. Not even your wife. So no, in 3 years you cannot be guaranteed it will not be "obsolete" but I have found Macs tend to be used longer than many other machines. Just an observation based on little study.
    3. No, you will pay a restocking fee if the law allows it in your state/country.

    You see, the computer will probably be fast enough for you but since you completely failed to actually say what you'll be doing I will say it will be fast enough for you. :cool:
  4. grue macrumors 65816

    Nov 14, 2003
    Especially not a wife. Gravity wins in the end.
  5. Apple Genius thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2009
    What if I want to get a faster one, can I trade it back for the full price?
  6. sbb155 macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2005
    future proof? YES
    all MPs are future prrof
    My 2006 2.66 dual core is faster than the fastest MBP available now in 2009.
    You can get 3-6 years out of a MP easily.
    This is not a laptop.
    And yes, the 2.93 is faster than the wimpy 2.26 octo - check out barefeats and other threads on this here, search.
  7. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    No, future-proofing doesn't exist.

    A computer is not an investment; they will all be outdated eventually. How much you spend (correlated to what hardware you get) is somewhat correlated to how long it lasts.
  8. Airforcekid macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2008
    United States of America
    In theory the slowest 8 core will beat the fastest quad core.

    In theory computers are obsolete after 5 years but im using an iMac from the late 90's still decent. In 3 years it should still rival entry to moderate macs.
  9. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    In theory huh?

    And gravity always wins over wives. ;)
  10. hehejames macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2009
    Hey... not so "Apple Genius" - you still haven't picked up your machine and still asking teh same old questions from your Jun 16th post? http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=721509

    Just buy the damn thing already...
  11. Dreamail macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2003
    Define 'Full Capacity'!
    Snow Leopard will see complete re-writes of many OS components, with the main goal of making them (better) multi-threaded, meaning tasks are split up into several individual processes which can then be run con-currently as individual threads.
    As a result SL will make much better use of multi-core/multi-thread CPUs.

    Will it use an 8-core/16-thread Nehalem Mac Pro to its full capacity?
    Depends on how many threads a specific task will spawn in SL. If it's less than 16 threads on an 8-core machine, the answer is 'no'.
    Personally I would not expect many OS tasks to even exist that can easily be spread onto 16+ threads.
    But SL will undoubtedly run much better than Leopard which in most cases uses just one thread for tasks.

    Define 'obsolete in 3 years'!
    This is so dependent on your future needs.
    Yet can you know today what you will want in 3 years time?

    The nice thing about Mac Pros is that they can be expanded via PCI slots and lots of internal drives. This allows you to upgrade with newer technology later-on, that is not available or built-in today.
    This ability makes the Mac Pro the most future-proof Mac model. Which is a good start.

    But will it be obsolete in 3 years?
    That will mostly depend on what feature you cannot live without in 3 years.
    And whether that feature can be added reasonably easily to current Mac Pros.

    For example it is quite possible that the highest high-end graphics card in 3 years will require a PCI speed (or successor bus technology) not even the current Mac Pros can provide.
    We are already seeing this on first generation Mac Pros (from 3 years ago) which cannot use current high-end graphics cards as their PCI bus speed is too slow. Or if they can use it, it will not run as fast as on the current Mac Pros.

    Or the current Apple RAID card is not compatible with first gen Mac Pros, yet it is the only RAID card from Apple that is well bootable under Mac OS and BootCamp.
    So if you need a BootCamp capable RAID card, then today a 3 year old Mac Pro will give you less optimal choices.

    Similar developments can be expected in 3 years with current Mac Pro models.
    Whether any of these future drawbacks will be a deal-breaker for you in 3 years - and hence render your Mac Pro 'obsolete' - only you can know.

    On the other hand I do not foresee the average iMac in 3 years to run 16+ concurrent threads. It will likely still be less. Probably 8 or 12. So the current 8-core/16-thread Mac Pro will certainly hold its ground much better than let's say today's iMac or a 4-core Mac Pro.

    As was said before, once you open a box and start up a new Mac, returning it will incur a 'restocking fee'. You will have to pay somewhat for 'trying things out'.
    So no, you will not get a full refund.
    But you will get a huge portion of your investment back if you return it within a few days. But don't wait too long as there is a time limit.

    In case you were to get the high-end 8-core 2.93 Mac Pro and should find it too slow, then you're plain out of luck. You then can only buy another non-Apple product or wait for faster CPUs in future Mac Pros.

    Or in other words, if you need a new Mac now, it might be worth getting a 2.93GHz 8-core Mac Pro (refurbished if you can't afford it new) just so you know, that if it's still too slow, you will just have to learn to live with it as it is as good as it gets.

    This will again depend on how well your applications of choice can use multiple threads.
    If you use applications that are mostly single-threaded, or can use multiple threads only for certain, few tasks (Photoshop CS4 comes to mind), then you are much better off with a 4-core 2.93 Mac Pro as Photoshop will likely use only one thread anyway, and in that case it's better that thread runs at 2.93GHz than 2.26.

    But eventually even Photoshop will become more and more multi-threaded. Perhaps not CS5, but some future version will run faster on an 8-core 2.26 Mac Pro than a 4-core 2.93 - if it can spread its computation evenly onto all 16 available threads.
    But this will still depend on the Photoshop action you use.

    Today, some 3D rendering applications can already use all 16 threads and hence are faster on an 8-core 2.26GHz machine than a 4-core 2.93GHz machine.

    In either case it is expected that in future more and more applications will be multi-threaded and hence even though today a 4-core 2.93GHz machine will overall likely seem faster, the 8-core 2.26GHz machine should ultimately become faster overall.

    Unfortunately not. This was a feature in the previous generation Mac Pros, but the current 4-core Mac Pro has neither the second (empty) CPU socket, nor the chipset required for a dual CPU setup.

    However, the CPUs are now on a daughter board which can be removed. In theory it might be possible in future to swap a single CPU daughter board for a dual CPU card.
    But Apple has not announced any such upgrade path, and it might never be made available officially.
    And on top of that as far as I know no one has even tried to swap daughter boards just to see if this would work in theory.
  12. sbb155 macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2005
    The 2.93 quad blows away the 2.26 octo. Any people who think that in the future, the octo will be faster is total speculation. Most programs are not multithreaded.
    Furthermore, for the price, if you want speed, a 2.93 quad + ssd boot will blow away the 2.26 octo, for less $$. Save your money. In the future it MAY change, but it MAY not. Sure SL will support multicores, but it is a far cry from that to say that multiple other companies will rewrite their software... They have been saying that for years...
    I am confident, that for the $$$, a 2.93 quad + ssd will ALWAYS beat a 2.26 octo over the next several years. Someone will have to prove that wrong... it will be very hard to do so.
  13. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    It won't be hard at all.


    Cinebench 10 - Octo 2.26 scores just shy of 20k Quad 2.93 scores just over 15k

    Geekbench 2 - Octo 2.26 Scores just under 12k Quad 2.66 Scores just over 8k


    After Effects - Octo is significantly faster than the higher clocked Quad

    Unfortunately Barefeats has models listed in one benchmark that are missing in others but it's pretty clear that higher clocked CPU must but offer a significant clockspeed advantage before they can beat out a CPU with twice the cores. Like any engine the more pistons and displacement are hard to beat by lesser engines without a lot of tricks. Snow Leopard will widen this chasm between Octo and Quad cores as well.


    More benches. The Octo acquits itself nicely against the faster clocked Quads though it's clear if you game the higher clocks are important.
  14. Apple Genius thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2009
    by how fast?
    That's not even logical.
    If we look at the current industry, we're not even using all the threads (or whatever) in the cores.
    Snow Leopard, (which allegedly is optimized to use this processing power) is not even out until September.
    September is in the future.
    So in theory, am I not buying a Mac Pro that uses technology of the future?
    On top of that, we know that Apple is not going to release another OS for at least 2 years, which directly translates to = "future proof" computer for at least 2 years.

    Or do I not get it?

    My sole decision in making this purchase lies in how well it will run Pro Tools.
  15. Dreamail macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2003
    [Dang, nuckinfutz beat me to it.]

    That's not true according to the Barefeets tests:
    Their Cinebench10 test (3D render with Cinema4D) shows the 2.26 octo-core blows the 2.93 quad away!
    The 8-core is ca. 25% faster.

    Also MacWorld finds that Compressor runs 9% faster on the 2.26 octo-core.
    And Mathematica runs 53% faster.

    Of course single-threaded applications, like most current games will run slower.
  16. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Yep, for anyone who made it all the way through that article I think it sums up Snow Leopard perfectly. A few folks here including myself, have been saying the same thing in not so many words. It's a developer framework and we'll only benefit from it IF developers utilize it. And as that article points out not many will as it means either separate compiles or leaving non snow leopard users behind and unable to buy their products and upgrades. Apple will use it for the system tho so system stuff will see a small boost here and there - probably nothing to get excited about tho.

    The funniest sentence in the article to me was:
    The Future
    Things get a little more interesting when you consider that future iPhones will likely have multi-core CPU’s and that Intel is advising developers to prepare for a future with “thousands of cores” available. ​
    Haha... Weeee.... I guess by the time there are actually 1000's of cores in a single chip the guys developing now will be long retired. :D
  17. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    It really depends on what you do. If you're constantly rendering video like I am, you WILL notice a difference with 8 cores. Same goes for 3D and effects rendering.

    Day to day tasks (most of which are not multithreaded)? Not likely. There, higher clocks and faster drives (SSD) win.
  18. Ploki macrumors 68040

    Jan 21, 2008
    pro tools has A VERY POWERFUL DSP, and i dont know if they already fixed it (someone else will have to fill in for me), but it used to have HARD PROBLEMS with running on the Nehalem Mac Pros.

    Also, pro tools are far from saturating even the previous 2008 gen mac pro's...

    that said, when i was working on quite huge project on PT HD Accel 2 (2x 192 i/o and main + 2 accel cards), i had ran out of voices (96 voices) and shared voices, and got a "slow disk" error, and cpu was on 35%... (and PT Hardware had approximately 70% of one DSP Chip free, everything else full.)
    so, before the computer kneels, protools kneel, and another Accel card would be better than a mac pro instead of a G5...
    i then ported the whole project to logic and its on 350% at the biggest simultaneus track count, nothing bounced, nothing frozen, realtime, little over 100 tracks (pt project had DI'ed guitars amp-sim and bounced, logic project eveything on insertS), but its not yet finished. im thinking it will end up on 500%, no more.
    what the heck are you talking about? so, LEsS is better lately?
    most programs are not multithreaded, but most professional programs are. its a Mac Pro...the only "professional" grade apple computer...
    if you want capacity 2.26 beats the snot out of 2.93... and multicore speed of course. :)
    logic will work better on an octo than it will on quad NOW IN LEOPARD, you dont need snow leo to get that.
    + the octos (at least 2.66) are a higher rank of CPU's and have a bigger memory throughput
  19. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    In reference to SL, Yes, some aspects will improve due to the ability to multi thread. :) But it will depend on specifics though. Particularly where user input is involved for the completion of a task. ;)

    Possible, but the next three years does look to continue with PCIe. Even PCIe 1.0 x16 slots (operational) aren't hitting the bandwidth limit with existing graphics cards, and we're already getting PCIe 2.0 slots. ;) So it's going to be around a bit yet (3yrs is certainly reasonable). :p
    It's the issue of the EFI firmware is 32 bit in those machines. They can't work with 64 bit EFI cards. :( The PCIe bus isn't actually saturated. Either way, it's a limitation for their owners :)apple:'s not offered a fix), but not a result of the PCIe interface. :p

    Apple's RAID card boots OS X, but won't even work under Windows, let alone boot it. It's also slow, especially for the money. No RAID 6 either, and for $700USD, it should. :rolleyes: :( Simply put, an overpriced piece of junk.

    For this, you have to go with a 3rd party card. To actually use Boot Camp (both OS's on the same single drive, not the array), you have to use CalDigit's RAID card (also junk IMO). It can't boot both from the array. To boot, it's one or the other.

    The next solution, is to use separate OS drives, separate arrays, or in a pinch, partition the array (same physical drives, but separate logical partition for each OS). There are 3rd party cards that work with both OS X and Windows, and even a few that can boot both. They happen to be better cards (more than a few threads on this ;)).

    14 days from date of reciept of the system (Apple's Return Policy).

    Or build a farm, assuming funds are a non issue. :D :p

    This particularly valid with 3rd party applications. Not everything is capable of operating as multi threaded though. I don't see word processing getting much faster, for example. :p

    Applications such as rendering and scientific/simulation,... however, can benefit, but may require rewritting the application to take advantage of this capability, assuming it's not already been done. Given some of the various threads, not everything that could benefit has been, unfortunately. :(

    Such redevelopement isn't on Apple's schedule either, so time frame to deployment is variable, depending on the software developer's product development cycles, available resources, etc. Perhaps in terms of years. :(

    It can be done, but the cost would be staggering. :eek: ;)

    Perhaps in time, a viable "parts" machine would surface, but would take time, patience, and not something to really count on as an upgrade path. ;)
  20. Apple Genius thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2009
    That's good to know.
    My only concern is how well it will run Pro Tools 8. I have a MBP for everything else.
  21. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    It's down to the individuals day to day work flow......

    I just want to add a small thing. Benchmarks are fine and dandy, but at the end of the day it depends on how you use the machine yourself, and if the machine can keep up with everything you do, it doesn't matter.

    The main applications I utilize are Painter 11, CS4 (Photoshop & Illustrator).
    Then there is usually itunes, mail & safari running in the background.

    On my main systems, in day to day usage I really have seen no difference in general performance and work flow.

    A 2006 2.6ghz Mac Pro with 8GB Ram and a recently purchased
    A 2009 2.2ghz Mac Pro Octo with 6GB Ram

    I have no doubt that many applications will run faster on my new machine when doing things such as rendering etc.. but I rarely use these apps.

    I purchased the 2009 Mac Pro after reading all the benchmarks and the great reviews, but in reality it has made no difference to my day to day workload and although I hate to admit it, I do feel I've spent €2999 replacing a machine I could have quite easily got a few more years out of unnecessarily.

    My applications don't feel any faster even if they are, simply because I never was in a position on the 2.6 where I was waiting for it to catch up with me anyway. The new machine doesn't make me design or physically draw faster - it doesn't speed me up - even if it does the apps.
  22. Apple Genius thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2009
    so if mutithreaded apps are't developed soon, can we sue Apple for making bogus claims?
  23. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008

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