Gulftown - how much of an improvement will it be?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by MacApple21, Sep 21, 2009.

  1. MacApple21 macrumors member

    MacApple21

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    #1
    I'm in the market for either a iMac or Mac Pro (haven't decided yet)
    But I would like to know how much of an improvement a six core Gultown processor would be compared to an Quad core Nehalem.
    I know it depends on what you are going to use it for, but in relation to all round use like video encoding, gaming under bootcamp and so on. But also in benchmark comparison.
    Basically it will decide whether I'm going to wait for the update or not.

    P.S. I know about the "buy it if you need it" advice. I don't NEED it right now, but I would like a substantial improvement if I'm going to wait for 6-10 months. I would very much appreciate some thoughts about this :)
     
  2. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    #2
    The update should be a "tick" in the roadmap which is just a processor refresh. That usually means it'll just be some minor improvements like a die shrink (lower power, less heat, more cores, higher yields), maybe a tweak here and there, but overall it'll be just another minor change.

    Odds are, people with the current Mac Pros will be able to drop [a] new processor in and upgrade.
     
  3. TheStrudel macrumors 65816

    TheStrudel

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    #3
    There's always the possibility that  will add some features to the Mac Pro, such as eSATA or firewire 3200, etc. Or remove some of things that annoyed people about the 2009 Mac Pro (RAID cap, etc.).
     
  4. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    #4
    Well technically the RAID cap is Intel's fault… sure Apple could add and nForce chipset, and then add SLI :p
     
  5. MacApple21 thread starter macrumors member

    MacApple21

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    #5


    That sounds interesting, maybe that will be my solution.
     
  6. Salavat23 macrumors 6502

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    #6
    Westmere (Gulftown) will be a drop in replacement for Nehalem (Bloomfield).

    So you guys can just drop the 6-core chips right into your Mac Pro.

    They should use less electricity (but will still have 130w tdp), have more cache (12mb L3), and have higher turbo frequencies. And of course slightly better performance per clock.

    They also raise the memory capacity from 24gb/controller to 48gb/controller, so once 8GB DDR3 DIMMs come out, you can use them for up to 48gb of ram on the Xeon 3xxx and 96gb potential on dual-Xeon 5xxx.

    But the issue is that even though the CPUs are just a drop in replacement, in many cases a BIOS update will be required, as in the case of PCs.
     
  7. xiovoix macrumors regular

    xiovoix

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    Maybe Ned Ludd was Right?
  8. frimple macrumors 6502

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    #8
    I don't believe that this is true. The highest supported memory per controller is 144GB (http://techreport.com/articles.x/16656.. about 2/3 the way down the front page). Also 8GB density chips have already started showing up (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820609486), they're just a little spendy ;)

    EDIT: Oops... looks like the 144 GB number is for a dual socket system.
     
  9. yanquis macrumors regular

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    #9
    i expect 1 gulftown to be about = to a current top end mac pro octa. 6 cores, better integration, faster clock-for-clock... as for 2x gulftown...whoa :eek:

    to me, its a pretty major upgrade & one i am eager for. there is also nehalem EX (8 core chips so 16 real cores on one machine would be easy) due around the same time i think.
     
  10. Salavat23 macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Nice, haven't seen those 24GB kits yet.

    I was basing the Xeon 5xxx memory cap on the already known information about the i9 48gb cap. Guess those might be at a 192gb cap, but only time will tell.

    I wouldn't say it would equal a top end MP since you are still losing 2 cores, no matter what their speed. Might trade blows here and there, but if it gets higher turbo frequencies, it'll definitely be coming out on top more often than not.

    This should be a very easy upgrade for Apple to do in the transition to Westmere. They don't have to change a single piece of hardware except for the CPUs for it to work flawlessly. Of course we'll still see the usual HDD/Memory, GPU bumps.
     
  11. frimple macrumors 6502

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    #11
    Yeah, those 24GB kits look sweet :D. Now we just need someone with a 09 and $3,400 to blow to try it out for us! :cool:
     
  12. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #12
    And this is where the plan will fall down. Do you in all honesty expect Apple to issue a firmware update for machines that have been payed for by the customer? This would be the first time that Apple provides such a service. They are the meanest buggers when it comes to firmware updates in the whole computer industry.

    The MP1,1 and 2,1 still got EFI32 although all later models had EFI64 and it is really crippled by that piece of garbage.

    A comparable die shrink happend from MP2,1 to 3,1. The 771 socket remained the same and every PC manufacturer had simply issued firmware updates. Customers would be able to use X52xx and X54xx CPUs instead of X51xx and X53xx CPUs if Apple had done that firmware upgrade.

    I say: No way Apple will do that from their track record.
     
  13. AppleWorking macrumors regular

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    #13
    I agree, if anything they would do something to prevent a CPU upgrade by the consumer. I doubt they would ever go that far, but you have better odds of that happening than a firmware update that allows one. :mad:
     
  14. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #14

    Glad you agree ... :p hell would freeze over before Apple does one man hour of firmware work on an out of sale Mac Pro.
     
  15. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    #15
    5500 systems already support 96GB per socket using 6x16GB DIMMs. If there is a cap it isn't any number currently achievable. 32GB DIMMs were (are?) comming to the platform too.
     
  16. TheStrudel macrumors 65816

    TheStrudel

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    #16
    Well, they'll do updates to fix bugs and crashes, and have done in the past. But they wouldn't release an upgrade.
     
  17. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    #17
    Mmm, I can't wait to get 256GB of RAM.

    Though I can't imagine what I'd need that much for!
     
  18. Techhie macrumors 65816

    Techhie

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    #18
    At any rate, it's best to wait as long as you can. I don't see an update coming in the next few months, so I'd buy now (I did :cool:) If you are going for the baseline Mac Pro, it's not really even worth the wait, but for the top of the line models, 4 more cores is like adding a 3rd processor to the current system (plus hyperthreading for virtual cores, yikes!)
     
  19. Salavat23 macrumors 6502

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    #19
    You never know for sure though (not that Apple will release an update, but whether or not an update is required). There are a few early previews on the web of Core i9, and it appears to be working working out of the box with current configurations.

    And IMO, if you look at it technically, a BIOS update is not really necessary as it was with the Core 2 line. The buses remain identical, so does the internal architecture. Its basically the exact same CPU but with a few important changes. So on one hand it might work.

    On the other hand, some boards are very picky as to what CPU's they run under which BIOS. Some even have problems with various steppings of the same CPU. But these situations are somewhat more rare.

    The 4-core MP uses a renamed X58 chipset. (Identical hardware to the consumer side, just renamed). So it is a strong possibility that at least for the 4-core variant, you many not need to do anything but just drop it in.
     
  20. yanquis macrumors regular

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    #20
    it might even be closer to doubling the speed. i believe i read somewhere that there is only going to be one gulftown model & its replacing whatever the core i7 Xtreme model is now as the top-end gaming processor, so its presumably going to have a high clockspeed, maybe even 3.33 ghz. couple that with other advances (higher clock-for-clock, etc) & it will be a computer nerds wet dream. probably cost a good chunk of change though. ;)
     
  21. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #21
    I' will not go into splitting hairs over this issue. It is a philosophy question. Of course they have issued bug fixes but then again they have not in the case of the EFI32. EFI32 doesn't comply with applicable ISO standards and makes DVDs with versioned file names hang on boot. What other companies consider an update Apple considers an upgrade because they sell very restricted firmware configurations compared to other mobo makers. This is my biggest gripe with Apple as a company. It devalues the Mac Pro which is aimed at a market where people expect high modularity and upgradability. Apple certainly do not deliver that to my expectations.
     
  22. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #22
    I expect the top line Gulftowns in the 1600$ price range as the W5580 and W5590 did. Those will drop in price when the new stars go on sale.
     
  23. Salavat23 macrumors 6502

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    #23
    It will run at 2.4GHz as early ES chips show. But it may be coupled with ridiculous turbo-mode frequencies like the i7 Mobile parts which may make a huge difference.
     
  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #24
    Yep. Die shrink + another pair of cores (TDP is still 130W, but you do get the extra pair) are what will matter to the end user. Yields are more interesting to Intel (leaving the potential for price affects out of it). :p


    Ideally, the firmware would require CPU microcode added to it to ID the newer parts, but the basics would apply. The voltage specs of the Gulftowns will work within the range of the Gainestown parts, and the rest will be the same.

    True. Apple gets a pass on the ICH10R throughputs. For a change. :eek: :p

    The nForce for SLI however, no. I think "Not until Hell freezes over" definitely applies here. :D :p

    I'd have to vehemently agree here. :rolleyes: :(

    '09 MP owners shouldn't expect a firmware update from Apple, no matter how easy/feasible it is. Their history supports otherwise, at least (and you happened to point out the specifics ;)).
     
  25. frimple macrumors 6502

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    #25
    Sadly the problem will always be the cart before the horse. We've already got 8 cores that aren't being utilized by a majority of applications out there so what's an extra 4 really going to give us? I mean, I can't wait to get a couple of these in my data center and behind some databases but for the average user this really won't mean much. And that's why I doubt Apple will even offer them. I see them offering the 5580 and 5590, but this is a server chip - plain and simple.
     

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