Mac Pro 3,1 > Mac Pro 5,1?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Kingsly, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. Kingsly macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #1
    I feel like I'm better off keeping my 2.8 octo than upgrading to the latest (yet, on paper, slower) 2.4 octo westmere.

    I haven't been able to find any performance comparisons... thoughts?
     
  2. Mac Hammer Fan macrumors 6502a

    Mac Hammer Fan

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  3. 300D macrumors 65816

    300D

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    #3
    Except that the 6 core machines are a major downgrade over the $200 cheaper 8-core. You lose half your memory capacity and bandwidth for no increase in processing power.
     
  4. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I'd keep the 3,1 till something really good appears next year.
     
  5. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    #5
    The last years 2.26GHz octad was about the same speed as the 2008 2.8GHz octad (a tad slower in single threaded tasks, faster in multithreaded). The 2.4GHz octad Westmere will be faster in all tasks, albeit not by much.

    Personally, IF you really want to upgrade, buy either the 6 core (considerably faster by all means) or the 12 core machines. Everything else won't really be an upgrade. Unless you're disappointed with the raw processing power of your machine, you're better off upgrading RAM, storage (SSD), and graphics card(s).
     
  6. 300D macrumors 65816

    300D

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    #6
    Except in anything involving RAM.
     
  7. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    #7
    True. However, applications that are heavily dependent on RAM speed are quite rare, which is this measure is neglectable.
    I'd rather have more processing power than a faster connection to the RAM as CPU speed affects every application.
     
  8. 300D macrumors 65816

    300D

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  9. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    #9
    :confused:
    Worse was the word you were looking for, since processing power is more worth than memory speed.

    I'm not saying the 8-core is a bad machine in general, there are some special cases where it makes sense over a 6-core (Logic, software development, LR export), but in most tasks, clock speed is still better than core count. Period.
     
  10. 300D macrumors 65816

    300D

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    #10
    All of which are ram hogs.

    That is false information.
     
  11. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    #11
    Oh yeah? I'm pretty sure that if I ask for you to spread your knowledge, we will never see an answer, as usual. So why even bother?

    But what the heck, please, go ahead, tell me how that is wrong.
    And don't come with "OS X makes single threaded apps multithreaded", you know as well as everyone else that that is crap.
     
  12. SR20DETDOG macrumors regular

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    #12
    I don't get it:confused:
    If the programs that are more suited to the 8 core are the RAM hogs then what's the problem?
     
  13. mjsmke macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    Id also rather have the 6 core over the 8 core. Even though ram upgrades will be more expensive, 2.4GH/z to 3.33GH/z is a big jump.

    I had the choice of the 2.26 octo or 2.93 quad. I went for the quad due to the speed. Even while rendering in Maya which i am still learning, if i complex batch render takes 24hrs the 2.26 would probably do it in 14hrs. I just leave it rendering overnight and while i'm at work.
     
  14. goMac macrumors 603

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    #14
    Why do people still think there are single threaded apps under OS X? OS X makes it ridiculously hard to have a single threaded app...

    Try going under Activity Monitor and find a single threaded application. I can't find a single one open right now, and I've even got Microsoft Office running.

    Double check your facts. It is extremely hard to get OS X to let you only work under one thread.
     
  15. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    #15
    Well, simply because applications (although having multiple threads for different parts of the app, ie UI, logic etc.) still operate single threaded.

    The vast majority of applications execute separate logic operations as a single thread, which is why more clock speed makes more sense.

    Simple example (I pick this one only because there are a lot of professional photographers here, there are hundreds of other examples, though):

    Photoshop's photomerge function;
    Although Photoshop itself has more than 70 threads, the function itself uses only 100% of the CPU (I've got 1600 available). A very clear indication that the photomerge function itself is single threaded, albeit incorporated in a multithreaded application.
     
  16. goMac macrumors 603

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    #16
    If you have multiple threads you're operating multithreaded.

    No, they really don't.... Some applications may do a bulk of the work on one thread, but if you're running 2-3 applications at once you can easily spill over 4 cores.

    Yes, this is because while the function itself is single threaded, the app is multithreaded. It doesn't mean the other threads are worthless, it just means photomerge can only run in one of them.

    In fact, if you have more cores, OS X will move those other threads onto other cores to make room for photomerge, making photomerge faster.

    Again, it is ridiculously hard to actually write a single threaded app on OS X. Even old Carbon apps with no multithreading written by the developer are going to have a few threads.
     
  17. DocNo macrumors member

    DocNo

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    #17
    This is the last generation of applications where CPU MHz will be more important than cores. The entire industry is moving towards massive parallelization to utilize multiple cores. As gomac pointed out, there are things transparent to developers that Apple is doing at the OS level, and developers are retooling to leverage multiple cores as well. So buy for today or buy for tomorrow? I know what choice I made and I don't regret it in the least.
     
  18. mjsmke macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    While performing some fairly simple everyday tasks ive kept an eye on istat pro and it's often under 100%. So am i right in thinking this is using just one core? I know when i push the CPU while rendering or some Photoshop tasks it can go up to 788% (so all 8 threads).
     
  19. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    #19
    Oh come on, that's just nit picking now. :rolleyes:

    True, but that doesn't really disprove my statement about multithreaded applications executing most intensive tasks on a single thread.

    True again. However, most other tasks don't really require another core to be executed. Again, photomerge was just a quick example. Other tasks are video playback (Plex, VLC, etc. are all single threaded [yeah yeah they are multithreaded applications, I get you, their main logic operates on a single thread though]).

    I'm well aware of threading (I mean it's not that I don't have a two degrees in software engineering ;) :p), but the framework the app is written in can't magically make a single threaded function multithreaded. Otherwise we wouldn't still see applications that execute operations on a single thread.


    The rumour that the industry is moving towards parallelisation started with the introduction of HyperThreading in the P4. That's almost 10 years ago and yet we're still not at a point where more cores actually make more sense than more clock speed for the majority of applications.
    One can just hope, that the software industry will finally catch up with the hardware and write their apps with true multithreading support.

    As per buy for today or for tomorrow, personally I'd rather buy for today and get the most out of the machine today, rather than waiting for the apps I use to finally get true multithreaded support and waste my time waiting for a machine that is slower than a higher clocked machine with less cores.

    I'm not really sure that the generation of software we've got today really is the last generation of single threaded applications. Again, the demand for applications that really utilise all available threads of the machine is about a decade old (possibly even more as MP systems have been available long before consumer grade processors with multiple cores/threads).

    Final Cut is rumoured to be truly multi threaded with the next release, but who knows?
     
  20. DocNo, Mar 8, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2011

    DocNo macrumors member

    DocNo

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    #20
    Oh I don't disagree. Parallelism isn't easy. That's why I think what Apple is doing with frameworks like Grand Central are so essential. What used to be an incredibly specialized skill set has just been somewhat normalized.

    Sure, it's not as good as someone who knows how to design core logic from the beginning with parallelism in mind - but writing code in high level languages is far more inefficient than writing in assembler too and that hasn't held us back (OK, some might argue ;) )

    I guess it depends on just how CPU bound the applications you use really are. If you are someone who is that dependent on CPU speed, buying fewer high speed cores today and replacing a machine tomorrow isn't going to be an issue. It will probably even be a tax write off :) For me, since I'm just a pro-sumer hobbyist I have to plan for the long haul. Multiple cores are the good, cost-effective long term bet. That and having 8 memory slots with the two socket configurations vs. 4 with the single socket configuration.

    Personally, over 2/3's of what I see people blame on CPU limitations are either a lack of sufficient RAM, bottlenecked GPU (Apple with their miserly and expensive options doesn't help here!), dog slow hard drive subsystem or a combination of all three!

    I think with what you are seeing Apple and nVidia do with frameworks, much of this is going to start to be abstracted out at the framework level. Again, not ideal - but a far sight better than where we are today.

    The MHz barrier is no longer theoretical and is now real. Multiple cores are the only remaining frontier for continued ramping of performance.

    I'll put it this way: With as long as it's taken for the current upgrade, and with the foundational stuff Apple added starting back in 10.5, if it's not leveraging all of their new frameworks it will be pretty embarrassing for them.

    Not that it's stopped them from doing bone-headed things in the past :p But here's to hoping. I think all the hand-wringing about Apple being "distracted" or "abandoning" the Pro market due to iOS is dramatically overblown. If you look at everything that has happened with 10.5 and 10.6 "under the covers" it's clear that Apple has some pretty major and ambitious plans for Mac OSX. And they have historically and I see no reason for them to stop showcasing core technologies in their own Apple branded applications to spur other developers along.

    If anyone thinks they are moving away from showcasing their tech in their own software, just look at Garage Band on the iPad 2. I hope it would be logical to assume it's taking longer with the Final Cut suite due to it being slightly more complicated than Garage Band on the iPad, but sometimes I have to wonder :cool:

    BTW - this is where developer-focused practices of using cross platform tools to "write once" really, really hurt us all. It's also something I was glad to see Apple take head on with Adobe and others in iOS. The last three, four generations of Photoshop have SUCKED on the Mac due to the homogenization of the application by Adobe's cross platform tools. Those tools and practices benefited the Adobe developers, not you and I as the end user. I think that's why you see Apple writing software like Final Cut and Aperture - to try to spur others to take advantage of all the cool stuff they have. I always shake my head when people spout off about Apple "needing" competition to keep them on their toes when in reality it's quite the opposite.
     
  21. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    #21
    I'm in the same boat as you, which is why I bought the 2009 8-core back in the days except for the 4-core. But it's exactly as you described, buying what is needed today and replacing the machine in the near future might be the best option for professionals that require every little bit the machine has to offer.


    At least for silicone based transistors. Optical ones are in development, though. That's just future talk, though. Processors that use optical switches instead of usual semiconductors are probably at least a decade away from consumers.
     
  22. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

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    #22
    ...that is over 32GB. That is an important detail to your wildly speculative comment. And the 2.4 lags behind the rest of the higher priced fleet on every single multi and single thread test I have ever seen. Except... Tests involving the need to have more than 32GB of memory. But it does keep some kind of pace 10% of the time. It is this years 2.26GHz 8-core "Le Turd".
     
  23. MovieCutter macrumors 68040

    MovieCutter

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    #23
    So...buy more RAM. You can't just buy a second processor and drop it in...RAM is cheap dude.
     
  24. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    #24
    The point was RAM throughput, not capacity.

    However, the SP Mac Pro versions don't nearly support as much RAM as the MP ones.
    I'm not quite sure if someone has confirmed that the SP can actually run more than 24GB of RAM, as this is the maximum amount of RAM specified for the SP processors by Intel. The 5520 chipset the Mac Pro uses supports up to 192GB, so although 32GB of RAM is recognised by the system, it might not be usable by the processor.
     
  25. goMac, Mar 8, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2011

    goMac macrumors 603

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    #25
    Since when does multithreaded not mean multithreaded? :)

    But that doesn't devalue the other threads. If only 10% of an application was running in a different thread, having another core available would increase the primary operation's performance by 10%. That's nothing to sneeze at.

    Actually, system frameworks can do that. You see that all the time. There is an intensive single call being used that Apple eventually threads on the backend. The compiler will also do some auto threading if it can.

    WebKit is a great, if not a bit heavy handed example. The developer is only making one call to load a page from a single thread, and to a developer this looks like a non-parallelizable operation, but on the backend every release Apple adds more threading to make the loads faster.

    Single threaded "applications" you see are typically low level system tools written in C that are only using functions in stuff like LibC or maybe CoreFoundation. The operations they do are so basic there isn't much room for threading.

    I haven't seen an actual application in a long time that only uses a single thread.

    The developer hasn't written a single thread, yet threads are being forced on them.

    I'd say Windows is a fair amount behind... But remember, Apple has been building dual processor machine for about 15 years, and when the G4 speed crunch happened, multithreading was the only way out. Multithreading is really deeply part of Mac development.

    I'd say this is a fair criticism of Windows, but on the Mac, we've been multithreading since before Hyperthreading was released.

    (That said, some apps never grew up past their dual processor roots *cough*Final Cut*cough*)

    But we're already here... Like I said, multithreading has been a forced reality for Mac programmers ever since Motorola messed up the G4 and the only way out was a dual CPU architecture almost entirely across the board...

    Considering video editing is almost the trivial case for mutlithreading, if the next Final Cut is not multithreaded, I'd guess it was coded by a bunch of third graders.
     

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