Nehalem multithreaded performance/price: Apple's benchmarks

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Weepul, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. Weepul macrumors regular

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    Jan 13, 2008
    #1
    Based on Apple's benchmarks, I think it's safe to approximate the 2x2.93 GHz Nehalem mac pro to be about 1.3x the speed of the 2x3.2GHx Harpertown for well-multithreaded applications that utilize all the multi-core performance available.

    I think it's also safe to assume that performance between different speeds of the same family of processors can be approximated as being linear, eg. twice the clock speed is twice the performance.

    So, let's do the numbers (considering only CPU performance, not GPU-accelerated processes)...

    Using a 2x2.8 GHz Harpertown as the baseline (since it was the best performance value available in the previous generation, pricing source from EveryMac), but adding US$137.95 for 4GB RAM to get its memory equal to the Nehalem models (the Harpertowns came with only 2GB RAM):

    2x2.8H (US$2937): 1x performance, 1x price, 1x performance/price
    2x3.0H (US$3737): 1.07x performance, 1.27x price, 0.84x performance/price
    2x3.2H (US$4537): 1.14x performance, 1.54x price, 0.74x performance/price
    (relative to original price 2.8 GHz Harpertown Mac Pro upgraded to 6GB RAM from OWC)

    Since Apple's benchmarks compare the two most expensive variants of the current and previous generations, the conversion goes like this:

    1.3*(Nehalem speed/2.93)*(3.2/2.8)

    2x2.26N (US$3299): 1.15x performance, 1.12x price, 1.03x performance/price
    2x2.66N (US$4699): 1.35x performance, 1.60x price, 0.84x performance/price
    2x2.93N (US$5899): 1.49x performance, 2.00x price, 0.75x performance/price
    (relative to original price 2.8 GHz Harpertown Mac Pro upgraded to 6GB RAM from OWC)

    Remarkably similar to the previous generation. With the base model, provided you make use of well-multithreaded applications, you're getting the performance of the previous 3.2 GHz machine without the performance/price penalty that the original 3.2 upgrade had.

    So, why is this update causing such a dissatisfied stir? Well, because performance/price did not improve much at all, which is contrary to expectations of updated technology.

    For comparison, when the 2x2.8 GHz Harpertown came out, it was approximately 1.8x as fast as its 2xDual-core 2.66GHz predecessor (and that's being generous) for 1.12x the price, or a 1.6x performance/price improvement. That's what's missing with the Nehalems.

    Furthermore, if you can snag a 2x2.8 GHz Harpertown for nearly any discount, you're coming out ahead for your money, as long as you're satisfied with a little less absolute speed.

    That's some great technological progress, huh? :(

    Independent benchmarks should clarify this further.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #2
    '...for well-multithreaded applications that utilize all the multi-core performance available."

    Being the key phrase there?

    Nice post BTW...
     
  3. More macrumors regular

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    Dec 27, 2008
    #3
    Nice post. Makes me feel even more content with my recently purchased 2008 Mac Pro 3.2Ghz. Plenty fast for everything I do these days. There's also something nice about having the fastest Mac Pro of the 2008 generation rather than having the slowest Mac Pro of the 2009 generation (price/performance).
     
  4. Gonk42 macrumors 6502

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    near Cambridge
    #4
    In UK and Australia there is also delayed currency drops

    Interesting comparison. In the US the deal is reasonable but not brilliant (given that much software won't be well multi-threaded).

    In the UK (and Australia is similar) the price rise is enormous. I was looking at getting 16GB of RAM from Crucial with a student discounted 2.8 octo plus a few bits like apple care etc was £2000. The equivalent with the new 8 core is something like £2,600 so the ratio is 1.3 giving the price performance of just
    0.88.

    On top of that, if I want to keep to 3 channel memory and not spend a fortune on 4GB chips I am now limited to 12GB instead of 16GB.

    It is not just the ratio, in absolute terms it is hard to find an extra £600 plus and if I'm to drop to 4 core I might as well just get a consumer machine which will be less RAM limited (though not ECC) and be cheaper.
     
  5. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #5
    great post weepul!!

    i know that has clarified a few things for me :)

    just a question, for price/performance, its better for the number to be above 1.x isnt it??? (got myself confused).
     
  6. Weepul thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 13, 2008
    #6
    Of course. While the performance of less-threaded apps (a good number of Photoshop operations, for example) is a good thing to keep in mind, people looking to get the 8-core machines, particularly when there's a 4-core model available*, ought already have a use for multithreaded performance.

    *RAM limit notwithstanding...

    Thanks. :) The higher the ratio in my post, the better - since I used performance/price (higher is better seems logical to me :D). Price/performance as you wrote (and as I more commonly hear said) is better if lower.
     
  7. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #7
    aahh righto, its KIND (sort of) dissapointing to see the 0.x results, especially in apples top spec machine.. i guess with intel now they are just interested in getting things out as fast as possible and not giving people like apple a chance to introduce the products properly. i feel it was kind of forced upon them..

    thanks for verifying, i should have checked my post before replying!!
     
  8. Weepul thread starter macrumors regular

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    #8
    Well, with the higher-performance options, you usually sacrifice some of the value for your money in order to get more speed in one machine. What's disappointing is that the base model is hardly a better value than the old one.
     
  9. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #9
    yes quite disappointing. i can see the go with the price because its only a recently introcuded chip, meaning it costs more.. but you know.. not fair !
     
  10. Weepul thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    Hmm, when considering value, Tesselator did bring up a good point: a quick search revealed that Nehalem single-threaded performance is near equal to Penryn performance, so while the 2.26 GHz Mac Pro might equal the previous 3.2 GHz with a multithreaded app, Safari will run like it's a 2.26 GHz either way, unless I'm missing something or that article is out of date. :(
     
  11. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #11
    hhmm thats a very good point you bring up there, what will happen to single-threaded applications. they would be GREATLY disadvantaged by that low end machine..
     
  12. robinp macrumors 6502

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    Feb 1, 2008
    #12
    no that is my understanding too, which is why for most games, the i7 was not considered good value over the previous generation. As a result, I am trying to get a good deal on one of the old 3.2 harpertown mac pros.
     
  13. More macrumors regular

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    Dec 27, 2008
    #13
    A really interesting point! Kind of reminds me of the Dual 2.7Ghz G5 compared to the Quad 2.5 G5. The 2.7 always had that extra 0.2Ghz of horsepower for single threaded apps like Illustrator but the Quad 2.5 always kicked ass on multi-core operations.

    Most consumer level apps out there don't even touch additional cores. My most used app, Illustrator CS3/4 still barely uses more than one core. My 2008 Mac Pro 3.2Ghz barely breaks a sweat when using apps like this.

    Basically it's all down the the quality of software and it's multi-core implementations. Most apps are wasted on the last generation's power never mind the crazy speeds of the new models.

    For me, I'd much rather have the power of 3.2Ghz on a single core app than a measly 2.26Ghz unless anyone can confirm or prove that the new intel chips at that speed can kick the ass of a 3.2Ghz chip on a single core.
     
  14. tamvly macrumors 6502a

    tamvly

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    Nov 11, 2007
    #14
    great post weepul.

    i agree with other posters on this one - despite the new architecture, what most people wanted from this new apple system was a continuation of improved price-performance we've all come to expect as the natural march of technology.

    this is a real disappointment for new buyers, while current harpertown owners just got a big boost in the value - and longevity - of their systems

    anticipating that i would finally upgrade to a new mac pro, this announcement is a good reason to stick with my 2x2.5 g5, as long-in-the-tooth as it might be. i'll wait it out until there are some significant price-performance improvements.

    my sense is that apple will not generate great sales numbers for this system.
     
  15. Daim macrumors member

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    Jun 16, 2008
    #15
    that's there snow leopard comes in giving more and more applications the chance to use multi-core technology (+gpu) more efficiently
     
  16. Infrared macrumors 68000

    Infrared

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    Mar 28, 2007
    #16
    Very interesting post, thanks. I've reworked your figures for the UK:

     
  17. Infrared macrumors 68000

    Infrared

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    #17
    Care to share your Snow Leopard benchmarks with us?
     
  18. Dysfnctnl85 macrumors member

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    #18
    Wouldn't this only affect applications running OpenCL code?
     
  19. nicolasmasset macrumors regular

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    Belgium
    #19
    Yeah, I thought this whole grand central thing and snow leopard were going to make single core processes multicore?
     
  20. mason.kramer macrumors 6502

    mason.kramer

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    #20
    No. That's not possible. To the extent that an application can be multithreaded automatically, it is a function of the compiler used to compile it (e.g. auto loop vectorization). To the extent that a single thread of execution can be executed out of order (OOE), it is a function of the CPU microcompiler.

    The OS doesn't have much to do with auto-multithreading. Developers have to build multithreaded applications. You know when Apple says "all applications will be multithread aware?" Yea. That's either a lie, or a meaningless statement designed to mislead.
     
  21. nicolasmasset macrumors regular

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    Belgium
    #21
    Hm, so a 2008 2x2.8 machine will be faster than a 2900 2x2.26 machine for single thread apps? Well actually, the only "light" apps I use that I presume are single thread are safari and mail and occasionally dreamweaver. The only "heavy duty" apps are ableton live and logic with a plethora of plugins.

    So I guess my first argument here isn't really relevant. I guess the proper question would be: do ableton and logic and reverb plugins etc. use multiple cores efficiently to be able to benefit the new macs?
     
  22. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816

    Dr.Pants

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    #22
    I'm also interested in this and (unfortunatly, since all of my posts mention FCP) also have to beg the question; when it comes to useability in Final Cut (not the render, just using the program), would a better investment be in an upgraded 2.6 gHz Quad from the 2.26 gHz octo?

    I mean, I spend about eight hours a day doing university-stuff, so I think she'll have plenty of time to do some renders... I'm just concerned about the actual usage of the program.

    However, another thing I am concerned about is capturing 1080 progressive to RAID.... (30 FPS, for those who are interested). Would a 2.26 octo or 2.66 quad system be better for it?
     
  23. skyline r34 macrumors 6502

    skyline r34

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    San Diego
    #23
    Waiting for 32nm Westmere Mac Pro's

    This why i'm not buying the 2009 Mac Pro, I have a 3.2GHz and in what I seen on Apple website about the 2009 Mac Pro's it's a small performance gain, i'm just gonna upgrade my video card to the ATi 4870 so that I can use the LED 30 inch when it's release and that's it and wait until the next Mac Pro next year 2010 hope by then we will see some 16 cores and better choices of Gpu's, Hope Westmere will have better numbers but the one good thing about the 2009 Mac Pro is the multithreaded but other than that i'm not to impress by the new Mac Pro.
     
  24. Quash macrumors regular

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    Sep 27, 2007
    #24
    I read a lot of these topics. And i see the point of em.

    But i don't see why the angry reactions towards Apple. Unless your still on about the "x-mac" with desktop CPU.... People have been shouting for it as long as i can remember. So i will say it one more time, repeat after me: As long as Steve Jobs has a controlling say in Apple it is never going to happen.

    Steve sees computers as appliances. So a fully desktop based user serviceable mac doesn't fit that vision. So we can talk about it all day and compare Xeons to Normal Desktop Core i7 systems. Still not going to happen.

    Anyway the thing is though apple is now stuck to Intels roadmap. Intel publishes it's roadmap well ahead. Goes for either Xeons or mobile processors.

    You can know what new processor line will be coming months ahead. This includes prices of the processors well in advance of release. More then a month ago these came out for the i7 Xeons and you could have seen then what you see now. (Which i posted in the rumor thread back then ;) ) They are much much more expensive clock for clock as the harper core 2 duos.

    Which sucks but it isn't exactly apple's fault now is it. I doubt they changed their profit margins on these machines.

    Same goes for the failing UK pound. It's just not strong these days, because of your economy. Meaning all imported goods will become much more expensive. Most product you don't notice this as it goes gradually as stock runs out. Apple only adjusts prices at new releases, doesn't change the fact their prices are coupled to the dollar (as all pc parts are btw).
     
  25. mason.kramer macrumors 6502

    mason.kramer

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    #25
    Nehalem architecture is faster, clock for clock, than Harpertown (&C2D) before it. Before going on with this, make sure you know what processor architectures you're comparing (2008 vs 2009 doesn't guarantee anything, but I can tell you that 2008 MP's offer Harpertowns and 2009 MP's offer Nehalems, but those are quad core parts, not dual core parts like you're implying).

    Now, you can't compare Harpertown & Nehalem :apple: to :apple:: probably the Nehalem 2.26 will be faster in serial execution than the older generation 2.8, but no one knows for sure. Nehalem has
    1) A wider execution pipeline
    2) A more advanced instruction set
    3) Higher memory bandwidth
    4) Lower memory latency
    5) The ability to increase its clock speed when other cores on the die are not dissipating power

    All of these things contribute to make Nehalems faster in serial execution clock for clock. They also have hyperthreading, which makes them faster for multithreaded apps.



    Logic does, I don't know about ableton. Safari and Mail are also multithreaded.
     

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