Quad Nehalem max RAM=16Gb?? Fact or error?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by mggm59, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. mggm59 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    Location:
    Brussels/Milan
    #1
    I just found THIS

    http://www.maxupgrades.com/istore/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_id=343

    where they state that the max RAM is 16GB. Do they KNOW something??? This would throw up in the air all my thinking about which MacPro to buy.

    I am an old Mac hand (and before, Apple IIe, IIc, then Mac 128, 512, Plus, Se, IIx.... to a Dual G5 1.8GHz now), but a total newbie as far as Intel is concerned, so please pardon me if my conjectures are completely off whack, and for the large number of questions.

    Looking at the ill assorted (in my view, particularly pricewise) lineup of the latest Pros, I have come up with the following ideas:

    - Buy a quad 2.66 with up to 8Gb and be happy for the time being (I have 2.5GB now), with better single thread performance than the 2.26 and still 8 thread performance available WHEN there will be apps to use it (none/few of those I use do, as far as I read around, in any case, and even those seem to stop at 2/4 cores anyway).

    - IF the 4GB sticks work (I know this is a big if, but given what I just found, there might be hope....), buy them at a later stage when they come down to an acceptable price and get to 16. I see a lot being written around along the lines “Even if they work, they cost more than the computer today....” etc, but RAM prices normally go down fast, so is this really an issue (except if you need 16GB NOW, of course)? And aren’t 8GB sticks likely to appear later on to get it to 32 if needed?

    - Buy a used 2.93 or faster chip in 2-3 years. I have no idea of how cost effective this has historically been. Do prices go down significantly, or am I likely to get in the ballpark of the delta with a used, faster machine, as it often happened in the past with CPU upgrades?

    - Are future chips likely to be compatible with the current machine (can someone who understand the Intel roadmap shed some light here?), or would I be limited to the 2.93 which is known to work?

    - In case the 4Gb are proven to be unusable and I go for the octo, can changing chips work by replacing the 2.26 at a later stage? Knowing that I would need to buy 2, would the economics still work? It seems more unlikely, or is it?

    - I remember reading about using the graphic card chip to reinforce computing power. Is this fact or forecast? Is this true of both Nvidia and ATI or (as I seem to remember) only Nvidia? If so, is it better for the long term to choose the cheaper standard Nvidia or the ATI, which seems better right now?

    - Does any of these cards give an advantage over the other NOW in Photoshop, iMovie, Aperture (I have tried it on my G5, but scrolling a large collection of photos is a pain)? I do some video but no #D, nor do I think I will do in the future.

    - Last quesstion for those who have a 2009 Pro in their hands, I have had always problems with USB peripherals on my G5. At some point the bus slows down to a crawl, with transfers of 1Mb/s. According to a local vendor the 2008 Pro was similar because he said it was a limitation of USB architecture, is this true? Has there been any improvement with thee better memory architecture of the 2009 Pros?


    Sorry if this is nonsensical, but the pricing of the Octo machines (and the ridiculous 2.26 clock on the lowest) really make me think twice about buying Apple again, if I do I would like it to be as efficient as possible in economical terms.
     
  2. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #2
    Not surprisingly, I've gone through all of these scenarios in my head as well.

    I come from the PC world where clock speeds are king. Here in the OSX world, it seems RAM is king. Also, the increasing availability of multi-threaded apps and their ability to use more and more cores, is compelling me to consider a 2.26 Octo now and upgrade the chips down the road when I'm itching for something new and have some money burning a hole in my wallet.

    The chips in both systems can be replaced with higher clocked variants from the same line. It's very possible that the quad can be upgraded with a non-Xeon Core i7 and work perfectly fine. The Octo, will always use expensive dual socket CPU variants of Nehalem... so the cost of upgrading the CPU's down the road may decrease but not to the same level as the quad-core CPU's.

    I would be surprised if the quad did not support 4GB DIMM's, however it may be a long time before they are affordable. Pricing 4GB DIMMS at stratospheric pricing is one way to segment the server from the desktop market and make a premium off those who can afford to pay.

    OpenCL probably holds the most promise for an order of magnitude or better increase in processing capability on some tasks (those that lend themselves well to hundreds of simultaneous parallel processes). Both Nvidia and ATI are behind OpenCL so you don't need to fear being left out of this based on graphics card choice. Everyone will benefit from this though... regardless of last year, this year, quad, octo, etc. but it will likely be a few release cycles yet before we see anything tangible from this.

    What's your current thinking?
     
  3. mggm59 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    Location:
    Brussels/Milan
    #3
    Quad Nehalem max RAM=16Gb?? Fact or error?

    Well, up to this afternoon I was more and more going towards the octo, because of the RAM, but the link I found gave a bit more hope for the quad (if it is a fact). At 2.66 I would start faster with teh SW I use now than at 2.26, and not so bad with MT-aware apps, if any comes. And I would save 600 euros, 25% of the price, not peanuts. Since I also want to buy a 24-26" screen (another big dilemma :confused:) it would be exactly what i need.

    I must say that I am really in a negative mode with Apple for this pricing, I have never been in this kind of dilemma in the past, and this after waiting for months, and with hte perspective of having to shell out more $$$ for teh damm Snow Leopard if it is not anounced on the 24th (which I doubt)..

    Macs were never cheap (except some models, like the LCs, but the quality was (and is) undisputed, and every new (major) generation was significantly faster and the prices were more or less the same than the previous generation with more power, plus a premium top model which, after buying the IIx (1988) the day it was delivered, I never considered again because I stopped to be a professional making money out of it.

    If the CPU prices are likely to be more affordable for the quad than for the octo, this would favour the quad. OTOH, if what you say about RAM is true, I might be squeezed for RAM in a couple of years and still need to pay through the nose for it...

    Considering all the risks, maybe the octo is still a better bet, but I hate to give this premium to Apple.:mad:

    Good that at least I do not have to worry about the brand of the graphic cards, but is the Radeon worth the money if I don't do 3D? Does it improve performance on photo and video? The only bench I have seen is for games and 3D graphics...
     
  4. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #4
    There is no technical reason why 4GB or 8GB DIMMs wouldn't work. Apple don't support it because of how they want to position systems within the Apple bubble. Whether it is limited through hardware or firmware has yet to be shown.
     
  5. dnadrifter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    #5
    Are either of you considering the 2008 octo 2.8 instead of the new quad 2.66?

    Any thoughts between these two. The immediate limit of 8 gb really has me wondering about the quad. I would really like to see more comparisons of the two above.
     
  6. mggm59 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    Location:
    Brussels/Milan
    #6
    Well, I started the thread also because today, for the first time, I saw someone saying the limit is actually 16GB. This would be an important piece of info, I wrote them asking if this was a tested fact, I hope they'll answer soon.

    Given the price, if one needs more than 8GB right now, he's probably better off with an Octo. If he can wait a couple of years, maybe the reverse (even though in the answer above there are some doubts about this assumption).

    The 2.8 octo, is a good machine, but here in Brussels is out of stock, and used prices are too high in my view (above 2000-2500 euro), maybe waiting a bit they might go down. For a small difference (I also can deduce 20% VAT on a new machine, not on a used one) I'd take the new 2.26 which seems to hold his own (with the big question mark on how much one can feel the difference in single thread performance).

    If one HAS already a 2.8, in most cases I would not buy right now and wait for the next round of chip upgrades, except when most of the work is to be performed on massively multithreaded applications, in which case the cost might be justified.

    But in the end we are talking about some benchmark results and very few hands-on, gut feeling user feedbacks, so I would still not bet on it. Even the shop I visited yesterday could not give me any feedback because they have delivered all the machines they got and have NEVER played with one.
     
  7. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #7
    I don't buy yesterday's technology, even if it's still pretty good. I typically buy every other generation of technology so if I had an 08 MP, I would keep it and be happy until at least next year which is what I think most 08 owners should do - especially given the premium pricing on this latest generation. It's an 09 of some variety for me.

    MGGM59... wait a week... Barefeets said he has some 4GB DIMMS and a Quad MP on the way so he should be able to let us know whether it's fact or error soon enough.
     
  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #8
    There may not be any limitations at all, but as you pointed out, we don't know for certain.

    I actually doubt any limitations exist, except the limited DIMM capacity ATM. Hopefully, this will be proven, as the ability to use larger DIMM's will be attractive for some. :)

    Unfortunately, finding guinea pigs for testing, isn't easy. ;) :p
    I usually follow this pattern as well. As I've built a Nehalem system, I'll skip Westmere.

    Price/performance ratios may be throwing people off this time though, as it's not the same as the '08 models. Limited budgets can be hard to get around. ;)
    Rob-Art's work running Barefeat's helps out quite a few mac owners. :D
     

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