Quad vs. Octo - are your apps multi-threaded?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by VirtualRain, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    There's a lot of people asking here about whether they are better off getting a Quad or an Octo-core MP.

    I think that can only really be answered by understanding what software you intend to run on it and what multi-threading support that software has.

    It seem like most people here run Photoshop and/or Final Cut Pro... What's the multi-threaded support like in these apps and what do we know about their respective roadmaps?
  2. NightwalkerUK macrumors member

    Jan 8, 2009
    Good thread (pardon the pun) I too would like to know, maybe add to this Logic 8?
  3. Pressure macrumors 68040


    May 30, 2006
    Or how much you are thinking about running at the same time.

    More cores also enables you to do a great deal of multitasking.

    I mean, more often I find myself with Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver and Final Cut open on a typical day.

    Besides the usual stuff like Mail, Safari and textedit.
  4. kevink2 macrumors 65816

    Nov 2, 2008
    Or if you want to consolidate systems in home environment. Put windows and linux in VMs and give each one 1-2gbs as appropriate, and 1-2 cores each, and there may be little left for os x on the new 4 core system. Especially if run 64 bit versions. The 8 core system, especially with 16gb or more later, is only limited by disk access.
  5. ncc1701d macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2008
    I'll be multi-tasking and hopefully future proofing. Who knows what software is coming out in 18 months.
  6. twkperf macrumors newbie

    Oct 29, 2003
    As far as I know both Logic Pro/Express and Final Cut will run on multiple cores.
  7. shokunin macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2005
    This is exactly how I utilize my 8 core Mac pro. I used to have 3 other servers plus my mac and now consolidate them into virtual machines and no more KVM switch headaches, cables everywhere, noise and heat are all gone. I also use far less electricity too.

    VMware fusion is awesome and couldn't live without it. For disk access, I use two Sonnet Tempo 4port eSATA cards connected to 2 Adaptec drive cages powered by a PicoPSU. Super quiet 8-drive external storage plus 4 drives in the mac pro.

    I've not used iLife 09, but iLife '08 and iMovie HD were not really multi-threaded. They used up to 2 cores, but even rendering in iMove only used 2 cores at most.

    Even Final Cut Studio doesn't always utilize all cores unless you setup compressor and other encoding tasks to use multiple threads (configurable, I use 6 threads). Then again, most things in FCS are about encoding / transcoding.
  8. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I think some of you guys are confused about running multiple apps vs. multi-threaded processing.

    Multi-cores can enable many things to process at one time, but unless you are actually applying a filter in Photoshop, while drawing an image in Illustrator, while coding in Flash and encoding a video in Final Cut, you don't need multi-cores. Who can do all that at the same time?

    You may need lots of memory to keep all your apps and data in memory without swapping to virtual memory on disk, but unless your apps are actually doing serious processing work simultaneously (rendering, filtering, encoding), you don't need more than 2 cores to do any of this.

    Honestly, I doubt many people here utilize more than 2 cores unless their software actually is designed for multi-threading and then only when it's processing something heavy.
  9. mward333 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 24, 2004
    I use my 8-core Mac Pro for scientific computing, and also for visualization. I keep each core running a separate process, because my current project is able to be completely run in parallel. If I had 1000 processors, I could use them, one at a time.

    In fact, I often batch jobs out to our network of computing nodes (over 7000 nodes last time I checked), to get some massively parallel work done. My Mac Pro is really like a little test machine for me.

    All my computations are compiled with gcc so that they are very low-level and fast. I optimized my code so it is pretty zippy. In fact, I got a huge performance boost last year when I realized that one section of my code was spending too long doing verification.
  10. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I think you guys who are running virtualization and modelling software know you can utilize as many cores as you have available... This thread is more oriented towards the media professional who's wondering whether they will benefit from 8 cores (16 threads with Hyperthreading) or can make do with 4 cores (8 threads).

    I'm one such individual... If someone can point to some benchmarks of Photoshop or FCP running on multi-core systems, that would be great!
  11. shokunin macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2005

    Barefeats has a number of articles on speed tests between 8core and dual core. Here's one example...


    Most of the profesional media apps that are truly multi-threaded that scale to use 4 cores could probably scale to use 8. Even when I do a lot of encoding, I'll reduce the number of threads that Compressor will run as I have virtual machines and other loads on the system. It's nice that I can 'limit' the threading so it doesn't automatically scale across all 8 cores. I can leave headroom for other applications.

    I'm hoping that Grand Central will help utilization across cores. Actually, I'm more excited about what OpenCL can bring with media encoding. Imagine a Nvidia GTX 295 dual GPU Chips, 1.8GB of onboard DDR3 Ram helping out with video encoding.
  12. mchalebk macrumors 6502a

    Feb 4, 2008
    I think there is one other consideration that seems to be largely ignored in conversations like this: how long you plan to keep the computer.

    In my opinion, if you upgrade your computer every two or three years, it only matters what applications you plan to run in the near future. In this case, most people would not need, or even be able to take advantage of, eight cores.

    On the other hand, if you keep your computer for many years (say 5 or more), the eight cores are likely to come in handy.

    In 4 or 5 years, most applications will probably be able to take advantage of multiple cores. If you plan to keep your computer for longer than 3 or 4 years, I would suggest that you should consider getting an 8-core machine. If you will likely replace it in 2 or 3 years, it's probably not worth paying for the extra cores unless you have specialized software that can take advantage of more than four cores.

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