Why 4 core is better - back of the envelope

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by zeigerpuppy, Oct 2, 2009.

  1. zeigerpuppy macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    #1
    Just wanted to share with you a curious bit of maths:

    (US prices)
    4 core 2.93 GHz Mac Pro +6GB RAM = $3149

    8 core 2.93 GHz Mac Pro +12GB RAM = $6199

    So what you say... well it seems I can buy 2 full mac pros for the price of one,
    the only thing I can possibly think to use 8 cores for is rendering and the programs that do this mostly allow render farms, so why not buy 2 x 4 core mac pros instead of one, same performance on multithreaded apps with farming and I'm sure the mac motherboard, case, superdrive and HDD is worth more than the $100 difference!

    Am I missing something here??? :):confused:
     
  2. mikes63737 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2005
    #2
    I'm seeing $5899 for the 8-core 2.93 with 6 GB RAM. It's $6199 for 12 GB.

    Apple is well-known for overcharging for upgrades. For example, two Nehalem 2.93 chips cost $2870 from Newegg. Apple wants $2600 to upgrade from two Nehalem 2.26 chips to two 2.93 chips. Obviously, two of the 2.25 chips cost more than $270.

    But it's not worth it to buy two Mac Pros, because of all the work it would take to set them both up and keep them both maintained, plus the additional heat creation and energy requirements..... I think it would be much more expensive (both financially and time-wise) in the long run to buy two.
     
  3. zeigerpuppy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    #3
    I agree that it would cost more unless.....

    A) I left the second mac pro off unless I need it

    B) it may be possible to buy apple or 3rd party daughter boards in the future, in which case I could sell the sell the second mac pro for quite a bit and end up having an 8 core (maybe even 16core) for a lot cheaper.

    I have decided to get the 2.93Ghz quad 'cos in my stress tests i think the money is better spent on more ram/ssd/better graphics than another 4 cores that will mostly be idle (I do a bit of rendering but mostly mixed use).

    To be honest I think it's pretty bad profiteering

    (by the way, render farming is pretty easy in my experience, ethernet and then activate it from the menu (eg: Cinema 4D) - 2 software licences though)
     
  4. UltraNEO* macrumors 601

    UltraNEO*

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2007
    Location:
    近畿日本
    #4
    No-one said that 8 cores will be suitable for everyone, that's why you're given a choice! However as time goes on, eventually more and more application will take advantage of the extra cores, making those application run more efficiently, reducing processing time and cutting work load.
     
  5. zeigerpuppy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    #5
    Maybe your definition of choice is different to mine....

    paying 2x the price when one only gets an extra processor just doesn't make financial sense.

    It makes me quite worried that the only way to support this pricing is for apple to be very tight fisted indeed with its daughter boards.

    Any idea if a third party company could reverse engineer one, seems like they would be very much in demand!
     
  6. thermodynamic Suspended

    thermodynamic

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #6
    For apps that use all 8 cores natively, that's the best. However, even Macworld - when reviewing both 2009 models in March (and following up with the 2.93GHz Quad), they maintain fewer cores with a higher speed is better. (Even if the 2.93GHz model is 2 seconds faster than the 2.66GHz model in most tasks, maybe 30 seconds per 6 minutes of video to be encoded MPEG2 and that's not substantial).

    Also, with AfterEffects, one can have two Macs connected by network and use the other machine's cores too (so I recall reading).

    overall, it depends on the use of the machine. Given the 2.93GHz model is $500 more (the processor alone sells for $600 on newegg) compared to the 2.66 base model, it is not worth $500 for 270MHz either...
     
  7. thermodynamic Suspended

    thermodynamic

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    USA
    #7
    And by then, Intel will be two or three generations ahead of the Nehalems, with future Mac Pros using them being less costly. Even if, for example, Adobe CS5 came out tomorrow, people may not have the money to flock to it either...
     
  8. UltraNEO* macrumors 601

    UltraNEO*

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2007
    Location:
    近畿日本
    #8
    Yeah!! That's a true statement too, though it really depends on what the OP and other prospective users plan to do with their machines... if they're using it for non-multimedia based DTP, it's perfect!! All in all, it really depends on the users choice of applications - not all can take advantage of all eight cores. However, if their main intentions is surfing the net, checking mail and do nothing professional, a MacPro is most definitely an overkill!!

    I believe Intel are about to release a six-core version of their current CPU, for people who own 09MP's it might be compatible since it's suppose to share the same socket - but it's not something that really grabs me, i'm still very happy with my 08 machine.

    As for application upgrades? Well that'll really depend on one's budget, and the time it take to recuperate the extra investment. It's different for everyone. Me, I usually upgrade at the blink of an eye and split the cost up, putting it through my monthly petty cash allowance.
     
  9. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #9
    I read somewhere in this forum most softwares; being 32 bit still could not take advantage of the Triple Channel Ram architecture of the 2009 Nehalem MacPros. I also read from this article that Final Cut Pro can only use a maximum of 4 gig of ram or less: http://support.apple.com/kb/TA27734

    I guess the Quad Nehalem 4 core is a suitable choice for now. Looking back at the history of Apple products, they always carry a high price when introducing a new kind of hardware technology and sometimes being the most expensive does not mean it's the best. Then a year after the price goes down on that technology. Back in 2003 the 2.0 Dual Processor Powermac was released and was expensive. Later Apple released a dual 1.8 Ghz at a more reasonable cost. In 2005 Apple introduced the 2.5 Quad which was a dud with it's liquid cooling system. I think this is one of the most expensive model. And in 2006 the new 2.66 Quad MacPro was released with a lower price. Now the Nehalem with a new technology was released with a somewhat higher price tag.

    I am hoping in 2010 with the newer MacPros the price will be reasonable, cheaper. We need reasonably price MacPros with the current economic slowdown.
     
  10. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #10
    I prefer to look at it this way...

    For the cost of a well equipped Octo core, you can get...

    - A great Mac Pro quad configuration
    - Your choice of Mac laptop
    - a Mac Mini for HTPC use
    - AND an iPhone

    See my sig! :eek: :D ;)
     
  11. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #11
    This is more Intel's own fault than software or anything else. Before Nehalem, Intel's strategy for overcoming the shortcomings of the front-side-bus and memory controller located on the North Bridge, was to offer massive L2 cache on the CPU. Thus making it rare for a cache miss and the CPU having to actually fetch data from the then dual-channel RAM located two hops away.

    With Nehalem, moving the memory controller onto the CPU die and bolstering bandwidth with a tri-channel architecture dramatically reduces the latency to fetch data from RAM, but this is still largely untapped due to their continued use of an extremely large L3 cache size for Bloomfield.

    The strategy behind moving the memory controller onto the CPU die and going tri-channel, is really to enable them to run with smaller cache sizes and use some of that silicon for improved logic instead. So in this sense, Nehalem is a transition architecture... implementing the necessary building blocks to leverage a dramatically improved memory architecture, but conservatively still running large (and really unnecessary) L3 cache sizes.

    It seems Gulftown promises to better realize the potential of this new architecture by NOT increasing cache sizes while adding 50% more core processing to the CPU (6 cores up from 4). As Intel starts to make more intelligent use of transistors on the CPU, transitioning more real-estate away from cache and into core logic, we will start to realize the full potential of the new memory architecture. I would contend that with the new memory architecture, Intel could cut the L3 cache to 1MB per core without any impact on performance. There's a lot of transistors tied up in cache that could be put to much better use.
     
  12. yanquis macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    #12
    a huge upside to the quad (that i didnt think of earlier) is if u swap out & sell the x5550 & put in an i7 975 you'll actually -save- money, & get way better performance. such a machine w/ 6GB RAM 1TB HD would still cost a cool $2600+ or so pre-tax. factor in a gtx 285 and youre topping 3K, but it is an apple i guess. an octal pro is 'future proof', but yes, it would cost more than twice that @3.33 ghz because, even though its a relative bargain w/out customizations, the xeon chips required for dual socket cost 2x as much as i7 & offer no real performance boost afaik (other than being linked, obv).

    also, as you say, -most- people will never really use 8 cores. so it is better for most to save that money on a down-the-road cycle or spend it on other goodies.
     
  13. Techhie macrumors 65816

    Techhie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2008
    Location:
    The hub of stupidity
    #13
    Where would one sell the x5500?
     
  14. Techhie macrumors 65816

    Techhie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2008
    Location:
    The hub of stupidity
    #15
    is it actually cost effective and worthwhile to bump up from the x5500? A bump in clock speed doesn't really seem worth that much extra money
     
  15. yanquis macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    #16
    actually i just saw a thread & the proc that comes / the base is a W3520 @ $284.00 (intel site). the guy estimated he would snag $200 for it so it'd actually bump the price a few hundred to upgrade. im really not sure how apple gets away w/ charging so much for those quads. i guess because theyre still the only quad-cores in apple's lineup.
     
  16. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #17
    The pricing difference is due to Intel, not Apple. Apple are offering you the choice of a single or dual socket system. They may be charging some nice big Apple overheads, but the difference between the systems you are comparing isn't only found at Apple. You are looking at paying around $2,500 more at retail component prices. If this thread were about Dell you'd be looking at a much bigger difference or $1,800 vs $6,500.
     
  17. Luis Ortega macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 10, 2007
    Location:
    Fetcham Surrey UK
    #18
    By the time that applications are able to benefit from all the cores, the current Macs will be obsolete. Bus speeds, ram speeds, processor architectures and all the other important system components will be woefully out of date.

    It makes more sense to buy a 4 core machine today and by the time that all the important applications are finally able to exploit all the cores of a processor and ram in a computer to buy a new machine with all of the latest technology.

    Anyone who buys an 8 core machine today with the delusion that they are future proofing will find themselves with an obsolete machine by the time this becomes a reality.

    I count myself among those who were conned into believing this false scenario since I bought an 8 core in 2008 thinking that it would be a future proof machine. Silly me. Here we are in almost 2010 and the main applications that I use can neither use all the cores nor all the memory available in my machine.

    If I was buying today, I would opt for a 4 core and in a few year's time when the typical pro applications, like FCP 4 or 5 or Adobe CS5 or CS6 or whatever, can actually make use of all the ram and all the cores available I would buy a new machine.

    In my opinion, all this is marketing bull **** designed to part idiots with more money than sense from their money.
     
  18. yanquis macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    #19
    speak for yourself. there are PLENTY of people out there who can & do max out all the cores for hours a week. if you dont need them, dont buy it! of course the average or casual user would be foolish to buy 8 cores. 4 nehalem cores is more then plenty, & 8 is probably a luxury no matter who you are. but that doesnt mean people who purchase those machines arent utilizing their power. i think the vast majority probably are.

    you are correct though, it wont be 'future proof', but u will have more raw processing power than any non-pro macs will for some time. upgrade the processors & graphics cards as time goes on & it will be a very solid machine for 3 years. its not bad for $3200 imho. 2.26 ghz turbo nehalem is as fast single threaded as any current non-pro mac processor, paying a few hundred to upgrade along the line as new processors are developed until u max out the tech, is not a bad way to go. in a couple years time, more apps will take advantage of all the extra threads/cores, & its a great multi-tasking machine as is when not crunching.
     
  19. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2006
    #20
    I would still take 2.26GHz of 8 core as to a 2.93GHz Quad anyday. :)

    As for the 8 core future proofing is obsolete theory I think its false. Technology moves fast and apps will utilize the hardware far more than the PPC days. Especially now that Apple is on the Intel Processors + Snow Leopard! And OpenCL going open source as well. ;)

    This isnt G5 PPC anymore.
     
  20. AZREOSpecialist macrumors 68000

    AZREOSpecialist

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    #21
    Hmmm... I wonder how long it will be before Microsoft has a version of Office that takes advantage of Snow Leopard's new multi-core technologies? How about Adobe, their software isn't even 64-bit yet on Macs? Those are just two examples. Obviously those who use "pro" applications that currently utilize multiple cores can benefit from that, but I'm still pretty sure that by the time "mainstream" applications utilize the new hooks in Snow Leopard we will have 6-core and 12-core Mac Pros. Spending double the money future-proofing today when in a year you will have 50%-100% more processing power for the same price doesn't make much sense. Especially when the software won't even catch up to the technologies before new machines are available.
     
  21. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #22
    Two Mac Pros is actually slower than one Mac Pro with twice as many cores.

    That's why you'd buy a single machine. You want the processors on the same board.
     
  22. yanquis macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    #23
    its about $600, or 1/4, on the base level. this give you the option to upgrade for a few hundred dollars (assuming the current w5590s are the limit, & not gulftowns) when necessary. you get 2x the cores & an unnoticeable difference in single-threaded applications. otoh a mac quad is currently horrifically overpriced & the tech is limited to i7 975s, which still will not offer the performance of a base-level mac pro in regards to either multi-tasking or multi-threaded apps, & will currently add - wait for it - $600 to the total of a quad MP at best. you get less upgradeable, less re-sellable system, & you save $600. sort of. i dont get the quad mac pro's, im sorry.
     
  23. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #24
    It would depend on how those machines are connected, but the faster methods also add expense to the systems. InfiniBand for example (used for connecting nodes in clouds). Fast, but really expensive.

    So having a DP system makes more sense. ;)
     
  24. AZREOSpecialist macrumors 68000

    AZREOSpecialist

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    #25
    With the vast majority of current software (except very specific "pro" apps), you will experience almost 20% better performance with a base Quad than you will with a base 8-core and also save $600. To get the same level of performance for the majority of software as a base Quad you will need to spend an additional $2,050 for an 8-core 2.66 GHz. The additional 4-cores will go unused for the majority of applications. If Apple's pricing remains consistent, by the time applications catch up with the hooks in Snow Leopard you will probably be able to buy a 6-core Quad with 50% better performance for about $2,650. You'll also have higher hard drive capacity, more RAM, and other features we don't currently have for that price. Why pay an extra $2,000 today for performance you won't actually see for 6 months to a year from now when by then you can spend just a little more and have the latest machine with better performance?

    The 8-core makes sense today if you are using software today that can take advantage of the extra cores. Otherwise you are paying a premium today for something that is going to be outdated soon and won't offer you the performance for which you paid until it's obsolete. Put that $2,000 into an Ally Bank 12-month CD. By the time software catches up with Snow Leopard, you will have an additional $2,050 to spend on a newer, better performing Mac Pro. But that's just my opinion.

    EDIT - This just goes to show that everyone's criteria is different and you should carefully evaluate your needs to determine the best price/performance ratio. In my case, I bought a base Quad and replaced the CPU with a W3580 Xeon @ 3.3 GHz (started with an i7 975, not a good idea - see my thread on that) and sold the stock CPU on eBay. I got 25% better performance for the applications I use the most for $1,000 less than a 2.66 8-core. Different strokes for different folks! :)
     

Share This Page