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Intel AMD Hardware

4 Cores? 6 Cores? Do You Care? 661

Posted by timothy
from the 8-cores-a-dollar dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Intel has updated its processor price list earlier today. Common sense suggests that Intel may not care that much anymore whether its customers know what they are actually buying. One new six-core processor slides in between six-core and quad-core processors – and its sequence number offers no clues about cores, clock speed, and manufacturing process. If we remember the gigahertz race just a decade ago, it is truly stunning to see how the CPU landscape has changed. Today, processors carry sequence numbers that are largely meaningless."
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4 Cores? 6 Cores? Do You Care?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 19, 2010 @07:58PM (#32958390)

    What about telling him the truth ?

    The sequence number is assigned by the marketing department in order to confuse you. By making it harder for you to know what you're buying, they decrease your bargaining power which allow them to charge you more.

  • The real story (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 19, 2010 @07:59PM (#32958410)

    isn't just that the sequence numbers are out of order...

    But that the differences in processor performance are largely irrelevant anymore. Who cares if it's 4/6/8 cores/hyperthreading/gigawhatzitz. The bottom line is that all of them are ridiculously fast. You would do far better putting your money into just about any other component.

  • by Wowsers (1151731) on Monday July 19, 2010 @08:02PM (#32958458) Journal

    Picking the right CPU is quite easy, it's the motherboard that's the problem, especially with the current fad of putting on the board as few PCI slots as possible. No wonder there's not the problem there once was with IRQ conflicts, because there's not enough slots to make conflicts!

  • by Lueseiseki (1189513) on Monday July 19, 2010 @08:24PM (#32958668)
    When you kinda grasp how they do it, it's not so hard.

    If I'm looking at an ATI card with the number given as 5850, I know that it's part of the current generation ( 5### ) and is a pretty high end card card ( #850 ).

    If I see 4350, I'll know it's from the previous generation of cards ( 4### ) and it is an entry level or HTPC card.

    It's kinda hard to really know whether an ATI's 4650 is greater than a nvidea 9800GT though, but I think the real difficulty comes from trying to know how much a generation of cards improves from its last generation. (4350 vs 5350 for example)

  • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Monday July 19, 2010 @08:31PM (#32958714)

    You may not be alone in that but you, along with those who think like you, certainly are not the majority. Joe Six-pack doesn't know the difference between a megahertz and a megabyte and he has much more important things to do than waste his time learning boring stuff such as the difference between SSD HDs and the traditional spinning disk HDs, let alone learn what a processor core is and what importance, if any, it has on his computing needs.

    He just goes off to buy a computer and spends his money on what appears to be the best possible product he could purchase on his budget. He just chooses whatever product has the biggest e-penis he can afford. That means he chooses the one with more megahertz, the one with more HD memory, the one with more RAM, the one with more cores, the one with the bigger processor number... Heck, joe six-pack may even end up choosing a computer just because it comes with more RAM chips. "see? it has more rams, which is good."

    The sad thing about it is that this behaviour is perfectly natural. When you decide to purchase something, you end up purchasing the best option according to the information that you were able to access and digest. Some of us may be better informed than others but we all do this. Some of us are better informed to the point of being able to see pass Intel's marketing bullshit but others aren't quite so fortunate. Nonetheless, the decision process is the same.

  • by seeker_1us (1203072) on Monday July 19, 2010 @08:31PM (#32958724)
    Total CPU performance is now a three dimensional issue: architecture, number of cores, and clock speed. A one dimensional sequence number can't specify three dimensions, and that you have to actually look at the chip specifications.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

  • by internettoughguy (1478741) on Monday July 19, 2010 @09:14PM (#32959110)

    Actually its: cmd /C start /affinity 1

  • by izomiac (815208) on Monday July 19, 2010 @09:51PM (#32959370) Homepage
    Now this is something I've not been able to find an answer for. Do sound cards actually matter with modern hardware? Mostly I've just seen a difference in the number of channels they handle, and the post processing the driver does.

    If that's all, one can just use a USB sound card with an appropriate number of channels, and use FFDShow to distort the audio however you wish. Does the more expensive hardware more faithfully reproduce the audio (higher SNR)? I know cheap portable devices (and Intel HD Audio) have excellent audio output, over 100 dB in SNR, so surely there are diminishing returns... Or does it merely save the negligible CPU usage, much like offloading network IO?

    Either way, even the cheapest integrated sound card is much higher quality than most speakers and headphones, so you'd see a far greater gain in audio quality with $200 headphones plugged into a $5 integrated sound card than vice versa. You have to know what's bottlenecking your performance if you hope to improve it.
  • Re:What I care is... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nadaka (224565) on Monday July 19, 2010 @09:58PM (#32959428)

    For games? AMD is more than enough. Modern games are graphics bound.

    An AMD 955 is more than enough cpu for games and will come priced at around $250 less than an intel i7 920 system.

    For intel CPU's the 920 is the only one that has a price/performance ratio similar to AMD.

  • Re:Yes, I care! (Score:2, Informative)

    by aronschatz (570456) on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:29PM (#32959624) Homepage

    What are you using for rendering?

    Slap a moderate GPU in your system and use it to render. You'll save LOADs of time over the CPU. Really, the GPU is a DSP that can get the job done for rendering tasks.

  • by toddestan (632714) on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:50PM (#32959780)

    Many boards now come with digital outputs, so I really don't care how bad the analog outputs might be.

  • by PrecambrianRabbit (1834412) on Monday July 19, 2010 @11:38PM (#32960078)

    In my opinion CPU model numbers are a paragon of sanity compared to GPU numbers.

    With intel Core iX branded CPUs, the model number looks something like iX-NNN. You can ignore the X pretty much entirely. From there, increasing NNNs indicate generally increasing performance and "features" (hyperthreading, turbo boost, cores). At that point, it's pretty much just picking a budget and buying the most expensive thing within that price range (I promise I'm not getting a kickback from Intel for saying that :-D). Right now it looks like the 875K is the most powerful CPU you can get before prices go insane

    With GPUs... well, let's look at the Radeon series. 4xxx vs. 5xxx indicates DX 10 vs. 11, so I guess I can deal with that. The xxx basically indicates performance within a generation, but to compare between generations you basically have to go look at benchmarks.

    Of course, if you just want to play games, pretty much any current-gen CPU will do pretty darn well. If you actually care about the tech, then the research is fun. And if your job depends on the research, then it's probably worth doing ;-)

  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @02:10AM (#32960696) Homepage

    When it comes to bang for your buck a dedicated D/A converter with an integrated headphone amp is probably the best upgrade you can make. One of my co-workers has one, and it blows any integrated headphone amp out of the water.

    The D/A on my box's integrated sound might be good in theory, but the interference it picks up... just abysmal. So taking the sound out of the computer digitally and using a dedicated converter (or a USB sound card) does make sense.

    Pro audio sound cards to still matter though. My M-Audio Delta 1010 is still amazing compared to most hardware. If you need a lot of channels in and out you still need dedicated hardware. For games and movies? Not so much IMHO.

  • by mrjezza (1860000) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @02:46AM (#32960824)
    Hey All, I can say from my 1st hand experience that rendering the same scene in Maya with Mental Ray on win7 has improved going from 4 core to 6 core. A good percentage in speed increase and saved time. If you don't use a "well designed" multi-threaded app then save your money I guess. For pro 3D more cores the better. Cheers J
  • Re:One Core at 24GHZ (Score:3, Informative)

    by Surt (22457) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @02:59AM (#32960900) Homepage Journal

    They did get that high:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_PowerPC_processors#POWER_processors [wikipedia.org]

    I believe IBM still has plans to release a 6ghz processor.

  • 'Good enough' (Score:2, Informative)

    by SchizoDuckie (1051438) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @03:20AM (#32960984) Homepage
    Since there are 1.5ghz processors and memory chips are about the price of poststamps, i tell all my friends and family to buy the *cheapest* computer they can find with the biggest harddisk. Everything from 1.5ghz and up is just 'good enough' to do anything a normal consumer will ever do. That's never failed.
  • No (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:46AM (#32961348)

    And a minimal amount of research will tell you this. Intel's 6 core chips come off their new 32nm lines, since space and power are a premium. Intel's 4 core chips come off their much more prevalent 45nm lines. They are completely different processes and thus one is not sold as the other.

    Intel has pretty good yields, they traditionally have, and thus don't have a real reason to do that sort of thing. It is more economical to fab quads on the more available 45nm process than to make them out of any failed 6 units.

  • by dingen (958134) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @04:53AM (#32961382)

    The process of choosing a CPU (or any component for that matter) has never really changed. This is what you do:

    1. 1) Get a list of all recent CPU models and prices
    2. 2) Sort the list by price descending
    3. 3) Ignore the top of the list, because those prices are just ridiculous. There will be a point in the list where prices suddenly drop to more decent levels
    4. 4) Pick a model around that point in the list (the highest one you can afford, but not so high the price becomes ridiculous again)

    Any other spec is just marketing.

  • by TheThiefMaster (992038) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @08:28AM (#32962594)

    There are a couple of errors in what you've said:
    1: The newer CPUs can switch between one fast core and multiple slower cores based on demand (they call it "turbo boost" / "turbo core"). This means that there isn't really any speed loss for a higher number of cores any more.
    2: There would be no point in hyperthreading if it gave a guaranteed cut in performance like that. If only one of the two "virtual" (actually "hardware") threads is in use, the other one runs at full speed.

    This adds up to meaning that there isn't normally a cut in single-thread performance for getting a cpu with more cores, unless you actually use them. And if you do load the other cores, the performance drop is much less than if you put that much load onto a single cpu core...

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