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Intel's Quad Core CPU Reviewed 286

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the core-buzzword-bingo dept.
Gr8Apes is one of many to let us know that Tom's Hardware Guide has posted a review of Intel's new Kentsfield quad core processor. From the article: "Even expert opinions are deeply divided, ranging from 'more cores are absolutely necessary' to 'why do I need something more than my five-year-old PC system?' Although the Core 2 quad-core processors are not expected to hit retail channels before October, Tom's Hardware Guide had the opportunity to examine several Core 2 Quadro models in the test labs. We would like to make it clear that these samples were not provided by Intel."
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Intel's Quad Core CPU Reviewed

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  • by sdaemon (25357) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:25AM (#16086771)
    Some applications will make use of it, some won't. More cores is pretty much the same as more CPUs.
    • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:27AM (#16086777) Homepage Journal
      Gosh darn, you ended the flame war before it had a chance to start. Shame on you!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770)
      Some applications will make use of it, some won't. More cores is pretty much the same as more CPUs.

      And it was quite obvious which, parallelizable processes like media encoding saw 80% improvement. Some of the rendering tests saw very impressive improvement as well, but that's not really new and that's why those people have been paying for SMP setups in the past too. The gaming improvements were at the moment none, unlike the Core Duo which spanked the PIVs. They're really stretching at straws saying "it's a
  • It's the bandwidth stupid! Does not matter how fast the CPU is if it is bandwidth limited.
    • by osho_gg (652984) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:36AM (#16086800)
      You are only saying this because the current state of the art is bandwith limited. It is much too trivialized generalization to say it "it is bandwith stupid!". Computer architecture and preformance is all about compromises, bottlenecks and parameter tuning. Not so far in future, there will be more bandwidth and then the limiting factor could be the speed/size of the memory. Or, it could be the power envelop of the entire system, Or, it could be back to the raw performance of CPUs. Or, it could be limiting opportunities for parallelization in most common workload for a typical office/home user. A little further out in future, there will be integrated GPUs, maybe even memory etc. and then it could be dinosaur hard-drive technology that may be limiting factors of overall system performance.

      At any point of time in the history of computer performance, to say that, "it is stupid *anything*!" is much too simplistic point of view IMHO.

      Osho

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by convolvatron (176505)
        of course you are right to a large degree. global memory bandwidth
        is the cause of the day and given coherency, its not trivial to
        architect around. the parent may have been a little terse, but
        as you point out, overall throughput doesn't go up if all the
        cores are too starved to issue.

        however the memory latency picture isn't changing very much, and the
        most compelling method to hide it for general purpose machines is through
        thread parallelism (ignore vectors for a moment, its kind of a special
        case of the same t
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by adam31 (817930)

        Not so far in future, there will be more bandwidth and then the limiting factor could be the speed/size of the memory. Or, it could be the power envelop of the entire system, Or, it could be back to the raw performance of CPUs.

        Ah, but the future is now. Cell has already addressed these issues: 25.6 GB/s main memory bandwidth, 256 kb of L1 cache per core, OoO sacrificed to minimize heat, maximal raw performance of CPUs in FP, integer, FP, load/store, FP, and main memory transfer (DMA engine) without any

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      From the looks of things, a Kentsfield on a 1066MHz FSB did similarly to a Kentsfield on a 1333MHz FSB, suggesting that bandwidth isn't the key issue. In fact, they scored the same on several tests (both were at the 2.67GHz standard speed). That surprised me, but I'm not complaining. Now, it may be that those tests never utilized all four cores, but it still scored head and shoulders above a E6700, suggesting that at least 3 cores were used.
    • by julesh (229690)
      Note that this chip does have a faster FSB speed (333MHz x 4 words = 1333MHz) than the current-gen Core 2 Duo chips (266MHz x 4 words = 1066MHz). Possibly not *enough* faster to support twice as many cores, but that depends heavily on what your application is.
  • Experts? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:27AM (#16086776)
    Even expert opinions are deeply divided, ranging from 'more cores are absolutely necessary' to 'why do I need something more than my five-year-old PC system?

    These are obviously experts who have never heard of servers.

    I'm perfectly content with my 1.2GHz single-core single-processor laptop, but I'd sure as shit like to have more muscle in the database cluster I'm responsible for maintaining at work. Whether these chips are a good solution remains to be seen, but that's a separate question.
    • Re:Experts? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Aadain2001 (684036) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:35AM (#16086796) Journal
      Both AMD and Intel know they can't focus soley on the server or desktop market, but on both. While these chips are great for servers (what high powered chip isn't??), they will also be targeted at desktop machines (and may laptops in the future). With the performance of single core CPUs reaching their limit (thank you leakage current and high temps), multicore and multiproc systems will be the future of computing. Yes you can quote me on that.
    • Re:Experts? (Score:5, Informative)

      by steveha (103154) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @02:36AM (#16086931) Homepage
      The companies who are really serious about servers are particularly interested in CPU power compared to heat dissipation -- thermal density [processor.com]. This new Intel CPU is high performance with high heat--more of a gamer chip. At least so far it is; it's a very early sample and Intel hasn't had time to tune the power management features.

      Intel's latest chips are fabbed at 65nm, while AMD is still only shipping chips fabbed at 90nm. This should give Intel a serious edge in the performance/heat ratio, but AMD's chips are so much more energy efficient that they are still competitive. (The current best performance/heat is the AMD Athlon64 X2 3800+ ADD [lostcircuits.com] chip.) When AMD finally ships 65nm Opterons, those ought to be really great for dense server installations.

      It's telling that even Dell is planning [com.com] to ship servers with AMD chips. They announced a 4-core server; two dual-core Opterons. It wouldn't surprise me if they will be 65nm Opterons when they finally are released.

      The article says that Intel is going to transition from 65nm to 45nm sometime in 2007, and to 34nm sometime in 2009. They beat AMD to 65nm big-time. They may well be at 34nm before AMD can make it to 45nm! Just imagine some sort of server chip with 16 cores... or more likely, 8 cores and a whole bunch of cache.

      But we shouldn't count those chickens before they hatch. Right now Intel is at 65nm and AMD will be there soon.

      steveha
      • They didn't test Intel's Core chips. Not Core 2 but Core. Core 2 is the highest performance, most features chip, but the Core is the most efficient. The fastest Core Duos (2.33GHz) have a TDP of 31 watts, the slower ones (1.66GHz), 15 watts. Then there's the Core Core Solo which on the low end are 5.5watts TDP. Remember that the thermal dissipation spec is the max amount of heat they are ever going to put out (actually slightly more). It is the "If you design your cooling to dissipate this amount it'll neve
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by julesh (229690)
      I've heard a lot of experts suggest that scaling outwards (i.e. adding more nodes to the cluster) is a better solution than improving the performance of individual nodes. They look at google as a model of how to build a high-performance database application.

      I'm not convinced, but that's one point of view that's often expressed.
      • by kestasjk (933987)

        I've heard a lot of experts suggest that scaling outwards (i.e. adding more nodes to the cluster) is a better solution than improving the performance of individual nodes. They look at google as a model of how to build a high-performance database application. I'm not convinced, but that's one point of view that's often expressed.

        Well obviously it depends on the application.. If you're running a database system which needs data from the whole database very quickly then splitting the database system up into

    • Forget servers. I want lots of cores on the desktop.

      Imagine tagging images using facial recognition. (I take a lot of photos.) Or creating three dimensional models out of multiple images. Perhaps with recommended angles to improve the 3d reconstruction. Or true speech-to-text and text-to-speech that is able to learn. Or true machine AI.

      These are big software problems that need both coders and horsepower.
  • why do I need something more than my five-year-old PC system?
    I would. Because these chips will eventually wind up in blade systems which will run Linix which will be used to port CPU intensive tasks.
  • by elh_inny (557966) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:47AM (#16086820) Homepage Journal
    Some nice example where more processing power (even in parralel) is nice is virtualisation, whether at home or on servers. Running multiple OSes in parallel will saturate all your processing power nicely.
    What's more quad-core surely gives more processing power per watt and per cubic meter which is a very important factor for big folks like Google or whereever hosting space is expensive.
    Even John Carmack who used to be very much against multi-cores for gamins recently elaborated much on this area in his keynote. Practically any modern (lets call it nextgen :D) gaming platform is now multi-core.

    So I'd say overall it's nice that Intel is pushing this so fast, if developers start to realize that multi-cores are hitting mainstream, they will have to take that into account and by the time Intel and AMD launch 8-cores, there should be more software to take advantage of it.
    • Running multiple OSes in parallel will saturate all your processing power nicely.

      Only if you're actually DOING something CPU intensive in each OS. Virtualisation doesn't change the picture: you still have to be doing parallelisable tasks.
    • by Tmack (593755)
      Nah, they are still playing catch-up. SUN has already been selling their Niagara (Ultra Sparc T1), which has 6-8 cores each, with an additional 4 threads per core, and the ability to have 4 in a box (8*4*4 = 128 threads!) blows Intel out of the water. Yes, I am perfectly aware that this chip is a SERVER cpu, but you mention servers and virtualization (vmware, parallels, etc), which Sun basically designed this chip to do. As a sysadmin, this cpu also get my attention over Intel for using very little power, s
  • by Rooked_One (591287) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:48AM (#16086828) Journal
    how many FPS can I get in quakeworld? With the +1000 FPS it would give, i'm sure I would be able to bunnyhop all the way across the 2fort5 outdoors area!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RuBLed (995686)
      it could be possible (maybe someone would tweak it in the future), but I doubt your existing crt/lcd would support that :)

      What would improve is the quality of the games both in physics and in AI.
      • by temojen (678985)
        I doubt your existing crt/lcd would support that

        Just tweak the timings on an 80Hz CRT so the electron gun is only covering 1/125 the height of the screen. Run at 15x11@1000Hz mode. No problem. You could probably set this up with XVidtune or the right xorg.conf Mode lines.

        On a related note, glxgears says it gets "6690 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1337.819 FPS" on my box, which isn't multi-core.

  • by savuporo (658486) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:55AM (#16086847)
    Coincidentally, Gamasutra just two nice feature articles on rearchitecting the game engine flow to better parallelize the tasks so that multi-core can be taken advantage of, utilizing OpenMP
    "Multithreaded Game Engine Architectures "
    http://gamasutra.com/features/20060906/monkkonen_0 1.shtml [gamasutra.com]
    "Multi-Threaded Terrain Smoothing"
    http://gamasutra.com/features/20060531/gruen_02.sh tml [gamasutra.com]
  • So who really needs this much computing power?

    I, for one, have never heard how less cpu power is better than more, so I sincerely doubt that more is really going to hurt me.

    'Nuff said on this issue.

    • Typically this requires more fans. Fans are moving parts, thus likely to fail. Your super-fast computer could crash because of a 13-cent Chinese fan. Dead computers only go fast when you drop them out the window.

      Fans are noisy. This causes other people to accelerate your computer at 9.8 m/s/s. They can sneak up on you because you're going deaf from the noise.

  • 260 Watts! (Score:5, Funny)

    by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @02:13AM (#16086890)
    260 Watts! We've been looking at the wrong factors - it appears that global warming is related to Moore's law.
  • If not Intel... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by abshnasko (981657) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @02:24AM (#16086910)
    "We would like to make it clear that these samples were not provided by Intel"

    Then who were they provided by, exactly?

    • by Kjella (173770)
      What part of that was unclear? Obviously they were produced by Intel, and come either from some internal employee or one of the mobo companies or an employee thereof that get pre-production samples. Since the source is at least violating an NDA, do you think they'll come forward with the source?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      *tinfoil hat*
       
      AMD.
  • Duo 2 Sexo? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BikeRacer (810473) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @02:36AM (#16086927)
    TFA spends a little time describing that Intel doesn't have enough package area to use this iteration of the Core 2 Duo to make a 4 die, 8 core part. So, my question is: Ignoring likely heat and bandwith issues, is there a SMP architectural reason they can't put 3 dies in one package?
    • by julesh (229690)
      Apart from anything else, the dies are almost certainly square, so 3 of them would require as much space as 4.
      • by julesh (229690)
        OK, clearly I should RTFA before I say something stupid like that.

        Err... architectural reasons. Yeah. Probably.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by james b (31361)
      I've wondered in the past why multi-core/multi-processor systems usually seem to have a power-of-two number of cores. This quote [sdsc.edu] is interesting:

      Besides, it's very rare for users to need an odd number of processors (in any of the parallel codes I've seen at least). Most parallel problems are able to work in parallel by decomposing some sort of domain (be it physical, a mathematical matrix, etc.), and this decomposition usually happens in more than one dimension (this generally is done to optimize computat

      • When you are moving data between CPUs on a bus (or even with something like HT, since you don't always have a direct connection), you have to include the CPU's ID number. For two CPUs, you need one wire / one bit to do this. For three, you need two, but for four you also need two. For anything between five and eight you need three, etc.
      • by SharpFang (651121)
        One reasonable option for use of 3 or any odd number of CPUs is when you use 2^n + 1 - 2^n CPUs for the paralellized application, 1 for OS, demons and all the overhead. If you split the task in half, you'd like both halves to end at the same time. It won't happen if one of the CPUs gets additional work from other sources. So keep 2^n "workhorse" CPUs and one "manager" to coordinate them, provide interface, perform the load ballancing and all the other tasks other than the computation itself.
  • Hmmmmm.....

    Maybe now I will have the ability to put all of my excess computing power into figuring out why women are the way they are instead of searching for extraterrestrial intelligence...............oh wait.....

    -----

    Sig Sauer
  • >> Even expert opinions are deeply divided, ranging from 'more cores are absolutely necessary' to 'why do I need something more than my five-year-old PC system?'


    stab yourself in the face. Sure, for average joe downloading itunes for their ipod, 4 cores aren't necessary. But people like me wanting to roll out a database cluster, getting a cpu with four cores could save me $75,000 per CPU running M$ SQL Server. Oh the dream of running 16 cores on 4 CPU's. I think I'd like that savings as would an
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Rodyland (947093)
      Until such time as MS/Oracle/VendorOfChoice decides to (re-)institute per-core (or even better - per-virtual-core) licencing...

      You act like being raped by MS/Oracle/VendorOfChoice isn't a priviledge and an honour.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vendekkai (121853)
      But people like me wanting to roll out a database cluster, getting a cpu with four cores could save me $75,000 per CPU running M$ SQL Server. Oh the dream of running 16 cores on 4 CPU's


      Till Oracle and Microsoft revise their licensing terms to take into account multiple cores, that is.

      Or do you think they're going to sacrifice all that potential revenue?

      V.
  • by Bazman (4849) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @02:46AM (#16086948) Journal
    There's an ad for PC World or Currys or something where the salesguy explains to some students that having an Intel (bing-bong-bing-bong) dual core processor means it can do two things at once - like sending an email and downloading music!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Rodyland (947093)
      Talk about dumbing it down. Still, maybe they should put it in terms the average real computer user would understand.

      How about, you can illegally download a DVD whilst watching another illegally downloaded DVD.

      Or, more likely, you can play your pirate copy of Civ4 while compressing your CD collection so you can share it illegally over the internet.

      Or, even more likely, you can watch illegally-downloaded pr0n on your monitor whilst watching more illegally-downloaded pr0n on your TV through your video-ou

    • by mgblst (80109)
      Ha, I laugh at that. Finally, thanks to Intel, I don't have to stop winamp before I send an email - this has always been a pain. Having to go to the task manager and make sure that no only one program is running has sure been annoying. If only they had developed some sort of system sharing, lets call it multi-tasking.

      Further proof why these stores really suck, and I will never go to them.
  • by Rodyland (947093) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @03:24AM (#16087032)
    As a sofware developer, I can't help but think the move to multiple cores is a good thing. In my mind, anything that makes software development MORE complex can only improve my employability.
    • Exactly (Score:5, Interesting)

      by joss (1346) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @07:09AM (#16087510) Homepage
      I grew up programming transputer clusters cos I figured Moore's law wqould have to slow down sometime and then we would have to move to multiprocessor systems. Efficiently using more than a couple of cores is *not* easy.. and it opens up a whole realm of interesting algorithmic work where basic problems with established solutions suddenly become open again.

      Its about fucking time...
  • FSB (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dersaidin (954402) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @03:37AM (#16087055)
    They should have made the FSB 4 Mhz faster. That'd just be too cool. Fight back AMD! Don't take that shit!
    • They should have made the FSB 4 Mhz faster.

      Right now the bottleneck at home is the Internet connection. I wish it could get cranked up from it's 0.001 Gig speeds. It would be nice to get a connection speed somewhere near the CPU speeds. Then sending e-mail while downloading music might be possible. ;-)
  • by gsasha (550394) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:04AM (#16087103) Homepage
    Is Linux Kernel compilation. It should rock there, that's an inherently parallelizable task.

    As a programmer, I want one. No, I want two :)
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  • Still a hack, not complete, but coolies.

    Of course, AMD quad-core will actually "fully work" when shipped ... hehehee /me shakes fists.

    Tom
  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @09:04AM (#16087912)
    before Microsoft starts charging more for multi-core installations? Seriously, if quad core means fewer boxes in the rack, it means fewer licenses.

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