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Core 2-Compatible Chipsets Compared 145

Posted by Zonk
from the edification-for-the-afternoon dept.
theraindog writes "Intel's Core 2 Duo is clearly the most attractive processor on the market, but which motherboard chipset is it best paired with? The Tech Report has rounded up four of the most common Core 2-compatible chipsets on the market to find out. The chipsets' features are compared and their performance is tested in a wide range of application, peripheral, and even power consumption tests. One emerges as a lemon, two as solid options, and the other as a clear winner." From the article: "Some fanboys still stubbornly cling to their favorite underdog, but most enthusiasts have seen the light and are looking at Core 2 for their next upgrade or system build. The prospect of a Core 2 system build can seem a bit daunting for enthusiasts who have spent years focused solely on the Athlon 64. Core 2 processors need new motherboards for those switching from the Athlon 64, and that requires navigating a whole new world of core logic chipsets. Since the Core 2 processor relies on the chipset for its memory controller, one's chipset choice can also have a much more profound impact on performance. "
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Core 2-Compatible Chipsets Compared

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  • by adisakp (705706) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:00PM (#16155750) Journal
    FWIW, I bought an XPS600 from Dell with the "NForce for Intel" MB and I was getting write errors on my hard-drives until I disabled both hardware TCP/IP acceleration and SATA command queuing on the NVidia chipset. The computer doesn't run any noticeably slower (real world maybe 1-2%) but it's 100 times more stable. To me, stability is more important than minor speed bumps that corrupt my data anyday.
  • Eh.. it depends. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Visaris (553352) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:27PM (#16156013) Journal
    Intel had what, 5 years to top K8 and 5%-10% better speeds was the best they could manage?

    Well, it depends. Core 2 is really good at 32-bit single threaded tasks that fit inside a 4MB cache or have sequential memory access patters. On these workloads Core 2 will wipe the floor with AMD's K8, hands down. Just look at SuperPI scores for an example.

    Here's the question though: What happens with heavily threaded 64-bit tasks that use much more than 4MB of memory in a random access pattern? AMD's K8 wipes the floor with Core 2, hands down.

    There is a reason most gamers/encoders buy Core 2 for their desktops and many businesses and universities buy K8 Opterons for their servers and HPC centers.
  • by martinultima (832468) <martinultima@gmail.com> on Thursday September 21, 2006 @04:14PM (#16156461) Homepage Journal
    but I'm still sticking with my Athlon 64, thanks. Besides, I can't even tell which damn Intel processors are even 64-bit capable – at least AMD makes a clear naming distinction. (I may be wrong here, of course... disclaimer, I used to be an Intel guy myself, but I've since changed.)
  • You know it's funny (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @04:16PM (#16156479)
    I keep seeing this in relation to Intel processors "They aren't really 64-bit! Their 64-bit is t3h slow!" Ok fine but let me ask you two things then:

    1) What's your source? Do you have some Intel technical docs that talk about how their chips are gimped in 64-bit? Remember: A post from some guy on some web forum isn't a legit source.

    2) If that's the case, why do they perform well in 64-bit mode, in relation to 32-bit mode? You take things like, say, Prime95. Install XP 32-bit and XP-64-bit on the same system and do some benchmarks. You find that Prime95 gains a little bit of speed when both it and the OS are 64-bit compared to when both are 32-bit. So how's that happen? Isn't that counter-evidence to a poor 64-bit design?

    I'm not claiming to have the answer here, just saying I see this "Pentium (and now Core2) sucks at t3h 64-bit, buy AMD!" trotted around a lot, but I see very little backing for it. So please, provide some relevant docs. What I'd like to see:

    1) Intel tech docs describing the limitations of 64-bit support on the Core 2.

    2) Benchmarks showing a non-trivial loss of speed in 64-bit. This means you take a 32-bit OS, 32-bit app, bench it, then a 64-bit OS and 64-bit app on the same system and rebench it.

    3) Benchmarks showing the Core 2 vs Athlon on a 64-bit app, 64-bit OS.

    If you haven't looked at things like that, you might want to reconsider the confidence with which you state your point of view. I'm not saying it's wrong, I'm just saying that there appears to be counter evidence so you need to get some backing to try and straighten things out.
  • Re:No bias there... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doctor Memory (6336) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @04:31PM (#16156593)
    The K8's integrated memory controller supports much better memory throughput.
    That's fine in theory, but that's not proven by the results in the test. As shown on this page [techreport.com], memory access is pretty even across the board, with the exception of the 570 SLI, which showed remarkably higher latency (almost 50% higher). As they mention in the article, that could be an aberration with the particular board they used, but they also noted that the board was supplied by nVidia, so it should (hopefully) be one that showed good performance.
  • Playing Hopscotch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by m.dillon (147925) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @04:52PM (#16156757) Homepage
    It's fun seeing AMD and Intel playing hopscotch, but the days of a simple cpu upgrade causing the masses to replace their machines whoesale are long since over, and Intel was just a tad too late to the game for their Duo to be able to steal back all the market share they lost to AMD. I don't know about the rest of you but fan noise hasn't been an issue for me since I upgraded to an AMD64 X2 based MB with its hardware fan control and started using heatpipe technology. I have three shuttle XPC cubes on my desktop right now and the room is still very quiet. I have no desire to 'upgrade'.. my machines are already overpowered and mostly idle, what do I care if Internet Explorer takes 0.05 seconds less time to pop up?

    Intel is likely to make some inroads in the server market except... well, except unfortunately Core Duo doesn't scale as well once you go to quad cpu setups due to the memory bottleneck. So their only real claim to fame is power use. Power is extremely important in the long term, but I don't see anyone rushing to replace all their AMD boxes with core duo just for that when they know AMD will come up with a power-competitive design in fairly short order.

    The real problem Intel has is their inability to compete with Hypertransport. AMD is already pushing hard to make it a defacto standard for chip interconnect. Intel is working on their own solutions to the problem, but they are not hitting on all cylinders yet.

    If anything is going to drive machine replacement in today's market, it is going to be the new ultra-fast PCI bus technologies. PCI has needed an upgrade for a long, long time. Nothing else will have much of an impact. GiGE is already faster then most hard drives so there isn't going to be much of a consumer push for 10GiGE. Cpu's are already fast enough and machines are already quiet enough. We are a far cry from the old days where every new advance doubled the performance of the previous year's boxes. In today's world magazines proclaim victory and tell people to trash their old machines for barely a 10% improvement, but unless there is a huge improvement in video technology even game players have no real reason to do so any more. The connection to the video card is the only thing left for which significant improvements can drive machine replacement.

    -Matt

  • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @05:07PM (#16156889)
    xbitlabs tested Core2 on 64 bit

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2 duo-64bit.html [xbitlabs.com]

    Their conclusion


    The average performance improvement we have seen from Athlon 64 FX-62 equaled 16%, while Core 2 Extreme X6800 demonstrated only 10% average performance boost. This way, there is a certain difference: AMD K8 turns out 6% mode efficient in 64-bit mode than Intel Core. However, this difference cannot compensate for the 20% performance advantage of the Intel Core 2 Duo over the Athlon 64 X2 working at the same clock speed, which we have pointed out in our previous articles. Therefore, we will not change our conclusions about the performance of the new Intel processors even keeping in mind the upcoming launch of 64-bit Windows Vista OS family.


    I have an Athlon now and it's stable and fast, but the fans are loud. But initially I had more stability issues (problems with generic SDRAM, flaky firewire, overheating hard disks) on an Athlon/Nforce2 than I was used to on an Celeron/Intel 440BX. Even if Intel was a bit slower, I'd probably pick an Intel CPU and chipset over any other combination, since most stuff isn't very CPU bound these days.
  • by hxnwix (652290) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @05:11PM (#16156919) Journal
    I keep seeing this in relation to processors: "There are technical drawbacks to this architecture! But according to my annecdotes, it seems pretty fastish! Why don't you go and do a bunch of research to disprove my annecdotes, which are by there nature not disprovable!" Well, I can at least attack the premise you are attempting to establish.

    Read the other reply to my comment - 32bit-address-only DMA is a well known limitation of the EM64T ISA. This limitation, by requiring additional memory copies, reduces performance. If you could compare a core2 processor with this limitation to one without it, the difference would be quantifiable. It is harder to observe when comparing an opteron to a core2, seeing as how the underlying microarchectures are different even though their ISAs are generally compatible.

    Why did Intel introduce this limitation? I think it's because they would prefer that you buy an Itanium. It almost seems that they'd rather have folks buy opterons. That's my opinion, and that's a fact.
  • by daybot (911557) * on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:09PM (#16157699)
    People seem to be missing the point about Core 2. Where CPU performance is considered, Core 2 doesn't just have to take on AMD's current offerings - it needs to be compared with Intel's previous offerings too. Here are some quick real-world numbers from my company where we've just bought a twin-CPU Core 2 Duo Xeon 5160 system for a performance-critical task.

    Systems Involved
    Dual P4 Xeon 3.4GHz (will refer to this as "P4")
    Dual Core 2 Duo Xeon 5160 3.0GHz (will refer to this as "Core2")

    Test suite for our software in Studio .NET 2003
    P4: 12 hours
    Core2: 5 hours

    Compiling our software
    P4: 9 hours
    Core2: 3 hours

    Source code check of our software (using Lint)
    P4: 6 hours
    Core2: 1hr 20min

    I'm not an Intel fanboy but I am understandably smitten with Core 2.

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