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Thread: Dual or Quad Core AMD

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    Dual or Quad Core AMD

    Every so often I realise I'm great at maxing out my CPU on my system and get the urge to upgrade. I run a lot of audio processing on it and often have to streamline my work to make up for the lack of power and was wondering if it would just be easier to fork out for a mean chunk of number crunching chips.

    I was looking at the AMD site and it mentioned you can get four core systems (for server or workstation purposes). I can't seem to find any dual or quad core boards on the net to get any idea of price or if I'd have to get a new case to fit it in, and can I use the existing 64-bit Athlon chip I have in such a board. The AMD site implies you don't need a multi-core specific chip, but then you never know with careful marketing words.

    Also is it feasable to keep my PCI-e graphics card with this kind of system with the possibility of SLI at a later date. It all seems like its a little far fetched with current comercial technology, but if anywhere on the net knows.... its gonna be here. Cheers.

    -Leonard

    EDIT: Something tells me I might be getting the wrong end of the stick somewhere too!

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    Zad
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    What CPU and motherboard are you using at the moment? If it is a 939pin chip, then you can probably take out the CPU, plug in an X2 CPU.

    So far as I know, AMD don't do quad core yet, I think that's due to sample in Q1 2006, mainstream by 2007. However, they do make CPUs that will work in multi-CPU systems (2-way, 4-way and 8-way) and each CPU may have dual cores. Don't get dual cores (2 CPUs in 1 chip) confused with dual CPUs (2 physically separate chips). Multi-CPU systems use 940pin rather than 939pin CPUS (not compatible with each other).

    http://www.amdcompare.com/us%2Den/opteron/Default.aspx

    Be prepared to pay *big* money! Make sure your audio processing software is capabe of using multiple CPUs too. 8-way Opteron systems are very much not a DIY thing really, and would normally come with a video card anyway. Do not expect to be a turbonutter game playing system either, these beasties are designed to be servers. I can't imagine there would be a SLi multiway server (I wait to be proved wrong though, it seems like there's an exception to every rule!). Multi cpu systems also use special registered memory, and tend to come on non-ATX motherboards, so you would need a new case, and probably power supply too.

    So:

    Can you upgrade to a dual core CPU? Yes if you have a relatively recent 939pin CPU/Mobo.

    Is upgrading to multi-cpu easy?: Not really

    It would help a great deal if you told us what you have already.

    Mike


    Someone will be along shortly to correct me...

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    My current motherboard is a A8N-Sli Deluxe with a 3400+ 64 Athlon in (give or take a couple of hundred on the speed. Along with that i'm running an Antec NeoPower (480w I think), Gainward GeForce 6800 Ultra, 4x WD HDDs, 2Gb DDR400, Soundblaster Audigy 2 ZS. Think thats all the relevant details on spec.

    The case is a fairly large case, I'm sure it was made for servers as its a 4u rackmount antec case... little long for the rack I wanted to put it in, and very heavy but does the job!

    From what I'm gathering I did get confused then with the core/cpu thing. I'm not trying to boost my gaming output, just how much I can push my audio engine. I don't have enough money to buy a good gaming and pro-audio system so I just use a dual boot.

    Are Opterons 32 or 64 bit architecture?
    Last edited by RufusKing; 17-12-2005 at 05:26 PM.

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    64, get yourself a dual core opteron and overclock it save yourself a fortune than going for a new board psu case etc

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    Zad
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    Yes, the Opterons are 64 bit. The A8N-SLi Deluxe is capable of running dual core AMD CPUs, so you could plug in an X2-4800 (or Opteron 180 - they are almost identical, just undergo more thorough testing than standard Athlon chips but seem a lot better for overclocking) or wait for the new dual core AMD FX CPUs.

    If I were building a 4- or 8-way system, I would build it from scratch anyway as all the stuff tends to get rather "industrial". Non- standard motherboards, power supply connectors, SCSI rather than IDE and so on.

    I would check the specs for your audio software, it may be that it runs better on a single fast-cored CPU like an FX-57 or an overclocked Opteron 144 rather than a dual-core CPU. Have a look in any support forums for your software and see what the "top" setup is in there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zad
    <post>
    Sound advice there mate
    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    And by trying to force me to like small pants, they've alienated me.

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    although it would be very expensive intel processors generally do better at audio/video apps rather than amd that prefer gaming/server tasks what the advantages are I do not know and i have heard that the intel dueal core chips are slow compared to the single core and amd chips, however this would be an expensive option for relatively little performance gain

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    Zad
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    I would have said so too, but AMD added the SSE3 extensions to the Athlon 64s early this year (with the E3 stepping I think) and the X2 models also have it. I'm not a massive follower of TomsHardware, I think the impartiality and methodology has been questioned by some people(usually in favour of Intel), but here is a big comparison of video compression speeds:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/2005/11/...05/page32.html

    The X2s seem to widdle over the the Intels now.

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    csl
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    Rufus - post on the Nuendo and Sound On Sound forums - they're equipped to tell you what to get to run audio apps without problems. Dual core and PCIe have shaken up PC audio, and there are quite a few things to be wary of when considering your next DAW.

    http://www.soundonsound.com/forum/po...p?&Board=PCMus
    http://forum.nuendo.com/phpbb2/viewforum.php?f=7

    Just to paraphrase the general concerns:

    PCIe - there's no need to risk encountering the various incompatibilities between PCIe and PCI within the same PC. If you have a PCI soundcard then stick with a reliable PCI/AGP platform such as the venerable Asus A8V (or Abit AV8 as they're both based on the same Via chipset. The Asus A8V is used as a basis for many commercial DAW systems and is the main dual core AMD test system for Universal Audio for use with their UAD-1 DSP cards). This may appear to be a step backwards given your current system, but there have been many reports of unusable crackly audio when using a PCIe graphics card combined with legacy PCI soundcards/DSP cards. Intriguingly many of these problems inexplicably clear up with a dual core CPU, but I wouldn't rely on this. Snap up an A8V while you can as it's only a matter of time before stocks run out. The Abit AV8 ought to be around a little longer. As for recycling your Gfx card - you don't need a gaming card so something like a Radeon 9250 will more than suffice (it will also be passive and therefore silent) for &#163;30.

    Professional apps such as Logic, Cubase SX3, Nuendo 3 etc are multi-threaded apps that have recently been optimised for dual-core use. You will definitely want to go dual core for a music workstation. I use SX3 and will be putting a system together built around an X2, an Asus A8v and 2GB RAM, just need more money.

    PCIe will force pro soundcard manufacturers to consider moving from PCI, but as there are plenty of USB/firewire soundcards you might consider ensure these will work with your chosen DAW. Many Firewire interfaces are fussy about the FW chipset - a Texas Instruments-based FW card is a good bet, but there's more info coming in every day.

    It's best to research your platform on the SOS and Steinberg forums, and make sure your chosen soundcards/interfaces/DSP cards etc will work together flawlessly. Consumer tech websites won't mean a thing if your dual core DAW refuses to work with your sound card.

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    csl
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