Thread: i7 Core or Dual Quad Core which to choose?

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  1. #1 i7 Core or Dual Quad Core which to choose? 
    Senior Member Adam Beck's Avatar
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    Which processors whould you chose to edit RED footage, i7 core or Dual Quads?

    Thanks

    Adam
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Eric S.'s Avatar
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    It's hard to answer well without more information. In a nutshell, a dual-socket configuration SHOULD perform better than a slightly higher-clocked single CPU in relation to editing and transcoding.

    If you need the best value, then a single core is the way to go. If you need the extra juice, a dual-socket workstation may be for you. There should be a few benchmarks floating around the board that'll give you a better idea of what results to expect.

    Edit: Found some benchmarks that might help.

    Anandtech did some benchmarks with the new Mac Pros. Check it out here:

    http://anandtech.com/mac/showdoc.aspx?i=3597&p=8

    Then check out their single Core i7 benchmarks:

    http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets...px?i=3448&p=18

    Unfortunately, they don't use the same tests. I'm trying to track some down that do.
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  3. #3  
    Senior Member Jean Wallez's Avatar
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    Same question here,Adobe recommend a dual xeon platform for 4K redworkflow in CS4 instead of a I7 mono platform which is now the minimum.My I7 920 machine is less efficient to play realtime from 4K files in half resolution since the last 4.1 CS4 update.
    So i made some research:
    I7 920(2.66Ghz) + Asus P6T DE LUXE (8 sata port)= 500€
    2X XEON 5520(2.23Ghz) + Asus Z8ND6 (14 sata port)= 1000€
    Will the result whith the 2 xeon justify the double price?
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member Eric S.'s Avatar
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    Here's the deal: one of the valuable aspects of a Core i7, as opposed to the new Xeons, is that the Core i7 chips can be "overclocked." A 2.66 Ghz Core i7 can easily hit 3.5 Ghz with virtually no risk. This violates the warranty if you do it yourself, but some companies sell pre-overclocked Core i7's that are covered under warranty.

    So, 2x 2.23 Ghz Xeons will easily beat 1x 2.66 Ghz Core i7 in tasks like transcoding. However, if you overclock the Core i7 to 3.5Ghz, the benchmarks should be VERY close in multi-core optimized applications. Further, the Core i7 will crush the two Xeons in applications that are only optimized for a single or two threads (basically most applications), since it will have a much higher clockspeed.

    Here's the problem: I don't have benchmarks to illustrate this really well. I, unfortunately, do not have a Core i7 system. The problem with not having benchmarks is this: sometimes a little bit of performance increase is important. Say one system can almost do real-time editing, but another more expensive system can barely do real-time. For that extra juice, all the extra money might very well be worth it.

    In this case, my gut instinct is to recommend a Core i7. Save the money and put it into your RAID array or something. However, without all the information, I can't provide a thorough response.

    BOXX Labs might be able to provide some good feedback here. Check out the performance of their 4Ghz Core i7 system:

    https://www.boxxtech.com/products/re...erformance.asp
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member Adam Beck's Avatar
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    I want to have the ability (hardware) to edit 4K Red footage. I don't want to break the bank, but I also don't want to shortchange myself either. The i7 core tends to be a little cheaper, but what are the limitations compared to the more expensive dual quads. I know there is more to it than just the processors. Let say you had $3,000-$3,500 to spend just on the CPU, what would be the wises investment.

    Thanks Eric for all the information, it has helped.
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  6. #6  
    Senior Member Eric S.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Beck View Post
    I want to have the ability (hardware) to edit 4K Red footage. I don't want to break the bank, but I also don't want to shortchange myself either. The i7 core tends to be a little cheaper, but what are the limitations compared to the more expensive dual quads. I know there is more to it than just the processors. Let say you had $3,000-$3,500 to spend just on the CPU, what would be the wises investment.

    Thanks Eric for all the information, it has helped.
    Awesome, I've finally found an unofficial benchmark to help you out. You see, most tech sites don't really test r3d footage (since it's a niche format for professionals), but some people here already have Core i7's and Nehalem Xeons. Check out this thread from Paul Leeming, using only one Core i7 processor:

    http://reduser.net/forum/showthread....diting+core+i7

    Paul states that: "I can play back (in Adobe Premiere CS4.1) at half resolution no problems at 24p."

    His system has lots of extras, but its raw power comes from a Core i7 920 CPU @ 3.6 GHz. A standard 920 is 2.66 GHz. That overclock is very doable, almost automatic, but that doesn't matter if you'd rather not overclock. Is this a personal computer? Business?

    You could buy the premium Core i7 975 for $1000, which has a base clock at 3.33 Ghz. But I'm not sure what effect the difference in .3 Ghz will make. If you're nice, Paul might be willing to reduce his CPU's clockspeed to 3.33 Ghz to see if he can still manage real-time 2k playback.

    I'll stop there for now because I don't want to overwhelm you with information. But here's the short answer: if you're willing to overclock, a single, inexpensive Core i7 920 processor can meet your needs. If not, the Core i7 975 or a dual-socket configuration probably could, but at much greater cost. Those savings could be put into your HDD RAID array or SSD's, etc.

    Let me know what you're thinking and I'll see if I can provide more advice. But please, while I do know a lot about this topic, never put all your eggs in one basket.
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member Eric S.'s Avatar
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    Here's some more info to consider:

    Depending on your level of tech-savvy, you might want to consider boutique builders that offer factory overclocked systems with full warranties. Two options include:

    BOXX Labs. http://boxxtech.com/

    Digital Storm. http://www.digitalstormonline.com

    I don't have any personal experience with these companies, but they're worth looking into.

    To quickly address the other important components of your system:

    1. Storage. Hard drives (HDD) or solid-state drives (SSD). Big topic here, so let's not dive in just yet, but needless to say your drives need to be fast enough to feed data into your computer. With video editing, that typically means you're using a RAID array.

    2. Power supply. This gives everything power. In your price range, you can get very reliable and efficient PSU (power supply units) without any problem.

    3. Memory. Not as important as people often make it out to be. For most tasks, six gigabytes of memory would actually be overkill, but that's probably the minimum I'd feel comfortable recommending. You can always upgrade later. Memory speed is typically overrated. See these articles (not too long):

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...rade,2264.html

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...i7,2325-6.html

    4. GPU. With the dawn of GPU-accelerated encoding upon us and OpenCL looming on the horizon, a good GPU won't help that much right now (depending on what plug-ins you use), but could definitely be seeing much more use within a year.

    5. Motherboard. The skeleton of your computer. Most boards for the i7 platform are pretty good. Should have no problems here, but keep in mind how vital this component is.

    Anyhow, I'll check back later. There is a good bit to learn, but it's not as hard to pick up as you might think.

    Edit: I think AVADirect and CyberPower might also offer warrantied overclocked systems.
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member Adam Beck's Avatar
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    Wow, thanks Eric for all the information. I took a look at all the links you sent and feel a bit more informed. Right now it looks that an overclocked i7 would be the best bang for the buck that would allow me to edit reasonably efficient R3D files.

    #1) The SSD is something I am very interested in, but concerned about the life cycle. How long is 10,000 writes? That number seems to be too vague for my understanding. If we shied away from the SSD and went HDD only, would you recommend using a Raid card? I'm still a little ignorant on this topic.

    #3) I hear that I need 4 Gigs per a core and that means I need 8 if I went with the i7 chip. I also hear that Adobe only uses up to 4 gigs per application. I am a little confused on the amount of RAM that is a good solid number to have in this machine. What's a safe bet in terms of the amount I would need?

    #4) Graphic Cards? What would you recommend and why would you recommend it? (I value your opinion)

    I was excited to see there are vendors out there like AVA Direct and Cyber Power. I don't believe I would know enough to keep me out of trouble if I tried to build my own machine like Paul.
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  9. #9 Good Questions 
    Senior Member Eric S.'s Avatar
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    1. The life cycle of SSD's is a good thing to be concerned about. Most modern SSD's use wear-leveling, where they basically try to space out all the read / write operations over the entire drive. That way, one region doesn't receive all the workload and crap out early. I highly recommend you read through this article:

    http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3531

    It's a great introduction to SSD's and reviews one of the best SSD's on the market, the Intel X25-M (there's also a superior X25-E, which is pricier). It's a long read, but since SSD's are definitely here to stay, I think it'll be time very well spent. Especially for our industry.

    1.5: In regards to RAID controller cards, I don't have a lot of good benchmarks at my fingertips. I'll see if if I can rummage through my bookmarks. Basically, here's the skinny:

    The i7 chipset is ICH10R. That "R" stands for "RAID." So, i7 motherboards come equipped with RAID ability. You set it up in the BIOS and use drivers, etc. Not too hard. This RAID, however, is pretty much "software" RAID.

    RAID controllers, on the other hand, have their own little memory and chips to control everything perfectly (thus their price tag).

    For simple RAID set-ups like RAID 0 or RAID 1, the rule of thumb is that software RAID is probably okay, especially if your drives have decent memory caches. For more exotic RAID set-ups like RAID 5 or RAID 6, a good RAID controller might be a good investment.

    I'll try to rummage up some good resources. Someone feel free to come to my rescue here if you have links that can help.

    2. The links I provided about memory don't take multitasking into account. If you multitask a lot, more memory might very well help. But since our applications are so computer-intensive and multi-core optimized, we don't typically run a virus scan while rendering an important video, etc. Still, check out those articles. Many i7 motherboards have six memory slots. Your first batch of memory will occupy three. You can always put more in later. Or, if you find an actual benchmark that shows real benefit to having a huge amount of memory, go for it. But I haven't seen a benchmark that does so. But, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    3. Right now, Nvidia's GPGPU platform, CUDA, is more mature and seems to be a better choice. ATi's "Stream" is definitely out there and making ground fast, but isn't as established as CUDA. Both platforms should hopefully fade away for OpenCL, which will work with both lines, and should really start to take shape by the end of this year. I'm fairly confident Adobe has some CUDA optimizations, but I'm not sure if those enhancements are limited to workstation-class cards / drivers (i.e. the Nvidia Quadro).

    Ultimately, something like the GTX 260 or GTX 275 might be a good choice. I don't use much GPU-acceleration, so someone else might be able to provide better feedback. Here are some useful links about Stream vs. CUDA and GPU-acceleration:

    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3578
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...pgpu,2335.html
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...pgpu,2299.html

    Again, this is here to stay, especially with OpenCL coming up. Worthwhile reads.

    I think the best route for you is to order a machine from a vendor. You'll have a warranty and they'll put it together / make sure nothing explodes. But, do some of this reading, and you'll be an informed buyer. Not only will you know better what you want / need, but you'll be able to see through any sales BS, ask good questions, and ultimately get what you want. Plus, you may want to make some basic upgrades yourself in the future (maybe install a Blu-Ray burner when they come down in price).

    Also, if you shop online, always check resellerratings.com. And keep checking Paul's thread. I think he's planning on posting some RED-specific benchmarks at various CPU clock speeds.
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  10. #10  
    Senior Member Adam Beck's Avatar
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    Thanks Again Eric,

    Your help means a lot to me, I really appreciate your effort. It looks as if I got some more reading to do. I will let you know what type of machine I purchase.

    Adam
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