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Extreme PC Week Comparing high-end desktop processors that use the latest architecture from AMD and Intel these days, is a bit like comparing apples to walnuts. To pimp up a PC, there is only one company that really offers extreme processing power, and that’s Intel. But it’ll cost ya. In the extreme arena, AMD gave up arm …

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Parallel tools

They all (IBM included) have to invest big in gnu/lvvm and parallel friendly languages if this is number of cores.

Projects like ffmpeg/vlc/ open (libre) office also need @Intel @amd @IBM (not just China office developers) patches too.

Even commercial software needs help with parallel processing.

It is not just providing abi etc. Sitting with 6-8 cores and expecting everyone and operating system kernel magically convert apps to parallel didn't work nice so far.

Gpu/ opencl is another mess. Where are the h264 accelerating patches for the most used tools for transcoding?

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But is extreme what is needed?

It's touched on in the article in a couple of places, but not really expanded upon. Probably because the article is focused on "extreme CPU workout", but things like the socket compatability are quite significant. I have an old AMD Phenom II X6 processor. At some point I will likely want to put in a new CPU, perhaps when Piledriver (the next gen Bulldozer) arrives. At this point, I can just pop it into the existing motherboard. AMD have long been better on compatability. The AM2 socket lasted for a long time.

Also, the CPU is seldom the bottle neck for most users. So yes, if you have tonnes of money and the will to spend it, you can get yourself a high-end Intel and a top of the range SSD. But for the rest of us, it's better not to blow all the money on the processor and spend a bit more on the SSD in terms of performance. In terms of overall experience, it's even better to spend a bit more on a decent monitor if you're going to be staring at it all day. If you're a gamer, better spending the money on a better or second graphics card too.

It depends what you need. I guess my opinion is that you spend your budget on the priorities and pushing your processor to the best around is one of the last things you do if you still have budget left over. I think this will be especially true with the ultra-thin style laptops that are coming out where AMD's new APU designs make them more efficient and capable than Intel's (and hopefully cheaper). AMD is clearly targetting the vast majority of buyers, rather than the extreme performance market which must be tiny compared to everyone else.

Just some thoughts on AMD vs. Intel. I think AMD are actually going to have a few very good years coming up. Intel has seized the top of the hill and AMD is busy hoovering up the low-lands all around it, it seems to me.

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Re: But is extreme what is needed?

Indeed, AMD (and Intel if it's honest) has realised that the CPU power race ended the minute dual core CPUS came out. At that point 90% of the worlds PCs users were sorted for life with regards to doing their day to day computing.

The fact Intel pushes out these £800 fastest CPUs is great and all but how many do they actually sell? Especially to the domestic market. Only a very small percentage of the worlds PC users actually read the tech reports on CPUs.

They are really nothing than a marketing tool and internet buzz creating. I've never seen one of these chips in the wild.

So AMD is wise to just concentrate of getting hold of Joe Average with a nice average CPU for a lower than average price.

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Boffin

Re: But is extreme what is needed?

Re. "I have an old AMD Phenom II X6 processor. At some point I will likely want to put in a new CPU, perhaps when Piledriver (the next gen Bulldozer) arrives."

I expect you will be out of luck then since the socket AM3 motherboards sold with Phenom II CPUs don't support Bulldozer or Piledriver CPUs. You will need to invest in an AM3+ board designed specifically for the newer CPU architecture.

I take your point though, that generally AMD offer better backward compatibility than Intel, but this is usually newer boards accepting older CPUs than vice-versa.

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Re: But is extreme what is needed?

But, you could buy the new board, and use the old Phenom II x 6 until you bought the new Bulldozer, that is the approach I am taking, as i can upgrade ad-hoc as I want, and the 16 Gb of Corsair Vengeance RAM will transfer over just dandy

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My Phenom II

Robredz has it right (though your observation is correct). I actually have a Sabretooth 990FX m/board with a Phenom II X6 sitting in it. So I'm actually good to upgrade to the Piledriver. What the socket gives me is a half-way option. So I bought a motherboard that I could use older chips in but which is also compatible with future chips. Something I think (correct me if I'm wrong) is seldom possible with the Intel m/boards. Prior to this motherboard I had another AM3 board which supported the older previous generations as well. So eventually you have to upgrade your motherboard but the pace is slower and you can usually stagger it with processor upgrades. The AM2 / AM2+ socket (AM2+ was backwards compatible. I can't remember but I think the main advantage was that it could use DDR3 memory in the newer) lasted about three years before a new version came out and in that time I think (I don't know Intel so well so I'm just going by Wikipedia here) released 5 sockets? (I've omitted the Atom and what I think are some server specific ones). It's not the biggest issue, but that sort of slower pace of m/board upgrading and backwards compatability are definitely nice to haves for those of us with less money.

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I prefer more cores to faster cores

because it runs my code faster. On 8 or 16 cores I also tend to get a slightly better load balance than on 6 and 12, because the binary tree structure used in the gather phase of many algorithms is nicely balanced. Furthermore, hyperthreading is great mainly if the different threads share a lot of the data they work on, so the you do not get cache contention issues. In my code I find it does not contribute anything, and can actually harm performance.

The same does not hold for a lot of code out there. Horses for courses. For my desktop, the AMD chip is best (but not with a AMD/Radeon graphics board, because we also use CUDA), others may be served better with Intel chips.

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Facepalm

Just waiting for the herd of ....

...socially awkward PC enthusiasts that class themselves as 'Hardcore' because they have the £800 to spend on a CPU (guess why folks) that they only use for running pointless benchmarks on all day and nothing else. To say that "OMFG the AMD is so lame and the IPC of the INTEL is just so much better cos in X benchmark it does this and in Y benchmark it does that...."

FFS quit with the benchmarks and lowering the timings on your Extreme Dragon Hell For Leather Quad Turbonutter ram to get that FPS score from 146FPS to 146.6FPS.

You are wasting your life! Go outside and find a girlfriend or some real friends at least.

It doesn't impress normal people with normal lives.

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Re: Just waiting for the herd of ....

Couldn't agree more.

What about some performance per watt, and noise/heat measurements?

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Bronze badge

Re: Just waiting for the herd of ....

I spend most of my day in front of a PC. I run CAD applications where interactive mouse movements trigger hundreds of millions of processor cycles which I have to wait for.

A few hundred quid extra for a processor which saves me a fraction of a second thousands of times a day is money well spent, it is also a small fraction of the cost of the software it runs.

'socially awkward PC enthusiasts' are not the only people interested in and prepared to pay for high processor performance.

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Pint

Re: Just waiting for the herd of ....

And you are exactly the type......I wasn't referring to.

Someone who actually uses that CPU for the purpose it was intended for.

Good work that man.

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Re: Just waiting for the herd of ....

As has been said it's horses for courses, and picking the right machine for the job, and if you need that performance, and can justify the price/performance equation, then what is the problem. you take the option that suits your usage.

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Anonymous Coward

Very interesting, but what I'd like to see is a comparison of the FX-8150 with a Core i5 3570. That's surely more what it's going to be competing against.

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What about a gaming comparison?

See above...

Video encoding is very nice and will max out a processor, so I accept it's a good multi-processor test.

But the majority of people spending more than a few hundred on a desktop machine are gamers.

Games are generally 32-Bit and don't load the system in the same manner, so it would be an interesting comparison.

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Re: What about a gaming comparison?

Not to mention that choice of GPU figures heavily in game performance and achievable FPS

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32bit

Re: Games are generally 32-Bit.

Old games yes, but not anything new other than budget or low spec games.

Most new games, especially the ones that actually need a decent PC to play them, tend to be 64bit now (or to be more precise, they have 32 and 64bit exe's that load the appropriate version automatically on launch depending on your OS).

For example the Source engine from Valve went 64bit back in 2005, most other major gaming engines, including for games like Crysis (original and new releases), Skyrim etc. are all 64bit.

Also bear in mind current consoles like the XBox 360 are also 64bit machines, and as most game engines are cross platform, it makes sense to have them 64bit across the board.

32bit other than for low power devices, low memory devices, is a dying platform.

We are now seeing games coming out that need DX11 as a minimum, so won't work in XP etc. I expect we'll probably start seeing games that need 64 bit as a min as well soon, due to their ever increasing memory requirements that a 32bit version just can't handle.

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Boffin

Could you re-do those graphs with an Intel chip that costs a similar amount and another that has a similar TDP?

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A better comparison

How does the AMD compare with an Intel chip at the same price point?

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Anonymous Coward

Thankfully few if any...

...people need or are willing to pay for over-priced intel CPUs as any of the mainstream CPUs perform just fine and provide excellent value, unlike the gold-chained CPUs for profilers.

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Alien

If you're going hardcore, why not go all the way?

HP Z820 workstation: Dual Xeon 8-core, 512GB RAM, 3 full PCIe x16 Gen 3 slots, and one physical x16/electrical x8. Costs more than a house fully kitted out, but what's a little money?

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FAIL

AMD Fanbois go get a life please

Title says it all really, so much hate for Intel when clearly AMD's flagship chip cannot compete with an 18 month old design in any performance arena, heat, power consumption, efficiency and price. Anyone who really needs reminding should look at the real world stats for Intels i5s. Yes AMD have a place and its in the bargain bin for Media PCs or just there for fanbois who must keep their 20 year old mobo that doesnt support the latest feature just to save £80

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Linux

Not everyone fixates on the shiny logo.

I dumped my Intel because I was tired of it running hot despite a fair amount of effort expended to prevent that.

While AMD doesn't deliver the best high end performance, it still does very well in terms of heat, efficiency, and price. Also, it's not just the CPU but it's also the motherboard. So the combination of CPU+mobo might fare better than just CPU comparisons alone.

Not everyone confuses their PC with their what's in their pants.

Beyond gamers and video pack rats, most people already have trouble taking advantage of what they have.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AMD Fanbois go get a life please

Intel fanbois can't deal with the reality that for every top shelf Intel CPU sold, there are 10,000 mid-range CPUs sold because only a fool would be exploited by sky high prices on Intel CPUs. While there may be a sucker born every second... that would buy an over priced Intel CPU, there are a Helleva lot more intelligent people that know the difference between value and fanboism.

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Coat

Re: AMD Fanbois go get a life please

Yeah, and look at all these idiots going out and buying Fords and Renaults and Volkswagens - hell these manufacturers can't even keep up with 40 year old Ferrari designs.

What losers they are too eh?

Mine's the one with the keys to the Quantum Computer powered Lamborghini in the pocket.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AMD Fanbois go get a life please

If you'd read the article, you would have noticed that its actually little more than kissing Intel's ass. And I dont see the numerous people talking about AMD's midrange as being foaming at the mouth fanboy twats.

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If money is no object THIS is the ultimate "extreme desktop CPU"

http://ark.intel.com/products/64582/Intel-Xeon-Processor-E5-2687W-(20M-Cache-3_10-GHz-8_00-GTs-Intel-QPI)

Ok, it is not exactly "desktop" but it is workstation - close enough :) And it allows dual-CPU configurations.

I have two of these puppies and the software I write is very happy with the speedup. Not to mention that it is quite easy to crank the Samsung's 30nm ECC "green memory" up to 2133 MHz (the official specs of the RAM and the Xeon's E5 allowed max is 1600 MHz) which makes any large-scale biological simulation quite happy due to the insane memory bandwidth (~69 GB/s).

Intel decided to cripple 3960X/3930K with fusing-out the two cores as they understand overclockers will push the voltages north of 1.3v... If they left all 8 cores on, this would generate extreme amounts of heat which would be very hard to evacuate from today's desktop setups, unless they are cooled off with some heavy-duty water cooling setup.

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Go

Oerclocked 2500K is plenty good enough

For me it seems the sweet spot is still an overclocked 2500K. £200 (£170 for processor, £30 for 3rd party air cooler) will get you quad core running @ 4.5Ghz (or more if you're lucky).

Of course some will need more power (e.g. CAD as mentioned above), but for your general PC enthusiast I reckon you can't beat it for the price/performance/heat generation tradeoff.

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Big Brother

Upgrade! Upgrade! Upgrade! (pause for breath) Upgrade! Upgrade! Upgrade! Upgrade!

You writers keep spewing this garbage, year in year out; never getting sick of the constant dog-chasing-its-own-tail. What a load of – mindless – techno-mania-addiction! Upgrade – upgrade – upgrade!

(I’m looking forward to installing my Revo on a new Mobo – next year.)

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