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Xeon vs. Pentium IV

Posted on 2003-11-28
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Were getting close to ordering a new workstation for our GIS dept. Is the Xeon processor alot better than the pentium IV to justify the price difference? What about dual processors? Would the second processor kick in automatically when the first one reaches a certain percentage of usage? Thanks.
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Question by:dbthom
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by:doug_doug
doug_doug earned 84 total points
ID: 9838969
Xeon processors are designed to run in a server environment.  If it's a basic workstation for a user, I'd go with the P4.  Dual processors balance the load between each other.  It's not really a case of fill one up and then the next one does the rest.  Also, the Pentium 4s come equipped with HyperThreading technology now, which basically acts as multiple virtual processors and is more efficient.
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by:buckeyes33
ID: 9840238
what are you going to use the computers for.  
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by:dbthom
ID: 9840261
The computer will be using ArcInfo software to be doing coverages and maps for the county. It will also store this data for other users to access. HyperThreading isn't really an option since from what I've read, you need to be running XP, and we'll be running Win2000 Pro on it.
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by:buckeyes33
buckeyes33 earned 83 total points
ID: 9840501
>Is the Xeon processor alot better than the pentium IV to justify the price difference?

This question seems to still be up in the air.  The big difference from the P4 and the Xeon is the Xeon processor has a L3 cache. The Xeon also has 1 MB of L2 cache. The FSB speed of the newer P4 is 800 Mhz were as the Xeon is 533 MHz.  I have not used newer Xeon processors to evaluate them evenly.  Where as I have used a newer P4.  However I can say that when doing some 2D work on an older dual Xeon processor system it preformed very well,  as suspected.  If you were to match a 3.2 Ghz P4 against a 3.2 GHz Xeon.  The Xeon would beat it easily.  However you have to wiegh the price, it will be almost 2:1.

>What about dual processors?

You could use dual processors and you would be quite happy with it.  Lets say that you were to get two Xeon 2.6 Ghz.  It would probably out preform a 3.2 Ghz P4.  However if you were to get two 2.0 Ghz Xeon's it would match up very close to the 3.2 Ghz P4. And it would cost a lot more.  


as doug-doug said above dual processors just even out the load.  

I think that either way you go you will be happy with the preformance, as long as you go with top end processors (newer).  You are going to have to weigh how much you are going to spend and willing to spend.   You also have to take into acount that a Xeon MB will be almost twice as much as a P4 MB will be.  My opinion would be to go with the a P4 3.2 Ghz.  
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by:doug_doug
ID: 9840548
I'm also a fan of the P4.  A 3.00 or 3.2 should tear through your program with ease.  It seems like the most cost efficient solution.

I also agree with pretty much everything buckeyes33 said.
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AlbertaBeef earned 83 total points
ID: 9840596
>>You could use dual processors and you would be quite happy with it.  Lets say that you were to get two Xeon 2.6 Ghz.  It would probably out preform a 3.2 Ghz P4.  However if you were to get two 2.0 Ghz Xeon's it would match up very close to the 3.2 Ghz P4. And it would cost a lot more.  

Not entirely true.  Dual processors don't mean the system runs twice as fast...  far from it, in fact.

The most important thing to bear in mind here is:  "Are my apps dual processor enabled?"  If they're not, DON'T BOTHER getting a Xeon.  There's no reason whatsoever.

The other thing to keep in mind is price vs. performance.  It's only worth spending the extra money if you can recover it in increased productivity.  From a business-case standpoint, if you can't absolutely say with a certainty that a dual Xeon rig will pay for itself, then it would not be a wise investment.

Here's some other recent PAQ's that touch on the same subject.  There's some excellent benchmark links in these and lots of information from various experts.  It should help you out.

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Microchips/Q_20722454.html
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Microchips/Q_20652300.html
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Microchips/Q_20736575.html

If you have more information after checking these PAQ's out, please let us know and we'll do our best to answer them all, thanks.

Ab.
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by:buckeyes33
ID: 9840749
Albertbeef
was waiting for your comments.  

I was not trying to state that the processors ran twice as fast.  I read it now and it does kind of sound like that.  I was just trying to state that when running certain things a 3.2 Ghz P4 would preform as well as two Xeons in certain situations.
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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9840830
A 3.2GHz P4 actually performs better than Xeons in many situations, just depends on the situations.
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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9840832
>>was waiting for your comments.

And what made you think I'd comment here, lol?  Usually you won't see me comment until after 5pm mountain time, unless I take a day off or it's the weekend, I usually don't get on until after then.
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by:dbthom
ID: 9851249
Thanks for all your comments. I appreciate it.
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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9854770
You're welcom, dbthom.
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