8-core processing (2x quad-core)


I have a client who needs a system with 8-core processing power.

I've looked into this and from what I understand, he would need 2x Xeon Quad-core processors with LGA771 sockets as well as an LGA771 motherboard.

The cheapest prices I got for these items are way over his budget - roughly about 350 EUR for 1x BX80574L5410P (CPU) and roughly about 390 EUR for 1x Intel Server Board S5000VSA (and RAM on top of that).

His budget is 700 (max 800) EUR.

What I'm wondering is where could I source these items cheaper. It doesn't need to be Intel. He would also be happy enough with an 2 AMD processors of equal power and I know that Tyan supposedly make decent LGA771 boards. I don't have much experience personally with AMD CPUs so I'm not really sure what to look for. Any help would be appreciated.
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Julian MatzJoint ChairpersonAsked:
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Gary CaseConnect With a Mentor RetiredCommented:
The i7 would be an excellent choice IF your client is satisfied with 6GB (I would NOT install more than 3 memory modules since they're unbuffered);  and IF he's willing to just have a single physical CPU (an i7 is NOT an "8-core" processor -- hyperthreading lets you run 8 threads & "looks" like an 8-core system ... but it's still only got 4 processing cores => hypertheading does, however, make task switching much more efficient with the extra register sets; so it will give some performance gains over a non-hyperthreaded quad core CPU).

Do you know what his current CPU is?   It'd be useful to compare the PassMark rating of his current CPU with the Core i7 920's rating (5450).   That would give a much better indication of how much improvement would be likely for the CPU-intensive processing he does.
PCBONEZConnect With a Mentor Commented:
You might wanna check that the client actually NEEDS that much of a system because it may just be CPU envy. - If the software they want to use does not support 8-way SMP then the cores won't be used anyway and it's a wasted effort.

Intel, Tyan, or Supermicro make good boards in this class. [That's my order of preference too.]
I've used them all and have very few and only minnor problems with any of them.

You are going to have trouble meeting that budget short of getting lucky on eBay or something.
It does happen if you have time to be patient or just get lucky.
I recently got a new in box Intel S5000PSL for $100 US.
Kingston 2x2GB Fully Buffered for around $75 - twice.
Do NOT buy an untested board and don't buy if there is no warranty.
There are a lot of LGA771 (and 775) boards on eBay with bent CPU-socket pins so don't buy ANYTHING that does not have a good warranty and an easy return policy.
Julian MatzJoint ChairpersonAuthor Commented:

I'm personally not sure if he really needs that much CPU power, but he seems to know what he's talking about. He has a recording studio or something and he works a lot with audio files, etc. I don't really know what's standard in that type of industry.

I know he currently has an LGA775 Xeon Quad-Core, which is obviously not as fast as he'd like it to be.

I've since found that the Quad Core Xeon E5405 is fairly cheap (180 EUR + taxes), and was also looking at the HP ProLiant HP BL260c G5 server, which is dual CPU capable. While it only comes with 1x E5404 and 2GB RAM, it costs 390 EUR (+ tax). It sounds appealing but it's a blade server so not sure if suitable.

What about AMD? 2x AMD quad-core on an AMD board?

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time. It seems to be fairly urgent. I did have a quick glance on Ebay but didn't see anything interesting.
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PCBONEZConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I don't know that much about current AMD CPU's.
This is the bast place I know to compare CPUs that you don't have direct experience with.

One thing that is a big deal is Front Side BUS [FSB] speed. [Much more important than CPU speed.]
FSB basically equates to RAM speed.
A faster CPU with slower RAM will not perform as well as a slower CPU with faster RAM.
The reason is the faster CPU will only be faster to get to the wait state where it's waiting for the next clock cycle of the RAM.

Julian MatzJoint ChairpersonAuthor Commented:
That's good to know, thanks.

So, in other words, the E5405 is pretty crap since FSB is only 333MHz?
Julian MatzJoint ChairpersonAuthor Commented:
The E5405 has clock speed of 2GHz and 333MHz bus speed. The E5310 has a clock speed of 1.6GHz and 1066MHz bus speed.

Both are the same price. I presume the E5310 is a lot better. In layman's terms, how much more powerful would it be?
Julian MatzJoint ChairpersonAuthor Commented:
Since you seem to know a fair bit about Intel CPUs - would it be fair to assume that 1x Intel i7 would be fairly close preformance-wise to 2x of the lower end Xeon Quad-Cores?
Gary CaseConnect With a Mentor RetiredCommented:
A Core i7 ... even the bottom-of-the-line 920 ... will likely outperform any dual AMD system;  and will compare favorably with two low-end Intel quads [The 920 scores 5450 on PassMarks' CPUMark;  a low-end Xeon scores 3384, so a pair of them would likely be slightly faster than the 920 -- but not by much].

One thing I'd do is get more details on your client's current system and be sure his bottleneck is CPU power and not memory.   Processing large audio files can be very memory intensive -- and if he's encounting a lot of page faults, that will dramatically slow things down.   He may simply need to increase his memory (assuming he's running an x64 OS that will support it).

One issue with a Core i7 based system will be the maximum memory that can reasonably be installed -- typically 3 x 2GB in triple channel mode (6GB).   The new W-series Xeons are based on the same architecture, but support buffered RAM (and dual processors) ... but these plus a supporting motherboard would be WAY over your budget.

It sounds like a case where the perceived needs far exceed the planned budget.   You need to find out which of those can be modified :-)
PCBONEZConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Some one some where made a typo:
> The E5405 is 1333 FSB not 333

i7 is a different architecture than the previous Xeons.
Can't directly relate cores x clock speed between them.
That's sort of like comparing a 1.4GHz P3 to a 1.4GHz P4.
That's why I gave you the link to the passmark scores earlier.
If you click on a CPU in that list it will bring up this for it:
Julian MatzJoint ChairpersonAuthor Commented:
> The E5405 is 1333 FSB not 333
Ok, well then the spec sheet I was reading had it wrong. Thanks for clearing that up.

> i7 is a different architecture than the previous Xeons
I know that, but I saw from the charts you posted that the i7 is clearly much "better" than the E5405 Xeon, so if an i7 costs less than 2x E5405 and money is a factor.........
Julian MatzJoint ChairpersonAuthor Commented:
@garycase, I'll ask him about the memory. I know he's running a 64bit system and I think his current board will take 8GB...
PCBONEZConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Look at the whole package.
CPU might be cheaper but mobo or RAM to go with it much higher.

Also look at passmark for what the client is running now.
The lesser CPU option might be such a huge improvement over previous gear that which CPU you choose doesn't matter a heck of a lot. - That way you can put more $$ into other things like a fast RAID solution, faster drives, and more RAM.
_Connect With a Mentor Commented:
{passing comment}
the i7s do have Hyper-threading, so you are getting 8-core processing.
Julian MatzJoint ChairpersonAuthor Commented:
I don't know... The i7 seems cheaper all round...

i7 920 ......................... 230 EUR
ASUS P6T MB .............. 185 EUR
KVR1333D3N9K3/6G ....  75 EUR
================ 485 EUR

PCBONEZConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Then that sounds like a good plan.
[I was just saying check to be sure because it's not always the case.]
Julian MatzJoint ChairpersonAuthor Commented:
This is what he currently has:

Intel Xeon X3220 Quad Core, 2.4GHz, 8MB, 1066MHz (BX80562X3220)
ASUS P5B-VM SE, Intel G965, LGA775, ICH8, PCI-EX16.
Kingston HyperX / 2x1024MB, 677MHz DDR2, CL5.

He may have installed more RAM since I sold him the above.

He said he'd be happy enough with 6 Gigs RAM.
Julian MatzJoint ChairpersonAuthor Commented:
Do you know what the recommended power requirements are for the i7?

And I know this is drifting a bit off topic, but do any of you have any experience with Antec cases? He just told me he needed an extra quiet chassis with very silent chassis fans (because of the audio recording). If you don't, it's no problem, I'll just have to do a bit of looking myself :)
Gary CaseConnect With a Mentor RetiredCommented:
PCBonez already looked up the PassMark for the X3220 -- as you can see the i7 920 almost doubles it => and considering you'd also be moving from 2GB to 6GB of (faster) memory; and adding a hyperthreading capability, I'd say that would be a HUGE improvement over his current system.

As for Antec cases -- my main system is in a P-182, which is an excellent and very quiet case (I did, however, use a Zalman cooler instead of the Intel stock unit).   I've very pleased with it.   I put a Seasonic PSU in it, which is also one of the quieter power supplies you can get.

I've also got a system in an Antec Sonata III, which is a less expensive, but still pretty quiet case.  (and it comes with a PSU)
Julian MatzJoint ChairpersonAuthor Commented:
Cool, thanks! It's always great to hear about 1st hand experience.

As for the i7, I think he will go for it, so thanks to all for the help!
Unexpected, but Thanks!   : ))
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