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Choosing CPU's for Workstations

Posted on 2013-11-30
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-11-23
Looking at buying a Dell Workstation to be use for design work using SolidWorks 3D software suite.   Have choice of single Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-1650 (Six Core 3.2GHz, 12M, Turbo+) or Dual (2) Intel Xeon X5550 Quad-Core 2.66GHz 8MB CPUs.   Looking at running Windows 7 Professional with 32 gb ram and 4GB graphics card.   Can someone explain the advantage (if any) of going with the dual processor machine vs the single processor machine?  Both configurations are about the same price but just didn't know if 2 processors would be and advantage in this application.
Question by:papayaman
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LVL 57

Assisted Solution

giltjr earned 600 total points
ID: 39687687
In today's world it not really single vs. dual (or more) CPU's.  You need to look at the number of cores and threads.

So in your case its not 1 CPU vs. 2 CPU, but:

6 cores vs. 8 cores
12 thread vs. 16 threads
3.2 Ghz vs. 2.66 Ghz

Although the "dual" CPU model has more cores/threads, it is slower and if a task is dispatched on a core in CPU#1 and then has to be re-dispatched on a core in CPU#2 you pay a penalty switch from one CPU to another.

Unless you really think are you going to be pushing the 12 thread limit a LOT, I would go with a single 6 core/12 thread setup.
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 39687818
You did mean Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, right?
Otherwise you will only be able to use about 4gigs of the 32gigs of ram.

Expert Comment

ID: 39687850
I believe he does mean 2 physical cores. Either way, the more, the better, however, the only instance I have ever seen/used/install a physical more CPU system would have been in a server. Usually anything QuadCore plus is more than sufficient for most Desktop apps.

The choice is ultimately yours. Windows 7 64-bit can support more than 1 physical CPU, but it would have to be Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate. Buying a physical single CPU system (the CPU having multiple cores) is more cost effective, but, even as the SolidWorks website states, more CPUs provide better flexibility.

Ultimately in terms of performance, you would probably not gain much by going the 2 physical CPU route in this configuration (purely based on math). The 2 CPU setup might give you a few GHz more, but it probably won't make much difference, since most graphics applications now rely more on the GPU to do rendering, or at least support that; and it would be quicker.

So, in my opinion, not much difference between the two, or advantages of one over the other, just your own personal preference. You might want to call SolidWorks 3D and talk to one of their tech support people to get another, personal opinion from the vendor. Other than that, both would work just fine.
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 39688038
I would always go for less physical chips, and rather more cores in a single chip. That is more economical in terms of power used, and in today's world the environment should be given as much consideration as possible.
LVL 38

Assisted Solution

Mahesh earned 1400 total points
ID: 39688144
Rendering work will consume much CPU.

I suggest you to go for two physical CPUs instead of one if you are getting in same price as one CPU.

Intel basically just enable hyper threading to show you the original logical core count double in task manager

Ultimately you will get 8 logical cores (excluding threads - 4 cores \ CPU) with two physical CPU as opposed to 6 logical cores in one CPU.

lastly I believe, two physical Xeon Quad Core CPUs are more powerful than single hexacore Xeon CPU in terms of performance \ multitasking and also you will get kind of redundency in case you lose one physical CPU (Considering rendeing is CPU intensive task causing excessive heating and CPU failures) and basically you are also getting overall configuration in same price as other.

LVL 57

Expert Comment

ID: 39688192
Mahesh, wrong.  Multi-core is not the same as hyperthreading.  I suggest you read up on multi-core processors.  They are multiple physical CPU's sharing the same L2 cache and I/O bus interface.


The E5-1650 6 core chip is NOT 6 logial CPU's, it is 6 physical CPU's.  With hyperthreading enabled it gives you 12 logical CPUs, that is 12 threads.

Just like the X5550 is 4 physical CPU's with hyperthreading enabled to make it look like 8 CPUs, aka. 8 threads.

Two X5550's might be more powerful than the E5-1650 if you are attempting to run more than 6 CPU intensive tasks or you are doing heavy I/O.  This is because two X5550's can do 8 things at once and each chip can be doing I/O at the same time.  Where as a single E5-1650 can only do 6 things at once and only one I/O at the same time.

From the following link:


For the PassMark bench mark test a single E5-1650 out performs a single X5550 by more than two.

Single Core PassMark E5-1650 = 1,914
Single core PassMark X5550 = 1,225

Full chip PassMark E5-1650 = 11,654
Full chip PassMark X5550 = 5,377

Since a single chip E51650 has more that twice the performance as a single x5550 and since you loose some overhead when you have more chips/cores two X5550's will  more than likely not beat beat a single E5-1650.
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 39688459
There is no question of HT vs Multicore, both CPUs are multicore.

If you look at specs of both above, HT technology is enabled in both CPUs and both having  threads equal to their cores.

Its importent that you are getting two physical Xeon quad core X5550 CPUs, means actual load is divided across two physical sockets \ processor.
in case of E5-1650 actual load is taken by one socket \ processor.
Apart from benchmarks, its not the case that one CPU is celeron and another is QuadCore to get unbeatble differences like you said above.
Both are server class CPUs having same set of features with some variation in capabilities.
probably benchmarks are feature specific and there may be plus minus for specific scenarios.
With TWO physical CPUs definitely you will be plus anyhow.

Apart from all above comments, I have checked the release date of both CPUs.
X5550 is 1st Quarter of 2009 and EP-1650 is 1st Quarter of 2012
Since there is 3 years difference between two models, its better to go with EP-1650 to avoid product support issues in case if any.
Because you will get Mobo that is also having old model probably.
I mean you will get hardware that is actually out of stock from market and manufacturer both, most probably company has stopped production of this model long back ago.

LVL 57

Expert Comment

ID: 39688519
Since both chips have hyper-threading we can leave this out of the discussion.

--> With TWO physical CPUs definitely you will be plus anyhow.

A core is a physical CPU.    I believe you mean two processors, which are two chips going into separate sockets (at least in certain architectures).

Two physical chips/processors is not always and advantage.  There are many instances where they are not.  First and foremost is the multi-tasking vs. single tasking.   If you are generally single tasking then mulitple CPUs/cores or processors/chips is not and advantage.

Now to CPU vs. processor.  A CPU is a core in a multi-core processor.  OS's do not dispatch work to a processor.   They dispatch work to a CPU (a.k.a. a core).  Say you had a single 8 core processor, two 4 core processors, four 2 core processors, or  eight single core processors.  The OS sees 8 CPU's in all cases and will spread the work across all 8 CPUs/cores as needed.  

The major difference is the number of interfaces to the system bus.  Each processor has a single interface to the system bus, however the OS does not take this into account when dispatching work.  It only looks to see if the CPU is busy or not, is does not look at what a processor is doing.
LVL 38

Accepted Solution

Mahesh earned 1400 total points
ID: 39688633
Thanks for explanation.You have explained it very nicely.

I always seen a advantage of having two physical CPUs in case of CPU intensive applications.
All the way back to old  DELL server which is having two physical single core CPUs has even perfored better on video editing \ rendering as opposed to IBM tower server having 2.8 GHZ intel dual-core CPU (1 Physical CPU with 2 Cores)
Tower Server became irresponsive inter mittently and CPU utilization remains at 100 % most of the time.
Where as dell server never become iiresponsive and CPU utilization is also OK...means not 100% all the time.shuffling from 10% to 100%
Also you have one benifit that in case of failure of 1 cpu, still ur server is running up.
Anyways, Author of this question should have got answer as appropriate hopefully now.


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