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4 Cores? 6 Cores? Do You Care?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the 8-cores-a-dollar dept.

Intel 661

An anonymous reader writes "Intel has updated its processor price list earlier today. Common sense suggests that Intel may not care that much anymore whether its customers know what they are actually buying. One new six-core processor slides in between six-core and quad-core processors – and its sequence number offers no clues about cores, clock speed, and manufacturing process. If we remember the gigahertz race just a decade ago, it is truly stunning to see how the CPU landscape has changed. Today, processors carry sequence numbers that are largely meaningless."

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More Cores, More Power (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958218)

Would you want to have a 4 inch penis? Don't you think a healthy 6 or 8 inches might be better?

I have a quad core, which I'm confident will soon become the equivalent of a 4 inch penis. I'll have to upgrade my e-peen when it become affordable.

Seriously though, if you like to game on your computer there is no such thing as too much power.

Re:More Cores, More Power (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958278)

Would you want to have a 4 inch penis? Don't you think a healthy 6 or 8 inches might be better?

I have a quad core, which I'm confident will soon become the equivalent of a 4 inch penis. I'll have to upgrade my e-peen when it become affordable.

Seriously though, if you like to game on your computer there is no such thing as too much power.

nah, 4 core = better STM or strokes per minute. why waste all that time and energy on longer strokes; when shorter strokes yield the same results!

Re:More Cores, More Power (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958336)

Try networking, ie with a girl, and you will see why longer is better.

Re:More Cores, More Power (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958308)

length doesn't matter only girth does

Re:More Cores, More Power (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958400)

That's what women say to guys with a small penis. If the length is small, it looks like the girth is bigger even when it isn't. The truth is that they like it hard, long and tick; if you can't offer it, they'll look for it elsewhere.

Re:More Cores, More Power (5, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958472)

You say that like you have some personal experience with women looking elsewhere...

Re:More Cores, More Power (5, Insightful)

thomasinx (643997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958340)

Not necessarily. I could very easily envisage a 6 core system that plays games/handles most tasks worse than a quad core system (emphasis on most). More cores doesn't necessarily mean more power. There are many other statistics to take into account before a judgement can be made, especially when it comes to gaming. Your e-peen is safe for now. Put it to good use.

Re:More Cores, More Power (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958594)

Maybe I'm missing something, but unless the 6-core system is clocked slower than the 4-core one, the 6-core system should outperform it easily in all tasks.

Where it becomes questionable is when you're comparing higher-clocked fewer-core systems to slower-clocked, greater-core systems, because then it comes down to the software you're running and how well it's architected for multiple processes and parallelization. Obviously, a single-threaded application will generally run better on the faster-clocked system, unless that system is being loaded down with a lot of other processes.

Re:More Cores, More Power (5, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958666)

The 6 core system is slower in non-parallel tasks because the OS has per-core overhead. So all single-threaded tasks get slower as the number of cores rises.

Imagine a task running on an otherwise idle core. It is running as fast as possible, with only OS overhead getting in the way of using 100% of that cpu. Now add more OS overhead to that cpu for core management. There's also cpu (hardware)-level overhead to consider, and the possibility that caches aren't ramped to the same level, so now more cores may be sharing a same-sized cache ... etc.

Lots of reasons for the performance of a single core to drop as the number of cores goes up.

Re:More Cores, More Power (1)

trentblase (717954) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958352)

Seriously though, if you like to game on your computer there is no such thing as too much power.

I'm pretty sure I maxed out Snood at 4 cores.

Re:More Cores, More Power (4, Insightful)

kanto (1851816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958422)

Pfft.. this reminds me a bit of the jump to DirectX 9 graphics cards; in general the old cards performed better in brute force triangles per second whereas the new ones would perform better at the more technically advanced stuff (read: the things you disable when you're serious about fps). How much use is it having 6 or 8 cores if the program being run only efficiently uses 2 or 4 of them most of the time? It's not like everything can just be multithreaded like that and even if it can, there's bound to be some overhead for doing it.

Re:More Cores, More Power (5, Insightful)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958486)

because some of us run more than one thing at a time....

Re:More Cores, More Power (4, Interesting)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958600)

How much use is it having 6 or 8 cores if the program being run only efficiently uses 2 or 4 of them most of the time?

The program? I dunno about you, but I run plenty of programs at once. And having 4 cores means that I have a few on standby whenever I feel like doing input, even when the machine is busy processing stuff.

The real issue I see is memory access. Even with a single core did we run into memory bandwidth/latency bottleneck; with 4-6 cores those are 4-6 times as much. In the long run we have to give up Neumann architechture; it simply can't scale to our needs. A NUMA might be an acceptable compromise, but in the long run we need to change to a dataflow architechture, and that also means a step beyond C/C++ and other Algol-descended languages which have dominated our thinking these past decides.

We need to switch to a system with lots of cores, all with their own local memory, and able to send each other messages. As an added bonus, such a system is also a natural fit for artificial intelligence.

It's not like everything can just be multithreaded like that and even if it can, there's bound to be some overhead for doing it.

True, but most hard problems can be redefined as search problems, and those can be efficiently multithreaded. Our current programming languages just make multithreading a pain, since you have to worry about everything manually.

Re:More Cores, More Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958476)

Yeah there is it's called overheating.

Re:More Cores, More Power (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958484)

I would rather have one 7 inch penis than 2 4 inch ones.

Re:More Cores, More Power (1)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958516)

Most games barely touch 4 cores these days.

Most of the games lean hard on the Vid card.

You will get better results out of a SLI system.

Re:More Cores, More Power (5, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958556)

My wife says it doesn't matter how many cores I have!

Of course, my wife also said she wanted 10 inches... I just told her, "Screw you! I am NOT having it shortened!"

Re:More Cores, More Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958700)

My wife says it doesn't matter how many cores I have!

Of course, my wife also said she wanted 10 inches... I just told her, "Screw you! I am NOT having it shortened!"

Actually it's your fault she can't count. Telling her you have 12 cores when you just have 4 cores has really fucked with her math skills. It explains why she refers to a carton of eggs as being 3 dozen.

Re:More Cores, More Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958558)

Actually, your analogy is better than you think, but I am thinking of it more like having multiple penises of a given length.

For many "games", having two 8-inch penises would be better than four 6-inch penises.

Re:More Cores, More Power (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958598)

It's not the size of the fleet but the motion of the ocean, ya dig?

Re:More Cores, More Power (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958752)

Crowded oceans make for poor motion. Just sayin'.

Re:More Cores, More Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958590)

I have a dual quad-core, which I guess is like 2-4 inch penises.

Re:More Cores, More Power (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958638)

Seriously though, if you like to game on your computer there is no such thing as too much power.

Yeah, but some older games (e.g. Deus Ex, even the Steam version) tend to misbehave on multicore systems...

Re:More Cores, More Power (0)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958650)

Would you want to have a 4 inch penis? Don't you think a healthy 6 or 8 inches might be better?
I have a quad core, which I'm confident will soon become the equivalent of a 4 inch penis. I'll have to upgrade my e-peen when it become affordable.
Seriously though, if you like to game on your computer there is no such thing as too much power.

I admire the depth if your technical knowledge on the matter.

The irony here is that with most CPUs on sale right now, 4-6 cores have worse individual performance than a 2-core system. Many games need strong core-individual performance.

For example, a typical 4-core system performs 25% slower than 2-core.

If you enable hyperthreading you lose another 40% of your single-thread performance, as each core is split into two virtual threads (without optimization you'd lose 50% but thankfully CPUs are smarter than this).

So to recap, 4-cores: 25%. Hyperthreading: 40%. Total loss compared to a two-core system with no hyperhtreading: 55%

If you bought a 6-core system for gaming, the numbers would be even funnier.

Re:More Cores, More Power (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958718)

"Seriously though, if you like to game on your computer there is no such thing as too much power."

Someone hasn't seen the EVGA SR-2 mobo, yet. [evga.com]

They make perfect sense to a ph.d. professor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958232)

Not long ago I worked with a ph.d. professor who would have insisted that I explain to him why that cpu had the sequence number it had, and would not settle for anything less than something that makes sense - one reason I'm not working in IT anymore

Re:They make perfect sense to a ph.d. professor (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958390)

What about telling him the truth ?

The sequence number is assigned by the marketing department in order to confuse you. By making it harder for you to know what you're buying, they decrease your bargaining power which allow them to charge you more.

Re:They make perfect sense to a ph.d. professor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958684)

Fortunately, the marketing departments will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

It's in their best interests (5, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958236)

The average consumer just thinks "bigger is better" and by creating a mess of hard to understand sequence numbers they can make it harder for the semi-knowledgable customer to pick the right CPU. The same can be seen with graphics cards and many other products (if there is some kind of system behind your sequence numbers you do have to remember to change the system every now and then to further confuse everyone).

Re:It's in their best interests (5, Insightful)

pelrun (25021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958282)

Yep, much like the mobile phone industry - make the whole mess so utterly confusing that instead of picking an appropriate product that suits your budget, you're tricked into buying at an inflated price.

Ideally the best metric would be (5, Interesting)

snooo53 (663796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958298)

Some combination that measures both how many operations per second, and how much power it's going to take to do said operations (i.e. Watts/computing unit). I don't know if even FLOPS is sufficient anymore to describe current computing tasks. Heck, I'd be happy with any sort of standardization.

Re:Ideally the best metric would be (3, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958490)

The problem is that only a fraction of customers who care at all would be happy with any given benchmark. And if all you do is read email and run trivial processing tasks (the largest customer base) there's no meaningful metric because things have been fast enough for a long time now.

Re:Ideally the best metric would be (3, Insightful)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958726)

Don't worry. Microsoft, along with multiple abstraction layers (through the browser etc.), and slower interpreted programming languages to the rescue!!

Re:Ideally the best metric would be (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958676)

Some combination that measures both how many operations per second, and how much power it's going to take to do said operations (i.e. Watts/computing unit). I don't know if even FLOPS is sufficient anymore to describe current computing tasks. Heck, I'd be happy with any sort of standardization.

bogomips per core. Done and done!

Re:It's in their best interests (5, Interesting)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958306)

What benefit is there in confusing your customers as to which product they should purchase? When I, as a consumer, feel overwhelmed or confused about a product choice, I usually respond by simply purchasing nothing at all. And I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

Re:It's in their best interests (2, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958364)

Because when the mythical "Joe Sixpack" walks into a store to buy a new computer so that his intartubes will go faster he'll either fall for the sales pitch of find the machine with the best "big number to price" ratio and if you can sell crap at inflated prices because it's got a big number that's easy money.

And then there's the "prosumer", the guy who actually knows a bit, he/she will hopefully be confused and not realize the difference in performance between the 3782GXT CPU and the 4790GXT CPU is actually that the 4790GXT is clocked 200 MHz faster which doesn't justify the $140 price difference.

As for the actually knowledgable customer, well he or she most likely has already decided that a new CPU/computer is a necessity and will force him-/herself through the process of figuring out how the sequence numbers are supposed to work, most of these sales won't be lost by annoying the customer and the few that are lost are most likely made up for by the previous categories of customers.

Re:It's in their best interests (5, Insightful)

spazdor (902907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958372)

There are others, who respond to the same stress by spending indiscriminately. And their reaction might, on the economic whole, outweigh yours.

Re:It's in their best interests (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958564)

I generally pick a machine in my price range and check the processor speed rating against others. Inevitable, I look at the graphs and say ""yeah, it'll be fine". You can run a full Java IDE and an application server on a Linux netbook. Unless you're playing the very latest games, almost anything is fine for most people.

Re:It's in their best interests (5, Interesting)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958572)

The problem now is that you have to do a tremendous amount of research before you buy now. It used to be much simpler: Pentium 60, 66, 75 or 100, pick one. Later it was still simple with Celeron or P2/P3/P4, as you are picking bigger cache and faster bus speed. Now to get the highest return on partially defective silicon, they offer too many models, many that overlap each other, and can be very confusing, with some dual core models that outperform quad core, etc. A year ago I finally settled on a Q9550 but it took reading 50 articles to figure out that it was, at the time, the best bang for the upper middle buck. So yes, the average consumer will get boned.

Re:It's in their best interests (1)

Teknikal69 (1769274) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958696)

Nope I do the same if I'm not certain about what I'm buying I'm just not buying it. They do the same thing in supermarket moving items about randomly which also annoys me and I always just go somewhere else, when something isn't were I expect it I've better things to do than waste my time looking for it. Confusion doesn't work with me it just costs you my money.

Re:It's in their best interests (3, Informative)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958714)

You may not be alone in that but you, along with those who think like you, certainly are not the majority. Joe Six-pack doesn't know the difference between a megahertz and a megabyte and he has much more important things to do than waste his time learning boring stuff such as the difference between SSD HDs and the traditional spinning disk HDs, let alone learn what a processor core is and what importance, if any, it has on his computing needs.

He just goes off to buy a computer and spends his money on what appears to be the best possible product he could purchase on his budget. He just chooses whatever product has the biggest e-penis he can afford. That means he chooses the one with more megahertz, the one with more HD memory, the one with more RAM, the one with more cores, the one with the bigger processor number... Heck, joe six-pack may even end up choosing a computer just because it comes with more RAM chips. "see? it has more rams, which is good."

The sad thing about it is that this behaviour is perfectly natural. When you decide to purchase something, you end up purchasing the best option according to the information that you were able to access and digest. Some of us may be better informed than others but we all do this. Some of us are better informed to the point of being able to see pass Intel's marketing bullshit but others aren't quite so fortunate. Nonetheless, the decision process is the same.

Re:It's in their best interests (2, Informative)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958458)

Picking the right CPU is quite easy, it's the motherboard that's the problem, especially with the current fad of putting on the board as few PCI slots as possible. No wonder there's not the problem there once was with IRQ conflicts, because there's not enough slots to make conflicts!

Re:It's in their best interests (4, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958660)

Picking the right CPU is quite easy, it's the motherboard that's the problem, especially with the current fad of putting on the board as few PCI slots as possible.

To be fair, most boards nowadays have both networking and sound integrated, so it's not like the average consumer needs that many (or any, to put it bluntly) PCI slots. Add a graphic card, and that's it.

Re:It's in their best interests (1)

macshit (157376) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958750)

... and in fact there are many motherboards these days with very respectable integrated GPUs (in particular the integrated radeon GPUs on AMD MBs). I'd say most consumers don't need any cards at all.

Re:It's in their best interests (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958512)

Yes I know, you will have to spend a day with google, tech sites and reviews.
Some site will have a chart, graph or list on page 17 of 21 pages that has real data.
Your price point, games and projected usage will jump out and you read off some sequence of numbers.
Find a price comparison site and hope its listed at a fair price.
The average average consumer would be in for a 10 to 40% alphanumeric milking?

Re:It's in their best interests (1)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958550)

The average consumer just thinks "bigger is better" and by creating a mess of hard to understand sequence numbers they can make it harder for the semi-knowledgable customer to pick the right CPU.

Semi-knowledgable sounds like "knowing enough to be dangerous". I have counted at least four people who are friends, or I work with, who think more cores is better, without any regard for the type of task they'd use the machine for. Then surprise when their older machine runs their browser twice faster than their new expensive 4-core machine.

For most desktop tasks, which by their nature depend mostly on strong linear performance, two cores is the line, that, if crossed, you start to lose performance, rather than win one. Not everything can be parallelized. The problem is these cores still need to share access to your RAM. With 2 cores that works great, but 4-6 cores means you starve each core for memory bandwidth.

The rule is: do you plan to heavily crunch numbers in parallel, i.e. use the machine for: 1) a server 2) or encode/edit plenty of video 3) render 3D (GPU-driven games not counting, I mean professional rendering software that pushes the CPU)? Then you will benefit from 4/6 cores. Otherwise, you'll pay more and be hurt in performance.

Cores and clock speed are just two factors of CPU performance, and you need to consider also the cache size, core interconnect architecture, memory bus performance and so on. You may as well have a meaningless number as your model.

Your best best is to browse around for good benchmarks and see where the best price/performance ratio is, according to the types of tasks you need.

Not at all (-1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958240)

One core is sufficient for 99% of office workstations that only run a browser and MS Office applications. Dual-core is a bit more snappy, but I'd rather spend an extra hundred bucks on an SSD for the O/S volume than a more-core processor.

Re:Not at all (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958302)

One core is sufficient for 99% of office workstations that only run a browser and MS Office applications.

Absolutely not. There are so many crappy applications that will max out a single processor doing stupid things (like rendering javascript on a webpage), that a 2nd core is very very useful.

Since most software still isn't multithreaded, a crappy application will only max out one core, allowing you to still get work done.

Re:Not at all (3, Funny)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958716)

And with a quad core system, you can run 3 crappy applications and still have a responsive system! A hex core system will let you run an outrageous 5 crappy applications!

Re:Not at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958740)

Luckily we have task schedulers that handle this without needing a second core

Re:Not at all (4, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958304)

Multicore plus enough RAM is generally a lot better performance-wise than singlecore plus low amount of RAM and an SSD.

If you're having performance issues in everyday office use that go away when switching from a regular hard drive to an SSD you could just try accepting that these days you need 1+ gigs of RAM instead of trying to implement a bunch of workarounds that don't address the actual problem (that your computer keeps swapping out stuff to the hard drive because you're running out of RAM).

Unfortunately it's pretty common to see regular office desktops with fast multicore CPUs and ridiculously low amounts of RAM (I've seen C2D 2+ GHz CPUs coupled with 512 megs of RAM, it ran slower than a low-end P4 with 2 gigs of RAM).

Re:Not at all (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958368)

Our point-of-sale software runs acceptably on a single core 1.6Ghz Intel Atom machine with 1Gb of Ram in embedded mode (client software + database, PostgreSQL, on same machine), it runs better with 2GB of ram, and then there is no noticeable difference between a Dual Core Atom with 2GB of Ram vs. a Core 2 Duo with 2Gb of RAM. And if you are running the software in client/server mode with a seperate database server for multiple terminals, then the 1.6Ghz Atom and 1Gb of ram is plenty.

Re:Not at all (1)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958662)

That's probably more power than my first laptop 7 years avo and it ran many things far better than acceptably.

Re:Not at all (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958580)

One core is sufficient for 99% of office workstations that only run a browser and MS Office applications.

..assuming the OS shares time and assigns priorities in a sane way, the users is not an quant, the multimedia apps are hardware accelerated and the anti-virus package doesn't try to take over the machine, of course.

Oblig. Futurama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958250)

Correct! Six thousand hulls.

linpack (1)

speed of lightx2 (1375759) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958272)

maybe they should just use flops in the sequence number, with power draw if they were feeling actually informative.

Re:linpack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958338)

Why flops? The majority of the operations my processor does aren't floating point...

Price drops (3, Insightful)

glittermage (650813) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958284)

I do care when Intel ships more cores. The price of 'old" cores drop and I get better value for my $$$.

No. (4, Funny)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958288)

The headline asked a question, I answered it.

Re:No. (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958578)

FYI, there ARE always other options, not IS.

(Just in case you do care about that, and English isn't your first language.)

Intel... meh. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958312)

I just don't give a crap about intel products...

They proved long ago they do not win on price/preformance. And hell. someone has to pay for retarded tv commercials. I'll pass on being one of them again.

And they are still the only company that ever sold me a defective chip that couldn't do math. And their response was? 'Oh well, buy our new one'.
Eventually they DID replace it. But the entire experience has put me off intel products forever. I wont spec or support intel chip based hardware.

Server Cores, Devloper more Cores, else one or two (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958346)

The the question is what for?

If you are a typical user you will only need one or two to run an OS with Web Browser and Word Processor.

More cores if you are running a server.

Most cores if you are doing an Virtualization and in-particular running any Virtualized desktop or server.

So I want more cores and memory. My family only needs one or two until the eye candy catches up and has an improvement from the current system.

The Onion Said it Best. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958376)

F@(# Everything, We're Doing Five Blades!

Re:The Onion Said it Best. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958746)

You do know that you're allowed to write "fuck" on the Internet, right? You don't have to censor it like that.

Something more meaningful (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958380)

Such as processing times for apps, possibly flops, but for the average user that won't mean much either.

License restrictions on ESX server (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958384)

ESX server licensing is on a per CPU basis but they restrict the number of cores to 6 (from memory) before you need another license. So yes, I would care how may cores I was buying on a server.

Re:License restrictions on ESX server (2)

Singularity42 (1658297) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958448)

Do they count hyperthreaded cores? I thought we were going back to socket licensing anyway.

My gaming system is... (5, Insightful)

mindwhip (894744) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958388)

... overdue for its 2 year processor and motherboard upgrade. It is overdue because when I started to look at what processor met my ideal performance/cost ratio it was impossible to figure out.

I don't have time spare to sit with a spreadsheet and a matrix of 30 different processors to work it out so I won't be upgrading now until something breaks. You lost a sale Intel, and I will have to pay more attention to system requirements of games for a while.

I would guess I am not the only one choosing not to buy because its so unclear...

Re:My gaming system is... (1)

Myrcutio (1006333) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958640)

don't worry, even the Intel reps don't know what the difference is. I remember talking to one about hyperthreading when they added it back to the Core series, trying to figure out how two cores suddenly have 4 threads. After 15 minutes of slide presentations with various price points, he came to the conclusion that AMD's closest match for it was still slower than the Core processor with HT. I still don't know what the hell it means, and the benchmarks certainly don't help clarify it. Currently running an E8400 clocked at 4.13ghz, happy as a clam.

I have no idea what's good anymore (5, Insightful)

Chewbacon (797801) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958392)

I remember the clockspeed race and it was much simpler to decide what CPU you needed when looking at system requirements. Just a week ago I was looking at a game's requirements and had no idea if my CPU met them. If I were to upgrade, I wouldn't know which CPU would satisfy the requirements. I'm pretty handy with computers and I find picking a processor with today's marketing daunting, I can imagine being totally in the dark if I knew little about computers. Intel could do a better job indicating which CPU is better than the other and letting you know what you're buying.

Re:I have no idea what's good anymore (2)

qbel (1792064) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958570)

Wow, you took the words out of my mouth man. I have been using computers all my life, and the gigahertz race made sense back then.. Now? Lol... I realized I might as well give up trying to stay with it because you only need so much power to run Wordpad, Excel, watch DVDs/movies and surf the web. I just don't feel like it is worth the time commitment to know what's what. I spent 400 bucks on my laptop, and it does everything I need (HD video, compiling code, photoshop, opening 40+ tabs), is ridiculously fast and stable, has all the space I could ask for, and is now turning a year old. I think it has 2 cores? Maybe?

I should probably admit I feel really ashamed whenever I think about upgrading.. Mostly because I end up on NewEgg, then find myself spending 4+ hours googling every piece of hardware with the terms "TomsHardware" and "Guru3D" before it. Please tell me I'm not alone...

Re:I have no idea what's good anymore (1)

mindwhip (894744) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958732)

I can remember buying my first PC and having to decide between a Pentium 75 (i think) and a 486 DX 100 given my limited budget at the time... in the end I went with the P60 and if IIRC only because it also came with windows95, a mouse and speakers... although I mainly ran in DOS mode to play Tie Fighter...

Re:I have no idea what's good anymore (1)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958762)

I gave up looking at games when the required processor speed started dropping. I knew that it meant my computer was too old to play it, even if it met the requirements as listed on the box.

The real story (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958410)

isn't just that the sequence numbers are out of order...

But that the differences in processor performance are largely irrelevant anymore. Who cares if it's 4/6/8 cores/hyperthreading/gigawhatzitz. The bottom line is that all of them are ridiculously fast. You would do far better putting your money into just about any other component.

Yes, many users do care (3, Insightful)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958416)

The number of cores and the speed per core becomes vitally important when you start doing virtualization. Since Windows 7 has this out of the box and Macs use it all over the place and everybody and their cousin are running VMware (or insert your favorite VM environment here), yes, I think alot of people care. That's not even starting to talk about the server space where almost everything is virtualized these days and more cores can mean more VMs (especially on Hyper-V).

I don't want to leave the enthusiasts out, so I will just say for their benefit that seeing all those core graphs lined up in task manager is a major rush and should not be discounted as users look to buy processors (though I guess Intel has that covered with "hyper-threading":P

It's a conspiracy... (1)

dfsmith (960400) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958418)

... by the ad-sponsored review magazines; not Intel.

Focus on bigger numbers (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958420)

I have a Q12345EXTREME!1!! Pentium, what do you have? See mine is bigger.

*so says Joe Consumer
**Intel has won.

They are just late to the party (5, Insightful)

DeadboltX (751907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958438)

Nvidia and ATI have been giving their graphics cards arbitrary numbers for years.

Is a 330m better than a 220m? maybe.
What about a 9600 vs an 8800? who knows.

Intel didn't invent the random product model numbering scheme, they are just joining the ranks.

Re:They are just late to the party (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958658)

The 8800 is better.

There, now you do.

Re:They are just late to the party (2, Informative)

Lueseiseki (1189513) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958668)

When you kinda grasp how they do it, it's not so hard.

If I'm looking at an ATI card with the number given as 5850, I know that it's part of the current generation ( 5### ) and is a pretty high end card card ( #850 ).

If I see 4350, I'll know it's from the previous generation of cards ( 4### ) and it is an entry level or HTPC card.

It's kinda hard to really know whether an ATI's 4650 is greater than a nvidea 9800GT though, but I think the real difficulty comes from trying to know how much a generation of cards improves from its last generation. (4350 vs 5350 for example)

Lies, damn lies, and CPU speed numbers (5, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958440)

If the chip can't run all the cores at full speed due to heat/power considerations and therefore either throttles back each core's speed or disables some cores under heavy load, than core counts are really just a deceptive pissing contest, aren't they?

Re:Lies, damn lies, and CPU speed numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958710)

In that case perhaps the CPU needs better cooling and IMO it's better to slow down than fry.

Bring back the good old days of MIPS! (4, Funny)

jayveekay (735967) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958446)

Misleading Indicator of Performance Statistic was the worthless number we had back then, and we liked it!

What about... (1)

SnowDog74 (745848) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958478)

Blingcores?

But seriously, folks. I know we're all a bunch of geeks here, myself included. But the truth is that it's not the CPU market that's changing. It's the nature of computing itself that is changing. Devices that can be called computing platforms are varied in size, function, and resources. An iPhone is essentially a mobile computing platform, but people wouldn't call it a "computer" in the conventional sense of the word because "computing" is an activity that has moved so far into the background, behind what the end user wants to actually accomplish with said device.

Likewise, CPU speed and number of cores don't give anyone, let alone the average consumer, a universal standard of performance... by this I mean even the geek cannot assume on CPU speed or cores in and of themselves how a device will fare to other devices with different architectures, operating systems, background applications and so on.

Best measurement so far (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958498)

Watts consumed.

Faster but lower power (1)

birukun (145245) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958518)

I don't care how many cores it has.... can it stream HD video without chop at only 4 watts? (Without a video card that requires its own nuclear power plant to run)

One guess why (5, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958520)

Have you considered that the reason the processor numbers tell you nothing is that ALL the chips are fabbed with 6 cores and the ones that have one or two bad cores in testing have 2 cores disabled and are sold as quads?

Re:One guess why (1)

Kufat (563166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958738)

Er, no, that makes no sense...the binning process has nothing to do with producing or failing to produce a meaningful model number. If you have a 6-core, 3ghz CPU with 1MB/cache per core and a 4-core, 2.5ghz CPU with 512KB/cache per core, why would the MODEL NUMBER be less clear if they were binned versions of the same silicon than it would be if they came from two different dies?

User experience trumps (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958568)

Do I care if my truck has a Hemi or some other engine? No. I care if it offers the right balance of strength, carrying capacity, looks, and gas mileage. Do I care if the airplane I'm flying in uses GE or Pratt & Whitney or Rolls Royce engines? No. I care if the plane will get me where I need to go comfortably, safely, and quickly. In the early days of computing, it was a thrilling thing to have hardware that could keep pace with software. I still have painful memories of Photoshop 3 screen redraws. These days it is a given that while there may be differences in response time, for anything but serious gaming, the hardware is going to keep up with the software. Keeping track of what processor is inside the computer is, for most people, akin to keeping track of which subcontractor supplies the tires for a car. Sure, some people care a great deal about the tires, but the rest of us could care less.

Cores will matter when we control how to use (1)

voss (52565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958582)

I would like my CPU cores to be assignable. If I want 1 of my 4 cores on background stuff
all the time, thats my business.

Id like to be able to have fun with my GPU cores without being a super-duper programmer.

Re:Cores will matter when we control how to use (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958704)

If you right click on a process in windows' task manager, you can assign the process to a CPU. Not ideal, but closer to your goal.

A Beowulf Core? (1)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958592)

A Beowulf Core?

One Core at 24GHZ (1)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958612)

I use AROS (Amiga X86 OS) as a hobby. It doesn't support SMP. There are various other apps I use that don't support SMP.

So while 8 cores at 3GHZ each is ~24GHZ. I wish the speed wars hadn't stalled as I'd personally have more use for a single core running 20+GHZ.

We do seemed to have sort of stopped at the 3GHZ mark and just gone to adding cores.

Re:One Core at 24GHZ (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958770)

They stopped upping the ghz because they ran into a power spike. GHz will likely start advancing again after the next breakthrough in device power. It'll happen, it's just not obvious when.

I couldn't care less (4, Insightful)

adenied (120700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958656)

When I decide a new computer (usually because the current one is out of warranty) I just buy whatever the newest Mac laptop is that seems to fit my use case. I might look at the specs a bit but frankly I couldn't tell you what processor is in the one I currently have.

I used to care a lot about this. When I was in high school. I have a lot more interesting things to care about and I think 99% of the public does too. I'm not trying to diss anyone here. If being a processor geek is your thing, more power to you. But I think people decide for whatever reason that at some point they need a new computer and just buy whatever fits their price bracket and feature needs.

If I was say, building a huge server farm, or spec'ing out computers for a big group of people I'd obviously do a lot more homework. But those are edge cases in the grand scheme of things.

Developers, developers, developers! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32958686)

Multi-core systems are *great* for software developers. "Make -j8" is your friend. It doesn't scale perfectly, but it's pretty good.

Thing is, you need an assload of RAM to do it. On even moderate size projects, a single G++ can grow to a gigabyte of memory, so make -j8 is going to push your RAM needs up a bit.

I guess the DCC folks love them too - rendering is embarrassingly parallel.

Gamers... beyond two, I'm not sure it does much for 99.9% of all games.

Here's a short summary of TFA. (2, Informative)

seeker_1us (1203072) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958724)

Total CPU performance is now a three dimensional issue: architecture, number of cores, and clock speed. A one dimensional sequence number can't specify three dimensions, and that you have to actually look at the chip specifications.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Encoding (1)

w00tsauce (1482311) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958728)

More cores + cuda = me not having to wait as long.

Yes (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958754)

I have an i7 quad core with 8 threads that are visibly pegged at ~100% in Task Manager for hours on end. How? Try using the higher quality settings on Carrara [daz3d.com] or DAZ Studio [daz3d.com] . They will peg any cpu or box that will be produced in the next ten years.

I'm sure there are plenty of other compute-intensive applications out there that will bring any cpu to its knees and make it beg for mercy.

nothing new here (1)

PJ6 (1151747) | more than 4 years ago | (#32958758)

Anywhere you see a branding that works, you can be sure it will eventually change to something that doesn't if the marketing department isn't kept check. These people need to justify their existence, and that means always pushing change for the sake of change, rhyme or reason be damned. It's quite similar to what happens in the fashion industry.
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