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Single, dual core and quad core

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I have a few general questions about processors that I hope can be answered fairly simply just to bring me up to speed, as I honestly haven’t been keeping up with it all over the years as I should.

As is clear to me a single core 3ghz cpu will run at 3ghz, a 3ghz DC will (theoretically) run at 6ghz and a 3ghz QC would (theoretically) run at 12ghz - correct?

It's my (perhaps incorrect) understanding that intel/amd hit a bit of a wall with clock speeds versus operating temperatures, at which point AMD began a different way of making there chips - for example I had a Venice 3300 which ran at something like 2.5-2.8ghz (I forget), but was I believe supposed to be as fast as an Intel 3.3ghz chip? This was when AMD were considered to be "ahead" of intel to the best of my knowledge. Since then the tables seem to have turned, but regardless - is the multicore CPU simply a response to resolve heating issues or does it offer any other benefits over say just having a single core 12ghz cpu? Also, how does having multiple cores keep things cooler?

Also, what makes these speeds "theoretical", i.e why is a DC 3ghz cpu not "actually" a 6ghz cpu? How much of it is down to the software developers to design software that efficiently handles multi-threading?

As you can see I am a behind with all this and perhaps I have some misconceptions but would appreciate if someone could educate me a little as it looks like these companies are just going to be adding more and more cores..!

Thanks!
Edited by Wiggy - 4/10/12 at 11:12am
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post #2 of 21
Someone with more expertise is gonna have to step up and explain more in detail, but I can say that for the moment intel will give you more performance per clock than AMD right now. For example an intel chip with a 3.3ghz clock will do more work than a similar AMD chip with a 3.3ghz clock.
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post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Sure, i'd like to understand why that is as well but for now my head is still back in the early 2000's as far as CPU's go!
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post #4 of 21
you cannot just add the frequency and say its 6ghz, 12ghz or w/e.

you have a single core cpu at 3ghz. when you compare it to a duel core at 3ghz, applications that run only one core will work exactly the same on both chips (usually), whereas if the application is written for two cores, the single core cpu will take longer to run than the duel core cpu because both cores are running together to balance the load between cores.

in general (not specificly for intel/amd), its up to software makers to decide what core count their software will max at. the norm seems to be 4 cores from what i can see.
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post #5 of 21
As far as I know CPU cores runs in parallel mode and obviously not in a single vertical mode. 4 cores using 3.3ghz is always 4 cores with
3.3ghz not 4 x 3.3 = 13.2ghz . Turbo mode is a different thing and works only in a single core to bump let's say from 3.3-3.7ghz but doesn't
stay long.
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post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tweak17emon View Post

you cannot just add the frequency and say its 6ghz, 12ghz or w/e.
you have a single core cpu at 3ghz. when you compare it to a duel core at 3ghz, applications that run only one core will work exactly the same on both chips (usually), whereas if the application is written for two cores, the single core cpu will take longer to run than the duel core cpu because both cores are running together to balance the load between cores.
in general (not specificly for intel/amd), its up to software makers to decide what core count their software will max at. the norm seems to be 4 cores from what i can see.

Yeah I would say that 4 cores is probably max. I know when I render 3D models it maxes out all 8 "cores" in my bulldozer, but of course those are really just 4
modules.
As for why intel has beter clock for clock speed is based on the chips architecture design and floating point integer calculations such & such. Like I said before though I don't know a ton about it so I better stop while I'm ahead. There are a ton of guys here that do know about it though so just stick around and someone smarter than me will fill you in.
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post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggy View Post

As is clear to me a single core 3ghz cpu will run at 3ghz, a 3ghz DC will (theoretically) run at 6ghz and a 3ghz QC would (theoretically) run at 12ghz - correct?

No.

Four 3GHz cores is not the same as a 12GHz CPU.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggy View Post

is the multicore CPU simply a response to resolve heating issues or does it offer any other benefits over say just having a single core 12ghz cpu

Also, what makes these speeds "theoretical", i.e why is a DC 3ghz cpu not "actually" a 6ghz cpu? How much of it is down to the software developers to design software that efficiently handles multi-threading?

Highly parallel tasks can often be executed more efficiently with more cores than a single fast core. In general use, a dual-core 2GHz chip will almost certainly feel more responsive than a single core 4GHz chip of similar architecture. The reason for this is that no single thread is capable of holding up the entire CPU, and there is always a minimum level of resources available for one or more other threads.

On the other hand, a single thread cannot ever be run on more than one core simultaneously, so there is a trade off. Tasks that cannot be split apart may be as little as half as fast on the 2GHz chip.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggy View Post

Also, how does having multiple cores keep things cooler?

Simple. Power consumption, and thus heat production, do not scale linearly with clock speed. A CPU that consumes 90w at 3GHz may well consume 200w at 4GHz, or 40w at 2GHz. Thus, if you are willing to sacrifice some single threaded performance, you can potentially fit many times the multi-threaded performance in the same power/heat envelope.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dhenzjhen View Post

Turbo mode is a different thing and works only in a single core to bump let's say from 3.3-3.7ghz but doesn't
stay long.

Most CPUs with a turbo feature can turbo all cores, just not to the same extent they can turbo a single or a few cores.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly Roger View Post

Yeah I would say that 4 cores is probably max.

Not at all.

There are many tasks that are highly paralellizable, and will scale well to almost any number of cores.
Edited by Blameless - 4/10/12 at 11:35am
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post #8 of 21
We probably have a bad E5's here in the lab then for turbo works only on a single core..
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post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by dhenzjhen View Post

We probably have a bad E5's here in the lab then for turbo works only on a single core..

Xeon E5s?

Doesn't imply they are bad, could just be the wrong type of load, lack of BIOS support, or the wrong power management settings.
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post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses,
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggy View Post

is the multicore CPU simply a response to resolve heating issues or does it offer any other benefits over say just having a single core 12ghz cpu

Also, what makes these speeds "theoretical", i.e why is a DC 3ghz cpu not "actually" a 6ghz cpu? How much of it is down to the software developers to design software that efficiently handles multi-threading?

Highly parallel tasks can often be executed more efficiently with more cores than a single fast core. In general use, a dual-core 2GHz chip will almost certainly feel more responsive than a single core 4GHz chip of similar architecture. The reason for this is that no single thread is capable of holding up the entire CPU, and there is always a minimum level of resources available for one or more other threads.

On the other hand, a single thread cannot ever be run on more than one core simultaneously, so there is a trade off. Tasks that cannot be split apart may be as little as half as fast on the 2GHz chip.

Makes sense, but just to clarify - you say that "tasks that cannot be split apart" - are there any examples of the kind of task that wouldn’t be split apart? And is software designed for single core CPU's (i.e before multicores were available) fully capable of utilising the architecture of a multicore cpu? Does the cpu naturally begin running multiple threads in this scenario? And if so how does actually specifically coding software to run on multiple cores actually streamline this further?
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggy View Post

Also, how does having multiple cores keep things cooler?

Simple. Power consumption, and thus heat production, do not scale linearly with clock speed. A CPU that consumes 90w at 3GHz may well consume 200w at 4GHz, or 40w at 2GHz. Thus, if you are willing to sacrifice some single threaded performance, you can potentially fit many times the multi-threaded performance in the same power/heat envelope.

I think I understand this, but why would it be considered a sacrafice to trade off single thread for multithread? Unless you're speaking about the afore mentioned "Tasks that cannot be split apart.."

Thanks so much.
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