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Hardware  » Quad core vs others

7 posts found
  Mdpats

Novice Member

Joined: 5/12/08
Posts: 179

 
OP  1/11/13 5:40:45 PM#1

I'm trying to get a rig going for gaming and I'm wondering if getting a six or eight core processor (high end) is overkill just for playing pc games vs a high end quad core. 

 

Any help on the topic would be great.  Thanks.

  GrayGhost79

Novice Member

Joined: 8/30/08
Posts: 4888

1/11/13 5:45:31 PM#2
Originally posted by Mdpats

I'm trying to get a rig going for gaming and I'm wondering if getting a six or eight core processor (high end) is overkill just for playing pc games vs a high end quad core. 

 

Any help on the topic would be great.  Thanks.

You don't need a six or eight core processor for gaming. Most are depend on GPU, the few dependent on CPU don't see much of any benefit with anything beyond a Quad core. 

The more cores a CPU has typically the lower the speed of each core. Higher speeds per core are more beneficial. Games don't tend to use hyperthreading and such so it makes it pointless to blow your wad on six or eight core processors anyways. 

  treysmooth

Novice Member

Joined: 6/25/06
Posts: 641

1/11/13 5:51:54 PM#3
Originally posted by Mdpats

I'm trying to get a rig going for gaming and I'm wondering if getting a six or eight core processor (high end) is overkill just for playing pc games vs a high end quad core. 

 

Any help on the topic would be great.  Thanks.

You can get the AMD 8350 eight core for 195 dollars or so.  The  cores are each 4.0 ghz and turbo to 4.2 and it compares very well with Intels 300 dollar i7.  Its really up to you when everyone said I didn't need anything over a dual core I got a 4 core phenom II black at 3.0 and it still runs planetsdie II beautifully  as my second bench.  I love the 8350 processor and for the price its my best buy for the bucks pick as a system builder.  Is it overkill right this moment sure, will it be overkill in a few years no more than my phenom II was recently which is to say not at all.

  User Deleted
1/11/13 6:00:35 PM#4

From my understanding:  DX 9.0c is not friendly to multithreaded rendering.  This has pushed developers into staying with single threaded rendering (that runs on 1 core) and use additional available cores for pre-processing, database calls, and other misc side work.

 

Until DX11 gets firmly established, I doubt you will see advantage in having more than 4 cores.

 

My suggestion if you are CPU shopping is to shoot for a 4 core running at least 3.0 ghz.  Lower clocked cores hurt single threaded rendering even if you have many cores, because only one gets stuck doing the work.

 

Quizz should review this, since I'm nowhere near a hardware guru.  Just sharing what I've seen from a bit of multi-core programming in WAC.

 

  theoneandonly

Novice Member

Joined: 12/06/12
Posts: 103

Life - the one and only MMO. All the rest will FAIL!!!!

1/11/13 6:06:24 PM#5

i`m not a prfesional.

But. GPU what matters most.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13305

1/11/13 6:35:52 PM#6

It varies wildly from one game to the next.

As XAP said, games almost invariably have single-threaded rendering.  DirectX didn't offer multi-threaded rendering until DirectX 11, and OpenGL still doesn't have it.  Furthermore, DirectX 11 games virtually never use multi-threaded rendering; the only one I'm aware of that does is Civilization V.  But that's okay, because multi-threaded rendering on a quad core processor is a dumb idea; maybe in a future where nearly everyone has eight cores and some people have 12 or 16 or 24, multi-threaded rendering will make more sense.

Single-threaded rendering basically means that only one thread can communicate with the video card.  If multiple threads try to communicate with the video card, then they trip over each other and bad things happen.  But that's okay, as all that a CPU has to do to communicate with the video card is to pass a little bit of data to it.  For that purpose, pretty much any x86 core that released in the last decade should have plenty of performance, including Intel Atom, AMD C- and Z-series, Intel Pentium 4, AMD Athlon XP, and various cheap things that VIA has released over the years, let alone anything you'd actually use for a modern gaming system.

The overwhelming majority of the CPU work does not consist of passing data to the video card.  Typically, most of the work will consist of preparing the data that needs to be passed to the video card, and that's very easy to scale to as many CPU cores as you care to.  In some games, heavy AI computations could comprise the bulk of the CPU work.  I haven't tried coding AI (yet), but I'd be surprised if that's hard to scale to many cores.  There are some things that are harder to thread well (e.g., determining where the camera is placed at the start of a new frame), but they usually amount to little enough work as to not be a major impediment to CPU core scaling.

There is, of course, no rule that most of the CPU work has to be for processing data to render or for AI.  For example, in a project I'm working on, all textures are created on the processor rather than loaded off of a hard drive.  (The advantages of this include a very small initial download size and very fast game loading times for people with a hard drive.)  This creates a ton of CPU work that most games simply don't have.  But it's also scalable, as low resolution textures don't take much CPU power to create, so someone with a tablet or netbook would just have to use lower resolution textures than someone with a gaming desktop.

The issue is that just because something is easy to do doesn't mean that games will do it.  Some games do scale well to many cores, but some don't.  Some games were made or at least well into production before it was realized that multi-core CPUs were the future.  (The first multi-core consumer CPUs arrived in 2005, and within a few years, it was very obvious that more cores rather than faster cores was the future.)  Some game programmers are simply incompetent.  I don't know this for certain, but I strongly suspect that some games are hamstrung by using aging game engines or other tools that were designed before it was realized that they needed to scale to many cores.  And some games are light enough on CPU usage that core scaling doesn't matter, because a single core has all of the CPU power you need even if it's a fairly slow core.

But the right question to ask is not whether a game can use many CPU cores, but whether you'll see a real-world benefit from them.  If you get 100 frames per second with four slow cores, then switching to four fast cores or eight slow cores doesn't really offer you any benefit.  You can readily ignore games that don't put that much of a load on the CPU.

Today, an FX-6300 is about as fast as a Core i5-3570K in programs that scale well to six cores, and an FX-8350 is about as fast as a Core i7-3770K in programs that scale well to eight cores.  In programs that can't use more than four cores, either of the AMD processors will offer about 70% of the performance of either of the Intel processors.  This means that the cheaper AMD processor is just as good as the more expensive Intel one in games that are well-threaded, but the Intel processor can win by quite a bit in poorly-threaded games.

My bet is that as time passes, more and more games will scale well to more and more cores.  The problem is that it takes time to get there, and if you really want to play one game today that needs a ton of CPU power but doesn't scale well to many cores, getting many slow cores may leave you unable to run the game as well as you'd like.

But whether a particular game scales well to many cores is not random.  Incompetent programmers will tend to write less efficient code, so that a given result takes more CPU power.  Meanwhile, they'll also tend to be less likely to properly scale their game to use many CPU cores.  Of course, if a game's programmers are incompetent, that's likely to cause problems in many other places in the game, which raises the question of whether you really want to play badly-coded games.

  theoneandonly

Novice Member

Joined: 12/06/12
Posts: 103

Life - the one and only MMO. All the rest will FAIL!!!!

1/11/13 6:46:03 PM#7
Originally posted by Quizzical

It varies wildly from one game to the next.

As XAP said, games almost invariably have single-threaded rendering.  DirectX didn't offer multi-threaded rendering until DirectX 11, and OpenGL still doesn't have it.  Furthermore, DirectX 11 games virtually never use multi-threaded rendering; the only one I'm aware of that does is Civilization V.  But that's okay, because multi-threaded rendering on a quad core processor is a dumb idea; maybe in a future where nearly everyone has eight cores and some people have 12 or 16 or 24, multi-threaded rendering will make more sense.

Single-threaded rendering basically means that only one thread can communicate with the video card.  If multiple threads try to communicate with the video card, then they trip over each other and bad things happen.  But that's okay, as all that a CPU has to do to communicate with the video card is to pass a little bit of data to it.  For that purpose, pretty much any x86 core that released in the last decade should have plenty of performance, including Intel Atom, AMD C- and Z-series, Intel Pentium 4, AMD Athlon XP, and various cheap things that VIA has released over the years, let alone anything you'd actually use for a modern gaming system.

The overwhelming majority of the CPU work does not consist of passing data to the video card.  Typically, most of the work will consist of preparing the data that needs to be passed to the video card, and that's very easy to scale to as many CPU cores as you care to.  In some games, heavy AI computations could comprise the bulk of the CPU work.  I haven't tried coding AI (yet), but I'd be surprised if that's hard to scale to many cores.  There are some things that are harder to thread well (e.g., determining where the camera is placed at the start of a new frame), but they usually amount to little enough work as to not be a major impediment to CPU core scaling.

There is, of course, no rule that most of the CPU work has to be for processing data to render or for AI.  For example, in a project I'm working on, all textures are created on the processor rather than loaded off of a hard drive.  (The advantages of this include a very small initial download size and very fast game loading times for people with a hard drive.)  This creates a ton of CPU work that most games simply don't have.  But it's also scalable, as low resolution textures don't take much CPU power to create, so someone with a tablet or netbook would just have to use lower resolution textures than someone with a gaming desktop.

The issue is that just because something is easy to do doesn't mean that games will do it.  Some games do scale well to many cores, but some don't.  Some games were made or at least well into production before it was realized that multi-core CPUs were the future.  (The first multi-core consumer CPUs arrived in 2005, and within a few years, it was very obvious that more cores rather than faster cores was the future.)  Some game programmers are simply incompetent.  I don't know this for certain, but I strongly suspect that some games are hamstrung by using aging game engines or other tools that were designed before it was realized that they needed to scale to many cores.  And some games are light enough on CPU usage that core scaling doesn't matter, because a single core has all of the CPU power you need even if it's a fairly slow core.

But the right question to ask is not whether a game can use many CPU cores, but whether you'll see a real-world benefit from them.  If you get 100 frames per second with four slow cores, then switching to four fast cores or eight slow cores doesn't really offer you any benefit.  You can readily ignore games that don't put that much of a load on the CPU.

Today, an FX-6300 is about as fast as a Core i5-3570K in programs that scale well to six cores, and an FX-8350 is about as fast as a Core i7-3770K in programs that scale well to eight cores.  In programs that can't use more than four cores, either of the AMD processors will offer about 70% of the performance of either of the Intel processors.  This means that the cheaper AMD processor is just as good as the more expensive Intel one in games that are well-threaded, but the Intel processor can win by quite a bit in poorly-threaded games.

My bet is that as time passes, more and more games will scale well to more and more cores.  The problem is that it takes time to get there, and if you really want to play one game today that needs a ton of CPU power but doesn't scale well to many cores, getting many slow cores may leave you unable to run the game as well as you'd like.

But whether a particular game scales well to many cores is not random.  Incompetent programmers will tend to write less efficient code, so that a given result takes more CPU power.  Meanwhile, they'll also tend to be less likely to properly scale their game to use many CPU cores.  Of course, if a game's programmers are incompetent, that's likely to cause problems in many other places in the game, which raises the question of whether you really want to play badly-coded games.

Thats y i love u Quizzical just 2 words to explaine how  really thing works for gamers.