Processor speed vs. # of cores

Guy S. wrote on 8/18/2010, 12:03 PM
Hi all, it's time to upgrade my editing system and I'm looking for some feedback. I initially requested a BOXX core i7 hex core OC'd to 4.15Ghz, but our IT folks weren't too thrilled with the idea of
a) Any system that doesn't say HP on the front, and
b) Overclocking

The HP workstations that we use throughout the company have been great. Fast, quiet, reliable, and very well supported, so I'm forced to agree that it doesn't make sense to switch unless there's a substantial performance benefit.

Our IT folks didn't feel that a 4.15Ghz core i7 hex core would provide enough of a real-world performance over a 3.0Ghz Xeon hex core to warrant the added risk. If anyone has experience here I'd love some feedback. If I can make a strong case for a faster CPU, they're willing to consider the BOXX. FYI, building our own is simply NOT an option they would consider.



kkolbo wrote on 8/18/2010, 2:52 PM
I am typing this on an overclocked i7 hexcore. Boxx is known for very well build systems. The reality is you would do very well with anything they turn out. (in my opinion) Here is the rub, you need IT's support. If they will only go HP and they are willing to go the route of a 3.0GHz Xeon hexcore workstation. I would go with them. The 16mb L3 cache on the Xeon is an advantage over the i7. While not fool proof, an HP workstation is generally a solid machine. No amount of speed, will make up for having your IT department tell you they will get around to fixing your machine when they can... now if you had bought an HP like we told you. I bet the HP will be fast enough, and your IT department will be happy. Tell them that you hear great things about Boxx workstations, made especially for video applications, but you can appreciate the robustness of the Xeon processor. Make sure they pony up for the 3.0GHz hexcore though.

farss wrote on 8/18/2010, 3:33 PM
HP's 800 series machines seem targetted at video and graphics people. I had a very brief look at one at the Adobe roadshow. It was maxed out with 192 GB of RAM and the FX5800 video card. If the IT department will fund one of those I think you'll be very happy.

HP also make laptops targetted at the same market. If you've got deep pockets they can be had with HP's 10bit Dreamcolor displays in them.

LSHorwitz wrote on 8/18/2010, 8:08 PM

Here is an alternative solution which may work best for you:

HP has announced an i7 hexcore machine which is quite affordable and presumably capable of being configured with plenty of RAM, a fast video card, and other appropriate items for use in video work. Your IT folks should feel very comfortable with a stock HP box versus an overclocked and less familiar brand.

This new CPU benchmarks at roughly twice the speed of the prior high end quadcore QX9650 Intel Extreme CPU, and should be a very nice upgrade path for you.

Hope this might help,

kkolbo wrote on 8/19/2010, 10:31 AM

The Xeon hexcore 3.0GHz with 16mb cache should match the speed of an i7 980X 3.3GHz running at stock speed. You would also have the benefit of the workstation architecture.
Guy S. wrote on 8/19/2010, 10:50 AM
I appreciate the feedback, thanks. My current workstation is an XW8400 quad core and it's been great in terms of reliability. But - as with all the other pre-built systems - it doesn't seem to have the editing performance that others seem to be experiencing.

HDV is painful and AVCHD is even worse. I can only use Preview Auto on the timeline, and even then playback often stutters and edit points are out of sync with the narration. When previewing files in Vegas' Explorer and Project windows, playback glitches every two seconds or so. FYI, I have a system drive, separate scratch drive, and a 5-drive G-RAID Pro.

My home system is a self-built core i5 750 and it's much faster. It does have the same issues, but to a lesser degree, and it has 1/2 the RAM, no scratch drive, and a single USB drive for storage.

My IT folks told me they would forward my proposal for the BOXX if I "need it" to get my work done. BUT... I'd be responsible for handling any tech support issues myself. And as was mentioned, I do want IT's support.

The HP system they spec'd out is a Z800 Xeon hex core with 12G RAM and room for a 2nd CPU. We'll be installing a SSD system drive, a GeForce 460 card, scratch drive, and an internal RAID 1 array (2 x 2TB 7200 RPM drives) for media.

I'm also going to be upgrading to CS5, and if timeline performance doesn't improve significantly (and if Sony can't figure out how to make Vegas work with my Panasonic GH1 720p files) then I'll look at incorporating that into my workflow, probably to transcode AVCHD to MPEG 2 in the mxf wrapper, as Vegas does extremely well with this format even on my current system.

In some ways I'm trying to read the tea leaves... Should I ask them to spec it with a 2nd hex core CPU? Would a 4.15Ghz BOXX be significantly faster than a 3.0Ghz Xeon? Would it be faster than a 12 core system? Will Sony offer GPU acceleration in the next 3 - 4 months, making the CPU issue largely irrelevant?

Basically I want to avoid another 40-hour editing marathon by putting together a system that will let me accurately preview my edits. But I also want to transition completely from tape to a file-based workflow. And replace our aging CD/DVD producer. And set up a studio area for filming. And.... So I don't want to spend more than necessary on a computer.

Knowing what I'm after, does the single hex-core HP still seem like the overall best choice?
Tattoo wrote on 8/19/2010, 7:47 PM

Did your current workstation come pre-installed with a bunch of crapware? One of the big benefits of your self-built home system is you only installed what you wanted/needed. Once you get your new HP hex, you may want to Decrapify it. Maybe the Revo Uninstaller is better. Dunno.
Guy S. wrote on 8/20/2010, 3:07 PM
The HP workstation class machines have zero extra installed on them, but thanks for the link - I will likely get Revo to help completely uninstall trial software.