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Doubles anyone?

by culture_of_one / April 6, 2005 4:53 AM PDT

I keep hearing about improving performance by doubling up on CPUs and/or video cards...however the actual results people get tend to be "less than spectacular". According to my "tech" friends, the real problem is in getting the "teams" to communicate (i.e. share information) with each other...and that's where we usually blow it. However, I've also heard that some people have doubled up very successfully.

So, what are the facts? Are there utilities to make things happen? Do we have to write our own programs? Do some parts just team up nicely? Is "double your hardware, double your fun" just a "cyber legend"?

Now I'd like to ask everyone/anyone at CNET Forums for his/her personal opinion on "doubling up"...along with any tips and tricks, good and/or bad experiences, etc. Anything you've done, heard, seen and/or tried would be greatly appreciated. I'm really interested in seeing what kind of questions, answers, and recommendations will come up. Who knows? Maybe a lot more of us will end up going the doubles route! Happy

(Or maybe we'll just continue to grab our wallets and run!) Silly

Sincerely, JDM

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Personal experience.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 6, 2005 5:10 AM PDT
In reply to: Doubles anyone?

My old Dual Pentium Pro could transcode video faster than any single CPU for close to a year after machines more than doubled their (single) CPU clock rates.

Usually the naysayers never owned such hardware.


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Thanks for the info!
by culture_of_one / April 6, 2005 5:22 AM PDT
In reply to: Personal experience.

Thanks for the info, Bob! Now, do you think it takes a major manufacturer to successfully double up like that--or can the average build-it-yourself type make a game of it? (Pun intended.)


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My dual Pro was.. made by me.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 6, 2005 6:10 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks for the info!

I even upped the Pro 200's to Pro Overdrives later on the cheap. The machine still lives on at a friend's home doing the web, warming the basement space. A new PCI Nvidia card enabled the DVD player (finally!) and everytime they consider replacing it, they note that it boots up in 90 seconds and runs very smoothly.


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by culture_of_one / April 7, 2005 12:44 AM PDT

Was it hard to do, Bob? And do you have any pointers for the average muggle?

Sincerely, John

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 7, 2005 12:53 AM PDT
In reply to: Outstanding!

Pointers are sharp objects so handle with care.

The number 1 gaffes I see in homebrew machines are:

1. The power supply is "big enough."
2. The case is (too) cheap.

Let me share my last machine started with a 680 Watt PSU. Not that I believe that number for a millisecond, but it's far above what the machine will need and it was only 25 bucks. Between friends and myself we must have used hundreds of the over 500 Watt 20-25 buck units and never have the issues you read in these forums with 200 to 350 Watt supplies.

The case can be fixed. That dual-Pro-OD lives in a full size tower. Since its a full boar machine (for its day) the issue was simple. How to make sure that all the components stay cool and get plenty of air. The full size 30 inch plus tower assured that and we could keep the noise down with lower RPM fans but double the fan size.

Next the motherboard was from a maker we dealt with a lot. The names change but a board that is all the rage with overclockers is usually not the most stable. We used the TYAN and it is boring, stable and works.

The next duals are not here yet, but the selection of power and case can help avoid basic issues.


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Thanks again, Bob!
by culture_of_one / April 7, 2005 1:10 AM PDT
In reply to: Pointers.

Nice pointers, all!


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As for Video Cards...
by culture_of_one / April 7, 2005 9:30 AM PDT
In reply to: Doubles anyone?

Does anyone know anything about how to successfully double up video cards?

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New turf.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 7, 2005 9:51 AM PDT
In reply to: As for Video Cards...
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by culture_of_one / April 7, 2005 5:07 PM PDT
In reply to: New turf.

Thanks for the link, Bob! Wink

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by ozos / April 7, 2005 1:41 PM PDT
In reply to: As for Video Cards...

some more explination:

to run multiple CPU's you need identical chips
such as a pair of AthlonMP 2600+'s or a pair of quad-ruplet of Opteron 852's (Which would cost like $6000)

and a motherboard with a chipset that supports multiple CPU's in SMP (the only way you can double up, and any mobo with dual sockets (That aren't different sockets) is probably capable of double CPU)

double CPU does not provide 2x the power, except in encoding and video work (and dualcore chips do the same)

with video cards it will provide a 1.6x performance boost in gaming
only certain video cards can do it

the video cards capable of running in 2 video card configuation (it's called SLI, or PGC)

old school:
3dfx Voodoo2

you need two Voodoo2's of identical make and model, with the same RAM size
and the interface cable

a pair of Voodoo2's will be slower in games than Intel's Integrated Graphics 3

current cards that support multiple card:

nVidia GeForce 6600GT, 6800, 6800GT, 6800 Ultra, 6800 Ultra EE

you have to have two of the exact same make and model of card from the same vendor (for example two Asus 6800 Ultra EE's, which are around $900/ea)

you also need (for dual gfx) a chipset which supports SLI (Intel's 955 (unreleased) nVidia's nForce4)
and dual PCIE slots (no AGP SLI exists)

the cards also have to have SLI connectors on them (some 6600GT's ship w/o them, the 6800 series cards all have them (if your getting the PCIE versions) but some PCIE 6600GT's don't have them)

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by culture_of_one / April 7, 2005 5:09 PM PDT
In reply to: "doubling"

as always, Oz! Thank you so much! Wink

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Double your processor, double your fun
by dkeo / April 8, 2005 3:47 AM PDT
In reply to: Doubles anyone?

Mac Power PCs come standard with dual processors. I have had a G4 for quite a while and am supper happyhappy with dual 867mHz processors. I have not added another video card or anything else. There is no need to modify the video in a Mac---one G5 can support TWO 30" cinema displays!!

"Mac OS X...dual processor power of 1.8GHz, 2GHz and 2.5GHz models with a substantial speed boost at the top of the line. The dual 2.5GHz model packs so much power into tight quarters that Apple designed a liquid cooling system for it, resulting in a cool tower that runs Photoshop nearly two times faster than a Pentium 4-based system. In fact, for most creative endeavors, the Power Mac G5 simply has no competition in its class."

Once you go Mac, you never go Back.

I am not affiliated with Apple other than being a Power PC user.

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by culture_of_one / April 8, 2005 4:49 AM PDT

Thanks for the info! Wink

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please get even fanboy infor correct...
by ozos / April 9, 2005 2:37 PM PDT

not all PowerPC's ship with 2 CPU's as that is only on the high end ones

the reason dual G5's kill a P4 is simple, multiple CPU's aids multitasking
i'd like to see Dual G5's compete with:

Dual Xeon 3.6's (As their the top of their range, just like G5's are the top of their range)
Dual Opteron 252's
Single Pentium 4 EE 840 (dual cores)

Apple cannot support 2 video cards, as Apple cannot support SLI

the 30" Cinema HD can be run on a $25 VCR
that has nothing to do with the quality of the computer
now if your talking high res
that is achived by use of the GeForce 6800GT DDL or GeForce 6800Ultra DDL

which is the Dual Link card
it uses both RAMDACS to do a single display, allowing a max resolution of 3840x2048 (the Quadro FX cards have done this for years, and Quadro FX BTW is a PC card)

because of this
you cannot run 2 displays and have that high res
and gaming would be impossible at that resolution (way to slow, but what games work on a mac aside from UT2k4? 3D games that is...)

the G5 has no competition in it's class
because it's in a class of 1

the Apple group

it's in a class of PC's only capable of:
running 1 and only 1 OS (cannot run a *IX or BSD based OS)
only being upgraded with Apple parts (that cost a fortune)
being incompatable with most software not designed for it
needing water cooling standard, not as a performance enhancement
requiring modifications to be made to each piece of hardware to run with it's special OS
being incapable of being custom built

consider this
for a huge rendering project, in which less time = more productivity
you want more threads being done at once, SO
you can spend around $8000 and get 2 G5's
or spend a bit more (like $9000) and get 4 Xeon MP 3.2GHZ's, 20GB-ish of RAM
idk how much HDD (over 1TB, or about 500GB on SCSI 10k or 15k RPM disks)
and run Windows, Solaris, RH, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Mandrake, Fedora, SuSE Linux, or any other *IX or BSD based OS you can find...meaning you can just swap the OS if you need various features (if your using free-ware OS that is, and im' sure you can find a free-ware Linux distro that is optomized for multi-media work (or a pay distro, meaning you get support behind it)

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I was trying...
by culture_of_one / April 9, 2005 3:19 PM PDT

not to hurt his feelings, Oz! Silly

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by ozos / April 9, 2005 4:35 PM PDT
In reply to: I was trying...

when Apple users come up and say how their dual 2.5GHZ 64-bit G5's will smash anything in the PC world it's because the benchmarks their comparing are single Proc P4 systems, which are mostly 32-bit, against dual 64-bit 2.5GHZ chips (That are far more efficient (i'm guessing the PowerPC G5 has a higher IPC than Pentium IV, about on par with AMD's K8, which is at 9 currently (Intel's Itanium2 whips everything with 21 IPC, but it's IA-64 (and $1400 for the ghetto one...and yes, there is such a thing as a Ghetto $1400 server proc that requires special software to do anything)

but when these Apple people say their sytsems are better, they are better against single Pentium 4 systems
and i don't disagree with them that for most creative applications Apple is the choice, as it's usually better, BUT things are seeming to change:

AMD is doing great things with Digital Audio with Athlon64 and Opteron

Intel's new dual core chips are absolutly KILLER in Video Encoding (it's like a P4 on crack, it just screams through video encoding stuff)

Apple is still the choice for some digital content creation tasks
but the way I see it is this:

If you buy an Apple your limited to Apple's world of Apple only products from Apple
yes you may have a 10% advantage in Digital Content creation, but at what expense? having to buy all Apple or Apple specific versions of programs, upgrades being impossibly expensive or complicated or impossible in general
only 1 motherboard per CPU generation (which imo is un-acceptable...)

so then we move to PC
which can match the features of a dual G5 (and actually beat it in clock speed, as the 252 is 2.6GHZ iirc (the 852 is, so the 252 should be...)

you can have 2 64-bit CPU's
the same size HDD arrays
the same ammount of RAM
even an Apple monitor (Apple's LCD's are some of the best, if you gfx card can support high resolutions (you need super high end video card, so if you have SLI i'd suggest a 23" Cinema HD, as it can take high res, and look great, but you need to be able to feed it that high res)

you can match it in hardware, actually beat it because you can't do SLI or 3DLabs cards on Apple

while on PC I could run a Wildcat Realizm 800, which is one of the best OpenGL/professional CAD/CAM cards on the market (or the Quadro FX 4400, which is comparable afaik)

not to mention the ability to run Matrox for multi-display, as many as 4 displays per card (and sync cards should I need more than 4 (so I run 3-4 vid cards, and a sync card to make it all tie together not only inside the software, but the hardware also)

so you have a greater choice of hardware to choose from
even on harder to do platforms, like 4-CPU systems
to my knowledge you have 2 compaines to produce the boards

for Intel you have SuperMicro
and for AMD you have Tyan

and from each you have 1 or 2 options for 4-way boards
with various ammounts of stuff on board (mind that SuperMicro's current generation 4-way board is just under $1900, mobo only, and that Tyan's is around $ their not cheap, consider each CPU is about $400-$900....)

plus PSU

so PC may be a bit more expensive, which I did state
and PC may crash more (if your using Windows)

with PC you can goto all sorts of operating systems
heck, Sun's non SPARC platform is Opteron 2-way and 4-way systems
and then you move into SPARC (which is it's own deal)

i'd have to say the ability to move OS', and consider Linux, there are thousands of distros with hundreds of possibilities for each (you can change the GUI, not just theme but the entire GUI, plus dozens of other things you can do, or make your own)

just with Linux you can do about anything
you can make your own OS if you have the ability/time/desire to

meaning you can specialize it perfectly to your needs
I don't know how much better you can get
a custom tailored OS...layed out just like you want it, with all the features you need...

i mean, you really can't beat that...

but aside from Linux
you have all the other options
the BSD based OS'
the UNIX variants
Windows (which does have quite a few possibilities...)

also with PC's you can more easily build a cluster, because you can use Linux, which Apple won't do

it's mainly a software thing
Apple looks great at first, and they are, but once you realize that with some time and work, PC can really beat it, Apple don't look so good

it's not their hardware, it really isn't
hardware wise Apple is pretty good, if they weren't the sole builders of all their own stuff (if they were more compatable, and various companies could design/would design and builds parts just for Apple...)

in general Apple isn't so great because their software support sucks, it sucks from the stanpoint that all software for Apple has to be special for Apple

and emulators run slower than...

with PC hardware, you can run PC applications, that are designed for PC, in an emulator (like Wine) in Linux, or in actual Windows (dual booting)

so i don't see how Apple is even a viable option at this point...

the only thing I would buy an Apple for is a mobile solution, mainly because it's a stable system...if your on a 2 car ride, not driving, and need to do work
if you have Windows, it may crash once or twice, and you'd have to re-start and load, or possibly make up lost work (it might not crash at all, but Windows can easily be crashed)

with Apple it's more stable
it wouldn't be so likely to crash, so if your doing something that Apple supports (like MS's funny, the leading office suite for Apple isn't even from Apple, it's from their arch competitor, Microsoft)

but if your doing somethign like that, than it shouldn't crash for days, giving you a fully stable work enviroment

Apple is like worry free computing
you don't have to think about the system while your using it, your just focused on what your doing

Linux is simimlar
Windows isn't

Windows has better software support (not just for games)

but in the end it's really a personal choice
if you like Apple
go for it
but Apple is just too expensive for how limited they are imo

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I hear you!
by culture_of_one / April 10, 2005 3:36 AM PDT
In reply to: still
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how do you get emoticons?
by ozos / April 10, 2005 12:21 PM PDT
In reply to: I hear you!

been here since like 2003, and still idk where to get those little smilies

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Combinations of keystrokes...
by culture_of_one / April 10, 2005 1:51 PM PDT

make the faces. : + ) = Happy ,etc. Don't know them all, but there are a lot. Wink

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by ozos / April 10, 2005 2:38 PM PDT

didn't know it was that easy (some have a window to select them from)
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by culture_of_one / April 11, 2005 5:00 AM PDT
In reply to: oh

has "something" new to learn...and you're always there for us, Oz. Wink

Sincerely, JDM

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