COST comparison: 8-core cruncher

Message boards : Number crunching : COST comparison: 8-core cruncher

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Message 35762 - Posted: 30 Jan 2007, 18:46:16 UTC
Last modified: 30 Jan 2007, 18:48:03 UTC

People in the 8-Core Cruncher thread don't seem to understand the costs involved in comparing the 8-core. Let's break this down.

Before I get into that, when I talk about power efficiency, I'm talking about performance/power. So it doesn't matter if some chip has less power, if it has less performance/power, then it isn't going to be as power efficient.

8-Core Cruncher
($696) 2 Intel Xeon Quad-Core E5310 1066 MHz 8MB L2 cache CPU
($298) Gigabyte GA-7VCSV Dual Xeon Server Motherboard
($288) 2 GBs Kingston FB-DIMM RAM. (must get FB-DIMM RAM with this mobo) [you may want to pay more to run the RAM in quad-channel. 4-512mb FB-DIMM are more expensive than 2-1gb]
($40) Case
($60) Hard Drive
($30) Power Supply
($1412) TOTAL
8 x 1.6GHz processors = 12.8 "processing power"

Let's compare to a C2D E6600, because cache size can make a huge difference in some crunching...(?) You could wait until the lower tier E6xxx chips get 4M cache in a couple of months.

E6600 C2D Cruncher
($316) E6600 C2D processor
($45) cheap C2D mobo
($80) cheap 2x512mb 667MHz RAM
($40) Case
($60) Hard Drive
($30) Power Supply
($571) TOTAL
2 x 2.4GHz processors = 4.8 "processing power"

12.8/4.8 = 2.66 E6600 machines needed to achieve the same processing power as the 8-core cruncher.

$517 x 2.66 = $1519, 2.66 E6600 machines would cost more than the 8-core cruncher.

Other considerations:
OS: installing Windows XP would make the E6600s worse, because you'd have to buy 2.66 copies.
diskless: you can boot machines from a network, so you don't need hard drives, this favors the E6600s.
cases: you don't NEED cases, but I consider them an insurance policy.
overclocking: You could overclock the E6xxx or E4xxx much more easily, and make the E6xxx or E4xxx much more favorable on a cost basis (even the winner). But there are also other considerations such as space (number of cases), improved heatsinks, and added case fans.
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Message 35770 - Posted: 30 Jan 2007, 20:13:18 UTC
Last modified: 30 Jan 2007, 20:17:11 UTC

It's very easy to significantly overclock the 6600 (to around 3.5GHz), on the other hand it's extremely difficult to overclock the Clovertown.

You can actually get the 6600 for a little less than the price you found, one place did it for 208 but I found several doing it for 280 (I have to wonder whether the lower price was an error).

I don't know if you can get a sufficiently powerful PSU for the clovertown for $30 (Who?'s one was a 1KW unit I think?)

On the other hand I'd spend more on the M/B and memory for the 6600 system, which probably balances out the costs mentioned above.

Secondly, if you only have 2 DIMMs, you'll experience poor performance, this has been observed at a number of projects (typically 25% less performance with 2 DIMMs).

Personally I'd very much like an Octocore system, but from my viewpoint based on prices in the UK it won't be economic until the costs drop in the second half of the year (when there is competition). An alternative at that time would be overclocked quads.

In the UK the prices are skewed strongly in favour of the 6600 system - the same clovertown setup would cost around £1200 ($2350), which would get you 3 - 4 overclocked 6600 systems.

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