Speedtest: 8-core vs. 4-core Mac Pro shootout

Speedtest: 8-core vs. 4-core Mac Pro shootout

Summary: A speed test recently posted on Lloyd Chambers' Mac Performance Guide for Digital Photographers & Performance Addicts site compares an 8-core Mac Pro Nehalem 2.93GHz with a 4-core model running a faster 3.3-GHz processors. More is better, right? The results show that a serious gating factor for performance is in the software, not the hardware.

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A speed test recently posted on Lloyd Chambers' Mac Performance Guide for Digital Photographers & Performance Addicts site compares an 8-core Mac Pro Nehalem 2.93GHz with a 4-core model running a faster 3.3-GHz processors. More is better, right? The results show that a serious gating factor for performance is in the software, not the hardware. Chambers says that software engineering matters. For example, only one of the Camera RAW  converters tested – Phase One's CaptureONE 5 Pro — showed speed gains with the 8-core machine. While it didn't take advantage of all the processor's CPU power, it made better use of the extra cores, he said. Other conversion utilities were slower, such as Adobe Lightroon 2.7.

Most of the programs use multiple threads, but with disappointing efficiency; they just do not scale beyond a few threads. The inefficiency is not related to disk I/O, both by observation as well as having these tests run on the fastest possible internal disk setup. This lack of attention to efficiency is an engineering stupidity in today’s market of multi-core computers where time is money for many professionals.
In the photo editing contest, only BenVista's Photozoom Pro 3.0.10 offered a speed gain with the 8-core processor. The software works stand-alone as well as a Automation plug-in and export plug-in for Adobe Photoshop. However, the architectural advantage of the 8-core machine becomes apparent  for Photoshop when you throw RAM at it. The 8-core Mac Pro can handle 64GB of RAM. Check out the report, it's very interesting reading. In addition, Chambers suggests that digital photographers and professionals interested in buying a Mac Pro consider a refurbished machine. He offers a guide on the topic. However, few of the 4-core 3.3-GHz models become available.

Topics: Software, Apple, Hardware, Processors

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  • And people wonder why Apple wants to control the software ... [nt]

    [nt]
    RationalGuy
    • RE: Speedtest: 8-core vs. 4-core Mac Pro shootout

      @RationalGuy You want to control it? Maybe you should sweat to make it, instead. See ya.
      Feldwebel Wolfenstool
      • RE: Speedtest: 8-core vs. 4-core Mac Pro shootout

        @Feldwebel Wolfenstool

        No, I don't want to control it. I want software companies to write good software. These days that means being multicore optimized.
        RationalGuy
  • RE: Speedtest: 8-core vs. 4-core Mac Pro shootout

    What good is hardware capability when the software can't adapt to it? Just more proof of laziness by software developers.

    Someone needs to set the standard, and I really don't think Adobe is going to be the one.
    Vulpinemac
    • you know nothing about software development

      @vulpine@...
      You make it sound like a software developer can snap his fingers and the software can magically take advantage of 8 cores. Really are you that naive?

      And how do developers code for 8 cores if there were no 8 core machines for them to develop on? Do they pretend there are 8 core machines on their desk?

      And how do they develop for multi cores if the tools to allow them to devleop for multi cores are practically brand new?

      Hardware always always lead software for precisely the reasons I listed. New computers always come out ahead of software. Once the software catches up to the hardware, that means the hardware is becoming obsolete.

      You are proof of management types who know little to nothing about technology development and should really just stay in your office while the IT staff gets real work done.
      rengek
      • Stop yer bitching

        and do yer job. Now. And be quick about it.

        I've always left the "real work" to others; it's easier that way.
        godsfault
      • Congratulations on making the most uninformative post of the day, rengek.

        If it wouldn't take any effort to make something better (as in your example), but they still refused to, that would be a deliberate act of maliciousness, not laziness as vulpine said.

        Laziness implies that it would take time and effort.

        And they would do it the same way they'd do it if they [i]did[/i] have 8 core machines to develop on.. by making slow parts scalable, as in checking at startup how many cores are available and creating that many threads/forks (or more if blocking operations are performed)..

        You are proof that armchair flamers should stay off ZDNet.
        AzuMao
    • RE: Speedtest: 8-core vs. 4-core Mac Pro shootout

      @rengek<br><br>Sorry, but you are just plain wrong. This is clear even if you don't understand the software development process, simply by observing that two products DID manage to take advantage of the extra cores.<br><br>"And how do developers code for 8 cores if there were no 8 core machines for them to develop on?"<br><br>Um, by using algorithms and compilers that allow for multi threaded code. You do not need 8 cores to write for 8 cores. You just have to make your code as multiple-thread capable as the algorithm allows.<br><br>"And how do they develop for multi cores if the tools to allow them to devleop for multi cores are practically brand new?"<br><br>How are they brand new? The dual processors Mac G4 came out over 10 years ago, with thread-aware versions of XCode available simultaneously. The CoreDuo machines have been around for about 5.<br><br>"You are proof of management types who know little to nothing about technology development and should really just stay in your office while the IT staff gets real work done."<br><br>And what is your misinformed post proof of?
      SpiritusInMachina
      • Hooked on phonics

        @Azumao:<br><br>Um, how did YOU get from:<br>"There is no need for an application to check how many cores a given machine is running."<br><br>to:<br>"the developer must know ahead of time how many cores the client will have?"<br><br>Who said anything about the developer? Spawning threads is an OS governed thing. It does not need to happen at the application layer (unless you have a crappy OS.) <br><br>(And if you are going to criticize someone's English skill, better check your own
        SpiritusInMachina
      • would help you a lot.

        I pointed you how wrong rengek was in saying that developer's need computers with 8 cores to make programs that scale up to 8 cores, and you responded with saying the OS handles threads so that the developer doesn't have to do.. which was [i]equally[/i] wrong! An OS is meant to run programs as-are, not magically turn single-threaded programs into multi-threaded ones. The developer doesn't need to have an 8 core machine to make an 8 threaded program because he could make it spawn as many threads as there are cores at run time.. for whichever parts of it scale well..
        AzuMao
    • RE: Speedtest: 8-core vs. 4-core Mac Pro shootout

      @azumao

      For the record, that is not how multithreading works. It makes no difference how many cores you have, and there is no need to check on startup how many are available. Assigning of threads is dealt with at the OS layer, not the application layer.
      SpiritusInMachina
      • I was referring to one process running on more than one core at a time.

        I know that schedulers put single threaded processes on separate cores, but that's not what we were talking about at all.
        AzuMao
      • RE: Speedtest: 8-core vs. 4-core Mac Pro shootout

        @Azumao <br>In neither case is is necessary for the application developer to know how many cores are running in a given machine. It just does not work that way. You're just wrong.
        SpiritusInMachina
      • What the fuck? I never said it was. You said it was the OS's, job, though..

        ..which is completely wrong.


        "For the record, that is not how multithreading works. It makes no difference how many cores you have, and there is no need to check on startup how many are available. Assigning of threads is dealt with at the OS layer, not the application layer."
        AzuMao
      • Yes, you did

        @Azumao<br><br>"And they would do it the same way they'd do it if they did have 8 core machines to develop on.. by making slow parts scalable, as in checking at startup how many cores are available and creating that many threads/forks "<br><br>There is no need for an application to check how many cores a given machine is running.
        SpiritusInMachina
      • DeusExMachina, do you have problems reading simple English?

        How did you get from the program should be made to detect at startup how many cores are available and spawn that many threads to the developer must know ahead of time how many cores the client will have?
        AzuMao
    • RE: Speedtest: 8-core vs. 4-core Mac Pro shootout

      @vulpine@... Logically, it's laziness if developers haven't figured out multi-core processors by now. We've had duo-cored processors for more than 3 years, quad-core for almost as long and even 8-core is at least 2 years old. Simply put, if you can code for 2, you can code for 4, 8, 16, 32, etc... In fact, some of the world's fastest supercomputers run a thousand cores or more, effectively. Why? Because they're not running Windows, but rather one or another flavor of UNIX.
      I still call it laziness when you have to rely on middleware to code an application. I admit I'm lazy; but I don't code, I use. I leave the coding to people who know how.
      Vulpinemac
      • 1,2,3,4,5, etc.. chips with bunk cores are shipped handicapped. Also;

        GNU/Linux's Not UNIX!
        AzuMao
      • RE: Speedtest: 8-core vs. 4-core Mac Pro shootout

        @Azumao

        WTF are you talking about? OSX is NOT GNU, nor is it Linux.
        It is an OFFICIALLY certified, POSIX-compliant UNIX.

        Wrong, much?
        SpiritusInMachina
      • RE: Speedtest: 8-core vs. 4-core Mac Pro shootout

        @Azumao@...
        Change the subject much?

        This is about Unix. OSX is Unix. You were saying?
        SpiritusInMachina