Dual core processore for recording - are they worth it?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by marinblues, Jan 22, 2006.

  1. marinblues

    marinblues Member

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    Hi,

    I want to buy a new pc for recording. There is a lot of hype about the new dual-core processor. Do they bring and real benefit for someone who does home recording or is it better to more poweful single processore?

    Essentially: is it better to have a Dual Core
    Intel® Pentium® D 820 (2.8GHz, 800FSB, 2X1MB Cache) or a Intel® Pentium® 4 650 (3.4GHz, 800FSB, 2MB Cache) ?

    Also, would you rather spend you $$ in extra processing power or in more RAM (say 2GB vs 1GB)?


    I use Adobe Audition and I usually don't go over 8 tracks at once. I am planning of buying a soundcard with an internal DSP but I will still use plugins.

    thanks.

    Marin
     
  2. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    Audio is one of the few areas where dual-core processors offer an advantage right now. Any DAW software that has simultaneous instruction threads incorporated into it will see an immediate performance improvement when used with dual-core processors. Sonar5 is designed to take advantage of multiple cores and the new 64-bit Vista operating system.

    Be aware though that when running the majority of typical software, a P4 630 will outperform a Pentium D 830. I wouldn't consider buying anything but a dual-core as an investment in the future.

    RAM is most important when softsynths, soundfonts, or plugins are being used. For straight audio, processing power offers a greater benefit over RAM, but if 8 tracks are all you're using, any typical computer should work, with as little as 256mB of RAM. I have a P4 2.4 gHz cpu that can handle 30-50 audio tracks at low latency without dropouts.
     
  3. marinblues

    marinblues Member

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    Therefore I should check whether Adobe Audition benefits from multithreading?
     
  4. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    Precisely.
     
  5. discountsounds

    discountsounds Member

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    I've heard on some tech podcasts and websites that it would be wise to wait a generation for some kinks to be worked out of the dual core processors, especially if you're thinking about getting one of the new iMacs with Intel dual cores. Just a thought.
     
  6. aquabatz

    aquabatz Member

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    I've just built my dual core machine about a month ago and dropped 2-gig of RAM into it. I'm running an AMD X2 4400+, cubase sx3, and the EMU 1820m. Granted I have been saving up for this for a while (still in college) and I also was waiting for dual core's to drop in price. I think that in general you'll see it does make a large difference if and only if (as previously mentioned) the program uses multiple threads. You also will want to wait, AMD just announceed it's changing it's socket types (once again) so there will be even faster versions (although they are pretty pro at the 64-bit business and they beat Intel's dual cores hands down, it is technology, so you can't really future proof your machines). Anyway I digress, if you can find it, go with a dual core processor from AMD, as for now, you can get away with a 3.x Ghz Pentium 4 for cheaper and it will probably serve you better. Also, RAM will probably be a better substitute over clock speed, so a difference of .2Ghz, isn't THAT big of a deal.
     
  7. nickdahl

    nickdahl Member

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    The AMD processors are where it's at. They killed the Pentiums, and are the processor-of-choice over at the Digidesign User Group.

    Nick
     
  8. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    If software is optimized for a dual-core processor, or a dual processor, it is a significantly better option. If the software isn't optimized to take advantage of it, the advantage is far smaller.

    In the Mac world, for example, the two premier digital audio/sequencing applications are written to take advantage of dual-processor technology, Digital Performer and Logic.

    Digidesign's premier application, Pro Tools HD (not LE) takes advantage of Digi hardware, so it may differ in that regard from other Mac apps.

    I'd contact your software's manufacturer, and see what they recommend.
     
  9. NuSkoolTone

    NuSkoolTone Member

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    Right now I would go with AMD, Intel just runs too damn hot. What happens is they put a HUGE fan and heatsink on there to keep the processor NOT cool, BUT FROM BURNING UP! The stock heatsink barely does the job and is loud as hell. Also since it's barely adequate, the CPU temperature remains high and then causes it to throttle.

    I was using throttle watch to see what was happenening when I was stressing the CPU, and it was CONSTANTLY throttling down to 3ghz for my 3.6ghz 560j (Basically the same as 660, but with 1mb cache) processor. I overclocked it to 4ghz, because frankly the temps didn't change that much it ran so hot already. SO if it's throttling that much, you are running the equivalent of a 3ghz processor. So what's the point of all that extra money you spent for a "fast" processor?

    So first I went to a bigger/better heatsink with a large fan because the thing was so loud next to me, I had to CRANK my monitors to mix(!)

    The heat problem ONLY was resolved when I finally bit the bullet and went to water cooling (Swiftech H2O Apex.) Now it's cool, quiet, and with great performance, but WHAT a PITA to get there! Besides, water cooling isn't for everyone.

    Before I went through all this, I built an intel dual-core (830) system for my parents shortly after first building my system. The temps were even WORSE! I couldn't believe it. I've been building all my computers for the past 10 years and have never seen anything like it.

    So the moral of the story is: Until they correct the heat issues, stay AWAY from Intel. AMD is creeping up with temperature too, but it's not NEARLY as bad from what I read. Just check the UAD forums if you plan to use a UAD-1 card and AMD, some have reported problems with the new AMD dualcores (nvidia chipset) with that card and I'm not sure if they were resolved. The silver lining is AMD has been 64bit for awhile so you could possibly grab an older processor cheaper to hold you over? Right now it's all first gen stuff and it would be wise to wait before spending big money. I'm not holding my breath but intel is talking about QUAD and OCTO cores within the year. THAT should be interesting! Obviously we'll need(?) VISTA to take advantage of that, but since I'm set for now I won't be looking for a new system/Vista for at LEAST two years. That is unless everyone dumps 32 bit in the next year which is HIGHLY unlikely.

    From a performance POV, the 6xx series has Hyperthreading (virtual second processor), and the dual core are actual processors (I forget if they each have hyperthreading too) so I don't know how much difference there would be. My gut says true dual core would be better. Currently I have a project running like 100 tracks (Yes, really!) TONS of plug-ins, and 2 UAD-1 cards. I'm using Nuendo 3, so I often use the "freeze" function (great) which basically renders the track offline with all the processing and just plays back the new file in it's place instead of processing real-time. However, when first running the mix I can get quite a bit going to where I think the processor is NOT an issue these days. (Granted I'm clocking at nearly 4.3 ghz.) I have a gb of RAM, and I can see I could very easily use more. I will add another 2gb when finances allow, and I should be set. Also make sure you have a SEPARATE hard drive fo Audio, I can also verify that SATA MAKES A DIFFERENCE! I transferred all my files from an 8mb 7200 rpm 160 gb IDE drive to a 16mb 7200 250gb SATA drive and the Nuendo meter doesn't even register for HD use anymore. This is where it could get off topic, but IMO the true bottleneck now in DAWS is PCI and that in many cases it is still used for the HArddrive controllers on Motherboards.
     

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