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Old 03-03-2010, 04:13 PM   #1
darasen
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Processor selection for a Linux box


I am going to order the parts and build a new PC soon. One goal I have on my new machine will be to use Windows as little as possible and use Linux. In Linux I will need to use an emulator/virtual machine of some sort for things like playing World of Warcraft or City of Heroes and running Photoshop. (No, Gimp is not just as good for my needs). I plan to have 4Gb, to start, of ram and my question comes to one of processor selection.

I assume that running a Windows app in Linux would be one of the most system taxing things I could do. Would I be better served by more processor cores or a higher clock speed for these tasks? I will undoubtedly have an AMD proc. I have been considering the following.

Athlon II X3 440 3.0 Ghz.
Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition 2.8 Ghz
Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition 3.2 Ghz
Athlon II X4 630 2.8 Ghz
AMD Phenom II X2 545 3.0 Ghz

I am leaning towards the X3 440 (or 435) for the sake of cost so that I can squeeze a discreet video card into my budget but that it outside the scope of my question.

Extra info just in case The Black Editions are very over-clockable with unlocked CPU multipliers. The Phenom II CPUs have 6Mb of L3 cache and the Phenom II CPUs do not.

The question boils down to how well Linux and Wine are multi-threaded to make use of all available cores and what impact, if any, L3 cache has in a Linux environment. Sorry for the long post and thanks ahead for any input.
 
Old 03-03-2010, 05:49 PM   #2
kbp
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Running Windows apps under linux is not really much more taxing than anything else.. my buying rule is pretty simple - "set a budget then buy the best you can afford".

These days, unless you really skimp and buy a Celeron you'll have plenty of power

my2c
 
Old 03-03-2010, 06:03 PM   #3
johnsfine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darasen View Post
I assume that running a Windows app in Linux would be one of the most system taxing things I could do.
Running a Windows app in Wine in Linux is not significantly more taxing than running the same app natively in Windows. I don't know for sure about running a Windows app in Windows in a VM in Linux, but I expect even that doesn't add much overhead.

Quote:
Would I be better served by more processor cores or a higher clock speed for these tasks?
That depends on the specific apps, not on Linux vs Windows nor even native vs Wine vs VM.

Quote:
The question boils down to how well Linux and Wine are multi-threaded to make use of all available cores and what impact, if any, L3 cache has in a Linux environment.
No, it boils down to how well Photoshop etc. are multi-threaded and how memory intensive it/they is/are: do they miss the L2 cache so little that the L3 cache isn't used much or so much that the L3 cache doesn't help much or somewhere in between where the L3 cache makes a big difference.

Some apps aren't multi-threaded well and simply can't make full use of multiple cores. Some apps are well multi-threaded but cache miss so much that the cores just contend with each other for memory accesses and end up taking as long as fewer cores would have taken for the same work. But some apps work well multi-threaded. It is all a function of the App, not the OS.
 
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