Is dual core worth it on regular apps? Simple SMP test results
I was thinking about buuilding a new dual core AMD system. The motherboard and cpu would be approx $500-$600. I wondered if I was smart enough to get it working as dual core and if the speed would be worth the extra money. I do mainly web, email, DVD burning and video editing with Kino. Burning a DVD makes my machine crawl (yes, dma is on for all drives).
The other night on my 2800 I was burning a DVD, downloading the new newsheaders with Pan, downloading 3-iso's for FreeBSD (Firefox), editing a file with Gimp, compressing a zip file to upload for a friend of mine while I was surfing the web. It was slooow as you might have guessed. The good news is it didn't, and doesn't blue-screen on me. It just keeps chugging along.
I decided to buy an older dual processor machine, on the cheap, to play with. I was, and still am, very surprised by my simple tests. I plan on doing more. I just thought someone here might be interested.
I bought an older Dell Precision 710 with dual 750 Mhz P3s, 1 Gig RAM. SMP kernel installed with apt. Old ATI +-16 Meg RAM mach 64 video card. $165 delivered with CD ROM and 27 Gig HD.
My main machine has an ECS KT-600A motherboard, AMD Sempron 2800, 512 Meg RAM (Kingston Value). Nvidia 256 Meg video card, and a NEC DVD-RX.
Using Debian testing, Gimp, and a 12.7 Meg jpg color graphic (large map).
To open this graphic
2800 2:02 2 minutes 02 seconds avg out of 3 times
SMP 43.69 seconds
The scale this graphic to 10%
2800 1 Minute 37 seconds
SMP 28.65 seconds
I also played with booting diff liveCDs.
FreeBSIE to first select box.
eLive to first selection box
This were simple tests done with a stopwatch. I did nothing else while doing the tests. I was too busy watching the screen. I plan on running POVRAY benchmark in the near future.
I still find it hard to believe that the Dell does as well as it does. Keep in mind I used a standard Sarge install then did an apt-get dist-upgrade (sources testing), then an apt-get install a smp kernel. That's all the tweaking I've done. Also keep in mind that the 2800 runs at 2Ghz but has only 512 Meg RAM. The diff in RAM may explain thie entire test. Next week I'll have 2 Gig in my main machine. We'll find that one out then. It may be that ECS motherboards are very slow?
I hope this helps someone make up their minds on a dual core, or even a dual cpu system. Right now if I had to get rid of one of my machines, it would NOT be the Dell. I'll wait until they work the bugs out of the dual cores before I spend that much. If I find I can build a dual AMD MP system on the cheap, I'll probably upgrade.
BTW: If he had another dual Dell for $165, I'd already own it.
Last edited by SteveSch; 09-08-2005 at 01:45 PM.