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From Dual to Quad…

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My current home system is an AMD Opteron 170 (2.0 Ghz) with 2 Gig of DDR ram and it’s already a screaming for me for the last two years of existence.

I have for the longest time hold off any temptation to upgrade to Intel Core 2 Duo series or the latest DDR2 type of RAM which would require me to upgrade my motherboard as well in order to fit the newer high speed RAM. The time may be drawing near for me to make a decision…

I had the privilege of playing with Mac OSX for over the last 2 years or so. My eldest brother has a Mac Book while my current company has like 6-7 Apple machine for all the designers and they are just gorgeous. Played with OSX on and off and it is an awesome experience, the OS is fine, just like Vista, is a matter of getting used to and matter of preferences. Reason for saying that is that most modern main stream Operating System like OSX or Vista has evolved to the point where the architecture are stable and fine for day to day pounding. The revolutionary part has moved on to the user interface, which is a matter of preference. And if you are a Windows user, a company called Stardock has created lots of application / skins that are great for customizing the look and feel of Windows, some even to the point of mimicking OSX like the Dock (Stardock has something better called ObjectDock) I owed the Object Desktop Suite and it has been a fantastic choice for over 2 years now and that satisfy me on the look and feel customization part. Don’t get me wrong, OSX is great looking and I love it too but that is not why I brought it up. The reason is Apple’s suite of bundled application that comes with the operating system like the iLife 08 suite just rocks! Those are just no where to be found in the Windows world when you are looking for something out of the box! An interesting thought though… Many PC makers will load up 30 days or 60 days trial application onto a new PC which is a NOT A PLEASANT experience for any home user cos they would have to make this and that purchases to get the full license version and so forth… BAD BAD BAD.

Why can’t Microsoft work with some great applications makers like Corel Draw for photo editing suite or Pinnacle Studio for Video editing or any other great product and work out a bundled package for home user where Microsoft will provide an application shell / layer to ‘integrate’ all the 3rd party application together. The APIs will be provided so that 3rd party application, if they want to can easily hook up to it so that any other application that hook up to the Microsoft platform for package application, will easily have ways to import / export to each other. It will provide some simple user interface and default export area so that one application can easily export out the files and another program import for further editing. Certainly this will not be as smooth as what Apple iLife does as like within iMovie, one can just select the songs from iTunes or importing photos from PhotoBooth and so forth. I know Microsoft do provide the basic applications within Vista itself but they are just not good enough though it is a commendable effort with the recent Live update. Sometimes, people do want choice for the out of the box experience and this would be a WIN WIN situation for all parties. Basically the idea is that the ‘suite’ of PC application, covering photo editing to video editing to music will have a way to work with each other through the interface that Microsoft provide, seamlessly. That will be sold as a bundled package to OEM for their installation to customer PC upon retail or selection. There’s complication, I know… cos there’s different interest / parties involved… but it’s WAY BETTER than putting trials software onto new computers where home user experience will be disrupted. Then they will look else where… for better user experience.

I believe the Windows ecosystem can get better at that but it needs focus on out of the box experience rather than putting in useless stuff just to rip money off consumer or getting paid by application maker for bundling with the new PC. Windows world are filled with price war vendors which is another reason that it is difficult… Microsoft has to do something on the software level or provide the interface shell for 3rd party to hook on easily so that hardware partners can just focus on their price war / feature sets while able to provide a consistent out of the box experience.

So where was I.. yeah… about Apple and the OSX… I saw the demo on iLife 08 and I loved it. Was thinking of getting a Mac Mini for my home so I could use both for different purposes. (Mac mini can easily sit in the living room for some entertainment box like photo slide show or games in the living room) That was a thought… until the price of Quad Core processor dropped!

More power on the PC vs getting a Mac Mini… Decision decision decision… I know! I will get both! 🙂 Will wait till post Leopard to decide.

Below is an excerpt from AnandTech, a well respected reviewer site, on the Quad Core scene:

If you pardon the pun, power continues to be a hot topic in the world of computer servers. The costs associated with operating and cooling an average server are certainly not cheap, and these costs continue to rise over time with higher performing and higher power parts being released. Low-voltage processors try to reverse that trend, although they are only truly effective at halting the CPU power requirements. Unfortunately, the CPU is just a piece of the puzzle. Memory, fans, chipset, drives, HBAs, etc. all play a role in power requirements, and in some of those areas (FB-DIMMs in particular) the increase easily overshadows the power savings associated with low-voltage processors.

In our previous article that compared Intel dual-core parts to AMD dual-core parts, AMD came out on top. The main reason for their victory is their power consumption figures. The Intel dual-core Xeons compete on a performance basis, but FB-DIMMs hurt overall performance/watt numbers. In this article we see the tables turn somewhat. With two extra cores the Intel Clovertown parts are able to easily outpace the AMD Opteron, at least when overall load is near saturation. At low to average workloads, there is little difference between any of the parts, in which case server consolidation might be a better solution. Obviously, the quad-core parts are best suited for loaded database servers and their sweet spot is in virtualized environments.

If there was ever any doubt that Intel made a bad decision not going true quad-core, it should be clear with numbers like these that their decision was sound and is paying off. Quad-core processors may not be faster in every situation, but in heavily threaded CPU intensive environments the extra CPU cores are easily able to make up for any penalties associated with the dual-die packaging.

This is not the end of the story, however. The next few months should prove interesting for the two processor giants, as AMD’s Barcelona should begin to show up in volume and Intel is set to refresh their Xeon line-up with Harpertown. Stay tuned; we’ll have thorough coverage for both products in the near future.

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Written by gooddealz

September 14, 2007 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Tech Ideas

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