MultiProcessor vs Multicore System for a Rendering Workstation

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Dec 15, 2010

Forgive me if this has been asked before ,I did a quick search about this but did not find anything conclusive

My Plan is to build a rig primarily for rendering ( AutoCAD , Cinema4d , Max ).

Do I go in for 2 socket Server processor , or go for a high end desktop processor?

your recommendations?

My budget is around 1500$ USD.


Just Shrey


Another vote for the multi core setup. multi socket is interesting, but to extreme for what you want and budget. 4P servers don't render, they run databases for 10K+ users. (or web transaction servers for companies like Amazon who do $100K of business per min.) If you want to render, grab a good quad or hex CPU, and probably an Nvidia video card if your programs can make use of CUDA. Many newer programs can, and will make even a hex core CPU look slow. The 1GB GTX460 is a good one.



The real questions you need to ask yourself before you decide between a single-socket and a two-socket machine are the following:

1. How much of my application load scales well past 4-6 cores versus not scaling well past 4-6 cores?
2. Do I need more than 16-24 GB of RAM or do I anticipate needing that much RAM before I replace the computer?
3. Are my applications memory bandwidth limited?

The reason I ask that is because two-socket machines offer twice the core count, twice the memory bandwidth, and generally at least twice the memory capacity of a single-socket machine. If you do pretty much use your machine just for rendering using AutoCAD, Cinema4D, and 3dsmax, the general answer to #1 will be that you will greatly benefit from having more cores. Common benchmarks based on Cinema4D (Cinebench) and 3dsmax (SPECapc) show very good core scaling out to a lot more than 4-6 cores. The version of Cinema4D that is used in Cinebench R11.5 scales well out to at least 32 cores. I've not seen any AutoCAD benchmarks, so I can't tell you how well it scales with clock speed vs. core count. The last time I ran AutoCAD was about five years ago when I ran r2004 on P4 machines ranging from 1.5 GHz to 3 GHz, so I can't tell you how well it does on more modern hardware. I can't answer #2 or #3 for you, but the benchmarks suggest that memory bandwidth is not heavily stressed in rendering.

Another piece of advice I would give you is to strongly consider looking at single-socket server processors and motherboards instead of standard desktop parts if you do not get a two-socket machine, since you are running a production machine under heavy load and want it to be reliable. Server motherboards and single-socket server CPUs all support error-correcting memory and are rated for being run at full load 24/7 for longer periods of time than desktop CPUs, and the motherboards are designed to accommodate this mode of operation. No current Intel desktop CPUs and AFAICT very few Intel desktop motherboards support ECC memory. All of the AMD Athlon II and Phenom II CPUs support ECC memory, but only desktop motherboards will enable ECC are ASUS's. The single-socket server parts like Xeon 3500s and 3600s as well as Opteron 4100s do cost a little more than the equivalent desktop parts, and single-socket server boards cost a fair bit more than desktop boards, but I feel that you'd be happier in the end going this route than with a desktop system.

4P machines sure can render. The reason that they are not widespread is that the premiums on 4P parts were so high that you could buy several 2P machines for what one 4P machine cost. Plus, you can run desktop Windows on 2P parts but 4P parts require the far-more-expensive Windows Server. Intel's 4P Xeon 7500-based parts are still ridiculously expensive, as a 2.0 GHz quad-core CPU that can be run in 4P mode runs you about a grand, compared to about $200 for a similar CPU that can be run in only 2P mode. AMD's Opteron 8000 series units were pretty much the same way. It made a lot more sense to get a bunch of 1P or 2P machines and cluster them together than to buy a 4P machine. However, AMD recently drastically cut the prices on 4P-capable parts when they introduced the Opteron 6100s last March and now they start at $266 and top out at about $1200. Now a 4P machine costs about what two 2P machines cost and AMD reports interest in 4P machines has gone up significantly since the pricing change.

Whether or not the OP can put together a 2P machine for $1500 mostly depends on what else he wants/needs in the machine other than the CPUs, motherboard, and RAM. A pair of 2.60 GHz, six-core Opteron 4180s and a decent dual Socket C32 motherboard (ASUS KCMA-D8) costs about $700. That should be very affordable with a $1500 budget unless he needs a bunch of HDDs and a discrete RAID controller or a high-end professional GPU. Going with 2P Xeons that are worth a crap (anything except the horribly crippled E550x units, which today means the E5620 or better) or going with the higher-core-count Opteron 6100s would probably put him over $1500 when he's all said and done. Two 8-core, 2.00 GHz Opteron 6128s and a suitable motherboard will run you about $950-1000 and two quad-core 2.40 GHz Xeon E5620s and a suitable motherboard will run you about $1050-1100. That will probably be too much to do with a $1500 budget unless he has some parts lying around he can use to make the build, such as a case, PSU, GPU, RAM, or HDDs.

Dual-socket motherboards are pricier than most desktop motherboards, but they do offer advantages over desktop motherboards. You just generally won't see them in typical client desktop usage. Many desktop applications only take advantage of a few CPU cores and don't use a lot of RAM. Most desktop users don't leave their machines on for days at a time, don't leave them running at heavy loads for extended periods of time (unless they're doing distributed computing projects, and then those guys tend to like to use server gear anyway), and don't demand absolute rock-solid reliability like workstation and server guys do. The general lack of overclocking ability also sours a lot of desktop guys on multi-socket boards as well. But the OP is not running desktop applications, he's running workstation applications. Those are different and often do take advantage of a lot more CPU cores and load them up for prolonged periods of time. Thus a multi-CPU system would work well for him. Also, Intel's six-core CPUs are extremely expensive and a dual-CPU system can both outperform it and be less expensive. My 16-core dual Opteron 6128 system cost about $950 for the motherboard and CPUs and pulled an 8.88 in Cinebench R11.5- and that is likely low, since I using an emulator to run Cinebench since my system runs Linux. A stock Core i7 970 and a decent motherboard costs about $100 more but only managed a score of 8.55 running on native Windows 7 x86_64.


Wasn't trying to be 100% accurate for once, just trying to point out that different tasks call for different hardware. Just like you wouldn't use a cannon to hammer in a nail, you wouldn't use a 4p server to render something. 2P perhaps, but I'd look at hex core CPUs and CUDA cards before doing so. Even 2P boards cost a lot, and getting an GTX580 is probably cheaper. (your program needs to use cuda of course, double check before you buy.)


Oct 13, 2010
- ASUS DVD burner: $17
- Antec 300 case /w BP430W power supply: $95
- Gigabyte motherboard: $200
- Intel Core i7-970 CPU 6 cores/12 threads: $880
- G.SKILL Ripjaws 12GB (3x4) DDR3 1600: $200
- ATI FirePro V3700: $80
- 2 x WD Caviar Black 1TB SATA6: $180 -> you can RAID 0 them for a 2TB fast drive (make sure you have a backup option) or RAID 1 (mirror) for a fault-tolerance drive

TOTAL: $1,650

a tad over 1,500.. and without the OS... but that's a pretty solid all-around video editing monster for that budget... good luck..!

general r2

Dec 5, 2010
for $1,500 you'll be doing a decent desktop.

i've got an i7-980X (it has 6 cores, 12 computing threads)

i also have a Mac Pro with two 6 core Xeons (so 12 cores and 24 computing threads)

I was surprised to see that the Mac Pro does not cut in half the render times from the i7-980X. The reason is because the two Xeons only run at 25% when rendering while the i7 will run at 90%. The Mac Pro does render faster, but not as fast as I would have thought. Also, when the Mac Pro is rendering something, it still has plenty of juice to do other things which is pretty cool.

So I'd recommend any i7. They're all very good. Mike (above) has a good build there for you.



You can't make a high-end processor based desk-top with this budget. add 1000$ and you can have a high-end PC. i suggest you should go for Intel 990x, a Intel MB with 2x3 memory-slots, nvidia GeForce GTX 590 that supports Quad Buffered Stereo Technology (I think asus has one) and 6x4 GB 1866 MHz xmp memory-modules. it will be a high end gaming PC but also serve your primary purpose well. making a pro-workstation for graphic solutions will cost more for example a single Quadro 6000 graphic card costs about 4000$. other components for a workstation will also cost more. i believe AutoCAD recently added support for CUDA acceleration. i'm not sure what "Max" is but if you meant 3d max then i believe this configuration will do. i have been assembling my/my friends PCs and Workstations since early 90s so i think you can rely on my suggestions. last of all use the larger heat-sink that comes with Intel 990x and use a reliable PSU, i personally favor Thermaltake. Thanks
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