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The Next MacPro
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BobTheDog



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:03 am    Post subject: The Next MacPro
Subject description: Pretty Nifty
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http://www.apple.com/macpro/design.html

Uses Xeon Nehalem processors which have all cores on a single die making cache access faster. Also the two processors are directly via a pipeline. Also the memory controller is built in to the processor.


Up to 1.9x the speed of the previous 8 core MacPro if you believe apple.


Pretty fast machine this one.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well the fastest machine that Geekbench have ever tested with a score of 17665.

http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/view/115605

To put it in perspective my 4 core MacPro 3Ghz scores 5508!
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Are these speeds of any computer- including those made by other companies, or just Mac's?
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

v-un-v wrote:
Are these speeds of any computer- including those made by other companies, or just Mac's?


http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/top

There is an IBM rack-mount server that beats it.

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BobTheDog



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Sorry I should have said workstation not computer!.
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BobTheDog



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

v-un-v wrote:
Are these speeds of any computer- including those made by other companies, or just Mac's?


Macs and PCs are on the site
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Honestly I don't understand this need for speed. I've been saying for at least 10 years that computers have gotten fast enough for what we do with them and what we really need is a better compromise between speed and power with emphasis on novel user interfaces and custom coprocessors.

That's why I like my little netbook so much. It may only be around 1/3 the speed of an overheated bloatware battery hog notebook, but that's plenty of compute power for even CPU-intensive tasks like ChucK programs. And it only cost $300 US, cheap enough even for my budget.

Instead of making super-duper-stupor processors faster, us consumers should be demanding innovative coprocessors like music chips, neural net chips, solid-state disks, graphics chips, and stuff like that. How about a chip that's hard-wired to run a specific programming language or an operating system. If they would make a hardware operating system, then even Microsoft's bloatware would run properly.

Not to mention the lack of touchscreens, laser projectors, voice interfaces, and any intelligent use of the camera as a communication device. Let's get with it people: stop the CPU wars and let's do something innovative for a change!

Oh, sorry, that turned into a rant! Well, it's been irritating me for a long time now...

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Inventor wrote:
If they would make a hardware operating system, then even Microsoft's bloatware would run properly.


like the old Atari ST Question

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yes, I remember my first computer, a TRS-80 Model 3 had a hardware operating system. With Flash these days, the hardware OS processor would be upgradeable too.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 5:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well it depends what sort of software you are running.

For instance if you are doing lots of rendering or calculations, multi user servers etc you need as much power as you can get hold of and some more.

If you are just running most end user apps now then you are correct you don't need this sort of power.

My MacPro hits 100% cpu on all processors a fair bit but it doesn't really bother me that much, when the warranty runs out I will get one of these new ones, probably the lowest clock speed one.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

BobTheDog wrote:
Well it depends what sort of software you are running.

For instance if you are doing lots of rendering or calculations, multi user servers etc you need as much power as you can get hold of and some more.


This is true given today's general purpose computer architecture. What if you had a rendering coprocessor? We are hitting the wall in terms of what kind of processing speed can be gotten out of today's technology. Unless some totally new tech like quantum computing or somesuch becomes practical, we will eventually be forced to have separate processors for different tasks.

In fact, we already do. The graphics processors handle graphics and then there are dedicated chips for things like the PCI bridge and the hard drive controller, etc. All I'm saying is it's time for innovative types of processors like a C processor, a Perl processor, or maybe an HTML processor. AI, music, network, rendering, calculus, CAD, physics, etc. all should have hardware processors that we could buy.

Just my two cents...

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

We are not hitting a wall on processing speed at all, multi cores and processors give us increased performance, the more cores or processors we have the better. Even single core performance is still improving by leaps and bounds.

Specialised processors, say a rendering processor the idea still stands:

Lets say we have a decent coprocessor for rendering, something like this: http://www.nvidia.com/object/product_tesla_s1070_us.html

Now lets say to render a HD frame it takes 5 seconds (very low just for an example).

Now I have a 5 minute clip at 25 frames per second so I have 7500 frames so this render is going to take 450 minutes.

Now if I expand my system to have 512 of these coprocessors it take less than a minute!
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Inventor wrote:
Honestly I don't understand this need for speed. I've been saying for at least 10 years that computers have gotten fast enough for what we do with them and what we really need is a better compromise between speed and power with emphasis on novel user interfaces and custom coprocessors.



Hmm, no, I disagree. Perhaps yes with stuff like browsing and word-processors (although a voice activated word processor would be great, and these need CPU power). In the world of prototyping and industry, to be able to model an entire product, and to get a working prototype requires lots of speed, computers still aren't that powerful just yet. Rendering too takes a lot of cpu power. Having more available cycles is far better because it improves productivity.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

v-un-v wrote:
Hmm, no, I disagree. Perhaps yes with stuff like browsing and word-processors (although a voice activated word processor would be great, and these need CPU power). In the world of prototyping and industry, to be able to model an entire product, and to get a working prototype requires lots of speed, computers still aren't that powerful just yet. Rendering too takes a lot of cpu power. Having more available cycles is far better because it improves productivity.


Well, yes, I agree with that. Take Spice for example. Circuit simulations take forever largely because they are run on a general purpose processor. If you had a coprocessor that was specifically designed with the Spice algorithm hard-coded into it, then your circuit simulations would run a heck of a lot faster. That would *really* improve productivity.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

BobTheDog wrote:
We are not hitting a wall on processing speed at all, multi cores and processors give us increased performance, the more cores or processors we have the better. Even single core performance is still improving by leaps and bounds.


Hmm, my information may be out of date. I was under the impression that the clock speed limitation settled in around 3 GHz or so. This is due, to my understanding, to two limitations: Heat and Skew. In this Wikipedia page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore's_law

We find the following quote:

Quote:
On 13 April 2005, Gordon Moore stated in an interview that the law cannot be sustained indefinitely: "It can't continue forever. The nature of exponentials is that you push them out and eventually disaster happens" and noted that transistors would eventually reach the limits of miniaturization at atomic levels.


That's what I'm talking about...

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

But we are not there yet. Also this old viewpoint certainly ignores multi core/processor systems.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Have a look at http://www.nas.nasa.gov/Resources/Systems/columbia.html this was a SGI machine built to provide simulations of large systems (like space shuttles) for NASA.

Note the clock speeds are low but the power is high.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, yes, for tasks that parallelize well, supercomputing clusters and multicores and such are great. But not all software parallelizes well. For example, code that requires information from a previous computation must be run serially.

I was reminded of this when I created a program in POV-Ray which had an AI algorithm that searched out the space of possible chainmaille weaves. The other chainmaillers and I wanted to use the multiprocessor version of POV-Ray to speed it up, but we soon found that only the renders were multiprocessor-capable. The actual AI code which took up most of the CPU time had to be run on a single processor. Now, that code happens to be parallelizable but the application that supported it was not set up that way.

So going parallel is great if your application supports it and you take the time to write your code in parallel form, but a lot of software doesn't work that way. Maybe that's largely just a lag in progress, I dunno.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Most processes can be run in a parallel way, its just that most pc/mac developers haven't done it much in the past.

Also just because some parts of code may be serial it doesn't mean the whole system will be.

Also algorithms that are seen as serial (a good example os the Sieve of Eratosthenes for finding prime numbers) can be made parallel with a bit of thought.

Also with serial processes as long as you have decent core to core data transmission each core can be operating on the result of the previous cores calculation while the previous core is working on the next calculation.

The Tesla processor above works like this, 960 simple cores and each can be used to calculate part of the algorithm to pass onto the next core.

I think you are correct with your lag in progress idea.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

BobTheDog wrote:

If you are just running most end user apps now then you are correct you don't need this sort of power.


What really gets me going is the fact that you actually do need this sort of power to run the latest word processor or spreadsheet app (stuff that's been around in faster versions for a couple of decades). This might be more of an MS issue though - the office 2007 apps that sludge along on my sprilly new powerful HP laptop at work feel like red flags in front of my eyes. Characters appearing slower than you type, grr.... Evil or Very Mad

/Stefan

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Visual Studio 2008 is like this as well, this doesn't run well on any PC!
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yes, I suppose that as developers write parallelized code in more applications the multicore solution will help us continue to keep up with Moore's Law. Still, there are many applications where this has it's limits.

As long as battery technology continues to evolve slowly notebooks will only be able to have so much computing power. Also heat management gets to be a problem in desktop systems with lots of cores. I mean, we're certainly not expecting tomorrow's desktops to have 256 cores, it would heat up your house!

So what will happen when each core hits it's limit and the power density gets to be too much for even liquid cooling to handle in a desktop? We'll hit the wall. It will take either new tech or specialized processors or who knows what to keep progressing.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Inventor wrote:
who knows what to keep progressing.


You got it there.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'm 100% with you on this one. I don't care how fast it is. Can it work for me?

Inventor wrote:
Honestly I don't understand this need for speed. I've been saying for at least 10 years that computers have gotten fast enough for what we do with them and what we really need is a better compromise between speed and power with emphasis on novel user interfaces and custom coprocessors.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Inventor wrote:
Unless some totally new tech like quantum computing or somesuch becomes practical, we will eventually be forced to have separate processors for different tasks.


Not quite on topic, but when I worked for the Library of Congress, I was checking out research on data storage. There is quantum storage now, although it hasn't been made commercially available yet (someone did have a laptop prototype a few years ago, though). It's the crystal/laser storage stuff where theoretically you could fit the contents of the LOC into a storage device the size of a sugar cube. Or so they claim.

Neat stuff, whatever the pros and cons are.
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