Xeon = good?

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Xeon = good?

Post by peksi » Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:07 am

I've searched and searched and it seems that real-time performance with audio applications is not necessarily depending on how high end CPU I have. Majority of people say that the number of cores or CPUs may even reduce realtime performance due to increased workload in balancing between cores / CPUs. There seems to be a ton of factors involved and I am lost with all that .. SO I am leaning towards buying a prebuilt DAW.

HOWEVER .. I see prebuilt DAW high end models with Xeons or dual Xeons.. and out the window goes the prevailing theory of RT performance and cores. I'd hate to buy a top-of-the-line number crunching DAW monster and end up with less voices than my current aging i7.

Do you have experiences on real time performance with different components? Are you using Xeons in your DAWs? Any information and experiences on the subject is very welcome.

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Re: Xeon = good?

Post by dawman » Mon Oct 24, 2016 4:20 pm

Xeons cache coherency and size are what helps performance,.

Personally I would wait for AMD Zen and look for proof.
Years ago AMD and Intel had the samecacbe size, but for some reason AMD at the same speeds allowed more instances of reverbs.
Not a big deal these days since plugs are multi core or better optimized.

ASIO seems to have limitation in the 4ghz world.
Diminishing returns on high specd machines using SSDs and NVMe devices too.

Worst case scenario is AMD gaining market share with thier 16 and 32 core units.
Xeon 6 and 8 core units drop thier prices.

Also another factor is the Xeons with Iris Pro gfx have built in eDRAM acting as cache for audio if iGPU is disabled.
I bought an i7 5775C with 128mb eDRAM.
I disabled the iGPU and my 3.3ghz CPU performs as well as my 4.4ghz i7 4790k,

5775C was the weird CPU that filled a gap a year ago.
The new Xeons vrs.5 1285 iirc and the 1275 have the same low watt design and Iris Pro gfx.

Look for Cyrstal Well cache or 64/128mb eDRAM.
They go by both names, but those v5 Xeons were i7 5775C CPUs before they renamed them.

Which is why they are the first Xeons with built in graphics.


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Re: Xeon = good?

Post by garyb » Mon Oct 24, 2016 4:29 pm

XEONs are just high-spec i7s, basically.
processors are graded during manufacturing by errors. no crystals grow perfectly. the lower error processors become higher spec versions i3<i5<i7<XEON, but clockspeed, features and price are just as important as manufacturing errors. for your purposes, all will work equally well, it's just a difference in the amount of work they do. the main advantage to the XEON will be in 24/7/365 operation, something a DAW is not concerned with. i'd get an i5 or i7 unless money is not an issue at all.

it's doubtful if the extra money is worthwhile, but the quality of the processor is higher, in any case.

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Re: Xeon = good?

Post by Manomars » Sun Oct 30, 2016 3:52 am

I think i can agree that asio is a issue.
If i had the spare money i would invest in aes 50, dante or madi.
A lynx card to connect a digital snake to youre system would cost 900 euro. The snake would be 1500 for 32 i/o
You could build a system with the old 1366 servers dual xeons 6 cores and a lot of ram for under 1000 euro.
My 1366 system with 6 cores runs a lot more than a modern quadcore i7.

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Re: Xeon = good?

Post by Manomars » Sun Oct 30, 2016 6:25 am

Did some reading,
Motu has new devices like http://motu.com/products/avb/1248
Wich u can use for networking audio over thunderbolt.
Waht i read here on the forum is that 1150 motherbords work fine
So this motherboard http://www.asrock.com/mb/intel/z97%20pro4/ would get u 2x pci for pulsar and 1 thunderbolt.
Imagine you can route youre audio to any device in youre network then.

edit sorry thats a 1151
But u can use a 3x pci an put a thunderbold card in it.

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Re: Xeon = good?

Post by tlaskows » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:58 am

I got my ES5 v3 2690 ES around a year ago from Japan. It can run insane VST plugin counts over USB on a Presonus 1818VSL interface at 64 samples buffer (no dropouts unless the CPU hits 100%). Of course I had to disable almost everything in the BIOS. If you're using Scope PCI, I don't believe socket 2011v3 motherboards have any PCI slots. They're all PCI-E. Xeons are very fast, but you don't need dual anymore. I believe they're up to 20 cores from what I've read few months ago. Now, the older Xeons will actually be slower than the newer core i7 and i5 I think.

Oh, don't buy a prebuilt DAW.


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Re: Xeon = good?

Post by Bud Weiser » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:39 pm

tlaskows wrote:I got my ES5 v3 2690 ES around a year ago from Japan.
You mean ... this ? http://ark.intel.com/products/81713/Int ... e-2_60-GHz

Is that investment really necessary just for arranging, recording and mastering music ?
tlaskows wrote: It can run insane VST plugin counts over USB on a Presonus 1818VSL interface at 64 samples buffer (no dropouts unless the CPU hits 100%). Of course I had to disable almost everything in the BIOS.
Well, in theory that sounds very good, but I never understood why a DAW has to load and run "insane VST plugin counts" at all.

The very best recording and mixing/mastering environments are hardware based studios.
Today, they also use DAWs in addition, mostly Protools to be on par w/ the world studio standard and there´s p.ex. Wavelab for editing and an assortment of carefully selected plugins they run inside one of the many available VST/AU hosts too,- but a hardware studio always lived w/ the limitations of the hardware and there´s a hi-end console w/ a limited count of channels as well as available busses and auxes they use for summing and mixing and a limited amount of compressors and other audio processors and the result is always top notch.
So, the hi-end hardware gear goes to the summing-busses which later result as stems and when the stems go back to the console for mixing/mastering, the hi-end hardware processors will be used for those channels.
In other words, the outboard gear will be re-patched for different purposes related to the same project.
All that can be done in software the same way and there´s no need building overkill computers for audio work.

When I see 30MB cache for a 12-core processor, that´s not much for each core ... just only less than 3MB.
But cache matters,- p.ex. for polyphony when using many virtual instruments.
So, a dual core CPU offering full 3MB of cache per core ( that´s already some Core2Duo !) can sometimes do more for a virtual instrument (well, it depends on how that is coded, I know) than a quad core processor.

I´m also pretty sure syncing 12 cores costs a lot of CPU power !

I remember the days when going from single core to dual core the CPU power increase was about 75%,- then going from dual core to quad core it was only about 25-35% increase.
So from going from quad to octa core might be even less ( 15% ?) and when going up to 12 there´s even more reduction because it needs more and more calculations to sync the cores.
Not every plugin and application benefits from 12 cores at all ...

The only advantage I see is the CPU socket and mobo design.
Socket 2011 (that´s what I know) and probably socket 2011-3 too come w/ more PCIe-lanes compared to the consumer mobos and there´s quad channel RAM vs dual channel RAM on consumer boards.
IMO, that is where the speed comes from,- not the count of cores.

I expect, depending on what you do musically w/ that machine, most cores idle unless you really load "insane plugin count"

tlaskows wrote: Oh, don't buy a prebuilt DAW.-Tom
The very 1st DAW I bought was pre-built. I returned it within 2 weeks.
Since then ... DIY ... :D
But I have the luck to have a friend who´s a hardware expert and gamer, worked in a computer shop and has good dealer connections still.
B.t.w. he uses some similar build w/ socket 2011 and a 6-core processor.

These builds are big investments.
He got problems and needs the same mobo again, but it became unavailable very quick because not many bought these.
Then he looked @ebay just only to recognize used ones are very rare and because they are they still cost over 700 dollars (used!).
That is when you bite into your a## because you did insane investment and something fails unexpectedly and you recognize you won´t get it anymore and have to build all new for a now higher price.
And you have components left over not many need or use also,- hi-end SAS controller card and such.

just only my opinion though ...


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Re: Xeon = good?

Post by Manomars » Fri Nov 11, 2016 2:55 am

Getting back at this discussion.
But only by price performance if u buy old platforms

If u look at the benchmarks http://www.cpubenchmark.net/multi_cpu.html for dual cpu and http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html
for single cpu, u can see that the difference is not 2x increase but 1.5 x
for single cpu the xeons outperform i7 cpu. This has mostly to do with corecount. The i7 would win in speed per core.
Of course the benchmarks dont say a thing about specific usage.

Using a daw u aint getting any benefit from hypertreading so a
Intel Xeon E5-2699 v4 with a possible 44 threads wil only do 22.
The benchmarks use hypertreading so u cant figure out the dawbench performance.

still lets look at the performance according the cpubenchmarks
If we look at for instance a sytem like dual xeon x5690 it would score 14,295
The dual Xeon E5-2699 v4 does 38,461 that's ca 2.7 x more performance.
The dual xeon does 24 threads and the e5 88 thats 3.6 x more threads. As u can see more threads doesnt pair with performance.

If u do some math and look at price performance u will see the e5 system would cost u about 18 x more than the old x5690
The x5690 is the top of the old xeons if u would buy the slower one's price drops dramaticly while price performance would increase dramaticly.

If we look at price performance you would see that a i7 6850 K would do almost the same performance as the 2x xeon x5690 but would cost 100 dollar more.
Of course its new and the xeon second hand.
The performance is almost the same with hyperthreading on. I asume with hyperthreading off the 2x xeon would win course its 12 against 6 cores. It wouldnt win that much though.
As said before double the core dont give you double the performance its about 1.5 x

Ok somuch for the cpu for itself. The real benefit of the xeons is expandability. U can put more memory on a board and even put a second cpu on it.
In my opinion this is only intresting if u focus on old platforms. Pricewise upgrading new xeon systems would cost to much for the performance u gaining.
I guess that with the old systems using xeons would give u much more headroom in gaining performance for a small budget. Compare to the I7

Now for audio use having a fast multicore proccessor is one thing, the soundcard is even more important in my opinion.
Testing around with reason 9.1 stresstest with diferent audiocards shows me the importance of the audiocard.
the difference could be 100 % of improvement.

As Budweiser says
The very best recording and mixing/mastering environments are hardware based studios
A soundcard is also hardware. If u could buy a 22 core xeon u could buy a top of the line soundcard to.
I have to say building a sytem and choose the components has a lot to do with how u want to work.
I would say for liveperformance my investments are much bigger than for studiowork becourse i would need very low latency and dont want any crackling or popping sounds. So investing in hardware is almost evry time the best solution.
In my case i use reason 9 as a instrument chancing incoming audio in beats or harmony's. If i would do the same thing with hardware i would have need lots of money and lots of time to patch.

For studio work Budweiser is right, with enough hardware u can do a lot of channels dynamics fx etc on the same time what gives the option to tweak everything realtime.
At a home studio u can do the same production but u have to bounce tracks everytime what makes it tricky if u want to change something after.
Still u can make a good production on a laptop with a cheap soundcard.

I think in the near future Budweiser has to get back at making the point
The very best recording and mixing/mastering environments are hardware based studios
Even hardware is softwarebased just like Sonic core is programmed dsp.
The gamechanger gonna be audio over lan reducing latency and making it possible to gain cpu power real easy by chaining computers and hardware.
With this it isnt necessary to have the fastest computer and be capped to its limits. U dont have caps in trackcount or have to bounce tracks to reduce proccesor load. U could tweak every track eq, dynamics etc and patch all with just a few cat cables.

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