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  Dual CPUs, Worth the Money? 
  Jul 05, 2002, 08:30am EDT 


By: Sander Sassen

As evident from our benchmarks a dual CPU system isnít the speed demon many people expect it to be, and isnít faster than a single per definition. For example the dual AMD system failed to impress us as it was only marginally faster than a single AMD Athlon. However the dual Intel Xeon turned in such impressive scores that weíd normally been giving it two thumbs up if only it had been priced a bit friendlier. In the case of the AMD SMP system it is often more worthwhile to invest in single CPU system with a faster CPU, more memory, a faster harddisk or other performance enhancing upgrades. The same applies to the Intel SMP system as that is only worthwhile, considering the high price, if you use a lot of multithreaded applications that get a significant performance boost from the SMP configuration.

To summarize, SMP systems are a novelty that are only useful for those that use multithreaded applications on a regular basis, for example; Adobe Photoshop and Premiere as well as 3D-animation suites such as 3D Studio Max, Maya and LightWave. For those that think that SMP is a quick upgrade and yields better performance than a single CPU system we unfortunately have to tell you that this isnít always the case and you might be better off upgrading your current system with a faster CPU or some other upgrades. That automatically brings us to the conclusion that SMP is best suited for companies or individuals that often use complex multithreaded software, software that normally isnít used by the typical home user. Especially in the realm of video and photo processing as well as 3D rendering thereís a performance gain and thus these applications will perform better and do more in less time.

So do SMP systems have a future in the consumer market? Unfortunately we cannot fully answer that question simply because besides software support a lot of other pieces of the puzzle have to fall into place to make a SMP system a worthwhile investment. Just as the development of the 3D graphics card was accelerated by killer-apps such as Quake2 and 3, SMP will also need to have a killer-app to speed up development and broad acceptance amongst software developers. And naturally the price has to come down to affordable levels too in order to make SMP systems a success; as despite the great performance of the dual Intel Xeon, the high price is a tough hurdle to overcome for most people.

Sander Sassen.

1. Introduction
2. SMP, Multithreading
3. Benchmarks, configurations
4. Benchmarks, results
5. Conclusion

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