Need clarification on CPU's, thanks!

Discussion in 'Computer Games and General Discussion' started by denieru7, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. denieru7

    denieru7 GBAtemp Regular

    Jan 21, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Hi guys;

    Me and my friend were having this argument, because he's planning on buying a laptop with an i7 CPU@ 1.6 GHz. I advised against it because he wanted it to be a heavy gaming laptop. I always thought that speeds of multiple cores do not stack in terms of clock speed, and that 1.6 simply wasnt fast enough, whereas my friend's side of the argument is that the 8 threads of the i7 work together, and the speeds stack. He thinks that an i7@1.6 GHz will run a game that needs 2cores@3Ghz absolutely fine.

    What I think on that is;
    for programs designed for multithreading, the i7 will run fine compared to other CPUs will less but faster cores, however, if raw speed is needed in a CPU then you CANNOT add the speeds together. For an analogy; 8 golf buggies and 2 F1 racecars: just because there are 8 of them certainly doesnt mean you can add up the speed of the buggies to match the racecars!

    So, to all you TRULY tech-savvy people here, whats the answer? Will an i7@1.6 GHz will run a game that needs 2cores@3Ghz fine? Who's the winner of this argument? OR ARE WE BOTH WRONG [​IMG]

    haha, i love conflict resolution.

    Thanks guys!
  2. Elritha

    Elritha GBAtemp Addict

    Jan 24, 2006
    What game requires 3GHz processor speed these days? [​IMG]

    Anyway... to answer your question, multiple cores do not stack in terms of processor clock speed. The only games that will benefit from more then one core are games that are designed for it. GTA IV comes to mind.

    Raw processor speed isn't everything anyway. You can be sure that i7 clocked at 1.6GHz would perform better then say an older pentium 4 that has a higher clockspeed.
  3. Cermage

    Cermage GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

    Dec 2, 2007
    only on games that actually use all the cores. even with HT, games that dont use the extra cores wont benefit from them in anyway. and as of now, there aren't all that many games that use the extra cores, iirc GTAIV was the last big one and that was awhile ago.

    applications and games designed to work one or two cores cant magically use the other cores. its also the reason why people still recommend intel's E8200-8400 for gaming these days, i7's & i5's aren't worth the extra money if you only game.
  4. denieru7

    denieru7 GBAtemp Regular

    Jan 21, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Ooh, does this mean I'm at least partially right? =D Like I said, "for programs designed for multithreading" the i7 will be faster but for, say, PCSX2, which only uses 2 cores, the other cores, no matter how many, will do jack.
  5. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    United Kingdom
    Straight up answer:
    No cores do not stack as your friend appears to claim and taken at face value you are correct.

    Whole story:
    "programs designed for multithreading"
    If you see one that succeeds in implementing such a thing please share with the class. Everything I have seen that claims multiple threads/cores is either a designed for a supercomputer or a very basic split workload sort of thing.

    "game that needs 2cores@3Ghz fine"
    What game might this be, I have yet to see anything request more than a 2.6GHz dual core?
    Which brings me onto a related point:
    recommended specs are lies, misinformation, outright fabrications.... with little/no basis in reality. Provided you are fairly sensible and are willing to lose some antialiasing "quality" you can usually get most games to run on a 3-4 year old system.

    Similarly games like graphics cards as well and while we are starting to approach an era where graphics cards in laptops are approaching something reasonable we are not there yet so even for this effectively limited to 1.6 GHz machine you can probably still pull something off.

    However it gets far more complex as these days clockspeed is a fairly useless metric for determining anything (it was never especially good for anything other than comparing similar models of the same subtype; same basic core, same cache, same form factor, probably same fab....), the i7 also brings a change in design layout for a motherboard namely the lack of a frontside bus as most of us would understand it which in theory at least will improve throughput.
    You also have the OS and underlying code to consider: one of the main reasons multiples cores seemed faster at first is because a single core could be kicked to the OS and background junk that everyone has running these days leaving you with a shiny free core to play with (as it stands even the crude multithreaded stuff sees rapidly diminishing returns once you go above 3 cores).

    Short version:
    Would I suggest a "slow" i7 over a more conventional but faster clocked processor for a machine with games and presumably about 2 years use in mind, absolutely not. Maybe for video, cad and developers but not straight up games.
  6. denieru7

    denieru7 GBAtemp Regular

    Jan 21, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Oh, the "game" that needed 2cores@3ghz was just for examples sake, I know that is prretty demanding, haha.

    As for "programs designed for multithreading" maybe I worded that wrongly? I meant programs that are coded to use the extra cores to speed things up.

    Thanks for all your quick replies guys, I really appreciate it! And so does my friend [​IMG]
  7. Raki

    Raki GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Jul 16, 2008
    Gambia, The
    maybe your friend means the increase in clock speed of used cores while decreasing the clock speed of non used cores, which was increased in the i7 processors
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