CPU Core Count Mania. What do you need more cores for?

What is your most important use case[s] for more CPU cores.

  • Gaming

    Votes: 32 25.0%
  • Video Encoding

    Votes: 38 29.7%
  • 3D rendering

    Votes: 10 7.8%
  • Virtualization (VMware and similar)

    Votes: 31 24.2%
  • HPC and Scientific computing

    Votes: 18 14.1%
  • Other (detail below)

    Votes: 18 14.1%
  • Software Compilation

    Votes: 16 12.5%
  • e-peen

    Votes: 13 10.2%
  • I don't need more cores

    Votes: 17 13.3%

  • Total voters
    128

PeterScott

Platinum Member
Jul 7, 2017
2,605
226
96
#1
When I think about getting a new computer and the amount of CPU cores I would like, I look at what I do, that actually fully loads my current quad core CPU.

It's really only two things for me:

1: Video Encoding
2: Gaming

Video encoding is fully parallel, it will use all the cores you can throw at it (within reason). But it isn't a real time activity. You fire it up and ignore until it's done. It would be nice if it went faster, but unless you are doing production volumes for a deadline, it really isn't critical that it goes faster.

Gaming OTOH, has a mix serial and parallel code (and always will IMO), so it's use of cores is variable, but these days games regular make full use quad cores, and some have some diminishing returns going up to 8 cores, and extremely diminishing returns after that. BUT gaming is very much real time, instant response is a must.

This leads me to wonder, despite all the complaints that games don't benefit enough from more cores, are games really the most critical task driving more cores for more people on home computers?

What do you need more cores for?

I added a poll, but it will likely be missing many options. I allowed 2 selections, to capture you top use cases, but not enough to just have everyone select everything.
 

ao_ika_red

Golden Member
Aug 11, 2016
1,241
71
106
#2
People over Distributed Computing sub-forum would love to cram as many CPU cores as possible in one machine.
 
Last edited:

NTMBK

Diamond Member
Nov 14, 2011
8,250
227
126
#3
Compiling. When you have a big pile of C++ source files, you always need moar cores.
 

rchunter

Senior member
Feb 26, 2015
930
23
91
#4
video editing/ encoding
batch audio transcoding
maybe gaming but I do most of that on a 7700k
 

PeterScott

Platinum Member
Jul 7, 2017
2,605
226
96
#5
People over Distributed Computing sub-forum would love to cram as many CPU cores as possible in one machine.
I was asking what you do with your computer, that needs more cores, not other people.
 

Markfw

CPU Moderator, VC&G Moderator, Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 16, 2002
17,377
766
136
#6
I was asking what you do with your computer, that needs more cores, not other people.
He is speaking for all of us in the DC forum. I can use as many cores as I can get.
 
Feb 25, 2004
21,018
29
106
#7
Virtualization is my poison these days.
 

The Stilt

Golden Member
Dec 5, 2015
1,709
72
106
#8
Compiling and video encoding. The latter task generally prefers faster and wider cores rather than as many cores as possible, when using the more modern video codecs (HEVC / VPX) at < 4K resolution.
 

ao_ika_red

Golden Member
Aug 11, 2016
1,241
71
106
#9
I was asking what you do with your computer, that needs more cores, not other people.
Even with my puny fleet, I also do DC projects, and like Mark said, I speak for myself and on behalf all of TeAm members.
 

cfenton

Senior member
Jul 27, 2015
263
24
71
#10
Importing and exporting in Lightroom for me, as well as gaming.
 

PeterScott

Platinum Member
Jul 7, 2017
2,605
226
96
#11
Compiling. When you have a big pile of C++ source files, you always need moar cores.
As a programmer, I probably shouldn't have forgotten that one, but I don't program at home...
 

arandomguy

Senior member
Sep 3, 2013
462
13
116
#12
Video encoding can be a "real time" activity depending on what you are doing it for. For example something growing in popularity that overlaps with the gaming segment is streaming.

Now how much you actually benefit in this area versus other options hasn't really been explored in depth.

Related to the above would be how much multi-tasking a user does and how hands off they want to be when doing real time/latency sensitive tasks. Yes you can manually manage your workflow (eg. not have your AV scan go off during you important gaming match) but for many consumers they don't want think about it. Personally a lot of the times I don't just game only when I'm gaming, I might even be doing another task on a secondary monitor.

But again as with previously how much benefit you get in this is somewhat unexplored and debatable as well.

My problem with the more cores debate is it seems to skirt the issue that more cores does not exist in an vacuum. Everything else being equal yes I'd take more cores but in the real world options there is going to be trade offs even if it just cost. As such every user is going to need to need to weigh those factors and make a decision that suits them the most. But a pity is that there is often information lacking in certain areas to make this decision (eg. why not have some gaming benchmark data in which the computer is not running completely lean? I never shut everything else down while gaming, that is way too much of a user experience hassle).
 

Campy

Senior member
Jun 25, 2010
624
18
106
#13
Gaming, and streaming (in high quality) which I would like to get into. I guess that falls under video encoding, so I chose that too.
 

TheGiant

Senior member
Jun 12, 2017
295
19
76
#14
14C BDW Xeon used for CFD calculations - so scientific it seems- that is a professional (I don't consider as a desktop workload)

4C/4T i5-6600K used as desktop/movie/browsing/ hyper v/ excel calculation/rarely gaming (old games, but I am very demanding as former q3a progamer) @4,5GHz/ 32 GB RAM

with 8C/8T CFL it looks like I have a replacement for desktop (or maybe ryzen 2 but I doubt it will be faster for ST/light threaded workload that is the majority for me)

for the CFD machine, I am going to buy a second one (maybe TR/Xeon, at the end of the year, with 512GB ECC RAM)
 

tamz_msc

Platinum Member
Jan 5, 2017
2,198
137
106
#15
Scientific computing, virtualization, distributed computing.
 

Hi-Fi Man

Senior member
Oct 19, 2013
551
12
106
#16
I have an i7 5960X @ 4.5GHz so gaming doesn't really scale all the way up on this CPU but Lightroom exports, audio transcoding, and After Effects/Premier do.
 

Vattila

Senior member
Oct 22, 2004
363
62
136
#17
  • Virtualisation
  • Programming
 

Schmide

Diamond Member
Mar 7, 2002
5,254
92
106
#19
Compiling. When you have a big pile of C++ source files, you always need moar cores.
or you need to clean up and pre compile your headers. hehe
 

Ottonomous

Senior member
May 15, 2014
305
17
116
#20
To feel like I've finally made it in life as a young adult by having a non-mainstream core count
 

dnavas

Senior member
Feb 25, 2017
234
12
71
#21
Video encoding is off-line so long as it completes overnight. That was not the case with my 860, but then that's long gone, thank heavens. The real issue, though is video editing. Particularly dealing with 4:2:2 footage which doesn't tend to get boosts from video accel hardware in gfx cards. Speed of the core can matter if the video isn't particularly well split (I can't re-ingest and edit in real-time the default settings for a 4k export on my 1800X, for example, but if I split the frames into quads, it's fine). Speed also matters with operations that work across the entire frame (stabilization), or for operations that have been written by numbskulls (numerous). But aside from that, cores matter. I've got 4k60p footage that runs fine on my 1800X, and will skip like mad if I add a little color correction, resizing, and a 1080p insert. I've got several scenes with well over 30 different feeds, so I can use cores until the cows come home....
 

EXCellR8

Platinum Member
Sep 1, 2010
2,908
72
126
#22
Don't really do much video encoding these days but I do use virtualization and rendering. Gaming doesn't really call for any more than 4 fast cores anyway. That's where I hand most of the duty to my graphics card.
 
May 11, 2008
18,263
29
126
#23
Some audio encoding.
Gaming while making sure i have enough cpu horsepower to keep the gpu fed.
Progamming.
Running virtual machines.
Running multithreaded simulators.
Running schematic and pcb design applications.
And i am not planning to upgrade anytime soon for now, so a future proof system.
Perhaps video encoding in the near future.
 

Topweasel

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2000
4,747
348
136
#24
I use my main desktop for everything in the house as central server. It makes management and hardware for other systems not be as high. My Ryzen 1700 with 32GB of ram is my file server, my encoding system (both regular encoding and plex on the fly encoding), game system, game streaming system, VM Host, and a couple odds and ends here and there. I'll probably kick it down to a smaller case, maybe get a itx board for it next year and replace it with at least a 32core 64GB of ram TR3 system and use it solely for server and network config and testing practice.
 

ub4ty

Senior member
Jun 21, 2017
749
321
96
#25
Inspired poll based on a previous discussion? :p
My primary driver is HPC/Scientific Computing.
I game on a quad core Intel Machine that is more than adequate.
My 8 core and 16 core AMD rigs are strictly for HPC/Scientific Computing/Distributed computing.

Regular web browsing and desktop related tasks are done on dual core/quad thread machines.
All the major codecs are hardware accelerated now-a-days. So, yes it is possible to watch 4k video on dual core machines w/ very little cpu/power utilization.

The aim behind this is to keep power utilization low.
Machines are brought online as needed.

As for anyone doing serious video encoding, why haven't you bought dedicated hardware that does it using dedicated low power asics? or GPU based? I thought this is what the broader professional industry does? For streaming, there are capture cards..? Again, dedicated low power asics.

Rendering? What's the trend here? I thought everything including ray tracing is headed towards GPUs?
I ask this question honestly and likely with limited understanding of this area of computing. My understanding is that big shops move rendering farms to GPUs. Almost every video production group I've seen uses dedicated hardware for encode/decode?

Video encoding is off-line so long as it completes overnight. That was not the case with my 860, but then that's long gone, thank heavens. The real issue, though is video editing. Particularly dealing with 4:2:2 footage which doesn't tend to get boosts from video accel hardware in gfx cards. Speed of the core can matter if the video isn't particularly well split (I can't re-ingest and edit in real-time the default settings for a 4k export on my 1800X, for example, but if I split the frames into quads, it's fine). Speed also matters with operations that work across the entire frame (stabilization), or for operations that have been written by numbskulls (numerous). But aside from that, cores matter. I've got 4k60p footage that runs fine on my 1800X, and will skip like mad if I add a little color correction, resizing, and a 1080p insert. I've got several scenes with well over 30 different feeds, so I can use cores until the cows come home....
What is the benefit of using 4:2:2? I am honestly curious about this after some quick research :
> https://developer.nvidia.com/nvidia-video-codec-sdk
> https://www.rtings.com/tv/learn/chroma-subsampling
It seems it's either 4:4:4 or 4:2:0
> Fix some PrPixelFormat autonegotation problems. Premiere Elements 15 no longer provides 4:2:0 or 4:2:2 YUV-video, so nvenc_export will request 4:4:4 YUV.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvdGTCFEqhg

I ask this question honestly w/o trying to be negative and/or critique... I want to understand why CPUs are being used for something which (maybe I'm horrible wrong) is better suited for an asic or GPU?

Edit : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PphEQqI1Nck
Is the reason for needing high core count the editing aspect of video production and not the actual encode/decode? i.e - when you're doing color correction/adding filters/etc?
 
Last edited:


ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS