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[HWUnboxed] "Are Quad-core CPUs dead in 2017?"

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Crumpet

Senior member
Jan 15, 2017
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I've had a couple of disagreements with this guy on his channel.. I generally like his content but sometimes he seems to get overly defensive over youtube comments and goes off on one. This is one of those cases.

He doesn't take criticism well at all.
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
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Many applications get little or nothing from extra cores no matter how well written they are. You word processor spends 99.9% of the time sitting in a single thread that is just blinking a cursor. Eleventy cores won't make that blink any blinkier.

For most users (ignoring gamers and video editors) the main benefit from having even 2 cores is that you can still use your app while some Windows service or process decides to hog one core for checking for updates or scanning your disk.
 
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Topweasel

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2000
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Many applications get little or nothing from extra cores no matter how well written they are. You word processor spends 99.9% of the time sitting in a single thread that is just blinking a cursor. Eleventy cores won't make that blink any blinkier.

For most users (ignoring gamers and video editors) the main benefit from having even 2 cores is that you can still use your app while some Windows service or process decides to hog one core for checking for updates or scanning your disk.
And even that isn't adequate. Just having a browser open and doing light work can bring my 2c4t i7 in my Latitude 7220 at work to it's knees. That said 4c isn't dead and it's silly to try to think it is. But as enthusiasts we also should recognize the changing of the guard. We ask why games and other apps haven't utilized more cores, well it's easy 8 years of 4c8t as the defacto "high end" solution. Core performance isn't going up drastically in the future, cores are going to be the bargaining chip. Intel is already moving to a 6c i5 and i7, AMD has cost effective 6 and 8 core chips. In 2019 AMD will have a 12 core consumer chip. Intel should have EMIB ready by then so there is no telling where they will draw the line on consumer core options. In three years we will have gone from 4c as the defacto consumer standard to somewhere between 6 and 12 cores. It's extremely shortsighted to think that just because software development has been slow that it won't pick up as the general consumer will now have much more access to more resources.
 

mohit9206

Golden Member
Jul 2, 2013
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The question should be is 2C/4T dead? I guess it is except for laptops. G4560 is the last of its kind. Pentiums will continue to be 2C/4T for a 2-3 more gens atleast.
 

Topweasel

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2000
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The question should be is 2C/4T dead? I guess it is except for laptops. G4560 is the last of its kind. Pentiums will continue to be 2C/4T for a 2-3 more gens atleast.
That it should be. Intel should be ashamed of selling a 2c4t CPU as an "i7" though it's those "i7"s and "i5"s that make the Desktop i3, pentiums, and celeron's possible. There are a few markets and use cases for these single task CPU's but 4c should become the understood base configurations for both laptops and desktops going forward. It's going to be really really hard for Intel to sell anything other than the HQ/MQ i7's as a better solution than RR when that comes out.
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
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And even that isn't adequate. Just having a browser open and doing light work can bring my 2c4t i7 in my Latitude 7220 at work to it's knees. .... In three years we will have gone from 4c as the defacto consumer standard to somewhere between 6 and 12 cores. It's extremely shortsighted to think that just because software development has been slow that it won't pick up as the general consumer will now have much more access to more resources.
In your use case (as for most use cases) the individual applications are fine as they are. Adding more cores will improve performance by keeping them and Windows' tasks on separate cores all the time. On your laptop you'd notice a big gain adding 1 more core but probably see little change adding another 3 after that.
 

whm1974

Diamond Member
Jul 24, 2016
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The question should be is 2C/4T dead? I guess it is except for laptops. G4560 is the last of its kind. Pentiums will continue to be 2C/4T for a 2-3 more gens atleast.
The 2c/4t Pentiums may be around longer then that for the cheaper lower end of the PC market.
 

Spjut

Senior member
Apr 9, 2011
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I think Digitalfoundry's Ryzen 5 vs i5 article was very good. They noticed that Ryzen 5 typically performs better in the more demanding scenes. Meanwhile, the i5 pulls ahead in the "empty" scenes. They think that Ryzen 5 is the better CPU.
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2017-ryzen-5-1600-1600x-vs-core-i5-7500k-review

Quad Core obviously aren't dead yet, but I wouldn't recommend them unless for budget builds. I always recommend going for the more cores if people can afford them, because CPUs typically age well and there's no good upgrade path for older sockets anyway. If one has an i7 920 (Q4 2008!) and HD 5850, one can replace the 5850 with a GTX 1050 and play modern games again.
 

epsilon84

Senior member
Aug 29, 2010
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How do we know the Pentiums will remain 2C/4T? Has there been an Intel roadmap indicating as such? Currently Kaby Lake Pentiums and i3s are both 2C/4T, with Coffee Lake i3s moving to 4C/4T I wonder if CFL based Pentiums will follow suit? Time will tell I guess.
 

Topweasel

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2000
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In your use case (as for most use cases) the individual applications are fine as they are. Adding more cores will improve performance by keeping them and Windows' tasks on separate cores all the time. On your laptop you'd notice a big gain adding 1 more core but probably see little change adding another 3 after that.
Weird editing of my quote. The Laptop portion was about killing off 2c4t setups as a general consumer option (where even an i7 can be 2c). Where as my comment about shifting core usage was about my points regarding increased resources for general computing where 4c has basically been the hard limit for about a decade. It's a chicken/egg scenario. We talk about how core usage hasn't gone up since the 4c i7 developments with 920 or 2600k, but it's not like the general consumer has had anything more. Developers aren't going to write for hardware most of their customers don't have, and nothing existed. Now it will exist and grow due to core performance stagnation.

As for me personally, i'd love more cores on my laptops for light VM stuff, but 4c is too little, so I'd rather have a more mobile laptop.
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
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Weird editing of my quote. The Laptop portion was about killing off 2c4t setups as a general consumer option (where even an i7 can be 2c). Where as my comment about shifting core usage was about my points regarding increased resources for general computing where 4c has basically been the hard limit for about a decade. It's a chicken/egg scenario. We talk about how core usage hasn't gone up since the 4c i7 developments with 920 or 2600k, but it's not like the general consumer has had anything more. Developers aren't going to write for hardware most of their customers don't have, and nothing existed. Now it will exist and grow due to core performance stagnation.

As for me personally, i'd love more cores on my laptops for light VM stuff, but 4c is too little, so I'd rather have a more mobile laptop.
The edit was just to make those sections visible without needing to click on the quote.

My point (as a Windows application developer myself) was that for many productivity apps, it isn't inertia or laziness or lack of skill keeping us from using more cores, it is that the main CPU loading tasks won't really benefit from re-writing them to be more parallel. 100 cores won't let you type your thoughts more quickly in Word.

The tasks that come to mind that do gain are editing, encoding and games, plus as I said letting each mostly-single-threaded app sit on a core by itself instead of sharing cores with other apps and the OS. Which runs into diminishing returns fairly quickly for "normal" users who just browse, send email and watch Netflix.
 

Topweasel

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2000
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he edit was just to make those sections visible without needing to click on the quote.

My point (as a Windows application developer myself) was that for many productivity apps, it isn't inertia or laziness or lack of skill keeping us from using more cores, it is that the main CPU loading tasks won't really benefit from re-writing them to be more parallel. 100 cores won't let you type your thoughts more quickly in Word.
But to do this bastardized my point in general. It wasn't about getting more core usage in word. There are 2 things that I said that affect the average consumer. 1. That 2c4t CPU's are barely acceptable because it is so freakin easy to thread lock the system even with HT. 2. That the equipment available to the general consumer affects the development of tools that are meant for the for the enthusiasts, especially games. Outside those two entries I am not really talking about consumers needing a bunch more cores. Though I do note it's happening whether they need them or not (Ryzen 7 on 7nm will likely be 12 cores).

The tasks that come to mind that do gain are editing, encoding and games, plus as I said letting each mostly-single-threaded app sit on a core by itself instead of sharing cores with other apps and the OS. Which runs into diminishing returns fairly quickly for "normal" users who just browse, send email and watch Netflix.
Again not normal users. Users here reading threads. Us the guys who for some unfathomable reason say get a 4c4t CPU now because it's slightly faster in some older games. We will see better core usuage where it can and should manage because as the core wars heat up the general consumer will have more which means developers (but not necessarily Word/Word Perfect) will know their consumer has more resources to use.
 

Topweasel

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2000
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I have no idea what you are doing that would cause that to happen honestly.
If you can't think of a way to thread lock a 2c CPU you aren't trying very hard. First you have to consider what is HT and what SMT is on other things like AMD's solution. Windows knows specifically what threads are HT and only attempts to slide things into the gap. Whereas AMD's SMT is a bit more neutral in that regard. SMT on Ryzen is more like tricking the CPU into thinking there are two cores and the actual Core tries to intelligently squish them together, kind of like one computation for you, one computation for you. Overly simplified but that is part of the reason AMD can see a bigger benefit from SMT vs. HT. This why for the last two weeks as I was encoding about 1.5TB worth of video I still was able to use my machine completely outside of gaming (though I admit I didn't try). Not a single hiccup in system responsiveness even though HB was taking up 90-95% of my CPU. Some of this is on the implementation of SMT and some of it is Windows 10 handling everything better than Windows 7 in this regard. This was more to explain that HT won't let itself steal cycles and if a core is completely capped that HT thread is useless.

Anyways the main point either way on my work L7220 all it takes is a broken plug in for Firefox, a java memory leak with our call routing system causing non stop single core usage, or any number of software or system services to screw up and all of a sudden my machine will go from usable to a near paperweight because all of the rest of the system components and anything else I have running including whatever work I am doing only has 1 core with one extra un-intrusive HT thread to do everything. I'll admit its not as bad as a thread lock back in the days of even my A64x2, but what on a 4 core CPU would amount to increased CPU fan noise and higher power usage, becomes near crippling. For a lot of people that means having to restart their computer while they are using it every time this happens.
 

UglyDuckling

Senior member
May 6, 2015
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Quad's are still better at certain tasks, HTT brings performance down where it counts in games that cannot leverage it.

Games such as CSGO, even BF games and GTA V.
 

LTC8K6

Lifer
Mar 10, 2004
28,523
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Quad's are still better at certain tasks, HTT brings performance down where it counts in games that cannot leverage it.

Games such as CSGO, even BF games and GTA V.
I think you go too far based on your HT experiments, but we now have 6 core chips without HT, so they should outrun quads in gaming.
 

HutchinsonJC

Senior member
Apr 15, 2007
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Not a single hiccup in system responsiveness even though HB was taking up 90-95% of my CPU.
I've been able to encode video while doing almost literally anything else to include gaming on windows 7 with full responsiveness since 2012 on a 3960x, but I'm not sure that has a whole lot to do with how well hyperthreading works, or what OS you're on, etc so much as it having to do with thread priorities. Handbrake, vidcoder, etc aren't supposed to lock you out of your system while they use 95/100% CPU time.

Even waaay back in the day Folding@Home, despite using 100% idle CPU time, never made your computer feel particularly sluggish, and that was before quad core was a thing.
 
Jul 24, 2017
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I've been able to encode video while doing almost literally anything else to include gaming on windows 7 with full responsiveness since 2012 on a 3960x, but I'm not sure that has a whole lot to do with how well hyperthreading works, or what OS you're on, etc so much as it having to do with thread priorities. Handbrake, vidcoder, etc aren't supposed to lock you out of your system while they use 95/100% CPU time.

Even waaay back in the day Folding@Home, despite using 100% idle CPU time, never made your computer feel particularly sluggish, and that was before quad core was a thing.
Yeah Windows and these programs are good at handling this, on my 1700 I'll regularly be encoding + either gaming or working in Premiere/After Effects and in the two months I've had this system I've never noticed a moment where I felt like performance in the program I was working in was lacking.

Which runs into diminishing returns fairly quickly for "normal" users who just browse, send email and watch Netflix.
Until there is another revolution in the way we use computers, I think that for non-enthusiasts/non-gamers we're starting to see a plateau in terms of hardware capabilities where the vast majority of the software people need to run is pretty much already running as fast as it needs to go and doesn't need much more improvement. On any modern CPU, web browsers and MS Office apps are going to function near-instantaneously, at least from the user's perspective. Sure we have these tests where we can see that one CPU takes an extra half-second to open a 700 page PDF file but in reality nobody will notice that (except power users).

So for your average "low-level" computer user I wonder if there's much of a need for hardware to advance at all, at least until we all start using our computers differently. (VR?)
 

Topweasel

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2000
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I've been able to encode video while doing almost literally anything else to include gaming on windows 7 with full responsiveness since 2012 on a 3960x, but I'm not sure that has a whole lot to do with how well hyperthreading works, or what OS you're on, etc so much as it having to do with thread priorities. Handbrake, vidcoder, etc aren't supposed to lock you out of your system while they use 95/100% CPU time.

Even waaay back in the day Folding@Home, despite using 100% idle CPU time, never made your computer feel particularly sluggish, and that was before quad core was a thing.
Good point I didn't think of priority levels. Still the end point being that one rouge application (and everyone experiences this) and you have a near useless computer on a 2 core CPU even with HT.

This is nothing for me I know how to identify what causes this and can kill it instantly. But the general user would get much more consistent computing experience out of a 4 core computer.
 

Yuriman

Diamond Member
Jun 25, 2004
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I've been a member here for a long time, and if anything, my uses have become lighter over the years. I browse, check email and do paperwork, watch movies, listen to music while I play less-demanding games, do light photo editing, transfer files to and from my phone and flash drives.

My i5 was OC'd for years, before I realized there was little point. It's now undervolted and underclocked to reduce heat and noise. For a while I was thinking that if I had a major failure, I'd probably replace my i5 with a 2c4t CPU because quite honestly, the most common bottleneck in my day to day usage is I/O, even with a decent SSD, and that's small enough that I don't mind waiting a few extra seconds on a large transfer. It's hard for me to imagine what use I'd have for a 16 thread CPU.
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
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Good point I didn't think of priority levels. Still the end point being that one rouge application (and everyone experiences this) and you have a near useless computer on a 2 core CPU even with HT.

This is nothing for me I know how to identify what causes this and can kill it instantly. But the general user would get much more consistent computing experience out of a 4 core computer.
Especially since some Microsoft service is often the one doing this. Windows Update is infamous for pegging a core at 100% for a very long time when it goes rogue, but there are others like the "compatibility telemetry" that runs even when you set it not to. Losing use of a core is another part of the "Windows Tax" unless you're a power user, and sometimes even then.
 
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Torn Mind

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2012
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Quad cores might no longer be the cup of tea for gamers three years from now, but they are about become truly ubiquitous everywhere since the cost to get one with an iGPU new fell to just about $120-130 with the Coffee Lake i3.

If you're the type to have a bunch of tabs open(like 70-100+) and just want to fire up a lighter game like Dragonball Z: Xenoverse 2 those two extra cores really help out when websites are gobbling up your CPU cycles and 23 GB of memory is committed to the browser.

Soon 4K Netflix will be normal and the script-heavy web is only going to get heavier. Heck, NFL.com is no-go for smooth video playback anymore on a Celeron G530.
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
45,497
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Quad cores might no longer be the cup of tea for gamers three years from now, but they are about become truly ubiquitous everywhere since the cost to get one with an iGPU new fell to just about $120-130 with the Coffee Lake i3.
Yeah, finally "quad-core for the masses". (Well, Intel quad-core for the masses.)

Sounds like a plan, for entry-level.

What would be interesting to find out, is what are new office computers coming with?

I know that many came with i5 CPUs, even when an i3 would have mostly sufficed.

So, are new office PCs, coming with quad-core i3 CFL, or six-core i5 CFL? Or are they still shipping with Skylake i5s, just to remain compatible with Windows 7 Pro.
 
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Torn Mind

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2012
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Yeah, finally "quad-core for the masses". (Well, Intel quad-core for the masses.)

Sounds like a plan, for entry-level.

What would be interesting to find out, is what are new office computers coming with?

I know that many came with i5 CPUs, even when an i3 would have mostly sufficed.

So, are new office PCs, coming with quad-core i3 CFL, or six-core i5 CFL? Or are they still shipping with Skylake i5s, just to remain compatible with Windows 7 Pro.
Seems like Dell Business gives the option of Skylake and Win7 on some PCs but others configurations only have Kaby Lake and Win10.
 

Yuriman

Diamond Member
Jun 25, 2004
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I'm curious where all of the hyperthreaded quads will be going - to mobile, maybe? It's interesting to me that two of three desktop Core CPUs will have hyperthreading disabled.
 

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