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Software updates (improved multi-threading) giving older quad-cores more life?

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
52,233
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Thinking about the convergence of my favorite web browser (Firefox) improving it's multi-threaded prowess, along with the potential viability of older quad-cores (Core2Quad, FM1 A6/A8 quad-core APUs, AM1 quad-core APUs).

This was brought on by my building of a Core2Quad machine with 4GB of DDR3 and a recent-platter-vintage HDD (500GB short-stroked to 160GB). After installing the newest Linux Mint, and updating to the newest Firefox, so long as you don't exceed the RAM capacity, it seemed to browse most sites fairly well. (Firefox's Tracking Protection works well, and speeds up most sites. I add uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger.)

Anyways, those older quad-cores didn't have huge IPC for ST tasks and applications, so with the old largely-ST versions of FF, they didn't perform so well. (Especially-thinking of my AM1 Sempron 3850 1.3Ghz quad-cores. In Linux with FF, they were dog-slow, whereas CloudReady, featuring Chromium, which was highly MT, performed pretty well.)

I think an interesting comparison could be made, between web browsing with a G3258 @ 4.0Ghz (dual-core), and a Core2Quad @ 2.66 or 3.0Ghz. Granted, you would have to make the RAM amount the same, and use the same storage type (either SSD, or fast HDD).
 
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cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
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That would be an interesting comparison. (Maybe even compare with number of processes increased from the default of four to the maximum of seven.)

P.S. Now that we know that Core 2 is not going to be supported with Spectre V2 updates what is the best way to compensate with software for browsing?
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
52,233
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P.S. Now that we know that Core 2 is not going to be supported with Spectre V2 updates
I haven't been keeping up. What's "Spectre V2"? And is Core2 getting Meltdown / Spectre updates at all? I wouldn't be surprised if not, given the age of the machines in question, and the fact that anyone still running them, maybe needs a machine that "just runs", and may be reticent to install any updates that would be intrusive to a working system anyways.
 
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dullard

Elite Member
May 21, 2001
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P.S. Now that we know that Core 2 is not going to be supported with Spectre V2 updates what is the best way to compensate with software for browsing?
The best way is to not put sensitive information (social security numbers, credit cards, bank accounts) on a computer using an ~11 year old processor and likely out of date-everything else. Then you can safely ignore Spectre.
 
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cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
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I haven't been keeping up. What's "Spectre V2"? And is Core2 getting Meltdown / Spectre updates at all?
Here is the list of processors Intel is supporting and not supporting for Spectre V2:

https://newsroom.intel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2018/04/microcode-update-guidance.pdf

(Core 2 is not supported at all, and LGA 1366 is split. For example Xeon W3690 is not supported, but Xeon W3670 is supported....this despite both being LGA 1366 32nm 6C/12T processors)
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
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After installing the newest Linux Mint, and updating to the newest Firefox, so long as you don't exceed the RAM capacity, it seemed to browse most sites fairly well.
Currently running my Athlon A10-7860K at 2.0 GHz (with turbo disabled)*, 2GB RAM and 16GB Optane on Linux Mint 18.3 MATE (With swappiness set at 100 and swap partition at 3.5GB) Firefox runs very smoothly.

*This done to simulate a slower CPU.
 

ao_ika_red

Golden Member
Aug 11, 2016
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Firefox' e10s and Quantum really bring another life to my C2D laptop. It's not that lightning fast, but more bearable than before.
 

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
23,166
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This doesn't directly address your question but FWIW, my main Windows desktop at home (used mainly for business apps and surfing) saw quite a noticeable performance upgrade going from a 2.9 GHz triple-core Athlon II X3 435 to a 2.8 GHz hex-core Phenom II 1055T.

Single-threaded performance hasn't changed much but multi-threaded performance in benchmarks has doubled, because I've doubled the core count. OS navigation and surfing (mainly Chrome for me) are noticeably more responsive. Actually, even surfing just one page is faster. Correct me if I'm wrong but I presume this is because even with just one page loaded, there are many threads active, including separate threads for advertisements and multimedia, as well as the various plug-ins, not to mention the various background OS processes.

Everything else in this system is exactly the same... except the memory, sort of. It's the exact same 8 GB of memory with the exact same physical DIMMs, but for some reason, my 667 MHz PC3-10600 RAM was running at 533 MHz before with the Athlon. After the CPU upgrade (with no changes to anything else, not even the BIOS), the same RAM is running at 667 MHz. I read that with some AM3 motherboards there was some issue running 4 DIMMs together at full speed, but somehow this corrected itself when I got the new old CPU. Hmm...

Well, not everything else is exactly the same. The new CPU also has AMD SpeedStep, which can boost clock speed 500 MHz, but that alone is unlikely to account for what I'm seeing. The overall system is just so much smoother with 6 cores compared to 3. Everything is smoother. Even watching a single video in Netflix is better, because now when I activate the menu, the video doesn't stutter with a slow menu display overlay. Before it did, while now it's all smooth. I attribute this to having more cores, especially since if you watch the mobo clock speeds with a CPU utility, when doing these actions the CPU is not running in 3.3 GHz SpeedStep mode. It's running in native 2.8 GHz mode. The weird part of this is that the system has an iGPU, nVidia GeForce 9200, that fully accelerates Netflix 1080p h.264 in hardware, yet a CPU upgrade still made a noticeable difference.

I do have a Core i5-7600 High Sierra Mac for multimedia stuff, but for my business apps and surfing I suspect I could use this Win 10 Phenom hex-core for many more years. Basically the only problem with this machine is it doesn't have USB 3. (I have tried various USB 3 cards and they all cause compatibility problems.)

tl;dr:

Based on my results doing a drop-in CPU replacement going from 3-core Athlon to 6-core Phenom with similar single-threaded performance, it's likely also true that going from Core 2 Duo to Core 2 Quad would yield a large improvement in surfing speed, even if you're just running 1-2 tabs at a time, especially if you aren't blocking ads.

BTW, for reference:

Athlon II X3 435 is a little faster for multi-core on average than Core 2 Duo E8600 3.33 GHz dual-core.
Phenom II 1055T is a little faster for multi-core on average than Core 2 Extreme X9775 3.2 GHz quad-core.

P.S. This part was typed in Firefox on my 4 GB Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz T8300 MacBook running Ubuntu 17.10. Actually, Firefox on this is quite tolerable... but that's because I've blocked all ads on this machine. Leave the ads on, and it slows right down.
 
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NTMBK

Diamond Member
Nov 14, 2011
9,466
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Larryyyyyyyyyyyyyy! What are you doing! I thought you were kicking the habit of building junky old systems?! Short stroking hard drives, seriously?! Dump all the old crap and just get a single modern system with an SSD, and a CPU which will get patches for Spectre 2.
 

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