This is a special episode where Dustin and I debate the merits of Haswell on the desktop, from an enthusiast's perspective.

The AnandTech Podcast - Episode 22
featuring Anand Shimpi, Dustin Sklavos

RSS - mp3m4a
Direct Links - mp3m4a

Total Time:  1 hour 28 minutes

Outline h:mm

Haswell on the Desktop - The Entire Time
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  • andykins - Friday, July 19, 2013 - link

    2 podcasts in 1 go? You guys have just made my weekend...
  • Zink - Friday, July 19, 2013 - link

    I like the smaller file size and breaking the podcast up by topic is a good idea.
  • klagermkii - Sunday, July 21, 2013 - link

    I like the breaking up by topic, but I think it helps to have more than just two contributors. Even if the other guy is sitting out for a lot of the time, here I think it would have helped to have had some of Ian's thoughts. Having more people also give the individuals involved more time to gather their thoughts while the others are talking, and that might relieve some of the pressure and ease any nervousness.
  • ThomasS31 - Friday, July 19, 2013 - link

    My concern is not just only overclocking issue with the heat spreader/paste check... but also that the general temperature of the core under constant stress is increased and you are not able to remove that heat vs SandyBridge.
    Its a special case I know, but when you run heavy FP/AVX load its an issue.

    Also I think the general price competetiveness is worsened, over time.
    What is the reason for this is not clear, intel wants more margin or the shrinking PC market, or just lack of competition???
  • Callitrax - Friday, July 19, 2013 - link

    Couple things on Haswell:
    Its not only Intel's mobile and desktop core (where mobile is winning out in design choices), it is also the workstation, server and HPC core, so the mobile improvements at the expense of top-end performance hurt there too. So Intel's design choices in favor of mobile strongly limit high end computing the more than just the home enthusiast. (Yes the Xeons are different cores, but that mostly number of cores and cache size, it will still just be Haswell at the core - but some workloads respond better to thread performance than more threads.)

    And I think Dustin's complaints basically comes down to the fact that performance increase isn't big enough, Anand keeps talking about IPC, but IPC is only half of the equation. Performance isn't a function of IPC, its IPC * clock speed (instructions per second). The problem on the desktop is that Haswell's peak performance isn't a big deal over Sandy, not just overclocked, but at stock speeds (which haven’t changed at all). Looking at the Haswell test results, Intel’s performance is up 15-20% in 2.5 years (Sandy release to Haswell.)

    The question that Anand asked “what would you recommend for a new system?” Yes the answer is Haswell. But would you upgrade from Sandy? It’s probably not worth it. That's probably the biggest reason why desktops sales are down, no need to upgrade.

    The Mac Pro has another area where it has market share besides creative and that's in scientific usage (lack of POSIX in Windows hurts.) I'm sitting in a room with 4 Mac Pros. Apple's design choices for the Pro are problematic for this market because large amounts of those programs are either CUDA based which the FirePro can't run or CPU based where the single CPU design is a problem. (And the people running the programs aren't programmers and aren't paid to deal with the programming hurdles to convert them) The new Mac Pro would probably be a regression for some of our workloads due to the reduction in CPU cores even with faster speeds.

    As a side, for a funny read, I came across page 2 of Anand’s coppermine review recently, the mobile processor strategy for Intel makes for a fun read from today’s point of view.
  • watersb - Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - link

    From 2000 to 2010, I watched Macs take over the annual ADASS conference: Astronomical Data-Analysis Software Summit. (science software? astro-data-something-something...) Initially, we all used Xeon-based workstations, running Linux, for "real" work... Budget constraints push for only one computer per person, which could work against Apple (too expensive) or for Apple (best-of-class notebooks for POSIX work. Hmm.

    A while back I stumbled upon a claim that any supported GPU in a Mac Pro is basically a "pro" product -- as the key differentiator is the driver stack. Ok, but aren't there real differences between FirePro, Quadro cards, particularly double-precision floating point?

    I only got around to playing with a first-gen Tesla C1060 in my Mac Pro before I sold it.The C1060 lacks full hardware support for double-precision. So I have no clue.
  • Slowman61 - Friday, July 19, 2013 - link

    I think Apple could have some good success with the Mac Pro if they added a version with an Ivy-E and used Titans. A lower price point with a much broader and more forgiving audience, that would love to have something with more umph than their IMacs. Shoot, if they made one with an I7 and GTX770s I might even buy it.
  • Kevin G - Friday, July 19, 2013 - link

    I'm with Dustin with a lot of criticism towards Haswell. Designing for high IPC and high clock on modern processes is possible - IBM is doing it with their server line. Intel has been focusing on mobile with their core designs and that has nerfed the desktop line.

    Not mentioned in the podcast is that the desktop users have been burned by constantly having to purchase a new motherboard alongside a new CPU. Socket 1156, 1155 and now 1150. I'm currently on a Sandybridge i7 2600k and would like a drop in replacement to something faster. Ivy Bridge i7 3770k isn't worth the money for the very marginal improvements. Haswell has some IPC improvements but the cost benefit there is even worse since I'd have to get a new motherboard to support it.

    I'm also frustrated that there is no GT3e chip in socket 1150. The L4 cache does improve performance, and radically, in some cases. Tech Report did some scientific tests where the i7 4960HQ was challenging an i7 3970X. That mobile chip was competitive against a chip with two more cores and 50% higher clock speeds. I'm also irked that TSX and VT-D have been disabled on the K series parts. I'm flat out livid that Intel has no plans for a socketed Broadwell.

    The Mac Pro has suffered because Apple has ignored the market that this serves. Prior to the announcement this summer, the last time Apple really updated the line was back in 2010 when they just added Westmere support to the 2009 models. Three years! I want expandablity: my Macs traditionally have had an additional IO card and goes through one video card upgrade. Yeah, I'm an owner of the oddball PCI-E based quad G5 and that machine had more than one video card. So what does the new Mac Pro bring for its lack of expansion? It still goes to 12 cores, just in a single socket instead of two in the 2010 model. CPU clock speeds are going to be similar so the raw performance gains will come from IPC improvements from Westmere to Ivy Bridge-E (roughly 8%) and IO improvements. AVX is there but that requires getting/recompiling software. Memory is still DDR3 and the capacity increase on the new Mac Pro is due to Apple using registered ECC memory instead of vanilla ECC DIMMs. Of course, the Xeons in the 2010 Mac Pro supports registered ECC DIMMs but Apple artificially disabled that feature. Oh, and if you want to upgrade the memory in the new Mac Pro you are going to have to throw out the old memory and replace it - there are no free DIMM slots. The FirePro cards are nice but by the time the Mac Pro reaches the market the Radeon 8000 series should have arrived. Thunderbolt 2 is a bit of a joke - the bandwidth per channel increases but they also halved the channels. If channel bonding worked correctly, Thunderbolt could drive an 8K display at 30 Hz. And despite all the bandwidth, Thunderbolt doesn't provide the bandwidth for a modern GPU, at least without a performance hit. Apple has nerfed my plans for GPU expansion over the life of this system. The one part that really shines as an improvement is the PCI-E based SSD. It'd be nicer if there was more than one SSD slot for expansion down the road but this should suffice for awhile.

    I've literally been saving up for a personal Mac Pro since late 2011. Now I'm facing the choice of getting the machine I could have gotten in 2011 and curse myself for two years of waiting or get the new compromised system. I'm going to hate myself either way.

    The problem with socket 2011 lasting two generations is that the X79 chipset is buggy. Remember the roadmaps where it was supposed to have SAS ports? And at 6 Gbit? Yeah, that was neutered for the consumer versions and select server versions only got SAS 3 Gbit. Intel could just fix the existing chipset for less cost than designing one from scratch (perhaps just a respin?), rebrand it, and make the high end crowd happy.
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, July 20, 2013 - link

    "Westmere to Ivy Bridge-E (roughly 8%)" Where do you get that number from? Should be quite a bit higher. Also, IVB-E has support for some more extensions like AVX.
  • Kevin G - Sunday, July 21, 2013 - link

    I'm not expecting the 12 core Ivy Bridge-E's to carry an aggressive clock speed compared to Westmere. I'd be surprised if the 12 core Ivy Bridge-E reaches the same clock speed as the top of the line 8 core Sandy Bridge-E (2.8 Ghz). I'd fathom a 2.0 Ghz default clock on the new Mac Pro with a 2.7 Ghz top of the line option. For reference the 12 core 2010 Mac Pro is 2.4 Ghz stock with a 3.06 Ghz high end option. Thankfully IPC gains and IO improvements will counter the reductions in clock speeds. I'm not counting on Ivy Bridge's turbo to be of much use in the Mac Pro's new chassis as I have a feeling that it'll run a bit hot by default there. (This will especially true under CPU + GPU loads due to the new Mac Pro's shared heat sink.) Due to the differences in clock speeds, some software will likely run faster on the older 2010 Mac Pro if the software can't use Ivy Bridge-e's improvements to IPC. I'm optimistic that this case will be rare.

    One thing I forgot to mention is that the new Mac Pro actually has less memory bandwidth than the current 12 core Mac Pro. The second socket with three more memory channels helps out a lot here.

    I also mentioned AVX but to take advantage of it existing software needs to be recompiled. This is where Apple's claims are coming from when they mention double the performance of the previous Mac Pro. Users expecting this universally are going to be very, very disappointed.

    Overall the new Mac Pro's do not seem attractive from a CPU stand point. Going from two to one socket kills much of the Mac Pro's luster. Most of the improvements (6 core Westermere -> 12 core Ivy Bridge-e, six channel DDR3 1333 -> quad channel DDR3 1866) are just negating the loss of that additional socket. Luckily Apple never released a Sandy Bridge-e system in the 2010 chassis as the new Mac Pro would clearly be a step backwards from that hypothetical system.

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