Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Discussion of all forms of processors, from AMD to Intel to VIA.

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Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:06 pm

I realize this sounds like a dumb question, but hear me out. (Or don't; this is a rambling post.)

My desktop's CPU (a Phenom II X4 945) and motherboard date back to September '09 and January '10, respectively. Rather than doing one big upgrade, over the years, I've rotated in new components for almost everything else (video, RAM, storage, and even a new case). The motherboard and CPU are up next.

I mostly do scientific computing, and while I run my jobs on a powerful grid, I still do a lot of development on my old desktop. My code is sometimes multithreaded, or I'm often running several simulations at once, so CPUs that can run more threads are very useful for me. (Plus, I want the ability to watch cat videos while my code is running...) So, I was thinking of upgrading to an Intel i7-4770. However, I won't be doing the upgrade until I get my tax refund back, which won't be for a while. So, I'm thinking about holding off the real CPU/motherboard upgrade until Haswell-E comes along, because an 8 core/16 thread processor would be huge for me -- assuming I can afford it. I can save up for it between now and then.

However, I really need something better now. My motherboard supports the 'X6's, so I'm thinking about dropping in a higher end X6 as a stopgap. I was expecting this to be a cheap upgrade, but '1090's and '1100's still frequently go for north of $150 on eBay.

So I guess the questions boil down to this:
1) Do you think this plan is nuts?
2) If not, how much do you think is a reasonable price for the various 'X6's?

<EDIT>Note that doing a real upgrade now isn't an option. The options are to grab an X6 now (maybe a cheaper one like an 1055) or to wait it out. That said, since I'll be waiting for the real upgrade either way, I'd still be interested in thoughts to do after the wait.</EDIT>

My situation may be unusual, but I'd still appreciate your thoughts.

(This makes me all nostalgic. I had an AM2 motherboard that lasted me through three processors: an Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Windsor, an Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Brisbane, and finally a Phenom II X4 945 -- even though it wasn't officially supported. When that motherboard died, I just got an AM3 board and moved the Phenom II X4 945 to it. Upgrading processors sure was easier then.)
Last edited by dlenmn on Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:23 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:27 pm

I wouldn't move up to the PhenomII x6, but if you have an AM3 board the 8350 are nice chips. I just upgraded from the x6 1090T to a 4770k and it was a nice upgrade but even on sale I spent $370+tax for the cpu and motherboard. If you have the money haswell's are nice, if you need to save a bit i'd go for the 8350(since you have an AM3 board), I would not go X6.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:33 pm

I hadn't thought of one of the new 'FX's. Are you sure they'll work in an AM3 board -- especially in one which doesn't claim to support it? (I've gotten away with that type of thing in the past, but I'd like some confirmation that it'd work.)
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:41 pm

Alright, I'll be honest, when I first saw the title, I immediately thought "flame bait", but after reading your post, I'll give it a shot.

Alright, you want 8 threads.
Intel's i7's typically start @ about $300 and an additional $100 for the motherboard. ($400)
AMD's FX-8320 typically goes for $160 or the FX-8350 for about $190. A socket AM3+ motherboard will set you back about $85-$100. ($245 - $290)

If your running with an AM3 board now, you're already running DDR3, so no need for new memory.

If power consumption and single threaded performance are main driving needs, then Intel is the way to go.
However, for multithreaded workloads, AMD's FX-8xxx series are still quite powerful and competitive with Intel's 8 threaded CPUs, and for a significant savings.

It really depends on your workload and your budget. Others will most likely lean one way or another, but the choice is yours.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:14 am

Yeah, I had a little fun with the title ;)

I guess I had discounted the 'FX's, but maybe I shouldn't. I've been gauging things by the Euler3d multithreaded benchmarks in Tech Report articles like this. It looks like the 4770 has 5.96/4.39 ~= 1.36 times the performance, but the price ratio is higher than that.

Still, with Haswell-E and the Haswell refresh coming later this year, I'm expected the bang/buck ratio for Intel getting better, but I'm not expecting much to happen on the AMD front. Regardless, I can't do a real upgrade for at least a couple months, and that's why I'm considering the stop gap solution I originally posted.

So, the immediate question is: should I do this stop gap now, or is it not worth the money? Doing a real upgrade now isn't an option, but buying a 1055 (or hoping for a cheap 1090) is.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:38 am

comparing fx-8320 vs x6-1100
- take a look at your code, if it is integer heavy then fx is good because it has 2 more integer cores than x6, if it is float point heavy then x6 is better because it has 2 more real cores (excuse the pun)
- if your code use any of the new features: sse3, 4, avx, aes, then fx is better because x6 doesn't have these.

note, if you choose x6-1100 or 1090, add $25-30 to your budget for an after market fan, because the std fan is loud, and not very good for your mental health. (not sure about fx, i don't have one)

haswell-e system will be very expensive, at least due to new ddr4 memory. i speculate haswell-e 8 core chip will be same price as ivy bridge-e 6 core, just to soften the blow of high system price.

i don't know how much broadwell will push down the price of haswell, ivy bridge chips are not that cheap.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:00 am

LocalCitizen wrote:- if your code use any of the new features: sse3, 4, avx, aes, then fx is better because x6 doesn't have these.


The X6's do have SSE3 (and SSE4a).
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:10 am

Are you planning to OC the X6?

If so, what specific Mobo? Even at modest clocks and stock voltages, 6 cores can suck a lot of juice, possibly causing Magic Smoke issues. Give the tables in this thread a look. http://www.overclock.net/t/946407/amd-m ... o-database
Can the Mobo generate the high FSB clocks needed to OC a multiplier locked lower-end X6? (the 1045t~55t chips have finally fallen in price lately.)

Most X6 will OC to 3600~3800 on stock voltage. This will bust the stock 125W envelope, but not by too much. Bumping the voltage and gunning for 4000 (not generally worth the trouble, IMO) demands a lot more power from the VRM.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 2:21 am

I wouldn't think the Haswell-E chips will offer higher performance/dollar. If anything, I believe most chips for LGA2011 are pretty expensive and anything above a top-model Core i7 for mainstream sockets such as LGA1155 take a nosedive in terms of performance/dollar.

I would also suggest the FX. Buy the board first if you must, get the FX later. If power is relatively cheap in your area I don't think the FX's power consumption is really gonna be a problem.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:59 am

I guess it comes down to how much are you willing to spend? A new Haswell system will run you $450-500 ish, but an eight-core Haswell-E is going to run you over $1,000. Not only will the cheapest eight-core model be around $600 (may be as much as $850, that's what the Q6600 launched at after all), but those motherboards start well north of $200 vs regular Haswell boards. And that's before you buy the new DDR4 memory....

If the entry price isn't going to deter you from Haswell-E, then sure get a X6 now as I'm sure cheap ones can be had off ebay. But if ~$1,200 is too much to buy into Haswell-E then ya could buy into Haswell now and hold onto the system for a few years while Intel gradually lowers the prices with each new eight-core generation. Will give time for DDR4 prices to come down too. It's just a matter of which route ya want to go given the price differences involved. Doubling the core count will triple the price at least for the Haswell-E generation.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:13 am

Unless you can find info that conclusively states that your existing motherboard supports the FX, I would not count on it. You're really supposed to have an AM3+ board for FX CPUs, AM3 FX support is hit-or-miss.

There are, of course, some very affordable budget options for AM3+ boards, as well as some more featureful ones that still won't break the bank. But with the current FX lineup possibly being the end of the line for AM3+ be aware that there may be no future upgrade path beyond the FX-8350.

Unless you find that your board supports FX, the relative cost of both motherboards also must be taken into account when comparing the price/performance of Haswell and FX for it to be a fair comparison. This may tip the analysis in either direction, depending on the choice of motherboards.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:21 am

Deanjo wrote:The X6's do have SSE3 (and SSE4a).

oops. Thanks Deanjo for the correction!

ronch said:
"I wouldn't think the Haswell-E chips will offer higher performance/dollar."

I think dlenmn would be more productive with Haswell-E, thus for him it's more income $
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:41 pm

I just upgraded my Windsor to a 5600 Brisbane 2 months ago. $35 at ebay. My mobo can't take a phenom. Here is a link comparing relative cpu power of 945 to x6 Phenoms. http://www.cpu-world.com/benchmarks/AMD ... 055T_(125W).html
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:08 pm

LocalCitizen wrote:- take a look at your code, if it is integer heavy then fx is good because it has 2 more integer cores than x6, if it is float point heavy then x6 is better because it has 2 more real cores (excuse the pun)
- if your code use any of the new features: sse3, 4, avx, aes, then fx is better because x6 doesn't have these.


It's almost all floating point, so that's a good point. I'm not handling vector instructions by hand, but modern compilers do a surprisingly good job at doing this automatically. (I've looked at the instructions in the compiled code.) Intel's compiler is especially good at that, but it is famously bad for AMD chips... However, gfortran does alright too. The short version is that SIMD is in the compiler and libraries' hands.

LocalCitizen wrote:note, if you choose x6-1100 or 1090, add $25-30 to your budget for an after market fan, because the std fan is loud, and not very good for your mental health. (not sure about fx, i don't have one)


I've got a good aftermarket fan in the computer, so I hope it's still good enough for the X6; my current X4 is rated at 95 watt, so it partly comes down to whether I would get a 95W or 125W X6.

LocalCitizen wrote:haswell-e system will be very expensive, at least due to new ddr4 memory. i speculate haswell-e 8 core chip will be same price as ivy bridge-e 6 core, just to soften the blow of high system price.


That's a good point. I'm not crazy about DDR4 since I've got plenty of DDR3 already.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:10 pm

Geonerd wrote:Are you planning to OC the X6?


I've been thinking about it, but I haven't really looked in to it; thanks for the info. The motherboard is a Gigabyte GA-MA790XT-UD4P.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:15 pm

ronch wrote:Buy the board first if you must, get the FX later. If power is relatively cheap in your area I don't think the FX's power consumption is really gonna be a problem.


I do like the idea of getting the board and moving my CPU over, since that's what I've done in the past. However, I don't think I'll be able to do that again; FX looks like a total dead end, but that may not be true for Intel chips. (Then again, there was noise about CPUs soldered to the motherboards...)
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:19 pm

LocalCitizen wrote:I think dlenmn would be more productive with Haswell-E, thus for him it's more income $


Well, I am a grad student, so although a powerful CPU would be a great benefit for me, I'd have to give up a lot of beer to pay for it... Perhaps that's not such a bad thing.

It's somewhat ironic that getting an X6 could end up helping me to get a job at Intel; I inherited my current research project from a guy who has since graduated and makes bank at Intel. He forwarded me a job posting recently, although I've got a while before I'm going to graduate. Unfortunately, my Intel connections haven't resulted in better deals on CPUs...
Last edited by dlenmn on Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:27 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:21 pm

xgsound wrote:I just upgraded my Windsor to a 5600 Brisbane 2 months ago. $35 at ebay. My mobo can't take a phenom. Here is a link comparing relative cpu power of 945 to x6 Phenoms. http://www.cpu-world.com/benchmarks/AMD ... 055T_(125W).html


Thanks for the link. I definitely approve of the upgrade.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:24 pm

Everyone, thanks for the input. I've decided to go ahead with getting a cheaper X6 -- assuming if I can get one off eBay at the right price; I think it'll be worth it. I'll re-evaluate the situation later this year.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:43 pm

dlenmn wrote:Everyone, thanks for the input. I've decided to go ahead with getting a cheaper X6 -- assuming if I can get one off eBay at the right price; I think it'll be worth it. I'll re-evaluate the situation later this year.


You gotta OC that puppy, at least a little! :D
Assuming an average chip, you Mobo should be able to OC to 6x ~3400 and 3x ~3800 (turbo) with almost zero effort. This should provide a nice tangible boost over your current 4x3.0 chip. Slowly running the FSB up to 240~250, while reducing the CPU northbridge, HTT and memory multipliers should do the trick. If you leave the various power saving BIOS options enabled, total power draw and heat will be reduced, at the slight loss of ragged-edge OC frequency. Feel free to reduce the turbo multiplier as you increase the FSB to allow a higher overall OC without needing to bump the base voltage.

Here's a good thread, showing what you can generally expect at a given voltage.
http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/sho ... ing-Charts
Once you hit 3.8~4.0 further substantial progress requires applying jigawatts of power.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:43 pm

just brew it! wrote:Unless you can find info that conclusively states that your existing motherboard supports the FX, I would not count on it. You're really supposed to have an AM3+ board for FX CPUs, AM3 FX support is hit-or-miss.


I second this. Apart from some AM3 boards not meeting AMD's electrical requirements for FX CPUs (all of which are AM3+), there are physical differences between AM3 and AM3+ sockets as well. Look at the photo I included below and pay attention to the lower left set of blank pins.

Image

The socket labeled 'AM3b' is AM3+, and one of the holes in the lower left set of blank pins is left open (only one pin covered) vs. two pins being blank on an AM3 socket. This means an AM3 CPU will plug in just fine into the AM3+ socket but an AM3+ CPU will not fit into the AM3 socket because one of its pins won't have a hole to plug into. In other words, a Phenom II can plug into a 990FX board but an FX will not plug into an old AM3-socket board unless the manufacturer was forward-looking and used an AM3+ socket that has that one pin hole open to accept an AM3+ CPU. So even if a board maker realizes that an old AM3 board of theirs can run an FX CPU after all, they can't just go out and say so because of the physical socket that they've included with that particular board model or revision.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:47 pm

dlenmn wrote:I do like the idea of getting the board and moving my CPU over, since that's what I've done in the past. However, I don't think I'll be able to do that again; FX looks like a total dead end, but that may not be true for Intel chips. (Then again, there was noise about CPUs soldered to the motherboards...)


I no longer tend to look at socket upgrade paths. If you plan to use the rig for 2 to 3 years then upgradability is really a moot point. Whatever's available 3 years from now will probably use a new socket anyway and even if you can upgrade only the CPU, certain features will probably be absent because the new CPU will have features that the old board/socket can't provide. Normally, I just upgrade the CPU+MB+RAM in one go... but that's just me. Of course, in your case you bought an X6 that uses the same socket as your existing X4 in the first place, which is the same as getting an i3-3220 today and hoping to be able to find a 3770K 3 years later to upgrade it. Getting the top model 3770K right now and hoping that you'll be able to upgrade it 3 years later is pointless tough, as the 3770K is already the fastest chip you can get for LGA1155 and there are practically no hints that Intel will put out a much faster CPU for the socket that will justify the upgrade later on.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Mon Jan 13, 2014 1:12 am

Geonerd wrote:You gotta OC that puppy, at least a little! :D


I'm looking forward to it. So, expect there to be a future post where I ask "I can haz OC?", "what's that burning smell?", or possibly both...
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:53 am

Phenom II is a solid chip, especially when overclocked. If you find that's not enough, I would suggest an Ivy-E unless you really do need all 8 cores.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:49 am

If you absolutely need improved performance while on a budget. I would suggest looking at normal Ivy Bridge and Haswell stuff. LGA2011 doesn't make any sense unless your applications net tangible benefits from having more memory bandwidth or you want 6 or 8 real cores with HT.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Tue Jan 14, 2014 10:59 pm

Krogoth wrote:LGA2011 doesn't make any sense unless your applications net tangible benefits from having more memory bandwidth or you want 6 or 8 real cores with HT.


8 real cores would be useful for me.

FWIW, for my research, I have access to a distributed computing grid, and I've had over 500 simulations running at a time -- some of which have to run for nearly a month. (It's a brute force type of simulation that I'm not crazy about, but that wasn't my choice to make.)

One CPU can't compete with that, but I sometimes am forced into "oh $#*!" mode, where I need a couple runs to be done ASAP; waiting a month isn't an option. The computers on the grid aren't speed daemons, I don't always have priority with them, and while I can run a ton of single threaded simulations, I can't run any multi-threaded simulations on them. In short, they're no good for "oh $#*!" mode.

My simulations are embarrassingly parallel (although not in a way a GPU would help with), so multi-threading helps a lot, and I've got a version of my code that does a decent job with multi-threading.

For "oh $#*!" mode, I currently have access to two desktops with 'i7-860's and my own X4 945 (in principle I can call on some newer 'i7's, but they're a hassle to get access to); a Haswell-E chip would presumably blow the pants of all them...

The original question was, do I grab a new CPU as soon as I can (around April) and not get an X6, or do I get an X6 now and wait for Q3/4 when the new CPUs come out. I've chosen to the latter.

Short version: if there's a desktop CPU, I can make full use of it.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:30 pm

Given your use case, maybe you should have your sights set a little higher, like a dual-socket Opteron system. You can load it up with as many as 32 cores, depending on your budget. Even with the shared FPUs this would probably kick butt on your embarrassingly parallel workloads.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:35 am

Bulldozer and Piledriver-based Opterons are a soild choice for the described workload, but if you want go with the Intel camp. Sandy-Bridge E and Ivy Bridge-EPs can be faster, but the platforms that they ride on are quite a bit more pricey. Haswell-E isn't going often much over their predecessors other than TSX support (which may help in your load). Haswell-EX and Haswell-EPs are going to exist in 8-20 real core with HT configurations but don't expect it to come cheap though.
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:43 am

just brew it! wrote:Given your use case, maybe you should have your sights set a little higher, like a dual-socket Opteron system.

Krogoth wrote:Bulldozer and Piledriver-based Opterons are a soild choice for the described workload, but if you want go with the Intel camp. Sandy-Bridge E and Ivy Bridge-EPs can be faster.


That would be nice, but good server chips (and multiple server chips) are simply out of my price range. I'm hoping there's a Haswell-E equivalent of the i7-4930K (i.e. has somewhat lower clock and smaller cache than the top-of-the-line model but still has the same number of cores); that's the type of things I might be able to afford.

<EDIT>A cheap AMD 16 core might be doable, but they usually get beat by 6 and 8 core Intel chips -- no surprise there. I reckon a Haswell-E would beat the AMD chips too, and it may well be cheaper... Anyhow, I've decided to wait until Intel's new chips come out, so everything is speculation until then.</EDIT>
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Re: Should I upgrade to a Phenom II X6 or a Haswell?

Postposted on Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:56 am

Krogoth wrote:Bulldozer and Piledriver-based Opterons are a soild choice for the described workload, but if you want go with the Intel camp. Sandy-Bridge E and Ivy Bridge-EPs can be faster, but the platforms that they ride on are quite a bit more pricey. Haswell-E isn't going often much over their predecessors other than TSX support (which may help in your load). Haswell-EX and Haswell-EPs are going to exist in 8-20 real core with HT configurations but don't expect it to come cheap though.


Excellent suggestion there. When I first read your post I actually thought "AMD's server-grade stuff can't possibly be that cheap," so I had to have a look at the Egg and see for myself. lo and behold, 16-core Abu Dhabi chips going for $700-$1100, and dual socket G34 motherboards for $360. Considering how close AMD's dual 6376s come to dual E5-2660s in HPC, I'd say AMD might actually have the edge here if power isn't a major concern.
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