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Number of Cores vs. Clock Speed for Cubase Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Number of Cores vs. Clock Speed for Cubase

Hi. I'm using Cubase 9.5 right now, and I was wondering what is more significant.. number of cores vs. clock speed.

I mainly produce tracks/beats that consists a lot of so-called 'cpu-heavy' synths like serum, diva and omnisphere.. I was thinking of newly announced I9-9900k or other I9 X-series.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by qkrzazzang View Post
Hi. I'm using Cubase 9.5 right now, and I was wondering what is more significant.. number of cores vs. clock speed.

I mainly produce tracks/beats that consists a lot of so-called 'cpu-heavy' synths like serum, diva and omnisphere.. I was thinking of newly announced I9-9900k or other I9 X-series.
Those are not that "heavy" really. My personal opinion is that more cores is better. This is most obvious when running VI's as DAW's can balance and buffer the non-live tracks for great performance. Just make sure you can play as many voices you need per instrument on one core of the CPU.

I9 is a total overkill. If you need a computer for other tasks too, or perhaps gaming, then sure go ahead. For strictly music with VI's i'd recommend a lower cost system to check out the waters. An five year old 8-core AMD can be had for peanuts these days and it can do plenty. For less than what Diva costs you can get a used FX8350 system that can run 140 basic Diva voices.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkdr View Post
Those are not that "heavy" really. My personal opinion is that more cores is better. This is most obvious when running VI's as DAW's can balance and buffer the non-live tracks for great performance. Just make sure you can play as many voices you need per instrument on one core of the CPU.

I9 is a total overkill. If you need a computer for other tasks too, or perhaps gaming, then sure go ahead. For strictly music with VI's i'd recommend a lower cost system to check out the waters. An five year old 8-core AMD can be had for peanuts these days and it can do plenty. For less than what Diva costs you can get a used FX8350 system that can run 140 basic Diva voices.
You ca push Serum easily over 140 voices in a single instance if you want to. MPE MIDI might even push an i9 to its limits.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Generally:
low latency: high core speed
CPU intensive plugs: high core speed
You like 10 inserts per track?: huge core speed
Many multithreading capable plugs: more cores
Huge projects (many tracks): more cores (or less cores with high core speed)
Huge projects with demanding plugs and/or low latency: more cores with high core speed

It depends on what exactly is used and what your workflow is what CPU makes most sense.
Old 6 days ago
  #5
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAW PLUS View Post
Generally:
low latency: high core speed
CPU intensive plugs: high core speed
You like 10 inserts per track?: huge core speed
Many multithreading capable plugs: more cores
Huge projects (many tracks): more cores (or less cores with high core speed)
Huge projects with demanding plugs and/or low latency: more cores with high core speed

It depends on what exactly is used and what your workflow is what CPU makes most sense.
Well yes in theory. In real world 10 inserts isnt a problem even on more modest core speed. Fx are usually not that demanding. And when you are reaching that 10 insert amount theres something wrong with the mixing anyway because you dont need that many fx to make a sound great
Old 6 days ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkdr View Post
An five year old 8-core AMD can be had for peanuts these days and it can do plenty. For less than what Diva costs you can get a used FX8350 system that can run 140 basic Diva voices.
I know I'm an idiot, bur recommending previous generation AMD CPUs in 2018 seems like terrible advice to me.
Old 6 days ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
I know I'm an idiot, bur recommending previous generation AMD CPUs in 2018 seems like terrible advice to me.
Well, he explained the parameters of why it was good advice, perhaps you can explain why its terrible advice. Is there a presumption that one can only get by with the most expensive of current technology--or is bang for the buck a valid consideration?

I have been thinking lately that the big advances in computer speed have some from ssd storage--huge. I don't even use sleep mode on the computer anymore since it boots in maybe 10 seconds. This is the game changer, and the beauty is, no need to change computers to upgrade. Anybody who has their os, samples, or records to, a spinning platter disk can transform their performance with ssd before they should even think about a cpu upgrade. I just got a 1tb sata 2 samsung evo for $170 american. I just keep one 4tb spinning platter to do backups to (as well as to the cloud).

Second is to ensure one has enough ram. I have 32 gig, and I note that the biggest cubase project I could put together only took about 6 gig of ram. So I could have been getting my on 16 gig all this time, but its only a couple hundred to max out ram. Are you memory bound? Run your biggest project and look at process monitor. Are you using all your ram, or like me less than half?

Looking at my single core speeds for my few years old CPUs, I notice they are surprisingly comparable to current models like the 8700k. I think cpu technology has hit some really big barriers on increasing transistor density and moore's law has at last failed to predict density increases year to year. Intel can't seem to get lower than 14nm node size, and I'm not sure there is much benefit in doing so. Are our workstations cpu bound? Are we seeing them stuck at 100% on the process monitor?

So, what we are seeing is that cpu increases are scaling out rather than up--more cores. I have said in the past that fast cores are more important than more cores--and I repeat this heresy expecting the usual flames, but it looks like everyone can find out on their own how many cores they can purchase in a chip and whether their performance gains were commensurate with the money and watts.

There are diminishing returns on additional cores as they have to communicate with each other and coordinate and there are still single threaded resources. There are some cpu instructions that actually require all other cores to quiesce before they can be executed.

I will watch these discussions with interest to see what gains people are getting with these new many core products. Money at the cpu level is not an issue for me, so I can buy whatever I want, but I do have a thrifty side where I won't buy something I don't need. Sadly for my gear lust, my three year old system is doing everything I need it to do flawlessly, so I have no excuse to get the latest and greatest. :(

Another factor here is that the more watts, the more air needs to be moved and this increases fan noise, and to my knowledge liquid cooling has even louder fans. So, this is a factor.

PS: To the extent people can figure out which plug-ins are better at utilizing multi core, I will read with interest. I have only cubase, native instruments, and izotope prod suite.
Old 6 days ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ponzi View Post
Well, he explained the parameters of why it was good advice, perhaps you can explain why its terrible advice. Is there a presumption that one can only get by with the most expensive of current technology--or is bang for the buck a valid consideration?
Did I say "one can only get by with the most expensive of current technology"?

I think it's terrible advice for a few reasons;

1. The FX CPUs are old technology that sits on a platform that pretty much nobody buys any longer and has a questionable resale value. I understand that that's why it'd be cheap, but can it be resold? Because otherwise it's just a pure expense.

2. We don't really know what the OP needs though except he asks for advice in order to run heavy plugins. To answer "Yeah, you don't need that I think, despite what you said, so buy old technology instead" is a bit of a stretch I think. It's better to simply ask what they have now and if they're hitting limits. Or, you know, just answer the question, like Leon did!

3. 140 voices of Diva is one thing. A complete mix with a bunch of different VSTi and plugins is another.

4. The socket is dead. For very, very little more at the very least the OP can get on AMD's AM4 platform which should have support and development for another 2-3 years. That means new and faster CPUs. So the OP can still start out with an entry level quad core and move to an 8-core CPU in a couple of years, without having to swap motherboards etc. That to me strikes me as much better bang-for-buck than buying into the old platform.

5. What OS? What connectivity on the mobo? What level of support from component manufacturers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ponzi View Post
Looking at my single core speeds for my few years old CPUs, I notice they are surprisingly comparable to current models like the 8700k. I think cpu technology has hit some really big barriers on increasing transistor density and moore's law has at last failed to predict density increases year to year. Intel can't seem to get lower than 14nm node size, and I'm not sure there is much benefit in doing so. Are our workstations cpu bound? Are we seeing them stuck at 100% on the process monitor?

So, what we are seeing is that cpu increases are scaling out rather than up--more cores. I have said in the past that fast cores are more important than more cores--and I repeat this heresy expecting the usual flames, but it looks like everyone can find out on their own how many cores they can purchase in a chip and whether their performance gains were commensurate with the money and watts.

There are diminishing returns on additional cores as they have to communicate with each other and coordinate and there are still single threaded resources. There are some cpu instructions that actually require all other cores to quiesce before they can be executed.
Yes, but the DAWbench tests are fairly clear: Faster cores is better than slower cores, but it's not better than more even somewhat slower cores. Just look at the 'top' of the chart; it's all CPUs with a ton of cores. Sure, it doesn't necessarily scale linearly, and certainly not as far as price goes, but in terms of performance it's pretty clear I think.

PS: AMD is moving to 7nm at the end of this year or the beginning of next year, and while I know it's not the same type of shrink as Intel's 14 to 10nm it's still a shrink, and Intel or TSMC will probably get Intel's 10nm doing sooner or later.
Old 6 days ago
  #9
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moostapha's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ponzi View Post
I have been thinking lately that the big advances in computer speed have some from ssd storage
That's been my experience as well. I'm at the point now that none of my computers (for audio, life, other job, etc.) have spinning platters. My newest computer was built in 2012 (my studio machine is about 6 months older). They do what I need, which includes running a 2nd DAW for bass/monitor management and pretty much always having a VM or two running in the background of my studio machine.

They do all have 32GB of RAM (16 for laptops). But, still...the things I get away with are kinda crazy. I'm one of the people who actually could clearly benefit from more cores, but OS X and Windows 10 both manage things well (studio machine was built as a hackintosh).

There's a large part of me that wants to get a PCIe M.2 card and a 970 Evo just to see what happens. But, AFAI can tell, a good NVMe drive that actually gets 4 PCIe lanes to the CPU is just about the biggest factor unless you're counting frames in a game or doing scientific computing.

Spinning platters are for network storage. Period.
Old 6 days ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
Did I say "one can only get by with the most expensive of current technology"?

I think it's terrible advice for a few reasons;...

PS: AMD is moving to 7nm at the end of this year or the beginning of next year, and while I know it's not the same type of shrink as Intel's 14 to 10nm it's still a shrink, and Intel or TSMC will probably get Intel's 10nm doing sooner or later.
Now that's an answer I can learn something from. Thanks. I may or may not agree, and its up to the OP to decide what he wants rather than have us guess. As I said, I am always studying the new stuff, and I was surprised recently to see that it wasn't that much faster than what I have now.

As to moore's law, it predicted a doubling of transistor density every year. Intel has been on 14nm for maybe more than two years, depending on who's talking. One of the foundrys just said they weren't even going to try and do anything less than 14nm and switched to doing other stuff like video cards. And 14 to 10 after however many years intel has been on 14 is far from a doubling every year. Sure they will get somewhere someday, but in some larger sense, the improvements are incremental.

Yes, amd has had some better success but I can't help but wonder what the yields will be on 7nm and whether its practical to go down below 7. Not sure I care anyway. My xeon die probably is smaller than a postage stamp--I delidded another xeon and that is what I found. Were I to buy a cpu that was 4 times more powerful and it had 4 times the die size--I would not care. And its already happening--these threadrippers are some wafers the size of which I haven't seen since the 486 days.

I will note that some decades ago, each new cpu generation was hugely more powerful than the previous. I think for the past 10 years, its been more like 15% a year--certainly not something to blow my mind like when I went from an 8086 to an 80286--that was like 10 times faster.

@moostafa--I have an nvme on the pci-x buss--I have no way of knowing if it made any difference compared to the ssd I have. Sata 2 is the limitation, but my old mobo won't boot from a pci-x drive, so I can't put the os on nvme. Again, I have no way of knowing if its a bottleneck, but as I said, my system does everything I want it to do, so not a good test case.
Old 6 days ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ponzi View Post
As to moore's law, it predicted a doubling of transistor density every year. Intel has been on 14nm for maybe more than two years, depending on who's talking. One of the foundrys just said they weren't even going to try and do anything less than 14nm and switched to doing other stuff like video cards. And 14 to 10 after however many years intel has been on 14 is far from a doubling every year. Sure they will get somewhere someday, but in some larger sense, the improvements are incremental.
They've pretty reached the physical limits of how small they can get the circuits (the electronic gates/logical operators), and Moore's Law has been kept afloat because of increases in computational capacity by other means.
Old 6 days ago
  #12
I'm no expert, nor a power user. But I went from a quad core @ 3Ghz Intel, 4 GB ram, DAW PC ... to a 12 core (dual 6 core Intel Xeon's) @3 Ghz, 48 GB ram, DAW PC (running 24 threads). I can say that my projects take up very little of my total resources now, less than 10% of CPU or ram. Having dual CPU's does not affect anything, not that I can at least perceive in my real world use.

Do I really need 12 cores, no... do I need 48 GB ram, hell no. I could get by easily with a 6 core. My 12 core PC was bought in the used/off-lease market place for about $600 and came with Win 7 64 bit. It's older technology, even when I bought it about 2 years ago, but that means little to me, this thing is a power house. I don't even have to run multiple PC's with Steinberg Cubase's VST System Link anymore... not for resources anyway, though I still do for other reasons.
Old 6 days ago
  #13
RiF
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With Diva and Omnisphere you'll run into the problem of maxing out a single core far earlier than into maxing out all cores of your CPU (at least I do).
That said, single core speed rules in audio and should be prioritised above core count.
IMHO, the "sweetspot-CPUs" for audio are still the i7-8086K or -8700K, although they don't have 48 cores...
Old 6 days ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by mkdr View Post
Well yes in theory. In real world 10 inserts isnt a problem even on more modest core speed. Fx are usually not that demanding. And when you are reaching that 10 insert amount theres something wrong with the mixing anyway because you dont need that many fx to make a sound great
It is not my workflow but that of some producers. And they party use demanding plugins. I put it in for completeness.
Old 5 days ago
  #15
I had assumed that this original post was more of a general question of speed vs a high number of cores? I was also assuming that at minimum, there would be 4 cores...after which would be vs 6 cores/8 cores/12 cores etc. One of the reply's made me wonder if some was comparing a 'single core' vs an unspecified number of multi-cores. Does anyone even use single core DAW's these days?

When I previously stated that my current 12 core DAW has two 6 core Xeons (@3.06 Ghz per core), and I haven't noticed any issues with using dual processors, I had only heard of potential issues with some kind of latency I believe it was? I've actually been wondering about this lately, and have been meaning to research what is said regarding this. Though I really don't know if this actually matters in reality, for me personally. Even if having a high number of cores is said to have a point of no return, more cores is after all more cores. I do not feel I have a need to over-clock my dual Xeons, 3.06 Ghz seems to be doing well enough without pushing them, and creating more heat when it's not needed.

My machine is a Levovo ThinkStation D-20, old technology by gearlust standards, I don't feel a need for newer technology. I also only have 1 SSD for OS/Programs, I still use 7200 RPM platters for my audio drive & samples drive. I haven't realized any difference in using an SSD compared to my other even older Win XP DAW's. I think it was Leon here, that told me a while back my Lenovo is too old to really see an improvement with SSD's so maybe that's why? Granted if I was to build my own DAW PC again at this day and age, I'd probably use all SSD's. My current DAW came with 2 platter drives, and I added an SSD. I still see no need to replace the platters.
Old 5 days ago
  #16
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So, the issue with moore's law is that chip designers kind of broke it. We might be reaching the limits of what we can do with speed, hence the change to more cores and more power efficiency.

As an example...in one second, Light would be able to orbit the world ~7 times. In the time it takes an i7 to execute one instruction, light moves less than a foot. Processors are fast.

This speed actually creates some weird problems. Chip designers are dealing with quantum effects to the extent that a significant amount of the power used by a modern processor goes to replace electrons lost through quantum tunneling.

That's been true since we hit a little under 4 GHz clocks (despite the fact that x86-64 uses a lot of multi-cycle instructions).

It's going to be a while before we see any significant speed changes. A decent number of the computer engineers I went to school with are convinced that we won't...that we've hit a physical barrier to speed and that a significant architecture change would be necessary, at the very least.

Hence...marketing changing to being about cores.

Modern CPUs sit around waiting for things to do under most workloads. For a while, caches were the bottleneck. They got bigger and faster. Then RAM became the bottleneck.

It's to the point that hardcore/enthusiast overclockers are deep diving into memory timings just to feed the CPU caches faster, to the extent that different kits of the same SKU give different performances on benchmarks based on how well they hold tighter timings and higher memory clocks...it's not huge, but I've seen some examples of 3-5%, which is fairly large at the top end these days.

It doesn't matter much except for benchmarks, but it's still crazy.

And people doing experiments with NVMe RAID-0 setups have been getting speeds almost comparable to ramdisks, though setting that up requires CPU PCIe lanes for the drives, so it precludes the use of graphics cards, sound cards, and a lot of other stuff.

It's an exciting time. Overkill today is so much cooler and faster than overkill 10 years ago.

In some ways, it's down to the coders actually taking advantage of how modern processors work.

How does this affect buying guides? IDK. If you're not getting latency issues (DPC in windows; infinity bridge bottlenecking cache to cache transfers on Threadripper; etc.), RAM with better timings and faster disks are going to be the bigger upgrades. And they still won't matter compared to rendering 4k+ video (either from video production or gaming) or feeding clusters of graphics cards (mining, scientific computing, etc.).

But for a purpose-built DAW, I'm not sure the details matter all that much anymore as long as you can set the computer up to give the right bandwidth to audio interfaces and drives to not bottleneck them badly....and that mostly only matters for high channel counts.

There is a slight difference in real time processing vs. raw power. It's important that the computer can do things when it needs to. And AFAIK, that's about drivers and software setup (and easier on OS X due to differences in cpu scheduling algorithms).

I might be missing something, but that's what I see.

For me personally, I can almost justify a threadripper just so I can split up audio tasks and VMs onto different dies so they essentially won't compete for CPU, cache, or memory timings/resources. But, I'm pretty sure that's an absolutely ridiculous level of overkill, especially considering the age of computers in most pro studios and the fact that people use modern MacBook Pros for real audio work, despite the fact that the thermal design is so bad that they are always throttling the clocks down.
Old 5 days ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Fogal View Post
When I previously stated that my current 12 core DAW has two 6 core Xeons (@3.06 Ghz per core), and I haven't noticed any issues with using dual processors, I had only heard of potential issues with some kind of latency I believe it was? I've actually been wondering about this lately, and have been meaning to research what is said regarding this. Though I really don't know if this actually matters in reality, for me personally. Even if having a high number of cores is said to have a point of no return, more cores is after all more cores. I do not feel I have a need to over-clock my dual Xeons, 3.06 Ghz seems to be doing well enough without pushing them, and creating more heat when it's not needed.
I have dual 8 core Xeons (2687w), and no issues with latency.

The only problems I had was incompatibility with certain audio programs, which I've come to conclude was a problem with having HT on.

BTW, Xeons generally aren't overclockable. First you have to have a MB that can OC (AFAIK, the MB I have, EVGA SR-X, is one of the few, dual CPU MBs that is, that has that capability), and more importantly, the CPUs themselves have to be unlocked (the 2687w's aren't).

Intel the other day is announced a Xeon W-3175X, a 28-core, 56-thread Xeon with unlocked multipliers for overclocking. That looks pretty beastly, and also extremely expensive.
Old 5 days ago
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
I have dual 8 core Xeons (2687w), and no issues with latency.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Fogal View Post
When I previously stated that my current 12 core DAW has two 6 core Xeons (@3.06 Ghz per core), and I haven't noticed any issues with using dual processors, I had only heard of potential issues with some kind of latency I believe it was?
Rather than being straight up "issues", meaning stuff not working, to me it seems as if the point that people are making is that you're not getting a linear increase in performance by adding cores the same way you get close to linear increases running the CPU faster.

So;

1 core @ 2GHz = "2GHz performance" (for lack of better wording)
1 core @ 4GHz = "4GHz performance"
2 CPUs w/ 1 core each @ 2GHz = slightly less than 4GHz performance

So the scaling is different. I believe the same is true, roughly, of increasing core count within one CPU die. Although that surely depends on the architecture etc.
Old 5 days ago
  #19
As DAW PLUS correctly stated, there is no single answer, it all depends on the workflow. (And budget, I might add.)

But in additon to all the loose talk and opinions here: if the question was asked with the intention of buying a new computer there are actual facts to lean on: DAWBench | Scan Pro Audio
Old 5 days ago
  #20
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Do earlier versions of cubase (5.1.2 - 7) have an issue with dual CPU's ?
Old 5 days ago
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
I have dual 8 core Xeons (2687w), and no issues with latency.

The only problems I had was incompatibility with certain audio programs, which I've come to conclude was a problem with having HT on.

BTW, Xeons generally aren't overclockable. First you have to have a MB that can OC (AFAIK, the MB I have, EVGA SR-X, is one of the few, dual CPU MBs that is, that has that capability), and more importantly, the CPUs themselves have to be unlocked (the 2687w's aren't).

Intel the other day is announced a Xeon W-3175X, a 28-core, 56-thread Xeon with unlocked multipliers for overclocking. That looks pretty beastly, and also extremely expensive.
Good golly! and I thought my system was over the top (for it's day anyway). I don't get anywhere near using the resources on mine. Oh and I looked up your CPU's, and I see yours came out a year later than mine, and is a little better though takes up more power.

________________________________________________________________

Plus some more interesting replies here, so it seems that although there may be some penalties, the fact that there are more resources present and available makes it fairly negligible. If one is building a new system, these are things to consider, although in my case I bought this machine off-lease/used at such a great price, nearly equal to buying one new badass CPU, because it wasn't the latest & greatest.
Old 1 day ago
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by snoskit View Post
Do earlier versions of cubase (5.1.2 - 7) have an issue with dual CPU's ?
No, I worked with Nuendo on a dual PIII in 2001. Worked like a charm. Cubase since SX uses the same multithreading engine, which obviously has been updated over the years.
Old 1 day ago
  #23
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So, I am curious as to how many people are finding that the current technology such as an i7-8700k with 32 gig of ram isn't enough? I know the orchestral composers are able to use 128 gig of ram, but are there many people finding a current technology DAW doing pop music can't support a reasonable number of tracks with a reasonable number of plugins per track? My own projects are small track count wise, and I do things like have a single instance of reverb on its own buss, but my daw simply isn't breaking a sweat. Wondering how many others are running out of gas on their stuff?
Old 1 day ago
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAW PLUS View Post
No, I worked with Nuendo on a dual PIII in 2001. Worked like a charm. Cubase since SX uses the same multithreading engine, which obviously has been updated over the years.
Thanks for your reply

-long story short: upon upgrading to x2 X5680 from 1x X5590 (an old Dell T7500) all the frequency+power adjusting features of the bios where re-enabled ~ I forget to check

All good now; the extra cores have made a very noticable difference in both available ASIO time and the underlying cpu usage.
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