Increasing productivity by selecting a multi-processor workstation

Increasing productivity by selecting a multi-processor workstation
Increasing productivity by selecting
a multi-processor workstation
With the advent of multi-core processing,
workstation users might be tempted to think
that a single processor, multi-core workstation
is sufficient. However, multiple processors—
and thus more cores—can provide increased
productivity in a variety of ways, and can
provide better value over the life of
the workstation.
HP recommends Windows® 7.
Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Using more processor cores . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Multi-tasking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Multi-threading. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Mega-tasking. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
How applications use more power. . . . . . . . . . 7
The HP Personal Workstation Family. . . . . . . . . 8
The case for a mid- . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
or high-end workstation
Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
For more information. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Introduction
Today’s workstation vendors provide IT managers a choice of
products, from low-cost entry-level to higher-performing and more
capable mid- to high-end systems. Given the current availability of
multi-core processors1 we might be tempted to select a workstation
with a single processor socket and leave it at that. After all, within
that single socket, there are really two, four or six processors,
right? And that’s two to six times the processing power we used
to get in a personal workstation, right?
Yes, there are more processor cores available today in a singlesocket workstation, and yes, they can give users more processing
power. However, advancements in processor performance easily
extend into the dual-socket workstations by providing increased
end-user productivity over single-socket workstations.
There are several ways to leverage additional processor cores in
a personal workstation, and all of them can increase productivity
by increasing the available problem-solving power. Additionally,
current operating systems use multiple cores to overlap many
internal operations—improving the workstation’s responsiveness
and reducing frustration due to slow response times.
Today many professional applications employ a “divide and
conquer” technique by splitting parts of the application up
and spreading the parts across available processor cores. This
technique reduces time-to-solution by reducing runtime for single,
larger problems. More processing elements enable overlapping
segments of a workflow by running multiple copies of an
application or multiple applications simultaneously. Lastly, some
users leverage more processing cores to solve larger problems,
improving precision of an analysis and reducing the number of
iterations necessary for a quality design.
In this paper, we will examine the technology behind leveraging
multi-core processors and provide some examples. In addition,
we’ll examine the business aspects of using a dual-socket
workstation where previously a single-socket system might have
been employed.
HPrecommends
recommendsWindows
Windows® 7.
Increasing productivity by Windows®.
selecting Life without Walls™.HP
a multi-processor workstation
Using more processor cores
The single greatest difference between entry-level workstations and their higher-end brethren is an additional processor
socket. The additional socket doubles the theoretical processing power—usually adding an additional two, four or six
processor cores. In most cases, end users can tap into this additional performance—especially with newer operating
environments and the development of more multi-core-aware applications—to enhance productivity.
There are three ways of leveraging additional processing cores: multi-tasking, multi-threading, and “mega-tasking.” We’ll
examine each of these below, with the goal of showing the productivity increase an end user can experience by using a
dual-socket workstation.
Multi-tasking
Successfully employing multiple processors to increase performance always involves splitting work up across the system’s
processors, whether these pieces of work are processes (tasks) or threads (portions of a single task). The former is called
multi-tasking (or multi-processing); the latter is called multi-threading.
Multi-tasking is easily accomplished, since no modification of applications or user workflow is required. For example,
multiple copies of a user’s application, or different stages of an application’s workflow, can be executing simultaneously—
automatically increase the amount of compute work accomplished in a given elapsed time.
Modern operating systems heavily employ multi-tasking, providing overlapped system services and improve end-user
responsiveness. For example, network activity, routine file system maintenance tasks like virus checking or backups,
and background printing can all be executing at the same time the user’s core application is running unimpeded on its
“own” processing core(s). Multi-tasking allows an operating system to respond more quickly to user requests, improving
responsiveness and reducing frustration caused from sluggish response times.
Multi-threading
Multi-threading is another method of increasing performance by employing all available processing cores to reduce the
time-to-solution for a single application. Multi-threading, also called parallelization, involves breaking the application into
pieces and spreading the pieces over multiple processor cores
Multi-threading requires support from the application, and some applications have not been modified to take advantage
multi-threading. However, as multi-core workstations and servers become more prevalent, software vendors are rapidly
modifying their applications to utilize multiple cores. For example, key operations in many compute-intensive applications
such as CAE and CAD have been multi-threaded to improve their performance.
2
HPrecommends
recommendsWindows
Windows® 7.
Increasing productivity by Windows®.
selecting Life without Walls™.HP
a multi-processor workstation
To display the value of adding a sufficient number of processor cores to the workstation, we configured an HP Z400
and HP Z600 identically, with the single exception that the HP Z600 has an additional processor running at the same
frequency as the processor in the HP Z400. Performance was then measured across several applications spanning the
CAD/CAE, finance, and digital media and entertainment (DME) market segments. The following three charts show the
results. Each chart shows the average performance gain, along with the amount of daily time savings experienced by the
user.
FIGURE 1
MCAE performance*
Ansys
UP TO 93 MINUTES** SAVED PER DAY
1.8
1.6
+45%
1.4
1.2
1
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0
BM-1
BM-2
Performance HP Workstation
1 x quad-core
BM-3
BM-4
BM-5
Mid-range HP Workstation
2 x quad-core
BM-6
BM-7
Average
* Source: HP Workstations Technical Marketing benchmarks
** 60/min x 5 jobs/day
Figure 1 illustrates a Mechanical Computer Aided Engineering (MCAE) application—Ansys. Doubling the number of processor
cores—moving from a single-processor HP Z400 to a dual-processor HP Z600—results in a productivity increase of 45%.
3
HPrecommends
recommendsWindows
Windows® 7.
Increasing productivity by Windows®.
selecting Life without Walls™.HP
a multi-processor workstation
FIGURE 2
Financial Services performance*
UP TO 147 MINUTES** SAVED PER DAY
+96%
2
1.8
1.6
1.4
1.2
1
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0
SunGard
Performance HP Workstation
1 x quad-core
Monte Carlo
Mid-range HP Workstation
2 x quad-core
Average
* Source: HP Workstations Technical Marketing benchmarks
** 60/min x 5 jobs/day
Figure 2 illustrates two financial modeling/analysis workflows, which are highly efficient at utilizing available processor cores.
Doubling the number of processor cores—moving from a single-processor HP Z400 to a dual-processor HP Z600—results in a
productivity increase of 96%.
4
HPrecommends
recommendsWindows
Windows® 7.
Increasing productivity by Windows®.
selecting Life without Walls™.HP
a multi-processor workstation
In a similar fashion, much of video editing on workstations is compressed high-definition (HD) format. Such compressed
formats requires decompression “on the fly” during any editing or timeline scrubbing of the video. The real-time
decompression can be distributed across all of the available cores, improving response time and allowing real-time
previews of edits. In an industry where time translates directly to money, the advantage of reducing rendering and editing
time becomes immediately apparent.
FIGURE 3
DME performance*
3D animation and video editing
UP TO 110 MINUTES** SAVED PER DAY
2
1.8
+58%
1.6
1.4
1.2
1
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0
3DSMax
Performance HP Workstation
1 x quad-core
Lightwave
Mid-range HP Workstation
2 x quad-core
Premiere Pro
Average
* Source: HP Workstations Technical Marketing benchmarks
** 60/min x 5 jobs/day
Figure 3 illustrates the increased performance of several digital media applications. Since rendering is a parallel operation,
frames can be rendered independently, and theoretically the application could use as many processors as are available (with a
commensurate reduction in rendering times). Doubling the number of processor cores—moving from a single-processor HP Z400 to a
dual-processor HP Z600—results in a productivity increase of 58%.
5
HPrecommends
recommendsWindows
Windows® 7.
Increasing productivity by Windows®.
selecting Life without Walls™.HP
a multi-processor workstation
Mega-tasking
Another way of increasing overall productivity is by utilizing the concept of “mega-tasking.” Mega-tasking is a term used
to describe the parallelization of workflow segments. Unlike multi-tasking and multi-threading, mega-tasking involves
modifying the way users work—as opposed to the workstation changing the way it works.
Mega-tasking involves breaking up the user’s workflow into smaller independent pieces and distributing these workflow
segments across available processor cores. For example, in a typical serial CAE/CAD workflow, an engineer develops a
design, performs some kind of simulation (structural analysis, fluid flow, etc.), and then observes the results (Figure 4). In
many cases, the design and simulation parts of the workflow can be overlapped (assuming there is sufficient computing
power available).
FIGURE 4
Mega-tasking
Multiple workflows in process simultaneously can improve productivity
Working serially
Design
Simulate
Analyze
Design
Simulate
Analyze
Overlapping tasks (mega-tasking)
Design
Simulate
Analyze
Design
Simulate
Analyze
Design
8 AM
Simulate
Analyze
Typical work day
5 PM
A workstation with two quad- or six-core processors is an excellent platform for mega-tasking. In many cases, engineers
may not have attempted this kind of “parallel processing,” since the compute power wasn’t available. An entry-level,
single-socket system would probably not have sufficient computing capabilities to run several simulations at once; a more
capable system is needed.
As shown in Figure 4, a designer can be much more productive and, in this case, more compute power enables the
engineer to complete three work cycles compared to the time it previously took to complete two (a 50% gain
in productivity).
6
HPrecommends
recommendsWindows
Windows® 7.
Increasing productivity by Windows®.
selecting Life without Walls™.HP
a multi-processor workstation
How applications use more power
Now that we’ve discussed the productivity benefits behind using more processing cores, let’s examine how more
cores can be used for various application segments (see Table below). While we necessarily have to make some
generalizations, the characteristics of applications within a particular segment are fairly similar in their use of increased
processing power.
Applicable multi-core technologies
MT = Multi-tasking
MD = Multi-threading
MG = Mega-tasking
Application segment
Characteristics
AEC entry CAD
Lower processing power; low price is key issue. An
entry-level solution is ideal for those who do not have
larger model requirements.
AEC mid-market CAD
Mid-range workstations are a good fit for those users
that require Mid-market AEC solutions but are cost
sensitive. Applications don’t require high-end/extreme
3D graphics cards.
AEC professional CAD
Applications benefit from dual processor capability,
larger memory capacity, and high-end and extreme
3D graphics
CAD entry
Combines price sensitivity with the performance
needed to run 2D and 3D entry level CAD.
Applications and the user environment generally
benefit from multiple cores.
CAD mid-market
Low- and mid-range workstations fit well for users
who require mid-market CAD solutions but are price
sensitive.
CAD enterprise
Applications often require large memory capacity,
high-end and extreme 3D graphics, and elaborate
RAID solutions.
DME 2D animation/
imaging
Users perform image manipulation and 2D animation.
Applications are often multi-threaded.
DME 3D animation
Requires high-end or extreme 3D graphics cards,
multiple cores, and large memory capacities.
DCC digital video/NLE
Low- and mid-range workstations fit well for these
users. NLE can generally take advantage of multiple
processors in rendering and real-time compression/
decompression.
Financial services
Traders use many different applications. High
throughput (many separate jobs) is important.
Power office
Users perform complicated and data-intensive office
functions, including graphics, video and web design,
complex linked worksheet calculations, database
storage/access and spreadsheet manipulations.
Public sector
Includes such entities as government organizations
(including the military), educational institutions, and
some healthcare and other not-for-profit organizations.
Low cost is important.
Software development
Involves the manipulation of many files; many
concurrent tasks can run at once.
MT
MD
MG
Overall benefits
of more cores
in this industry/
application
Lowest
Highest
7
HPrecommends
recommendsWindows
Windows® 7.
Increasing productivity by Windows®.
selecting Life without Walls™.HP
a multi-processor workstation
The HP Workstation family
For over 25 years, scientists, engineers, designers, financial analysts, and artists have used HP Workstations to improve
their efficiency of work and the quality of products they create. They count on HP developers to employ first-to-market
advances in processors, packaging, graphics, and I/O subsystems to create platforms that improve their competitiveness
in the industry. HP Z Workstations (Figure 5) provide an extremely broad product portfolio, offering end users a
completely revamped system architecture that provides greater power, reliability, and serviceability for users in all
workstation industries.
FIGURE 5
The HP Workstation family
HP Z800—The ultimate in power and expandability
Streamlined chassis 35% smaller than competitive products
•
•
•
•
Genuine Windows® 7 Ultimate or other editions available
Intel® Xeon® Processor 5600 Series2,3
Storage up to 10 TB4
Graphics up to 8 displays or dual NVIDIA Quadro 6000
HP Z600—Massive performance in a small footprint
Sleek tool-less chassis with integrated handles and visually cable-less design
•Genuine Windows® 7 Ultimate or other editions available
• Intel® Xeon® Processor 5600 Series2,3
• Storage up to 6 TB4
• Graphics up to 8 displays or dual NVIDIA Quadro 2000 or AMD FirePro V5900
HP Z400—Breakthrough price and performance
Redefines the power users expect from a PC
•Genuine Windows® 7 Ultimate or other editions available
• Intel® Xeon® Processor 3500 and 3600 Series2,3
• Storage up to 8 TB4
• Graphics up to 8 displays or dual NVIDIA Quadro 2000 or AMD FirePro V5900
HP Z210 CMT—Low-cost, high-performance mainstream entry workstation
Workstation-class productivity on a PC budget
• Genuine Windows® 7 Ultimate or other editions available
• 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i3, i5, and i7 Processors and Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 Series2,3
• Storage up to 4.5 TB4
• Graphics up to NVIDIA Quadro 2000 or AMD FirePro V5900
HP Z210 SFF—Small size, great value, and rock-solid application performance
65% smaller than the HP Z200 convertible mini-tower
• Genuine Windows® 7 Ultimate or other editions available
• 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i3, i5, and i7 Processors and Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 Series2,3
• Storage up to 2 TB4
• Graphics up to NVIDIA Quadro FX 380 LP or ATI FirePro V3800
8
HPrecommends
recommendsWindows
Windows® 7.
Increasing productivity by Windows®.
selecting Life without Walls™.HP
a multi-processor workstation
The HP Workstation family continued
The HP Z210s are great systems for light desktop use and OEMs while the HP Z400 is the starting point workstation for
mainstream CAD, CAE, video editing, and AEC applications. We will examine these systems in detail, and highlight
some of the benefits of choosing an HP Z600 Workstation as a productivity enhancement over the entry-level HP Z400
Workstation.
• The HP Z210 Workstations—The new HP Z210 Convertible Minitower (CMT) and Small Form Factor (SFF) Workstations
are single processor-socket workstations that feature Genuine Windows® 7 Ultimate or other editions available and the
next generation Intel® Xeon® Processor E3-1200 Family including the high performance 3.5GHz Intel® Xeon® E3-1280,
or 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i3/i5/i7 processors.1,2 They support the new Intel® HD Graphics P3000/2000 and 2D
and 3D professional graphics options from NVIDIA and AMD interfaces, and up to 16 GB ECC memory.
• The HP Z400 Workstation—This single processor-socket workstation features Genuine Windows® 7 Ultimate or other
editions available, and is based on the Intel® X58 Express performance chipset, and supports one dual-, quad- or
six-core Intel® Xeon® up to 3.46 GHz1,2. It supports a dual PCIe x16 graphics interface and up to 24 GB of memory.
• The HP Z600 Workstation—This dual processor-socket workstation features Genuine Windows® 7 Ultimate or other
editions available, and is based on the Intel® 5520 chipset, and supports two quad- or six-core Intel® Xeon® processors
up to 3.06 GHz1,2. It supports a dual PCIe x16 graphics interface and up to 48 GB of memory.
• The HP Z800 Workstation—This dual processor-socket workstation features Genuine Windows® 7 Ultimate or other
editions available, and is based on the Intel® 5520 chipset, and supports two quad- or six-core Intel® Xeon® processors
up to 3.46 GHz1,2. It supports up to two dual PCIe x16 graphics interfaces and supports up to 192 GB of memory.
9
HPrecommends
recommendsWindows
Windows® 7.
Increasing productivity by Windows®.
selecting Life without Walls™.HP
a multi-processor workstation
The case for a mid- or high-end workstation
As we have seen, in most situations—from Architectural Engineering to CAD to power office users—more processing
cores provides performance benefits in one or more ways. We’ve also seen how the increased performance can translate
into higher productivity for the engineer, designer, or artist working on a workstation. The following case study illustrating
a typical situation where selecting a dual-processor system ultimately benefits a corporation.
Let’s begin by comparing similar configurations of the entry-level HP Z400 Workstation with the mid-range HP Z600
Workstation. Each has the same amount of memory, graphics card, and storage options; the configurations are as close
to equal configurations as their architectures will allow, excepting the number of processors (Figure 6).
FIGURE 6
Workstation comparison
Entry-level and mid-range workstations comparably equipped and their list price.
HP Z400 Workstation with (1) processor, (4) cores
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
HP Z400 Workstation
Genuine Windows® 7 Professional 64-bit5
475 W 85% efficient power supply
One quad-core Intel® Xeon® W3520 processor 2.66 GHz
8 MB/1066 Mhz1,2,3
NVIDIA Quadro FX 1800 768 MB
HP 12 GB (6 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333 MHz ECC RAM6
HP 250 GB SATA 7200 1st HDD4,7
HP 16X DVD +-RW/SuperMulti SATA8
No floppy disk option
HP PS/2 Standard Keyboard
HP PS/2 Optical Scroll Mouse
3 years parts, labor, and onsite service (3/3/3) standard
warranty. Certain restrictions and exclusions apply.
$2,783.00
HP Z600 Workstation with (2) processors, (8) cores
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
HP Z600 Workstation
Genuine Windows® 7 Professional 64-bit5
650 W 85% efficient power supply
Two quad-core Intel® Xeon® E5640 processors 2.66 GHz 12
MB/1066 Mhz1,2,3
NVIDIA Quadro FX 1800 768 MB
HP 12 GB (6 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333 MHz ECC 2-CPU RAM6
HP 250 GB SATA 7200 1st HDD4,7
HP 16X DVD +-RW/SuperMulti SATA8
No floppy disk option
HP PS/2 Standard Keyboard
HP PS/2 Optical Scroll Mouse
3 years parts, labor, and onsite service (3/3/3) standard
warranty. Certain restrictions and exclusions apply.
$5,596.00
As shown in Figure 6, the incremental price difference of a two-processor, eight-core system over a one-processor, quad-core system is
$2,813 ($5,596 - $2,783).
10
HPrecommends
recommendsWindows
Windows® 7.
Increasing productivity by Windows®.
selecting Life without Walls™.HP
a multi-processor workstation
Pulling all this performance and investment information together, we arrive at the chart depicted in Figure 7 below,
which shows the time necessary to recover the incremental investment in a dual-socket workstation. The horizontal red
line represents the $2,813 incremental investment needed to move from an HP Z400 to an HP Z600 configured as
shown in the previous section. This chart shows several lines representing varying increases in productivity. Recall that the
performance charts previously shown depict performance increases of 45% to 96%; thus the numbers shown below are
very conservative. As you can see, the investment is recovered in a very short period of time.
FIGURE 7
Time to recover investment
Additional processor assuming different productivity increase
12
10%
10
8%
Savings (K $)
8
6%
6
4%
4
2%
2
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
Months
Break-even
Productivity increase (%)
Figure 7 illustrates the time to recover the investment of an additional processor, assuming productivity increases from 2% to 10%.
11
Increasing productivity by selecting
a multi-processor workstation
HP recommends Windows® 7.
Summary
It should be clear that there is a productivity improvement when using more processor cores. The decision becomes “is
the increased productivity worth the incremental price for stepping up to the next workstation level?” We contend that the
answer is almost always yes, for a variety of reasons:
• The initial purchase price can be negligible compared to the return on investment.
• The number of opportunities for leveraging a multi-processor system will only increase in coming years.
Most of these benefits come from the fact that the initial purchase price is often small compared to the return on investment
(depending upon the productivity increases seen), and that the additional productivity benefits occur across the lifetime of
the workstation.
Further, application developers continue to improve applications’ ability to take advantage of multiple processing cores.
As technology and techniques improve, more and more applications will be multi-threaded, making a dual-processor
workstation a highly attractive alternative to a single-processor, entry-level system.
End users and OEMs that are considering a workstation with the lowest possible acquisition cost should consider the total
cost of ownership and improvements in end user productivity that are potentially available from dual-processor personal
workstation.
1 Dual-, quad- and six-core technologies are designed to improve performance of multi-threaded software products and hardware-aware multi-tasking operating
systems and may require appropriate operating system software for full benefits. Not all customers or software applications will necessarily benefit from use of
these technologies.
2 64-bit computing on Intel® architecture requires a computer system with a processor, chipset, BIOS, operating system, device drivers and applications enabled for
Intel® 64 architecture. Processors will not operate (including 32-bit operation) without an Intel® 64 architecture-enabled BIOS. Performance will vary depending on
your hardware and software configurations. See www.intel.com/info/em64t for more information.
3 Intel’s numbering is not a measurement of higher performance.
4 For hard drives, 1 GB = 1 billion bytes. TB = 1 trillion bytes. Actual formatted capacity is less. Up to 8 GB of hard drive (or system disk) is reserved for the system
recovery software for Windows XP and XP Pro, up to 12 GB for Windows Vista, and up to 20 GB for Windows 7.
5 Windows 7 systems may require upgraded and/or separately purchased hardware and/or a DVD drive to install the Windows software and take full advantage of
Windows 7 functionality. See www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7 for details.
6 Each processor supports up to 2 channels (HP Z210 CMT/HP Z210 SFF) or 3 channels (HP Z400/HP Z600/HP Z800) of DDR3 memory. To realize full performance
at least 1 DIMM must be inserted into each channel. To get full 6 channel support, 2 processors MUST be installed.
7 SATA hardware RAID is not supported on Linux systems. The Linux kernel, with built-in software RAID, provides excellent functionality and performance. It is a
good alternative to hardware-based RAID. Please visit http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bc/docs/support/SupportManual/c00060684/c00060684.pdf for RAID
capabilities with Linux.
8 Actual speeds may vary. Does not permit copying of commercially available DVD movies or other copyright protected materials. Intended for creation and storage of
your original material and other lawful uses.
Intel, Core, and Xeon are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. Windows is a U.S. registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. ATI is a
trademark of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.
© 2011 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for HP products and
services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional
warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein.
For more information, visit the HP Workstations home page at http://www.hp.com/go/workstations.
4AA3-3374ENW, August 2011
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