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Old 01-28-05, 06:49 PM   #1
wrugoin
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Default Will the 1st dual cores choke current games?

I was just reading an article about dual core cpus and it was mentioned that they'll probably be introduced where each core is clocked significantly lower then current single core CPUs on the market right now. This got me thinking. With almost all current games on the market only single threaded, if AMD comes out with a dual core at say...3GHz (1.5 x 1.5) won't this CPU choke on those games? Wouldn't they have to run at 1.5GHz which is significantly lower then the current 2-2.6GHz+ chips we have on the market right now?

I'm not a programer, so this question might sound stupid also, but would it be possible for current games to supply a patch to take advantage of dual cores? Or could AMD and Intel come out with a dual core chip that'll act like a single core to single threaded apps and games, and dual core to multiple treaded apps and games?

Any and all help is appreciated. Thanks
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Old 01-28-05, 08:31 PM   #2
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Default Re: Will the 1st dual cores choke current games?

This is a very good question. Unfortunately I don't have an accurate answer for you. I do have some opinions though. I am a programmer and have some experience with multiple processors and multiple threads.

To me, the bottom line is that multiple processors need to run separate, independent (or low dependent) processes. A current game application running on Windows would not immediately benefit from multiple processors. Sure the OS might run the Game on one CPU and the background tasks on the other CPU, but those background tasks take 0-2% of modern CPU time anyway.

Current games do use a bunch of background threads for things like Sound, Networking and Graphics, mostly at the driver level. From my experience, it is rare to use separate OS threads within games themselves, as manual management and synchronization of executing code is more efficient than spawning OS controlled threads to run parts of the game.

Usually when a new feature arrives on a CPU, which has the side effect of initially lower clock speeds or such, it is still more efficient, or very close to the performance of existing CPUs, otherwise it is very difficult to sell. We see this in the case of 64bit AMD CPUs, where current software benefited from the new architecture, despite not using the new features, even though the clock speed was the same or lower than past generations.
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Old 01-28-05, 08:39 PM   #3
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Default Re: Will the 1st dual cores choke current games?

Yes they will. Few games are multithreaded.

Greg is right in how there are background threads in most cases, however the load they place on the CPU is completely marginal compared to animation, AI, and physics. The CPU time it takes to run I/O, audio, and OS tasks is NOTHING compared to the aforementioned.

Considering that AMD is DEFINITELY dropping clockspeed on both cores I don't see how there will be a performance advantage initially. When you have a game engine that runs largely in parallel for all the non-graphics calculations you'll see an enormous speed boost.

I still think it's a good deal though, and I can't wait to get onto it. I run Linux allot, and I like the idea of running a portage compile whilst playing a game. I think we'll be seeing more multitasking environment very very soon, even in regular OS tasks and in UI design itself.
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Old 01-28-05, 08:55 PM   #4
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Default Re: Will the 1st dual cores choke current games?

In that case, is it possible for programers at say Valve or ID Software to come out with a patch that makes Half-Life 2 and Doom III multi-threaded? Or would something like that involve rewriting the game's code almost from scratch?

Also, would it be difficult for programers to release future game with both single-threaded code, and multi-threaded code? Does that make sense at all to do? Or do multi-threaded programs work fine on a single core setup?
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Old 01-28-05, 09:03 PM   #5
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Default Re: Will the 1st dual cores choke current games?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg
Current games do use a bunch of background threads for things like Sound, Networking and Graphics, mostly at the driver level. From my experience, it is rare to use separate OS threads within games themselves, as manual management and synchronization of executing code is more efficient than spawning OS controlled threads to run parts of the game.
Hmm....I would venture to guess that if they were to have different threads for ai, physics, sound, net, etc they should be able to get some speed advantage. Perhapse even better so if it weren't spawned off as individual threads to the OS, but rather the game can allocate different simultaneous tasks to different CPU's at the API level. But then that would require a whole new computer architecture...
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Old 01-28-05, 09:54 PM   #6
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Default Re: Will the 1st dual cores choke current games?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wrugoin
In that case, is it possible for programers at say Valve or ID Software to come out with a patch that makes Half-Life 2 and Doom III multi-threaded? Or would something like that involve rewriting the game's code almost from scratch?

Also, would it be difficult for programers to release future game with both single-threaded code, and multi-threaded code? Does that make sense at all to do? Or do multi-threaded programs work fine on a single core setup?
Due to the work involved in doing that and all the source code they have to change, I'd guess that we'll see flying pigs before that happens.
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Old 01-29-05, 01:29 AM   #7
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Default Re: Will the 1st dual cores choke current games?

The answer is Yes with a but.

Buying a lower clocked chip but dual core will not help games at all. A faster single processor rig will rape it in benchmarks.

Here is a explination, Dual Core is not going to do anything new, you can experince the preformance gains (or LACK there of) your self right now.

Simply build a SMP system today you will get the exact same gains as a Dual Core chip.

See what alot of people cannot graps is marketing, once they hear Dual Core they belive it is diffrent than SMP, however it is infact not.

To save you a few thousand bucks, in gameing you will get no preformance gain and in some cases a preformance drop when you have 2 cpu's. However you will get gains in applications such as Databases, Webservers, Game servers...any process that can be desgined around multi user *things*

Moveing on to the next question Can't programmers just make games work better with two processors.

Yes they could, but it will not happen and in the games that have attempted to work with SMP have only degraded preformance.


Here is a really oversimplfied simi explination of why its hard to make it work.

Basicly think of it as this, the OS has to schedule the many diffrent processes, as long as the game is in one thread and executed in its order eveyrthing will feel right. Basicly, lets say HL2 programmers decide to do all Physics processing on CPU2, sounds good right? However, it many cases one process will fall behind, one will get pushed up ahead, and then they will be perpetual waiting on eachother.
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Old 01-29-05, 10:21 AM   #8
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Default Re: Will the 1st dual cores choke current games?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlowStick
The answer is Yes with a but.

Buying a lower clocked chip but dual core will not help games at all. A faster single processor rig will rape it in benchmarks.

Here is a explination, Dual Core is not going to do anything new, you can experince the preformance gains (or LACK there of) your self right now.

Simply build a SMP system today you will get the exact same gains as a Dual Core chip.

See what alot of people cannot graps is marketing, once they hear Dual Core they belive it is diffrent than SMP, however it is infact not.

To save you a few thousand bucks, in gameing you will get no preformance gain and in some cases a preformance drop when you have 2 cpu's. However you will get gains in applications such as Databases, Webservers, Game servers...any process that can be desgined around multi user *things*

Moveing on to the next question Can't programmers just make games work better with two processors.

Yes they could, but it will not happen and in the games that have attempted to work with SMP have only degraded preformance.


Here is a really oversimplfied simi explination of why its hard to make it work.

Basicly think of it as this, the OS has to schedule the many diffrent processes, as long as the game is in one thread and executed in its order eveyrthing will feel right. Basicly, lets say HL2 programmers decide to do all Physics processing on CPU2, sounds good right? However, it many cases one process will fall behind, one will get pushed up ahead, and then they will be perpetual waiting on eachother.
Damn all of you i was looking forward to dual core . Might have to just upgrade now
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Old 01-29-05, 10:43 AM   #9
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Default Re: Will the 1st dual cores choke current games?

I knew it was going to be underwhelming at introduction when I first read about it. Bah.
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Old 01-29-05, 10:59 AM   #10
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Default Re: Will the 1st dual cores choke current games?

Once applicable to games though, it will make extreme pwnage of the best single core models.

AMD is doing it right though, and putting it where it's applicable, into the Opteron. Intel just INSISTS on shooting itself and launching smithfield as a consumer platform. AMD will continue to pwn them for it too.
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Old 01-29-05, 11:00 AM   #11
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Default Re: Will the 1st dual cores choke current games?

Hehe, this reminds me of a friend of mine back in the days, His dad ownd a puter store and that kid usually had all the coolest stuff.

So he one day upgraded to dual CPU (2x400mhz i belive) as he thought it would be as fast as 800mhz. He was rather disapointed to say the least.
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Old 01-29-05, 11:05 AM   #12
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Default Re: Will the 1st dual cores choke current games?

There does need to be a change in the way games are programmed to take advantage of multi-core technology. Unfortunately its not something that can easily be applied in a patch to existing games. It really needs designing to be a multi-threaded game from scratch really.

Been thinking about this a little recently, as the next set of consoles are also going to be multi-core. One in particular is having around 3 cores, each with HT type technology. There are 2 routes you can take, one is to create a very complicated scheduling system (Consoles dont have OS's to do this automatically), which sends out work packets to respective cores based on their current load. This means alot of thread switching tho, and is probably very complicated.

The other idea I had is to create X main threads to the game (Where X is the number of cores on the target platform). i.e. Renderer thread, physics + collision thread, and a game logic and audio thread in the case of the console with 3 cores. This allows each core to have their own work load without introducing the complexity of dynamically scheduling work across the cores. You still need to be very careful about how the threads access the same data for example. Suppose the game logic thread is updating the position of a player, while the collision thread tries the read the position after only having part of the X,Y,Z data updated. Chaos and crashes ensures. Typically this isn't an issue at all in single threaded games, its not hard to overcome by any means, but it is still extra architecture design that needs to be accounted for, and done very early on, or you'll have no end of bugs and problems.

I have no idea if this is a decent idea or not, aint even tested it.. But its quite likely something like this will need to be used in future games to get the benefit from multi-core processing systems.

Quote:
Basicly think of it as this, the OS has to schedule the many diffrent processes, as long as the game is in one thread and executed in its order eveyrthing will feel right. Basicly, lets say HL2 programmers decide to do all Physics processing on CPU2, sounds good right? However, it many cases one process will fall behind, one will get pushed up ahead, and then they will be perpetual waiting on eachother.
I dont understand why this is listed as a problem. Of course the different threads/cores have to be synchronised each frame. But its still faster to split the processing across multiple cores, even if each core isn't max'd out, or 1 core is waiting on the other alot. It'll still be beneficial.
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