Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › Technique › Production Gear › Calling Charles Fulton!…. Your Z800 Review
May 18, 2009 at 2:49 AM #44005
Dear Mister Fulton,
Thank you for your recent review on the HP Z800:
In your article, you stated that the second processor gave no performance benefit:
>>The Z800 handily outperforms its predecessors in the HP workstation line. It is certainly not a slouch in the performance department. We must report, however, that some of the benchmark scores we were getting with the system were lower than the Polywell Core i7-based system we recently reviewed here. In all of the tests that we ran, single-processor and dual-processor performance was largely the same (whether we physically removed the processor or simply disabled it in the BIOS); therefore, at this time we cannot recommend a dual-processor configuration for doing video work with this machine.
I read thereview you cite on the Polywell Core i7:
I can understand that the Polywell Core i7 machine would get great benchmarks with a Quadro CX and two Seagate Cheetah drives in RAID 0,but I am completely baffled that a second physical CPU would have no noticeable increase on performance. Why would eight physical coresnot perform better than four physicalcores? What are the plausible explanations? Is HP’s BIOS funky?
Have you tested other twin-CPU machines and gotten no-noticeable-increase in performance? Also, is it acceptable to ask what kinds of tests you ran?Andwas Sony Vegas (which is optimized for cores) used in your tests?
I appreciate your review. Thank you very much for your time and help.
May 20, 2009 at 3:28 PM #184373
Thank you for responding so soon. I apologize for all of the questions. It is just that I was eyeballing the Z800, and you blew that out of the water with your”no noticeable increase in performance” remark (and you may have just saved me thousands of dollars).
>>There is a lot of overhead involved in any dual-processor configuration, so you’ll never double your performance versus a single-processor configuration if you go to a dual-processor. However, this is the only time we’ve observed no noticeable increase in performance.
May I please ask, what istheaverageincrease in performance that you noticed on the otherdual processor configurations you have tested?
And is it possible/likely that thelack of increase in performance was specific toCS4? Orwould Sony Vegas likely also have yielded no noticeable increase in performance (even though it is optimized for the number of cores)?
Thank you. This was a very helpful review for me.
May 20, 2009 at 4:25 PM #184374
I thought the ‘observed no notable increase in performance’ with or without the dual CPU’s was way odd. I’ve been checking other reviewers to see if anyone else ran across that. Also, I wanted to see if anyone tested the Z800 with any NLE software. Here are a few of the more informative ones I’ve found:
May 21, 2009 at 4:59 AM #184375
Charles – very muchenjoyed the review of the HP Z800 workstation and especially your last paragraph since the Z800 is more than I can spend or need to spend, however the Z400 is within the budget: <<You can configure one for $2788 that includes a 475W 85% efficiency power supply, an Intel Xeon W3520 2.66GHz quad-core processor, an NVIDIA Quadro FX1800 video card, 6GB of ECC RAM, a 160GB 7200 rpm SATA boot drive and a 500GB 7200 rpm SATA data drive, a tray-loading 16x DVD burner, a FireWire card, an eSATA bulkhead connector, USB keyboard and mouse.>>
I am new to editing and in need of a new computer and monitor. Is there a monitor that you would suggest with the Z400?
May 21, 2009 at 10:10 PM #184376
>>I am new to editing and in need of a new computer and monitor. Is there a monitor that you would suggest with the Z400?
Try the Samsung T260HD from Tiger Direct.
The picture is gorgeous. And it has all the hookups.
May 21, 2009 at 10:31 PM #184377
>>I’m not in a position to comment about dual-processor overhead. The last major machine I reviewed that was dual-processor was about 5 years ago; and at that time our reviews didn’t focus on performance as much as experience (that, and at the time, that machine was indisputably the fastest machine we’d seen to that date.) So it’s only recently that we would’ve shut off a processor to see how fast a machine really was.
I do not mean to beat a dead horse here, but I need to know the answer to this one, because I have been considering a Z800 for my next machine (which is why your review set my head spinning).
Here is my letter to HP:
I am considering the Z800 for my next upgrade. However, in their article Number 14391, Videomaker Magazine records that there was no change in their benchmark speed (using Adobe CS4) when the second processor was shut off in the BIOS. Based on this, they conclude that there is no advantage to having a second processor in the HP Z lineup.
I have been considering the Z800 for possible future purchase (because Avid supports the HP line), and I need to know what the deal is.
Can you please let me know why bench test performance under Adobe CS4 would not be significantly decreased when the second processor was shut off in the BIOS?
I imagine their sales department will get back to me in a few days, and I will try to post their comments here. Just as a heads-up, I also would not be surprised if they contact you.
May 21, 2009 at 11:07 PM #184378
It turns out my query to HP did not go through, so I called their Sales Department. They put me in touch with atech repnamed Jesus (“Hey-Soos”), who seemed fairly knowledgeable.
Jesus said that the only people who reallyneed Z800’s are people who do full-on 3D (like Dreamworks). He said that the reason there was no performance difference with CS4 (whether the second processor was on or off) was probably just that the machine did not get taxed hard enough.
He said thatthe way the architecture works is that the primary processor does not send anything to thesecond processor unless it starts to reach a certain load point. Since regular video editing does not tap processor speed like full-on 3D or serious heavy-duty CAD, the primary processor never exceeds the threshold. In other words, it handleseverything within the primary processor itself, and never ‘calls for backup.’
He recommended that unless I was going to do some serious full-on 3D or some ultra-heavy-duty CAD (which I’m not planning on), that all I would really need would bea fast single-processor model, like a 3.2 GHz Z400, and a graphics card with 1GB to 1.5GB RAM. Then he also recommended large hard drives, etcetera.
He seemed like a decent guy. Does it seem like what he said makes sense?
May 21, 2009 at 11:22 PM #184379
Oh, he also said to stack it with 8 to 12 GB of RAM.
May 22, 2009 at 4:53 PM #184380
“Since regular video editing does not tap processor speed like full-on
3D or serious heavy-duty CAD, the primary processor never exceeds the
threshold. In other words, it handleseverything within the primary
processor itself, and never ‘calls for backup.'”
Actually, I’m not surprised after reading that. To really get a feel for what the Z800 could do on the video side you’d need to do some hardcore VFX compositing with AFX or better yet Nuke. When I first mentioned the Z800 to you I said it was for ‘serious finishing work’. Apparently, ‘Jes’ bears that out.
“… Now scratching my head as to why none of the benchmark utilities woke up the extra cores either.”
If the primary core is able to handle much of the initial heavy lifting percentage, then it is not unreasonable for the benchmarks you currently use didn’t cause the unit to ‘break a sweat’. Load up a densely nested HD AFX comp and see how it performs during preview and in the render queue or toss in a 3D HD quality scene from Blender with lighting fx, grass and hair/fur with some water fx and you’ll probably get a rise out of the extra cores. If it doesn’t, that’s scary because that means the unit should be capable of doing some mega-lifting and is far beyond the needs of the micro to small sized production house. On the otherhand, it would be very nice to have one machine that could do the work of a small to medium-sized renderfarm for $10k.
Oh, and Norman with all of this discussion I have already begun investigating components for a in-house build of a comparable rig. I’ll keep you appraised.
May 23, 2009 at 1:17 AM #184381
Norman and Charles – thank you for the monitor info.
May 23, 2009 at 2:12 AM #184382
Take a look at the Hanns-G 28″ LCD HD monitor. We’ve got two for our main NLE and they are PDG for the money! They worked great out of the box and have a great image resolution. You’re definitely going to want a GPU that will do them or the Samsung justice.
May 23, 2009 at 2:18 AM #184383
composite – thank you. Good suggestion and very good price.
May 25, 2009 at 2:14 AM #184384
You are most welcome. I hope you get the best monitor for you.
>>Oh, and Norman with all of this discussion I have already begun investigating components for a in-house build of a comparable rig. I’ll keep you appraised.
I am very much looking forward to it, and I hope you can educate me about render farms somewhere, sometime.
May 26, 2009 at 5:17 PM #184385
Keep an eye out on the ‘To build…’ thread as I don’t want to hijack this one.
You’re welcome. Also, there is a nearly identical monitor to the Hanns-G one called an I-Inc. Same company but the I-Inc is $100+ less. However, after some thorough digging I found the main diffs are the I-Inc’s run much hotter and the Hanns-G’s run much cooler and have a 3-year warranty. If there’s a Best Buy nearby, that’s where you should be able to see one in person.
June 2, 2009 at 5:24 PM #184386
>>Hmmm… I’m not sure why rendering in Premiere Pro wouldn’t have activated those extra cores….Although I’m now scratching my head as to why none of the benchmark utilities woke up the extra cores either. Now I’m the one with more questions.
Is it possible that youguys could please borrow that Z800 again, andsee if you can still editwhile it renders something else out?
I am thinking that if youswitch the second processor on-and-off while simultaneously rendering and editing multiple instances, that might give us a much betteridea of what the second processor really does.
I would ask myself, but they probably won’t loan it to me…(lol).
Thank you very much for your help.
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