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paolopt

FSX on Xeon Machine

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I am considering an upgrade of my current computer and I was thinking about a server configuration like this:2 x Intel Xeon E3110 MB ASUS DSEB-DG Dual LGA 771 Intel 5400 Western Digital VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS 300GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0GbCrucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 FB-DIMM ECC Fully Buffered DDR2 800 I am still debating regarding the GPU.My question is: Is it worthy to build a server machine or a "normal" single processor machine is better? I read an article on a magazine where they use a server machine to run FSX and the experiece was great. Anybody is actually using a Xeon based machine to run FSX.Thank you very much.pap

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I have used Xeon based machines for the past ~4 years, including a top-of-the-line (for its time) Dell Precision 690 with 2x Xeon 5160s (ie, 4 cores in total) at 3.0GHz. I have just upgraded to a much faster over-clockable consumer machine with only 2 cores and I have another on order. You need to be a bit careful with Intel's branding. They are constantly carving the market up into smaller and smaller segments to squeeze premium prices out of more and more people.Until fairly recently, Xeons were packaged differently from the consumer CPUs (LGA771 vs LGA775) but they were architecturally pretty much the same. The two differences were that (i) you can put more than one Xeon in a motherboard, if you have enough sockets; and (ii) you can access much more RAM with a Xeon, but at a slower speed. Xeons are thus aimed, nominally, at a workstation or server market: where you do a lot of parallel processing using lots of RAM.Recently Intel has made some Xeons available in the consumer LGA775 package, including the E3110 you refer to. I do not know whether you can use multiple CPUs on the same motherboard with this package: I believe not. However, judging by your post, it looks as if the E3110 supports the same fully buffered ECC RAM used in the big workstation computers. Remember that this RAM is designed for a particular purpose: you can get a lot of it into the PC, but at (relatively) slow speeds. That is not good news for FSX.One other thing that you will notice from the history of Xeon releases, is that the FASTEST Xeons released by Intel at any one time are usually a couple of steps up from the fastest consumer CPUs. Generally, the higher Xeon speeds eventually trickle down to the consumer CPUs, but only after a while. It was the prospect of this delay which made me buy my Xeons originally: albeit at a high price, I bought the fastest available CPUs without overclocking; and they gave me performance at or near the top of the curve for a good long while.To give you an example of the trickle-down effect, Intel has been selling a dual core Xeon running at 3.4GHz for many months now (the X5272, from memory). If past patterns are repeated, this suggests that, soon enough, we will see similar specs from Core 2 Duo model. So really, you need to have pretty specific requirements to justify a Xeon system. The fastest Xeons will be faster than the consumer CPUs - but only at stock speeds: with over-clocking, this advantage is dissipated. You get access to colossal amounts of RAM - but the fully buffered RAM used by Xeons is SLOWER than ordinary RAM, and anyway FSX doesn't need more than 4Gb. You get access to multiple CPU motherboards - this helps FSX but the law of diminishing returns kicks in pretty quickly after the second core, because texture loading is the only function that can spawn onto multiple cores. Put bluntly: at the moment, in my view, the performance of the current Xeon line-up does not offer a sufficient edge over the consumer CPUs to justify stepping outside the mainstream. My advice is to read around on this forum and others. In a nutshell, you'll need to decide whether you want 2 or 4 cores, then go for the fastest combination of CPU, RAM, HD and graphics card you care to afford. Unless you think you will be content with "last year's" performance standards, I would forget about the Xeons for now: even if the CPU doesn't hold you back, the RAM speed will.Finally, I can confirm that I am getting all-round much better FSX performance from my new, cheap, overclocked PC with consumer CPU, than I did from my hugely expensive Xeon PC. Overclocking is the trick with FSX under current hardware.Tim

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Tim thank you so much for your exhaustive answer.Indeed I mistakenly write the wrong processor type, I meant to write Xeon 5160. As you correctly said I cannot use multiple CPU with the E3130 (while I can with the 5160).Thanks again.pap

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