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Old 03-15-2013, 12:10 PM
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mjslakeridge mjslakeridge is offline
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Default Intel vs. AMD for Pro Tools

Hi ya'll, I have been reading these forums for a while but am a new poster. There have been a few discussions about how Intel Processors are superior to AMD for PT. Some have made general statements to the effect that certain Intel chips are designed specifically for video or audio processing, or "why do you think Apple uses Intel chips?" I am not an expert in chip design or computers in general, but would it be wrong to assume that the processor is doing what it was made to do, performing calculations? It doesn't know if the user is editing video, recording audio or working on an excel spreadsheet. I started out with a dual core Intel Pentium D in the original machine I bought from Sweetwater way back when. In the past 6 months I have replaced the motherboard and currently have an AMD FX-6300 (six core) processor. I know you can't compare the 2 processors. I am running PT 7.4 on windows xp home. Yesterday I created a stress test session-32 audio tracks, 4 minutes long, with 5 inserts on EACH channel. (4 band eq, 7 band eq, Smack compressor, TL Space convolution reverb and Amplitude). This is way more than I would typically use. 5 cores assigned to RTAS processing. Put it in loop play and let it roll-no problems. Task manager shows cpu utilization of 46-49%.

I just wanted to see if anyone on this forum has any specific technical knowledge as to why Intel chips seem to be preferred over AMD. I am helping someone spec out a PT 10 machine running on Windows 7 (or 8), and he wants to use the AMD FX-6300 processor, with a better Mobo that the cheap (free) one I got from Microcenter. Looking forward to a good discussion.
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:40 PM
albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: Intel vs. AMD for Pro Tools

By what you describe, I'd say you have done very well. The best way to benchmark a PT computer is with the Dverb2 test. Go here: http://duc.avid.com/showthread.php?t=238426 and scroll down part way on the first page for details. Its simply a standardized way of testing Pro Tools so you can either compare numbers with similar rigs(to see if you are in the ballpark) and to compare your system a year from now to see if performance has dropped(indicating some issue to deal with).

Re the intel vs AMD argument, its down to 2 important details; 1-straight up performance(intel wins today), and 2-compatibility(there are some AMD cpu's that simply won't work well, or at all). If you have a solid working AMD rig, that's a good thing. If you are contemplating BUILDING an AMD rig, matching a known-working setup is the safest way to go(being a trail blazer can get expensive). The intel i7 is also not a guarantee of perfection(some socket 1155 and 1156 system don't work well, and my own 1155 i5 build was an abject failure for Pro Tools....but does make a nice office PC). There are 2 combos that are almost guaranteed to work well, and they are; intel i7 socket 1366 9xx/X58 mobo and triple-channel RAM(older but tried and true), and intel socket 2011 i7/X79 mobo and quad-channel RAM. An AMD rig can be a solid performer(you certainly proved that) on a budget(or not). The 2 i7 systems mentioned are proven...period.

Also, consider that each major update to Pro Tools brings more features, but needs more power(my old AMD dual core was great with LE8, but I would not want to try it with 10).

You would be doing a service to those on a budget by posting full details on your system as not everyone can afford an i7 6 core
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Old 03-15-2013, 01:56 PM
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mjslakeridge mjslakeridge is offline
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Default Re: Intel vs. AMD for Pro Tools

Hi Albee, Thanks for the useful information. I ran the Dverb2 test. First did 24 tracks with no problem and went next to 48 tracks, the max for PT 7.4 with Music Production toolkit. For that test I was at about 78-80% cpu utilization, with all 6 cores assigned to RTAS processing at 90% limit (can't select higher using all 6 cores). Solid test tone the entire 5 minutes! I did not remove the non-standard PT plugins to a separate folder yet, I will have to figure which ones came with PT and which were extras. I could not find the benchmark comparison link within the link you posted above, but I can probably find it with some effort.

One thing I did discover is that PT does not like any system monitoring software running (like AMD overdrive or Easytune 6). Even with just a one track session, I get the "held off interrups for too long" msg within about 5-10 seconds of playback. I am not overclocked, nor do I have turbo core boost on, I just wanted to monitor core and system temps while stressing the machine. Only Windows task manager seems not to conflict with PT, can't measure temps, but can monitor cpu and page file usage.

I will take your suggestion and post the details of my build for others to benefit from. Other than the high priced skeleton left over from the Sweetwater build, I think I have less than $300 into the "new" computer, including a 2 TB HDD. Oh, and I am still using the onboard graphics card, which I know is not recommended, but as long as I am happy with the performance, I can get away with it.
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Old 03-15-2013, 02:29 PM
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Default Re: Intel vs. AMD for Pro Tools

My bad, I see the dverb counts listed within the link you referenced. I guess I am 235, pretty respectable for my setup. Ran DVerb2 again with only 5 processors (99%) and overall CPU utilization never got over 70% and the recorded test tones were rock solid the entire 5 minutes. Now I am curious to see what happens if I put my older AMD Phenom II 1045 T back in the PT machine. It rates much lower on Passmark, but my Super Pi times on the Phenom II beat out the Fx6300 test after test. (same mobo on both computers). Probably should leave well enough alone, I hate crawling around under the desk disconnecting everything from the computer to swap processors.
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Old 03-15-2013, 06:17 PM
albee1952 albee1952 is offline
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Default Re: Intel vs. AMD for Pro Tools

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjslakeridge View Post
My bad, I see the dverb counts listed within the link you referenced. I guess I am 235, pretty respectable for my setup. Ran DVerb2 again with only 5 processors (99%) and overall CPU utilization never got over 70% and the recorded test tones were rock solid the entire 5 minutes. Now I am curious to see what happens if I put my older AMD Phenom II 1045 T back in the PT machine. It rates much lower on Passmark, but my Super Pi times on the Phenom II beat out the Fx6300 test after test. (same mobo on both computers). Probably should leave well enough alone, I hate crawling around under the desk disconnecting everything from the computer to swap processors.
Re. monitoring software, that can be hit or miss and those in the know recommend NOT installing anything from the motherboard disk that is not needed(like audio driver, network driver, chipset driver, and NOTHING ELSE). 235 may seem like good numbers(and is nothing to sneeze at), but my i7 920 socket 1366 rig posted a score of 500. AMD is a bargain, but intel is the performance king.

BTW, I just noticed this is the Mac section! Maybe the web moderator can move it to the Windows section??
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Old 03-16-2013, 06:14 AM
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Default Re: Intel vs. AMD for Pro Tools

I realized yesterday that I somehow started this thread in the Mac section. My first post and I goofed up! Goober or Noobie-how about Goobie? I have contacted the moderater via email, but so far no response. I agree with keeping the PT computer clean. I have done the recommended optimizations, and don't even have that computer connected to the internet.

At some point, with the high powered processors available, won't the HD systems become unnecessary for all but the biggest pro studios? I was just thinking about how far my hobby studio has come since I was using a Teac 4 track, then Tascam TSR-8 (still use it for tracking drums once in a while).
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Old 03-16-2013, 06:18 AM
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Default Re: Intel vs. AMD for Pro Tools

I will report back once we build the rig and install win7 64 and 10.3.4. It may be a while as my friend is waiting for the all important approval to move forward--the wife.

Does anyone have an opinion as to whether we should go with Windows 8 64 bit and run in compatibility mode until Avid certifies Win 8?
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:28 AM
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Default Re: Intel vs. AMD for Pro Tools

As promised, here are the specs to the rig I built, which is running Windows XP Home Edition, Service Pack 3, and Pro Tools version 7.4 cs10:

Motherboard-Gigabyte GA-78LMT-S2P (760 chipset) cost - free when bundled with the processor and purchased from MicroCenter. I would probably upgrade the motherboard as it is pretty much bare bones-1 pci express slot, 1 pci 16 slot and 1 pci slot. It does have 6 SATA ports which is nice, although I currently am using 3 of them.

BIOS- Award version F3. Board came with version F1, I did flash to F3 per Gigabyte's recommendation for the FX series processor.

Processor- AMD FX 6300 black edition- cost $129, I think they are selling for $119 now.

Memory- 2 x 2048 MB DDR 3 Kingston 1333 mhz modules - cost about $20. This Motherboard has 2 DDR3 slots and will support up to 8GB I believe, but Windows XP has a limit of 4GB.

System drive-Hitachi HDS728080PLA380 Deskstar 80GB 3.5-inch SATA Hard Drive- cost unknown, came with Sweetwater build. I think I am only using about 20 GB of this drive, so would probably buy a SSD drive for the operating system and PT files.

Audio drive- Seagate Barracuda SATA 2 TB 7,200 rpm model # STBD2000101- $99

CPU cooler - Scythe ShurikeN Revision B -$35 I probably could have used the stock cooler that came with the processor, but I had this one already, so decided to use it.

Power supply- Antec SP 350 -cost unknown (it came with the Sweetwater build I bought 6-7 years ago). Only 350 watts? that was a surprise to me as I crawled under the desk with a flashlight this morning. MicroCenter has a low end Thermal Master case that comes with a 500 W power supply for about $35- I have that for my non-PT computer.

PCI cards- 1 PCI express card with 2 firewire 400 connections- 1 used for Digi 002 rack unit and 1 used for external FW disk drive (backup drive). cost- free (co worker gave it to me), but I think they sell for $25- less if you use PCI rather than PCI express.

Graphics card- using the onboard ATI Radeon card on the Motherboard-has one DVI and one analog video connection for my 2 monitors. Avid recommends using a separate graphics card, I guess it takes load off of the CPU, since I have the PCI 16 slot available, I may install one the next time I feel like crawling around under the desk. I believe they recommend specific graphics cards, so check their system requirements if you go that route. I am satisfied using the onboard card for now, screen redraws are fine and for my sessions, I have more than enough CPU horsepower.

Other- Using the Digi 002 rack, Digi Command 8 control surface, have a midi keyboard connected into the Command 8 midi in port. Also just bought a Behringer ADA8000 8 channel analog to digital converter with 8 mic pre's for $125 on Craig's list. Connected to the back of the Digi 002 rack via Toslink (lightpipe) cable, which allows me to track 16 live tracks at once.

Let me know if I forgot any important details. This is a fairly low budget build, and it may not be for everyone, certainly not a professional setup, but I am very happy with it for my home project studio. I have no plans to upgrade from Windows XP or PT 7.4 for this rig anytime soon, even though Microsoft will quit supporting XP in April, 2014. I don't connect this rig to the internet, except when doing updates. Also, I do an Acronis backup of the entire operating drive before updating drivers or anything else, it has saved me on more than occasion.
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Old 03-16-2013, 09:36 AM
CME CME is offline
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Default Intel vs. AMD for Pro Tools

I've always been an amd fan. Maybe because I like rooting for the "little guy". And I think the reason intel is more popular is the shear brute power the top end procs have. Price being no object, the intel procs seem to trump the amd every time. That said most of them are more powerful than a lot of is need. So we could probably easily get by on an amd. I just like to go for the most power I can afford. And in those cases intel seems to win.

That said I've seen a few people elude to the amd 8-cores being somewhat comparable to an equivalent intel in some multi-threaded apps. So they may not be as far behind as we think. But it's hard to beat the proven record intel has as of now.

And there are some features (instruction sets) chip makers includes in their chips that can be taken advantage of by programmers to make apps more efficient on their platform. Their was an article, I believe from intel, talking to an avid employee/programmer that stated they where working directly with intel to make pro tools run as efficiently as possible on their chips. Seemed to imply we would notice this more in upcoming pro tools releases with ivy bridge or newer chips. I'll see if I can find it. Just something else to consider.
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Old 03-16-2013, 03:04 PM
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Default Re: Intel vs. AMD for Pro Tools

According to my coworker, who is very tech savvy, Mac's are very good, but why pay 3 times what they are worth. Having built 2 PC's in the last year or so, I would never buy a pre-built computer again. Sure, its a pain to have to load the OS and then your programs, but you can do most of that while you are doing something else. It will be interesting to see what happens when Avid certifies Windows 8, because having recently installed it on my non PT machine, it looks like there is tons of stuff running at all times. I have disabled a lot of the startup items, but probably could do more with a little research.
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