22 Replies Latest reply on Dec 17, 2011 9:20 AM by RjL190365

    Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E

    Videoguys

      Videoguys by Gary Bettan


      diy9-badge.jpgOver the past year Videoguys.com have taken some heat in some online tech forums and communities. We were very late to embrace the original Sandy Bridge processors and even when we did recommend one, it was with some caveats.

       

      We have always been big fans of Sandy Bridge CPUs and the performance value they deliver. For us, the issue has been the motherboards and chipsets. The initial Sandy Bridge X67 motherboard had some very serious PCIe bandwidth issues. These were addressed, but even when the improved X68 based motherboards shipped, we still had concerns. Sure they were okay for running NLE software, but add-in an I/O device like the Matrox MXO2 Mini and some RAID storage and you could very well run into bottlenecks. When I shared these concerns with my contacts at Avid, Adobe, Matrox and other vendors, they confirmed my suspicions and said they too would not be certifying X67 or X68 motherboards. We all agreed - we had to wait for an enthusiast level chipset from Intel, one that was a worthy successor to the X58 we used for years in our DIY8 builds.

      Videoguys now recommends the Sandy Bridge-E processor with X79 chipset!

      Intel Delivers with X79 Chipset!

      When I first read about the new Sandy Bridge-E chips and the X79 motherboards on Tom's hardware, I knew they would be a winner for video editing. The only question for me was when would they be shipping? Then I read a great review of the ASUS P9X79 Pro on Anandtech in November 2011 and I knew it was time for DIY9. Here are just a few of the highlights of the Asus P9X79 family of motherboards:

      • 40 PCIe lanes and PCIe 3 support
      • Quad-channel memory w 8 DIMM slots
      • USB3, eSata 6 Gbps
      • ASUS Graphical GUI for easy Overclocking

       

      Unfortunately, with it being the busy holiday season and end of the year, we will not get started on this machine until at least January 2012. I realize that with the new Avid Media Composer 6, Adobe CS5.5 Production Premium, Sony Vegas Pro 11 and the Grass Valley Edius 6 at a special low crossgrade price, many of you want to get started now. So I'm going to but together our parts list, with the disclaimer that we have not built or tested any DIY9 machines yet. If you're one of the brave and decide to get started before us we welcome your feedback and suggestions!

       

      Follow this link for the full DIY9 article and build list

        • 1. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
          Harm Millaard Level 7

          Gary,

           

          Look in your PM tomorrow, where I will give you some feedback on the intended article. Hope that will help you for the final write-up.

          Can't manage it tonight due to some other pressing issues.

          • 3. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
            Scott Chichelli Level 3

            Hi Gary,

            i have to ask,   why do you keep insisting on recomending the Quadro card when we all know its over priced underpreforming and is only used by very few programs like Solid works.

            and even then only 1 plug in matters.

             

            thanks

            Scott

            • 4. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
              RjL190365 Level 4

              Here is the reason why Quadros are preferred with higher-end video editing programs:

               

              GeForces are limited in color support. Despite superior hardware on paper, the available drivers for those cards favor entertainment first, productivity second. (Quadros are often optimized for productivity first, and often have little to no support for entertainment such as gaming.)

               

              Also, the GeForces often have less RAM - and sometimes much less RAM - than their Quadro counterparts. Therefore, the GeForces are more likely to switch unexpectedly to the MPE software-only mode due to running out of VRAM than Quadros of inferior hardware specs.

              • 5. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                Harm Millaard Level 7

                Plus the 10 bit color support of Quadros, ideal when using a Dreamcolor or similar monitor.

                • 6. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                  Scott Chichelli Level 3

                  Whilst a valid point

                   

                   

                   

                  1)      Most are not concerned with 10bit color (I have sold about 20 or so Quadros this yr out of over 1000 systems)

                   

                  2)      There are 2Gig and 3Gig GTX cards

                  • 7. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                    Harm Millaard Level 7

                    Gary,

                     

                    While writing my comments I thought it might be better to post this in the open here instead of by PM, so others can benefit as well.

                     

                    Anyway here are my remarks.

                     

                    Videoguys' DIY9 Article


                    I promised you I would get back to you on your planned article with some of my thoughts on the Sandy Bridge-E and the X79 platform.

                     

                    First of all, while the X79 is a huge step forward, it still is disappointing that Intel did not keep their promises and dumbed down the platform, by leaving out a large number of SATA and SATA6 ports, by skipping the SRT support that makes the Z68 platform so nice, and by not supporting PCIe-3.0. All rather disappointing, because it means that mobo manufacturers have to rely on third party chips to increase the functionality of their designs.

                     

                    In the second place the i7-3930K and i7-3960X have only 6 cores active. Actually 2 cores are just turned off, otherwise we would have octo cores by now and to make matters worse, of the 20 MB L3 cache on the chip, only 12 MB is used on the 3930K and 15 MB on the 3960X.

                     

                    For all these limitations I expect a solution in the future. How long that will take, I have no idea, but I do expect a new top model CPU with 8 cores enabled and with the full complement (20 MB) of L3 cache enabled, possibly called the i7-3980X. In addition, I expect an updated X79-a chipset that has more SATA ports and that has SRT and PCIe-3.0 support. Mind you, this is pure speculation from my side.

                     

                    I'm telling you this not because I have inside knowledge, which I don't have, but because it makes sense for Intel, but then it also means that you may have to revise the DIY guide in the next couple of months.

                     

                    Now that we have some background thoughts out of the way, let's go over your shopping list.

                     

                    I understand that usually you suggest systems that are not as expensive as this one, so I'm going to suggest some alternatives to keep the cost down but still have a great performance increase over an i7-2700 / Z68 system.

                     

                    Going down your list, the first point of criticism is the RAM. With the low prices of RAM today it makes no sense to limit yourself to only 4 sticks and 16 GB. Go for at least 32 GB (8 x 4 GB). Even on a i7-2700 system there is an appreciable performance gain by going from 16 to 32 GB. Unfortunately on a Z68 you have to revert to costly 8 GB sticks, but on the X79 platform you have 8 memory slots, so you can use the affordable RipjawsZ you chose.

                     

                    For the boot drive I would personally skip the Crucial and save some money by going for a Samsung Spinpoint 320 G F4 disk. It is very fast, but way less expensive than the Crucial SSD, even at todays inflated disk prices. The POST sequence takes so much time on a decent system, and especially with all the memory and spinning up the video storage disks, that the gain of an SSD is only marginal. Furthermore SSD's still have significant write deterioration after some time of use and the trim function does not really help. See also Adobe Forums: The SSD myth unraveled

                     

                    Next point, video storage. The major drawback of the Sandy Bridge platform is the limitation of 16 PCIe lanes. Now with the X79 platform we have 40 PCIe lanes, so there is absolutely no argument not to use some of those available lanes for an internal dedicated raid controller. Areca told me that they expect to introduce a PCIe-3.0 line of raid controllers in H1/2012 and the same probably applies to LSI. But even with todays models like the Areca ARC-1880iX one can easily achieve sustained transfer rates that exceed 1000 MB/s with only 8 disks in a raid array. That is way faster than the external G-Tech Raid solution over eSATA. If you still want to use external raid arrays, then connect them over a 8088 or 8087 multilane connection, not over eSATA, which seriously degrades transfer rates.

                     

                    The case. Too small and too cramped. Instead consider the Antec 1200 or the CoolerMaster HAF932. Both big towers, but with lots more internal space, making for easier installation, better cable management and better cooling, more expansion capabilities and more video card options, due to the length of these cards. My personal favorite is the Lian Li PC-A77, but that is probably too expensive for this article.

                     

                    The Power Supply. One of the components that usually take a back seat in terms of priority and is often overlooked as being absolutely crucial for reliable performance. IMO the only PSU to consider is a 80+ Gold label PSU, so in the case of Corsair not the TX line, but only the AX line. But also, do not skimp on the rated power. It is often better to have extra power, because then the fan will run slower, lowering the noise level. A very nice tool in this area is eXtreme Power Supply Calculator Pro v2.5 and when you get the Pro version, you enter all your components and possibly the overclock speed, then set your CPU load to 100% and the capacitor aging to 30%. Finally add 10 - 15% to the calculated wattage for safety. Not only do you know the required wattage of the PSU, but also the amperages on the different rails and that is overlooked even more often.

                     

                    Finally the GPU. IMO the Quadro 4000 is way overpriced. It has only 256 cores, only 2 GB VRAM and a 256 bit bus and the only advantage is the 10 bit color depth, but how many have an expensive HP Dreamcolor monitor to take advantage of that color depth? A GTX 580 with 3 GB VRAM is way more affordable, has double the cores and uses a 384 bit memory bus. The Quadro is outclassed on every aspect for an outrageous price.

                     

                    To summarize, you have to use the X79 platform not like a newer Z68 platform, but as a higher level platform and that means taking advantage of all the memory slots, all the PCIe lanes by using a dedicated raid controller internally with a large number of disks, requiring a big tower and possibly two video cards for 3 or 4 monitor setup.

                     

                    I hope this helps.

                    • 8. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                      Scott Chichelli Level 3

                      And I have to agree with Harm pretty much 100%

                       

                      Other than I don’t see the X79 or existing processors as constricted

                       

                      I do wish they had fixed the sata /sas issues and did have more native sata 600

                       

                      PCIe 3.0 is most definitely there and supported just no cards that are 3.0 themselves. (maybe 600 series?)

                       

                      The road map never showed 8 cores coming out at the beginning so I am fine with what they are. And actually excited to know there is 8 cores in there..

                       

                      As nothing more than the big brother to present sandy they are performing as expected.

                       

                       

                       

                      Scott

                       

                      ADK

                      • 9. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                        RjL190365 Level 4

                        Actually, Harm, the future i7-3980X will still have only six cores active, and will still have only 15MB of L3 cache enabled. This restriction was to keep the TDP to the specced 130W. Had all eight cores been enabled on the i7-3980X at the higher stock 3.4GHz speed, the TDP would have been raised to a whopping 160W to 170W - too high for most air coolers (even some of the known good ones). The forthcoming octo-core Xeons have been reported to already have a TDP of 150W even though they have a clock speed well below 2.5GHz! And, if Intel wants to keep its high-end desktop CPUs at 130W TDP and have all eight cores enabled at the current 32nm process, either the CPU's clock speed would have had to be locked to a fail-safe 1.6GHz with the multiplier permanently locked to 16x, or the CPU would have had to have HyperThreading permanently disabled (either would have resulted in a CPU that's much less appealing to the enthusiast than it otherwise would have, and at a very high price). So, the process will have to be reduced to 22nm before we see any octo-core "consumer" or "enthusiast" CPUs from Intel. Had Intel rushed out an octo-core desktop CPU within the next few months, we certainly would have had a fiasco very similar to that of AMD's Bulldozer: Relatively slow performance in lightly-threaded apps plus performance in fully-threaded apps that is not sufficiently faster to justify the significant price increase over the current i7-3960X.

                         

                        And no, despite AMD advertising its FX-8100 as octo-core, it is really only a quad-core CPU with AMD's version of "HyperThreading".

                        • 10. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                          Bill Gehrke Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                          1. With the sale of Samsung disk drive business to Seagate and a serious shortage of the Samsung Spinpoint F4 disk drive does anyone have any alternative suggestions?
                          2. I just ordered four (on sale very cheap) G.Skill 8GB DDR3-1333 modules and upgraded my Z68 from 16 GB of DDR3-2133 memory and have been amazed at the far superior performance.  Now if I could only afford or even find the DDR3-2133  8 GB modules????
                          • 11. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                            RjL190365 Level 4

                            Bill,

                             

                            What happens with the sale of the Samsung hard drive business to Seagate is that the Samsung drives will disappear completely within a few weeks after the acquisition is complete, and that some of the technologies used in them would be incorporated into future Seagate drives. Right now Seagate does not have any smaller-capacity hard drives that have the same platter density as the Samsung 320GB F4 - and the only Seagate non-Green drive to incorporate platters larger than 500GB thus far has been the 3TB Barracuda XT (five 600GB platters).

                             

                            Also, Hitachi's hard drive business is being sold to Western Digital. Once that's completed, there will be no worthwhile hard drives that are smaller than 1TB available any longer (in fact, the only sub-1TB drives that will remain are all from Seagate's and WD's own aging old designs) - but rather, the technologies used in some of the drives may be incorporated into future hard drives from WD and Seagate.

                            • 12. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                              Videoguys Level 1

                              Great feedback guys. A few comments:

                               

                              RAM - I agree with you. With RAM so cheap, we should fill all 8 slots

                               

                              GPU - Quadro cards are better with Avid. For Adobe the GTX580 is a great choice. Dennis Radeke did a great article on some of the advantages of Quadro cards in this article on is blog

                               

                              SSD - I hear you and I agree that SSD is too expensive. But I also hear form so many customers who want to go in that direction. I wonder if the ASUS SSD caching is an option - perhaps with a cheap 32GB SSD?

                               

                              ASUS SSD Caching

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                              Case - To be honest with you we didn;t actually do any research on the case yet. I;m open to any and all recommendations.

                               

                              Thanks to everyone for your comments and feedback. One of the reasons why I posted the DIY9 Sneak Peak was to get feedback from others. This research will help us refine the build. As with DIY8 we will post both a Hotrod and Budget build list.

                               

                              Gary

                              • 13. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                                RjL190365 Level 4

                                Yes, Gary, please do some more research on the case selection.

                                 

                                That Antec Nine Hundred is cramped, especially for the price. By default, there is a plastic fan mount in the rear of one of the hard drive cages. To install long graphics cards, that plastic fan bracket must be removed completely. Second, with more than one hard drive mounted in the center drive cage (as might happen with a multiple-RAID 0 internal array that many editing systems use), the maximum length of graphics cards that can be used is only 9.5 inches. A reference GTX 470 or a GTX 560 Ti barely fits inside the Nine Hundred with the center drive cage filled with more than one hard drive. To fit a GTX 570 or 580 inside that case, at least two of the hard drives in the center cage must be completely removed; otherwise, the cards will not fit at all.

                                 

                                Worse, the Nine Hundred and the Nine Hundred Two cannot accommodate both a side-mounted intake fan and a tower CPU air cooler at the same time: The width is too narrow for that. Plus, the original Nine Hundred's side fan position conflicts directly with the space that the CPU tower cooler is positioned. Ideally, the side CPU fan in narrower cases that have an option to accommodate it should be placed lower on the side panel, over the graphics card rather than the CPU.

                                • 14. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                                  Scott Chichelli Level 3

                                  HI Gary,

                                  Quadros are NOT better with Avid either. unless something changed in 6 which we have not tested to completely yet

                                   

                                  again Solid Works and a few other animation are the only programs that take advantage of the Quadros firmware. which is the only difference between GTX and Quadro

                                   

                                  also the link to the blog was useless i didint see any comparison to the GTX only quadro to quadro

                                  and he used the BBPM whos authors will tell you NO Quadro!

                                  • 15. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                                    ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                                    Hehe Quadros are better with Avid if you have to call their support Otherwise you will get the generic answer out of the handbook

                                     

                                    Eric

                                    ADK

                                    • 16. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                                      Scott Chichelli Level 3

                                      And regardless if you have paid the $1000 assurance fee…

                                       

                                      Avid gets you coming and going… Hail Adobe!

                                      • 17. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                                        Videoguys Level 1

                                        I agree with you guys that Avid support can be less then steallr when it comes to graphics cards. But I will also tell you this. Substituting a Quadro card for a non-quadro card in an Avid system is one of our go to support fixes and it works. Obviously this is especialy true with ATI cards, but that said, we've had folks running a GeForce card that had system stability issue that vanished when they switched over to a Quadro. even a Quadro card like the 560/580 which was/is far less powerful then an off the shelf $200 gaming card.

                                         

                                        With each version of MC, this has become less and less of an issue, but it still happens. I don't want to fight with you guys about this, but the simple reality is that Avid systems run better with Quadro cards.

                                         

                                        Since this is an Adobe forum, we don't need to take up any more bandwidth discussing Avid. For the vast majority of our Adobe customers a GTX570/580 is the perfect choice with CS.5.x There are some valid reasons to go Quadro, and for those folks who really need it and can afford to pay the big premium for them, a Quadro card makes sense.

                                         

                                        But as everyone here has said, and Videoguys agrees, the GTX570/580 is the slam dunk best  choice for CS5.5.

                                         

                                        Gary

                                        • 18. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                                          Dvico Level 1

                                          Hi Gary!

                                          Do you read about the C1 stepping error of SB-E 3930K? Is there any significance in video editing?Today I read some news about that c2 stepping models release next month.

                                          Should  wait with the purchasing of a new  3930K?

                                          • 19. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                                            RjL190365 Level 4

                                            Yes, Gary, the Quadros can stabilize Avid. To get the power of an off-the-shelf $200 gaming card in a Quadro, figure on spending at least four times more money (this is for a Quadro 4000 that's only about as powerful as a GTX 460 SE).

                                            • 20. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                                              Crist OC/PC Level 2

                                              Gary Did you try already :

                                               

                                              RamDisk and Super Cache or Ram cache??

                                              • 21. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                                                T4edit

                                                Hi everyone, not trying to hijack the thread, but the last one that seemed to discuss SB vs SB-E appears locked.

                                                 

                                                I've been following various threads on these and other forums related to the Sandy Bridge and SB-E chipsets with use for NLE and DAW with great interest. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to these lively discussions. This post is aimed primarily at VideoGuys, ADK, RJL190365 and Harm, but anyone with chipset research/testing knowledge please chime in.

                                                 

                                                Needless to say there are a range of opinions on how significant any stabilitly/bottleneck concerns there are on SB based builds versus their X58 and X79 counterparts. I really like the look of the various x79 builds that have been suggested, but they do seem to be pushing those on tight budgets out of picture.

                                                 

                                                Since the mitigating factor of the SB boards is the # of PCIe/PCI lanes and the bus segmentation, why aren't we taking a closer look at the c206 chipset?  Scott quickly mentioned it back in July in this thread: http://forums.adobe.com/thread/810750?start=0&tstart=0 and lately there seems to be a bit more talk about it on various DAW forums where people have run into similar PCI issues on SB. I believe that at the time Scott mentioned it there was very little solid info and a bit of trouble with the one mobo out there, the ASUS P8B WS. As far as I know this is still the only c206 board, but it sounds like numerous improvements have been made via bios and firmware updates. Contrary to the earlier post, the P8B WS absolutely does support i7 1155 CPUs (as well as the Xeon E3-1275) and can be run with or without ECC ram. Being based on a server platform, I'll guess that its not as overclocking friendly as the P67 or Z68 but Assus even claims to support some type of OC on it.

                                                 

                                                http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_1155/P8B_WS/

                                                http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131725

                                                 

                                                If you all have been through this already I apologize in advance but I could not find any detailed discussion on this chipset here. The PCIe/PCI lane setup sure looks promising on paper. Paired with a 2600k, I realize it probably would fall behind a P67 build in terms or raw cpu benchmarks. But many would happily give preference to extra stability while keeping the value per dollar of the 2600k versus a little added speed.

                                                 

                                                Any thoughts, experiences or even hearsay on this chipset/board would be fantastic.

                                                 

                                                Thanks.

                                                • 22. Re: Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E
                                                  RjL190365 Level 4

                                                  Unortunately, LGA 1155 is still limited by the 16 available PCI-e lanes in the CPU. The other four PCI-E lanes are used by the DMI 2.0 connection to the P67/H61/H67/Z68/C206 PCH. The P8B-WS does not natively provide any additional PCI-e lanes from the CPU (however, the C206 PCH does provide up to twelve PCI-e lanes, some of which are eaten up by onboard devices such as the dual Intel NICs). In other words, the CPU (and thus the platform) is still limited in terms of potential future expansion.