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In most benchmark tests the Quad core isn't always ahead and frequently behind (tomshardware CPU Charts etc)

BUT the test cases are primarily orientated towards the desktop/game rig.

AS a Dedicated Server for a Database driven website. Should I consider more cores over speed?

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Can you clarify what you want please - is it an SQL server or is it a web server, it makes a lot of difference - also what OS, what server code and what kind of client-load too please. –  Chopper3 Jun 5 '09 at 7:53

4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

If the one server will be running all components in the stack (HTTP service and database service, and whatever else) then the answer is absolutely yes.

If the machine will only run the front-end services, the answer is still most likely yes. At the basic level, web serving capacity is driven primarily by memory capacity. After that, things like I/O and process forking come into play. I think you're probably better off with more cores, because the httpd won't care too much about clocks. The newer quad-core CPUs, by and large, have faster memory interconnects also, which will surely help.

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In addition to Adam's point, multiple cores mean that you can run multiple processes at once - when using a webserver that's threaded, you can server more clients simultaneously without (as much) context switching between threads.

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For workloads with significant amounts of parallel tasks, like webserving or databases, more cores beats faster cores. If you have a 4 core machine and you get 4 hits at the same time, each request is going to get its own core. If you have two cores, requests are going to have to share.

However, if you're not serving that much the difference is irrelevent as your CPU is going to spend most of its time idle.

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You can look at it mathematically too:

2 × 3.0Ghz = 6Ghz

4 × 2.4Ghz = 9.6Ghz

Clearly with the 4 core you get more 'power'

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This is actually incorrect. The example implies that, if the CPU is idle, one single thread can be processed at 9.6 GHz; which is not the case. –  PaulWaldman Apr 6 '10 at 21:24
    
This might be true for highly parallel & threaded jobs, but back in the real world, no. –  Chris S Apr 6 '10 at 22:07
    
I don't think it implies one single thread can be processed at 9.6GHz. Thats exactly why i put 'power' in quotes :-) We're talking a webserver here - and since when does a webserver do its work in one thread anyway. This is about mathematical 'averages' –  Simon Apr 7 '10 at 20:54
    
@chris urm... this guy is asking about a webserver. you can't get much more threaded than that –  Simon Apr 13 '10 at 9:21
    
Threads are wonderful, if you're using them. Just because it's a webserver I wouldn't assume it's heavily used. Also, the efficiency of the core design plays heavily into performance, GHz is not a very good representation of raw performance. –  Chris S Apr 13 '10 at 12:45

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