L3 cache and independent sound card?

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Life Chris
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L3 cache and independent sound card?

Postby Life Chris » Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:37 pm UTC

Hey guys,
I'm building myself a desktop monster gaming computer and wondering if anyone knows the significance of L3 cache? I know (I think I know) that most processors nowadays have L1 and L2 and that this L3 is largely in the experimental research stages in universities (according to one of my instructors that is). So... what's its use? The i7 Intel processor I ordered purports to have 8MB L3 cache, but this sounds like one of those "hey use big numbers to trick the consumer into buying it" sorts of things... like with a multi-cycle instruction system lol.

The motherboard I ordered (Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R LGA1366/ Intel X58/ 6DDR3-2200/ SATA3/ USB3.0/ 2-Way/3-Way ATI CrossFireX?/NVIDIA SLI/ GbE/ Raid/ eSATA/1394 ATX Motherboard) supposedly has 7.1 channel surround sound. Wondering if it's worth getting a dedicated video card, or if the on-board stuff is good enough?

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Sc4Freak
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Re: L3 cache and independent sound card?

Postby Sc4Freak » Sun Feb 27, 2011 6:17 am UTC

Processors have had L3 cache for a long time now. It helps with performance, but not really by that much. The difference in performance between a CPU with L3 and a CPU without L3 (on the same architecture) might only be 5-10% for general desktop applications. If you know what L2 cache is, L3 is more or less the same - it's memory cache that has more storage but is slower than L2.

In terms of speed, Register > L1 > L2 > L3 > RAM > HDD. And they're ordered the other way in terms of storage space.

And onboard sound is more than good enough these days. If you're worried about sound quality, spend your money on better speakers or headphones. If you want good audio quality, ~90% of your expenditure should be on speakers and only ~10% on your sound card.

math1337
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Re: L3 cache and independent sound card?

Postby math1337 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:59 am UTC

Life Chris wrote:Wondering if it's worth getting a dedicated video card, or if the on-board stuff is good enough?

Did you mean sound card? The x58/i7 have no onboard graphics.
It's nearly impossible to hear the benefits of a dedicated sound card, and for better sound, the money would be better spent on speakers.

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cerbie
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Re: L3 cache and independent sound card?

Postby cerbie » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:36 pm UTC

Life Chris wrote:Hey guys,
I'm building myself a desktop monster gaming computer and wondering if anyone knows the significance of L3 cache? I know (I think I know) that most processors nowadays have L1 and L2 and that this L3 is largely in the experimental research stages in universities (according to one of my instructors that is).
I'm not sure this instructor has kept up, then. I know L3 has been in x86 CPUs since at least 2002 (P4 Xeon MP).
So... what's its use?
Same as L2. Just slower, and with more storage space per mm2. In current midrange and up CPUs, L3 has become a shared cache (AMD's is a fairly plain victim buffer, not sure about Intel's), with L2 caches being more tied to the CPU cores (though Intel is decoupling that a bit, now).
The i7 Intel processor I ordered purports to have 8MB L3 cache, but this sounds like one of those "hey use big numbers to trick the consumer into buying it" sorts of things... like with a multi-cycle instruction system lol.
No, but it won't do much, unless you need it. If the 8MB of L2 on your i7 is enough, the L3 doesn't help. OTOH, if your app needs more, then that extra 8MB can relieve the memory bottleneck quite a bit.

The motherboard I ordered (Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R LGA1366/ Intel X58/ 6DDR3-2200/ SATA3/ USB3.0/ 2-Way/3-Way ATI CrossFireX?/NVIDIA SLI/ GbE/ Raid/ eSATA/1394 ATX Motherboard) supposedly has 7.1 channel surround sound. Wondering if it's worth getting a dedicated video card, or if the on-board stuff is good enough?
You'll have slots. Try onboard and see. Since it has a Realtek chip, please make a point to go download and install Realtek's latest drivers. The ones that come with Windows Vista and 7 will work, but I have had stutter and dropout issues using MS' w/ Realtek onboard, fixed by using Realtek's own drivers (their control panel app is kind of nice, too).
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