I am going to analyse a lot of games with Houdini 3.

The system on which I am going to analyse it is really powerful, but I am curious, what is the most important type of hardware for such analysis?

  • CPU
  • RAM
  • GPU

I am willing to buy some additional computational power, but if needed.

Up till now I have read this and was not able to find the answer.

If someone has any results or have done a strong analysis with Houdini, please give your insights.

  • 1
    Call the Houdini people and ask them to configure you a thumpin' system.
    – Tony Ennis
    Apr 24, 2013 at 23:44

4 Answers 4


You have not read enough of Houdini's online user manual. First look at the 2.1 Installing Houdini page.

Specifically, it says you'll get 30% faster performance with 64-bit over 32-bit. It says it's optimized to use up to 6 cores. And Intel i5 will run it faster than an equivalent speed AMD Opteron. Their home page says it will use up to 4 GB of RAM for hash memory. Obviously from that, you'll want to get the highest clocked Intel i7 you can find with a 4th generation CPU.

But if you get Houdini 3 Pro instead of Houdini 3 Standard, it supports up to 32 cores and 256 GB of hash memory and NUMA-architecture (whatever that is). Their example performance comparison shows on a 16-core dual AMD Opteron-6128 box that Pro has a 20% speed gain over Standard. With the Pro version, you'll want as many cores as you can get, because that's the number of threads you'll be able to run at once. Intel i7 will likely be better than AMD for the Pro version as well.

Definitely read everything in the online Houdini 3 User's Manual, especially section 3 about its configuration. That tells you how to optimize it.


CPU is by far the most important here. RAM is very cheap so I guess that you have between 8 and 16GB meaning that this will not be a bottle neck. You absolutely need a multiprocessor version of Houdini if you care about performance. Otherwise it will only use 1 of your 4 cores.

I think this is highly unlikely for home PC, but multiple processor would speed up your analysis a lot. Chess programs are doing very well when it comes to parallel processing and utilising resources.

If you have 1 processor, I would suggest buying a very good cooling system for it and overclocking it to higher clock. i7 2600k can easily run at 4.5 GHz.

  • 1
    This is pretty much correct, I'd add that at the time of writing, GPU-based chess engines are not widespread, and I'm pretty sure Houdini doesn't make use of your GPU.
    – Daniel B
    Apr 25, 2013 at 9:06
  • GPGPU did not make it way to chess... yet! ;) Apr 25, 2013 at 9:07
  • I wonder why. Chess seems like a fairly parallelizable problem. Sep 8, 2013 at 13:05

The next most critical point is to ensure that you have a 64-bit operating system and use the 64-bit version of the engine. Well designed engines like Rybka (and Houdini is a derivative of Rybka) will see a performance gain of as much as 70% from switching to 64-bit architecture.

  • It is 2013 now. Try to find somewhere 32-bit system and let me know. Sep 12, 2013 at 13:27

The answer of your question can be found by logic. When you play chess, the most important organ is your brain because you mostly need to think about positions. For computers, that's the same, which hardware refers to brain? CPU of course!

Moreover, nowadays, computers can have multiple brains (cores) and chess engines can be compatible with it. Thus, more your processor has cores, better is for analyzing positions.

You speak about Houdini but it's the same for other chess engines like Rybka, Fritz and so on.

  • Using logic you can come up with GPU as well. Now a lot of computation is done by GPU right now. Sep 12, 2013 at 13:29
  • I don't agree with you. GPU can help CPU thinking for beautiful graphics features (3D etc.) like for beautiful videos games. Chess engines just think positions on board (thus CPU only).
    – Zistoloen
    Sep 12, 2013 at 13:45
  • This is amazing, but people who actually write chess engines think differently: chessgpgpu.blogspot.ae chessprogramming.wikispaces.com/GPU rybkaforum.net/cgi-bin/rybkaforum/topic_show.pl?tid=4410 Sep 12, 2013 at 13:49
  • Ok but the question is about the most important hardware for analyzing positions and it is CPU for sure.
    – Zistoloen
    Sep 13, 2013 at 7:44
  • After speaking with Houdini team, I know this. I just wanted to highlight that your logic is bringing you no where, because with the same logic I can come up with the another answer. Moreover your last sentence about all other chess engines does not make any sense at all Sep 13, 2013 at 17:23

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