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Revisiting the Past
Part 1: Dual-Core CPUs For Socket 939

July 20, 2007



Many times we are so focused on looking at newer and faster technologies, we forget about the older ones. However, it is sometimes useful to take a look back, primarily because it highlights today’s performance achievements. This article is the first of a new series called “Revisiting the Past” in which we will take old processors and re-test them using today’s current benchmark standards. In addition, these older processors will be benchmarked against modern counterparts to see how they compare to today’s technologies.

In the series, the old group of processors consists of dual-core AMD Socket 939 processors along with Intel LGA775 processors based on the NetBurst architecture (Pentium D, Pentium XE). We have also included single-core Athlon 64 processors, naturally still based on the socket 939 platform, and single core Intel Pentium 4 LGA 775 processors. Although for some people this series of article may only create nostalgia, it still holds plenty of practical value. For one, it will be interesting for owners of aging computer systems because it will allow them to see how their older processors perform against modern counterparts. In addition, we will also be able to see how newer technologies have benefited performance. Besides, what’s wrong with having a little nostalgia every once in a while? :)

From the title of this article it is clear that the first part of the series focuses on dual-core Socket 939 processors. For comparison, we have chosen two Socket AM2 dual-core processors that have a core frequency similar to that of the older processors. In addition, we have also included a number of new Intel Core 2 Duo processors as rivals. The Intel Core 2 processors are included so that we can see how older AMD processors compare against what can be considered the current performance leading processors.

Hardware and software

Testbed configurations

CPU Mainboard Memory Video
Core 2 Duo E4400 ASUS P5B Deluxe Corsair CM2X1024-6400C4 GeForce 8800 GTX
Core 2 Duo E6420 ASUS P5B Deluxe Corsair CM2X1024-6400C4 GeForce 8800 GTX
Athlon 64 X2 4400+ ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe Corsair CM2X1024-6400C4 GeForce 8800 GTX
Athlon 64 X2 5000+ ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe Corsair CM2X1024-6400C4 GeForce 8800 GTX
Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (S939) ECS RD480-A939 Corsair CMX1024-3500LLPRO GeForce 8800 GTX
Athlon 64 X2 4400+ (S939) ECS RD480-A939 Corsair CMX1024-3500LLPRO GeForce 8800 GTX
Athlon 64 X2 4800+ (S939) ECS RD480-A939 Corsair CMX1024-3500LLPRO GeForce 8800 GTX
Athlon 64 FX-60 (S939) ECS RD480-A939 Corsair CMX1024-3500LLPRO GeForce 8800 GTX
  • 2x1024 MB RAM
  • Samsung HD401LJ (SATA) HDD
  • Boxed coolers
  • Cooler Master RS-A00-EMBA PSU
Processor Core 2 Duo E4400 Core 2 Duo E6420 Athlon 64 X2 4400+ Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Athlon 64 X2 4400+ Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Athlon 64 FX-60
Process technology, nm 65 65 90 90 90 90 90 90
Core clock, GHz 2.0 2.13 2.2 2.6 2.0 2.2 2.4 2.6
Number of cores 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
L2 cache*, KB 2048 4096 2x1024 2x512 2x512 2x1024 2x1024 2x1024
Bus clock**, MHz 800 (QP) 1066 (QP) 2x800 (DDR2) 2x800 (DDR2) 2x400 (DDR) 2x400 (DDR) 2x400 (DDR) 2x400 (DDR)
Multiplier 10 8 11 13 10 11 12 13
Socket LGA775 LGA775 AM2 AM2 939 939 939 939
Heat emission***, W 65 65 89 89 89 89 110 110
AMD64/EM64T + + + + + + + +
VT + + +

* — «2x...» means «... for each core».
** — For AMD processors — memory controller bus frequency.
*** — Defined differently for Intel and AMD, therefore it is not correct to compare directly.

Software

  1. Windows XP Professional x64 edition SP1
  2. 3ds max 9 x64 edition
  3. Maya 8.5 x64 edition
  4. Lightwave 3D 9 x64 edition
  5. MATLAB R2006a (7.2.0.32) x64 edition
  6. Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 2.0
  7. SolidWorks 2005
  8. Photoshop CS2 (9.0)
  9. Visual Studio 2005 Professional
  10. Apache HTTP Server 2.2.4
  11. CPU RightMark 2005 Lite (1.3) x64 edition
  12. WinRAR 3.62
  13. 7-Zip 4.42 x64 edition
  14. FineReader 8.0 Professional
  15. LAME 3.97
  16. Monkey Audio 4.01
  17. OGG Encoder 2.83
  18. Windows Media Encoder 9 x64 edition
  19. Canopus ProCoder 2.01.30
  20. DivX 6.4
  21. Windows Media Video VCM 9
  22. x264 v.604
  23. XviD 1.1.2
  24. F.E.A.R. 1.08
  25. Half-Life 2 1.0
  26. Quake 4 1.3
  27. Call of Duty 2 1.2
  28. Serious Sam 2 2.07
  29. Supreme Commander 1.0.3220

Testing

A necessary foreword to the diagrams

We present the results of our tests in two unique ways due to our testing method. First of all, in the summary diagrams of this article all data types are reduced to one – relative integer points. What we mean by relative integer points is that the performance of all processors is relative to that of one processor, which in this case is the Intel Core 2 Duo E4300. The performance of the Core 2 Duo E4300 is rated at 100 points. Second, detailed results regarding the tests are available in a Microsoft Excel table. In the article itself only summary diagrams are given which are grouped together by benchmark classes. Nevertheless, when required, we will occasionally draw your attention to the expanded results which are located in the Excel file.

3-D modeling suites

The AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ is able to outperform the AMD Athlon 64 FX-60, which it is very similar in frequency to, by a very slim margin of a mere two points. On the other hand, the AMD Athlon 4400+ AM2 outdoes not only the Athlon 4400+ 939, but also the Athlon 4800+ 939. It would be logical to assume that the performance of the systems based on the FX-60/5000+ is limited by something other than the processor, while a lower-class model is able to demonstrate the advantages of faster DDR2-800 memory. In contrast, the Core 2 Duo E4400, a mid-range processor, looks quite impressive even in the company of high-end Socket 939 parts such as the Athlon 64 FX-60.

CAD/CAE suites

In the CAD/CAE tests apparently nothing is able to hinder the performance of the dual-core Socket AM2 AMD Athlon 5000+ and it is able to gain a large performance margin over the Socket 939 processor of similar frequency, the AMD Athlon FX-60. Similarly, the 4400+/AM2 is able to repeat its performance of the 3D modeling tests, and it once again outdoes even the 4800+/939. Now would be a good time to remember AMD making all those statements after the launch of the AM2 platform claiming that the K8 core doesn’t need fast memory to perform well… From what we’ve been seeing so far, the faster memory is making a difference.

Digital photo processing

Adobe Photoshop doesn’t take much advantage of the AM2 platform, and we see that characteristic in these tests. The AMD Athlon 5000+ AM2 and 4400+/AM2 are just barely able to surpass their same-class opponents. Mirroring previous tests, the Core 2 Duo E4400 is right on the heels of the Athlon 64 FX-60.

Compilation

The results of the compilation tests are rather puzzling if we assume that the AMD Athlon 4400+/AM2 clearly outperforms the Athlon 4400+/939. However, if we conclude that the result is within the margin of error, which it possibly might be because the difference isn’t larger than 2%, everything falls into place. The lower frequency processors score equally to each other, while the platform of the processor also plays a larger role for cores with higher frequencies. In this case, DDR2-800 paired with the AMD Athlon 5000+ doesn’t perform quite well, and it ends up behind the Athlon 4800+ and the Athlon 64 FX-60 systems. The Athlon 5000+’s loss can either be the result of greater latency, or, which is more likely considering the nature of this test, a result of the processor’s smaller cache.

Web-server

The web-server test supports the theory that in some cases the lower latency of DDR400 gives the older AMD platforms a key advantage.

Synthetics

In the synthetic tests the most interesting of our article’s contestants perform nearly equally to each other. This is logical because CPU RightMark is not a benchmark that is very sensitive to the speed of the memory subsystem.

Data compression

The performance of the Athlon 4400+/939 turns out to be on a par with the Athlon 4400+/AM2, while the FX-60 outperforms the Athlon 5000+ by 2 points. DDR2-800 turns out to be rather useless when competing against a larger cache.

OCR

There really isn’t much to comment on in the OCR tests other than the clear superiority of the Core 2 Duo platform over all other competition.

Audio encoding

This is simply an old test that we traditionally include in our articles for the sake of information and don’t really comment on.

Video encoding

The advantage of the new AMD platform over the old one is nearly unnoticeable in the video encoding tests. In addition, the Core 2 Duo E4400 performs at the same level as the Athlon 64 FX-60 once again.

Games

The hour of triumph comes for Socket AM2 in the form of games! The benefits of fast memory quickly become apparent for the AM2 platform. However, the Intel Core 2 Duo E4400 again comes far too close for comfort, and outperforms all AMD processors except the Athlon 64 X2 5000+. Although it gets outperformed, the E4400 is still well within striking range. For specific benchmark scores, please remember to refer to the Microsoft Excel file.

Total scores



Looking closely at the overall platform scores, as a matter of fact Socket AM2 doesn’t turn out to be anything new in terms of performance compared to the older Socket 939 platform. Comparing the older and newer generation processors with their counterparts, who are matched together according to clock frequency, the differences are well within the margin of error. Although there are some cases where the AM2 platform achieves a large margin of victory (CAD/CAE-suites and games) that is impressive, we frankly expected more.

Supposed power consumption


To be completely honest, the power consumption data is shocking. Everything makes sense as far as the new Intel Core 2 platform goes, but the AM2 platform’s power consumption is extremely high - even when comparing it to the old AMD platform! Naturally we cannot guarantee that our measurements are 100% accurate considering that they were taken on different system boards because AM2 and 939 are completely separate platforms (see more details in our testing method description), but it seems very unlikely that the ECS (Socket 939) board would have higher performance than the ASUS (Socket AM2) board. Although, it is important to remember that it isn’t impossible...

Conclusion

Basically, the diagrams say it all. Although socket AM2 does have some fairly large victories, it at the same time has a large defeat in the web server tests. In addition, its power consumption levels are also quite high. So those who want to increase their processing speed by replacing their Socket 939-based systems with another system based on the AM2 platform, we suggest you only consider buying something along the lines of the Athlon 64 X2 6000+. This is because it simply has no Socket 939 rivals in terms of clock speed. The performance of the other processors, though, wouldn’t completely justify the move. Again, if you would like detailed performance results, please feel free to refer to the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.



Memory modules for the testbeds were provided by
Corsair Memory Russia


Stanislav Garmatyuk (nawhi@ixbt.com)
July 20, 2007

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