The benchmarking procedure (the list of software and test conditions) is described here. To make the diagrams easier to read, the results are represented in percent (100% stand for the result of Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 in each test). The detailed results and absolute values are provided in this spreadsheet.
It's not the first time that 3D modelling suites prefer Core 2 processors. This can actually be said about all non-optimized or insufficiently optimized applications. AMD products can only catch up by means of a noticeably higher clock rate. Or faster memory (note the 3rd place of Athlon II X3). However, Celerons are still too cut down compared to full-fledged inexpensive models, so, priced similarly to E3200, Athlon II X2 215 easily outperforms the more expensive E3300. Overclocking lets it catch up with the senior model in that series. Smaller cache is compensated by faster RAM. But even the junior Pentium is out of reach.
Rendering suites are much better optimized, because performance at this stage is solely determined by PC and software, not user. These tests change the situation radically. Celeron is out, because even Pentium E5300 loses a little. Overclocking provides an almost linear performance boost, but, at the same clock rate, Õ2 255 remains faster -- cache plays its role, when it's so limited. Catching up with the junior Athlon II X3 is out of the question. We'd have to overclock the CPU to more than 4GHz, something a regular home user won't do.
Similar to the first group of tests, the third and subsequent cores do not help. However, you can get more performance by increasing the speed and reducing memory latencies. Then it comes to differences. Firstly, overclocking provides an almost linear performance boost (like in the second group of tests). Secondly, the difference between 512MB and 1MB of cache per core is quite noticeable. As is the difference between 1MB and 2MB of shared cache. In general, performing in the normal mode, Athlon II X2 215 fits right between Celeron E3300 and Pentium E5300. Judging by the absolute result, we can assume this CPU is faster than any Celeron processor, including E3400, but slower than any 45nm Pentium CPU, including the recently put out of production E5200. This is a good result for Athlon II X2 215, considering its retail price is similar to that of Celeron E3200.
The less optimized an application is, the better the Core 2 architecture works with it. Even Celeron looks good in this group of tests, not lagging much behind Athlon II processors. All Pentiums are even faster. It's all because of non-professional software like ACDSee, Corel PaintShop Pro and PhotoImpact. Photoshop already demonstrates a kind of equality -- between the higher-end Athlon II X2 (X3 breaks away, because Photoshop is partially optimized for multi-core) and lower-end Pentiums. So the low-end Athlon II X2 -- 215 -- is out of competition. It only can compete with older Athlon X2, Celeron, Pentium and Core 2 Duo processors.
Small cache, memory up to DDR3-1066. Obviously, no surprises are in order in the data compression tests. Athlon II X2 215 still outperforms Celeron E3300. Even though the latter works with DDR2. If these LGA775 processors had DDR3 to work with, the results would be even better. Anyway, you can see that performance is adequate to processor's market niche, but that's it. Overclocking lets it get closer to the middle, but provides no records.
As we already know, Visual Studio is a fine example of optimization for all means of increasing CPU performance. Since the most advanced way is to add more cores, obviously, the results of Athlon II X3 425 need not be commented. At the same clock rate, it outperforms the reviewed processor by about 1.5 times, which is an almost linear dependence on the number of cores and memory bandwidth. But VS2008 likes cache a bit more than memory, so the results of the overclocked X2 215 greatly lag behind those of X2 255, despite the same core clock rate and higher memory frequency. In terms of competing with rival products, everything is as AMD has planned. On rollout, X2 215 was to compete with Pentium E5200, which was the series' junior. And it did the job. Besides, it's a bit behind E5300 (it would outperform the Pentium, if the latter worked with DDR3 memory). However, outperforming E5300 is not required. Considering the price similar to that of Celeron E3200, outperforming E3300 will do.
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