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Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 in Real-Life Apps

How memory speed affects CPU performance.

September 30, 2008



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Scientific applications


  DDR3-800 DDR3-1600 Gain X4 9850
Maple 0,0314 0,0314 0% 1%
Mathematica
Internal 4.3570 4.5320 4% 4%
MMA 1.6172 1.6452 2% 2%
MATLAB
LU 0.0482 0.0438 10% 4%
FFT 0.1204 0.1041 16% 6%
ODE 0.1487 0.1486 0% 2%
Sparse 0.2587 0.2355 10% 3%
2D 0.2076 0.2070 0% 2%
3D 0.1026 0.1025 0% 0%
Group score 134 140 5% 3%

MATLAB provides the most interesting results: there are three tests here, which demonstrate 10% or higher performance gains with the QX9770, and two tests, which demonstrate some performance gain with the X4 9850 and no gain with the QX9770 at all. On the whole, response of both systems to the increased memory performance reveals more differences than similarities. Only one explanation comes to our mind: different cache sizes and organizations in Core 2 Extreme QX9770 and Phenom X4 9850 make them respond differently to changes in stream access speed and latency. We can assume that relatively high latency on the Intel platform results in deeper performance drops. In other words, it's not that DDR3-1600 is fast, it's DDR3-800 that makes some operations too slow.

Web server


  DDR3-800 DDR3-1600 Gain X4 9850
PHP Calculator 244 246 1% 0%
PHPSpeed
Synthetic PHP 3853 3877 1% 0%
Synthetic MySQL 2973 2976 0% 0%
Synthetic Read/Write 2405 2411 0% 4%
Real World PHP 6637 6764 2% 4%
Real World PHP & MySQL 4312 4334 1% 4%
Server 2526 2549 1% 2%
Group score 137 138 1% 2%

QX9770 depends less on memory performance in this group of tests. And this tendency appears practically in all tests here. As in compile tests, the easiest explanation to such behavior is relatively large L2 Cache.

Archivers


  DDR3-800 DDR3-1600 Gain X4 9850
7-Zip 0:02:07 0:01:50 15% 10%
WinRAR 0:01:04 0:00:56 14% 7%
Ultimate ZIP 0:01:39 0:01:39 0% 0%
Group score 125 137 10% 6%

Both systems are very sensitive to memory bandwidth. "Champion tests" are absolutely identical, but performance gains on the Intel platform are significantly higher.

Encoding


  DDR3-800 DDR3-1600 Gain X4 9850
FLAC 0:00:54 0:00:53 2% 0%
LAME 0:01:26 0:01:26 0% 0%
Musepack 0:01:34 0:01:34 0% 0%
Vorbis 0:02:44 0:02:43 1% 0%
Canopus ProCoder 0:04:35 0:04:31 1% 2%
DivX 0:00:55 0:00:54 2% 4%
x264 0:01:54 0:01:54 0% 2%
XviD 0:05:30 0:05:28 1% 1%
Group score 137 138 1% 1%

No comments needed.

Games


  DDR3-800 DDR3-1600 Gain X4 9850
Call of Duty 4 119 130 9% 0%
Company of Heroes 57 57 0% 2%
Call of Juarez 51 52 2% 2%
Crysis 24.48 25.57 4% 5%
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 128 128 0% 4%
Unreal Tournament 3 126 145 15% 22%
World in Conflict 60 65 8% 10%
Group score 109 115 5% 6%

Strange as it may seem, the Intel platform is less sensitive to memory bandwidth in games, except for Call of Duty 4. Why does Phenom "ignore" this game? We can only repeat our above-mentioned assumption: Phenom is OK with access latencies in both cases, while QX9770 responds well to their reduction.

Non-professional photo processing


  DDR3-800 DDR3-1600 Gain X4 9850
ACDSee 0:06:54 0:06:34 5% 1%
IrfanView 0:13:32 0:13:30 0% 1%
Paint.NET 19150 18966 1% 1%
xat.com Image Optimizer 0:28:13 0:28:05 0% 1%
XnView 0:15:48 0:15:44 0% 1%
Group score 131 136 1% 1%

ACDSee demonstrates a strange result, but it does not affect the overall situation much. In fact, when we speak of the 1-2% difference, you shouldn't forget about inevitable measurement errors.

Conclusions


  DDR3-800 DDR3-1600 Gain X4 9850
PRO SCORE 132 137 3% 3%
HOME SCORE 125 131 4% 3%
OVERALL SCORE 129 134 4% 3%

In broad terms, we acknowledge that Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 benefits from using faster memory in more cases than AMD Phenom X4 9850. In other words, QX9770 is more dependent on memory performance. Feel free to choose any definition of these two, depending on whether you want to praise QX9770 or criticize it.

However, these are purely theoretical conclusions, scores and percentages, even their fractions. In practice, it will be very difficult to notice the difference between DDR3-800 and DDR3-1600 even with the fastest quad-core processor from Intel. A couple of games, archivers, some activities in Photoshop and MATLAB -- that's the complete list of situations, where you can try to feel a slightest performance gain. It's up to you to decide whether you want to pay much money for this transient sensation.


Memory modules provided by Corsair Memory.

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