Raster Graphics Processing
These benchmarks have different thread requirements. While ACDSee easily utilizes multiple threads to convert RAWs and do filtering, GIMP needs only one, and Photoshop fits in between. As a result, CPUs up to $200-300 can show varying results, while Extreme Edition processors provide hardly any benefits.
Vector Graphics Processing
According to the tests, the Core 2 Duo processors seem to be the last CPUs these benchmarks have been optimized for. So results here are the better the closer a CPU is to Core 2 Duo. This explains why the older AMD processors score better that the newer one. This cannot be said about Intel CPUs where only Atom is quite different from the "reference" Core 2 Duo. As for LGA2011, it still belongs to the Sandy Bridge family, having improvements which are useless in this group of tests.
The best group of tests for multicore processors shows decreasing progress, even in the multi-threading x264-based benchmarks. Of course, the Core i7-3970X is the fastest desktop processor, but the price prevents it from being a more reasonable buy than the cheaper AMD or Intel CPUs.
This group of tests surely doesn't provide enough load for high-end processors, so the performance keeps growing gradually.
SPECjvm can utilize multiple threads nicely, so even the older 12-thread CPU is better than the newer 8-thread one. Note: Core i7-880 yields even to Phenom II X6 1100T.
Game engines with multi-threading support are still unpopular. With neither dual-core nor SMT processors in the testbed, the difference is dictated by different clock rates, microarchitectures, and L3 caches.
Three out of five tests here can load almost all functional blocks. So the more blocks a processor has, the better it scores. However, these tests seem to be far from reality: no one is likely to compile, render, compress, and decode at the same time.
Overall Score and Final Thoughts
The oldest processor in today's testbed is Phenom II X4 940, released almost four years ago at $300. Today's flagship CPU costs four times as much, providing only 2.5x (sometimes 3x) more performance. That's progress for you.
Let's take a closer look at what Intel and AMD have done in terms of development. Over the recent years, the latter gained 60% performance by changing the process technology and microarchitecture. At the same time, Intel has just moved from the first to the second generation of LGA2011, showing 1.5x times less progress than AMD. Overall, AMD's top FX-8350 is about five times cheaper than Intel's Extreme Edition processors while being hardly two times slower! As you see, the competition is on.
What about Core i7-3970X? It is the fastest x86 processor on the market and the first Intel CPU to overcome the 4 GHz barrier and bring the LGA2011 platform back to action. On the other hand, it's just Intel's next Extreme Edition CPU with no significant changes, just a slight boost for the most demanding users.
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