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Intel Core i7 920 Processor

Performance tests.

January 12, 2009



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Tests

  1. Our test method is described here.
  2. All data types are reduced to one relative integer score: performance of a reviewed processor compared to performance of Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600, which is considered 100 points.
  3. Detailed results are available in this cumulative Excel spreadsheet. The article contains only summaries of each benchmark class.
  4. If detailed results are worthy of your attention, we mention them.

We took advantage of another interesting criterion: we calculated performance score for each application (using the same method as for groups of tests) and then divided this score by CPU clock rate (GHz). Our calculations are published in tables under the charts. Each table includes all benchmarks in a given group. In our opinion, the number of points per 1 GHz can be an illustrative performance indicator for a given application. By the way, we obtained interesting results, especially for Core i7 (where the score is recalculated per "symbolic" GHz, as Turbo Boost may raise CPU frequency in real tests).

Professional tests

3D modeling and rendering




Performance per GHz Core 2 Duo E6850 Core 2 Duo E8200 Core 2 Duo E8500 Core 2 Quad Q9300 Core 2 Extreme QX9770 Core i7 920
3ds max 34.75 36.43 35.87 41.87 39.98 44.07
Maya 34.15 36.11 34.60 41.97 42.15 50.27
Lightwave 39.15 41.21 39.57 43.50 43.45 43.51

Even on the chart, Core i7 920, which takes the second place after Core 2 Extreme QX9770, looks more than convincing: its frequency is lower by 1.2 and its cache is smaller by a quarter. And the performance-per-GHz table makes everything perfectly clear: Core i7 efficiency is significantly higher in two applications out of three. And even in the third application this processor wins (in this parameter), even if with a purely nominal advantage.

CAD/CAM




Performance per GHz Core 2 Duo E6850 Core 2 Duo E8200 Core 2 Duo E8500 Core 2 Quad Q9300 Core 2 Extreme QX9770 Core i7 920
UGS NX 40.70 44.60 39.92 43.66 40.58 45.54
Pro/ENGINEER 40.72 42.99 41.51 42.42 41.70 45.42
SolidWorks 39.51 41.37 40.04 41.28 40.01 43.02

It's one of the few test groups, where Core i7 920 takes up a position appropriate to its clock rate -- in the middle of the chart, closer to the bottom. However, per-GHz efficiency of Core i7 is still the highest.

Compiling




Performance per GHz Core 2 Duo E6850 Core 2 Duo E8200 Core 2 Duo E8500 Core 2 Quad Q9300 Core 2 Extreme QX9770 Core i7 920
VisualStudio 37.44 39.73 38.76 41.15 41.40 40.74

It's the first time, when Core i7 shows worse efficiency (not much) than the top Core 2 processor. Perhaps, too many cores is not always a good thing? We'll check it up in future reviews, when we'll try to disable Hyper-Threading.

Professional photo processing




Performance per GHz Core 2 Duo E6850 Core 2 Duo E8200 Core 2 Duo E8500 Core 2 Quad Q9300 Core 2 Extreme QX9770 Core i7 920
Photoshop 31.88 35.86 35.17 45.69 45.70 52.25

It's a brilliant victory -- 5% performance lag, while the clock rate is lower by 20%, even though Core i7 920 earned fewer points than Core 2 Extreme QX9770. However, Adobe Photoshop uses multiprocessing well, and we suspect that Hyper-Threading is also welcome here.

Scientific applications




Performance per GHz Core 2 Duo E6850 Core 2 Duo E8200 Core 2 Duo E8500 Core 2 Quad Q9300 Core 2 Extreme QX9770 Core i7 920
Maple 41.12 42.62 42.76 42.41 42.49 60.92
Mathematica 38.75 41.11 40.30 42.09 43.06 46.76
MATLAB 42.65 44.52 43.63 42.59 44.20 41.43

The group of scientific applications is full of surprises, as it often happens: efficiency of Core i7 in Maple rises to an unprecedented level, but in MATLAB (again MATLAB...) it's the worst processor even in efficiency. However, a huge advantage in Maple allows Core i7 920 to take up the second position in the total rating.

Web server




Performance per GHz Core 2 Duo E6850 Core 2 Duo E8200 Core 2 Duo E8500 Core 2 Quad Q9300 Core 2 Extreme QX9770 Core i7 920
PHPCalculator 21.26 21.34 21.55 41.30 41.55 54.46
PHPSpeed 42.09 42.16 41.74 41.27 43.65 42.62

Curiously, the 8-core processor from Intel does not perform very well. Even PHP Calculator (where additional cores cause high performance gains) does not treat properly the semi-twofold advantage of Core i7 920 over Core 2 Extreme QX9770 in the number of cores (owing to Hyper-Threading): yep, Core i7 is the winner, but its result is not much higher -- 268 transactions per second versus 246. It's a good example to show that we shouldn't forget about the virtual nature of eight cores in Core i7.

Total professional score





Core i7 920 is outscored by Core 2 Extreme QX9770 by 13%, even though its frequency is lower by 20%. So its efficiency-per-GHz is higher by almost 5%. Some of you might have expected better results, but we are satisfied: as we have already written, the main objective of Core i7 was not to be faster -- however, it still is.


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