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Intel Core i7 Processors for LGA1156, LGA1155 and LGA1366

The slowest from three years ago, the fastest today and a few in between.

October 19, 2011



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Today we shall focus on Intel Core i7 processors, in particular those outperforming Core i7-880. Firstly, we need to retest them with our new test method. Secondly, the new LGA2011 platform is to be announced very soon, and we'll need these test results for further comparison. LGA2011, like the preceding LGA1567, is designed for high-performance multiprocessor systems, and it will also replace the extreme LGA1366 platform that has been out there for nearly three years.

Testbeds

CPU Core i7-860 Core i7-880 Core i7-2600
Core Lynnfield Lynnfield Sandy Bridge QC
Process technology 45 nm 45 nm 32 nm
Core clock rate (std/max) 2.8/3.46 GHz 3.06/3.73 GHz 3.4/3.8 GHz
Initial multiplier 21 23 34
Turbo Boost scheme 5-4-1-1 5-4-2-2 4-3-2-1
Cores/threads 4/8 4/8 4/8
L1 cache, I/D 32/32 KB 32/32 KB 32/32 KB
L2 cache 4x256 KB 4x256 KB 4x256 KB
L3 cache 8 MB 8 MB 8 MB
Uncore clock rate 2.4 GHz 2.4 GHz 3.4 GHz
RAM 2xDDR3-1333
Graphics core - - GMA HD 2000
Socket LGA1156 LGA1156 LGA1155
TDP 95 W 95 W 95 W
CPU Core i7-920 Core i7-970 Core i7-990X
Core Bloomfield Gulftown Gulftown
Process technology 45 nm 32 nm 32 nm
Core clock rate (std/max) 2.66/2.93 GHz 3.2/3.47 GHz 3.47/3.73 GHz
Initial multiplier 20 24 26
Turbo Boost scheme 2-1-1-1 2-1-1-1-1-1 2-1-1-1-1-1
Cores/threads 4/8 6/12 6/12
L1 cache, I/D 32/32 KB 32/32 KB 32/32 KB
L2 cache 4x256 KB 6x256 KB 6x256 KB
L3 cache 8 MB 12 MB 12 MB
Uncore clock rate 2.13 GHz 2.13 GHz 2.66 GHz
RAM 3xDDR3-1066
Graphics core - - -
Socket LGA1366 LGA1366 LGA1366
TDP 130 W 130 W 130 W
  Motherboard RAM
LGA1155 Biostar TH67XE (H67) Corsair Vengeance CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9B (2x1333; 9-9-9-24)
LGA1156 ASUS P7H55-M Pro (H55) Corsair Vengeance CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9B (2x1333; 9-9-9-24)
LGA1366 Intel DX58SO2 (X58) 12 GB; 3x1333; 9-9-9-24 / 3x1066; 8-8-8-19 (9x0 / 990X)

We usually have 8 GB of RAM in our testbeds, but this time we made an exception for LGA1366 as it's the only platform with a triple-channel memory controller. Hence 12 GB. The memory clock rates differ because regular and extreme LGA1366 processors have different uncore clock rates.

Tests

Our new test method is briefly described here. The scores on diagrams are relative to that of our reference testbed that always scores 100 points. It's based on the AMD Athlon II X4 620 CPU, 8GB of RAM and Palit's NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 1280MB. Detailed (absolute) results are traditionally provided in this summary.

3D modeling

The leadership of Core i7-2600 doesn't need any comments. It's simply the best Sandy Bridge processor. Results of other CPUs lower with clock rate, which, traditionally for this low-threaded group depends on Turbo Boost. And the latter is more aggressive in Lynnfield than in Bloomfield and Gulftown. Core i7-990X is only saved by its initially high clock rates.

Final 3D rendering

Since that's what multicore processors are created for in the first place, the victory of six cores (and twelve threads) is not surprising. However, the efficiency of the new architecture plays its role as well: Core i7-990X manages to outperform Core i7-880 by 1.5 times (which is logical), but the advantage over Core i7-2600 is reduced to the humble 20-25%.

Data compression/decompression

The capacious cache and the ability of 7-Zip to use multiple threads are not enough for Gulftown to win a decisive victory. The extreme Core i7-990X, however, managed to settle at the top, but Core i7-970 loses noticeably to Core i7-2600.

Audio encoding

This benchmark favors multicore processors, and it's clear that six cores are obviously better than four, given that the architecture is the same. But we can also see that sheer performance isn't the only factor as improvements of Sandy Bridge let it catch up nicely.

Compiling

Six cores, twelve threads, 12 MB of L3 cache... The result is obvious. Especially as compilers really do not care much for the innovations of the new architecture, so the performance boost is mostly dictated by the difference in cache and core clock rates.

Mathematical and engineering computations

This reminds of the very first benchmark in our list. Although Core i7-970 looks nice enough, it still cannot outperform Core i7-2600 — that would also require an advantage in clock rate which it hasn't.


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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, testbeds, tests

Page 2: Tests cont'd, conclusions



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