x64 CPU Performance Testing Methodology
Home and non-professional software
The second big group of tests with a self-explanatory title: it includes programs that are employed by most common users. But with a single reservation: we collected only those programs, to which CPU performance matters - don't forget the objective of this test procedure.
Non-professional photo processing
Our test procedure already includes a professional application for processing bitmap images - Adobe Photoshop CS3. However, common users with standard point-and-shoot cameras don't need this tool, even if their cameras offer many megapixels. Their usual tasks are to adjust colors a little (preferably automatically), change resolution or make photo files smaller, if possible, in order to publish photo albums on a website, generate thumbnails, etc. Both programs in this group of tests cope well with all these tasks - Advanced Batch Converter and xat.com Image Optimizer. The same concerns three popular image viewers - ACDSee Photo Manager, IrfanView, XnView. Besides, they are easy to use and support the batch mode. In our tests we use them to batch resize a lot of images to make them smaller. We also enable additional resize options (change JPEG compression level, auto color adjustment, sharpen, etc), if available. Unfortunately, it seems that only ACDSee can use multiprocessing here. The best result here is the shortest time it takes to process the entire batch of photos. Our tests also include a very interesting nonprofessional photo editor - Paint.NET. This freeware program offers a lot of features. Besides, it's the only 64-bit application in this group, based on the popular Microsoft.NET platform, which can use multiprocessing. We test Paint.NET with a benchmark, written by fans of this editor.
As these tests are brought into a separate group, we decided to expand this section to a traditional assortment for our test procedures: three tests in a group. As we added the third archiver, this group is now conceptually complete: it contains the state-of-the-art archiver (64-bit, multiprocessing - 7-Zip), "less state-of-the-art" archiver (multiprocessing - WinRAR), and old/traditional archiver (32-bit, single-threaded - UltimateZip). Thus, from the idealistic point of view, the average score in this group should reflect the average performance of processors in this class of software. What concerns multiprocessing support in 7-Zip and WinRAR, it has some peculiarities in each case. For example, 7-Zip never loads a quad-core system by more than 50%. That is it uses only two cores. What concerns WinRAR, its peak CPU load sometimes reached 70%, but it happened for just a couple of seconds only, and then the CPU load dropped back to 30-50%.
We significantly changed the list of audio codecs in our new test procedure without modifying the general principle: as before, we measure the time it takes a codec to encode a WAV file. Lossless codecs are represented by FLAC. Lossy encoding is represented by codecs of three popular formats: MP3, AAC (popular mostly owing to Apple iPod), OGG (preferred by opensource supporters), and Musepack. Only LAME has a 64-bit version, all the others are 32-bit codecs. Three codecs potentially support multiprocessing: LAME-MT x64, Nero Digital Audio Encoder (it can use even four cores!), Ogg Encoder Lancer (uses only two cores, but takes full advantage of their power).
Little has changed in this group of tests from the previous version of our test procedure, only codec versions. As always, we measure the time it takes to encode a test file. The faster it's done, the better. Alas, they are all 32-bit codecs. Multiprocessing is supported by Canopus ProCoder (mediocre), DivX (more adequate), and x264 (excellent - 100% total CPU load of the quad-core system). XviD is still a single-threaded application, its development has slowed down.
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