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AMD Sempron X2 2100:
The Return to Low-End

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Stanislav Garmatiuk; November 13, 2008.




We already looked into the Low-End CPU performance issue not long ago – AMD vs. Intel and Intel only, but in much more detail. However, our lab got hold of a processor that represents the entire epoch (at least, for its manufacturer), so it makes sense to get back to Low-End one more time. OK, meet the first dual-core AMD Sempron!

Hardware and Software

Testbed configurations


CPU
Motherboard
Memory
Video
AMD processors
ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe
Corsair TWIN2X4096-9136C5DF
GeForce 8800 GTX
Intel processors
ASUS Maximus Extreme
Corsair CM3X1024-1800C7DIN
GeForce 8800 GTX

  • Memory: 4 GB (4 x 1 GB modules)
  • HDD: Samsung HD401LJ (SATA-2)
  • Coolers: Thermaltake TMG i1, TMG a1
  • Power supply unit: Cooler Master RS-A00-EMBA

Processor
Core clock, MHz
FSB clock, MHz
Multiplier
Memory clock, MHz
Number of cores
L1 cache, I/D, KB*
L2 cache, KB**
Socket
Fab. process, nm
TDP ***
Sempron LE-1100
1900
800
9.5
380
1
64/64
256
AM2
65
45
Sempron X2 2100
1800
800
8
360
2
64/64
2x256
AM2
65
65
Celeron 420
1600
800
8
400
1
32/32
512
LGA775
65
35
Celeron 430
1800
800
9
400
1
32/32
512
LGA775
65
35
Celeron 440
2000
800
10
400
1
32/32
512
LGA775
65
35
Celeron E1200
1600
800
8
400
2
32/32
512
LGA775
65
65
Celeron E1400
2000
800
10
400
2
32/32
512
LGA775
65
65

* – in multi-core processors – per single core
** – "X x Y" means "X KB per each of Y cores"
*** – it's calculated differently in Intel and AMD processors, so a direct comparison is not correct

Software


64-bit application
Multi-threaded application*
Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2
+
+
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1
+
+
Autodesk 3ds max 9 SP2
+
+
V-Ray 1.5 SP1
+
+
Autodesk Maya 2008 Ultimate
+
+
NewTek Lightwave 3D 9.2
+
+
SolidWorks 2007 SP0.0
+
+
PTC Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 M120
+
UGS NX5 5.0.0.25
+
+
Wolfram Research Mathematica 6
+
+
MapleSoft Maple 11
+
MathWorks MATLAB 2007
+
+
Adobe Photoshop CS3 10.0
+
Microsoft Visual Studio 2008
+
+
Apache HTTP Server 2.2.8
+
PHP 5.2.5
+
MySQL Community Server 5.0.51a
+
ACDSee 10 Photo Manager
+
xat.com Image Optimizer 5.10
IrfanView 4.10
XnView 1.93.4
Paint.NET 3.30
+
+
7-Zip 4.57
+
+
WinRAR 3.71
+
UltimateZip 3.2
FLAC 1.2.1
LAME-MT 3.97
+
+
Musepack MPC Encoder 1.16
Nero Digital Audio Encoder 1.1.34.2
+
Ogg Encoder 2.83 (Lancer)
+
Canopus ProCoder 3.0
+
DivX Codec 6.8.2
+
XviD Codec 1.1.3 Final
x264 Codec rev 807
+
VirtualDub 1.8.0
+
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Patch 1.5)
+
Call of Juarez (Patch 1.1.0.0) + DX10 Enhancements Pack
Crysis (Patch 1.2)
+
+
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (Patch 1.006)
+
Unreal Tournament 3 (Patch 1.2)
+
Company of Heroes (Patch 1.71)
+
World in Conflict (Patch 1.007)
+

* – not just generating several threads by the process, but two or more simultaneously active threads in the process of running tests

We had a little funny problem with determining which processor we got: the fact is we got an OEM processor without a box – and designation on the processor does not indicate its product name, as it's always the case with AMD processors. In such cases we always rely on omnipotent CPU-Z. But in this case we got strange results.



First of all, AMD web site does not mention our processor (frankly speaking, we failed to find its product page even with the correct name, the SDO2100IAA4DO index also returns nothing). However, we found out the truth – just not in the official web site. We even found a photo of the box for this processor, published by our Ukrainian colleagues, which shows its correct name – Sempron X2 2100. Some adventure.

Testing

Necessary preface to the diagrams

Our test procedure features two peculiarities of data representation: firstly, all data types are reduced to one – integer relative score (performance of a given processor relative to Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600, its performance taken for 100 points), and secondly, detailed results are published in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, while the article contains only summary diagrams for benchmark classes. Nevertheless, we'll sometimes draw your attention to detailed results, if they are noteworthy.

Professional group of tests

3D Modeling and Rendering

The first result of Sempron X2 2100 is optimistic, especially if we compare it with Sempron LE-1100, which result is also published on this diagram. That's even elegant to some extent: AMD surrounds Intel all round. :) Don't forget that Celeron E1400 is presently a top dual-core Celeron model – it even claims to perform on a par with Low-End dual-core processors from AMD.

CAD/CAM

The situation is a tad worse here. But this class of tasks is indifferent to multi-core CPUs – you can see it with Celeron E1200, which is outperformed by two single-core models. However, 3% is not a serious defeat, so Sempron X2 2100 is doing fine.

Compile

These are excellent results for AMD! Interestingly, this test is not overly optimistic even about the second core in more powerful processors. As for this situation, the difference between dual-core and single-core processors is much more noticeable. We can assume that the reason lies in weak performance of a single core: the second core still has some work to do.

Professional photo processing

The situation here is much worse for Sempron X2 2100, of course. But don't worry too much – we all know that Adobe Photoshop favors the Intel platform. Moreover, this program is one of the few to show high results even with Pentium D. Anyway, Sempron X2 2100 looks much better than Sempron LE-1100 here.

Scientific applications

Another problematic group of tests for all Semprons. However, it depends on what processors you compare. Having lost 14% to the top dual-core Celeron, Sempron X2 wins 36% over its slower colleague. So the progress is apparent.

Web server

The Low-End processor from AMD looks worse than the champions again, but much better than it used to be.

Total professional score

AMD demonstrates rather high results here (unusually high, if we take recent products): the first dual-core Sempron outperforms Celeron E1200 in professional applications, it even takes the second place after Celeron E1400. However, we are more interested in the second group of tests, because the first group is sort of synthetic in such conditions: you will hardly work with Photoshop or Pro/ENGINEER on a Low-End system...

Non-professional/home group of tests

Archivers

Sempron X2 2100 takes up the usual second place – this is slightly disappointing after those tests, where it shared the first place with top competitors or even outperformed them. However, it's still a very good result.

Encode

Much worse. Well, it happens.

Games

Very good: Sempron X2 2100 is outperformed by Celeron E1400 only by a measly value. Especially considering that lots of people play even the most resource-intensive games on Low-End systems. That's sort of national sports. :) Note that unlike single-core processors, Low-End dual-core CPUs manage to provide some minimal acceptable level of gaming performance – just look at fps values in the table with detailed results.

Non-professional photo processing

Let's put it like this: the dual-core Sempron demonstrates a mediocre performance level. Even on the diagram it's in the middle of contenders. :)

Total non-professional score

Unfortunately, in this group of tests, which better fits its profile, Sempron X2 2100 is outperformed by its main competitor to a greater degree: 16% (versus 10% in professional tests). On the other hand, it shares the second place with Celeron E1200. And it does not often happen with AMD processors of late.

Conclusion

Out of doubts, Sempron X2 2100 is a great success for AMD. In this case K8 benefits from its ability to do with small caches. In our opinion, it's the very reason why the dual-core Sempron with 256-KB L2 Cache in each core can compete with a dual-core Celeron equipped with a 512-KB shared L2 cache – 512-KB cache is apparently too small for the new Intel core, it cannot speed up to all its glory here. If we also consider clock rates, a dual-core Sempron and a dual-core Celeron offer similar performance "per GHz": 29.5 for Celeron and 28.9 for Sempron. From this point of view, AMD was right to start the model range of Low-End dual-core processors from the low clock rate of 1.8 GHz – it will be relatively easy to add at least three processors, judging by frequencies of single-core Semprons. Here is our conclusion: from the point of view of dual-core performance, AMD competes practically on a par with Intel in the Low-End segment now. It's a pity that happens only in this segment...


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