At the end of November, we finally did what we had been waiting to do for so long - provide the first performance benchmarks of Intel's Yonah processor, the dual core successor to the highly acclaimed Pentium M.  However, our initial performance investigation was not without its flaws.  Given the short amount of time that we had for benchmarking, we were forced to compare to older numbers from previous reviews, which unfortunately lacked updated gaming, encoding and 3D rendering tests.

Despite the shortcomings of the initial article, we did manage to get a good look at the performance that we could expect from Yonah.  Mainly, it was a fairly strong successor to the single core Pentium M and even more impressive was that it offered performance equal to that of AMD's Athlon 64 X2 without an on-die memory controller.  Many AnandTech readers kept our methods in check, however, by quickly pointing out that the Yonah vs. Athlon 64 X2 comparison wasn't exactly fair, as Yonah is equipped with a full 2MB of L2 cache, whereas the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ that we were comparing it against only had 512KB per processor, possibly painting Yonah in a better light. 

So for this follow-up, we've done two important things. For starters, we've updated the benchmark suite considerably, including modern day games and a few professional-level applications hopefully to get a better perspective on Yonah's performance.  We've also included an Athlon 64 X2 running at 2.0GHz, but with each core having a full 1MB L2 cache, making the Yonah vs. X2 comparison as close to even as possible (not mentioning the fact that AMD has twice the advantage in this round, with both a larger L1 cache and an on-die memory controller, but it should make things interesting). 

We won't be revisiting the issue of power consumption, as we already did that at the end of our last article, but needless to say, Yonah is the most efficient dual core processor that we've tested to date.  Granted that it does have the advantage of being on Intel's 65nm process whereas the Athlon 64 X2 is still based on AMD's 90nm process, but given that AMD is around a year away from transitioning to 65nm, it is an advantage that Intel has the right to enjoy.

What about Clock Speeds?
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  • Spoonbender - Monday, December 19, 2005 - link

    Am I the only one recalling the old Athlon days?
    AMD smashes ahead with a great CPU, until around what, 2600+ or so, where they run out of steam, letting Intel overtake them.

    Looks like the same might happen again...

    Not sure if it's just AMD screwing up, or if it's really a question of resources.

    For AMD, Athlon 64 was really a last-ditch gamble. They had to do something big, or they wouldn't exist 5 years from now.
    Well, they did, and enjoyed a lot of success, but they might just not have the resources to follow up on it. Instead, their only option might be to milk the A64 for all it's worth, and then take a beating for a year or two, until they're ready with a next-gen architecture
    Reply
  • LuxFestinus - Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - link

    A question of availability needs to be raised. Are these new duo Intel processors available now? Can anyone say paper launch. How long has the dual Athlon64 been out? I thought so. Reply
  • Griswold - Monday, December 19, 2005 - link

    I dont see where you're coming from. The A64 is a K7 on steroids. The P-M is a P3 on steroids and Conroe will also just be a P-M on steroids. Both companies didnt come up with flashy, brandnew architectures over the last few years, they only added flashy things to existing designs. Here and now, it's still Intel playing the catchup game until we see Conroe in stores. And then you always have to keep in mind that AMD is yet to move to 65nm. It will certainly give them some more clockspeed headroom.

    I agree with the conclusion of the article, we'll see a neck to neck race in a year from now where the better price will make the difference. AMD really doesnt have to flex its muscles now, they can milk the crowd with a superior product - and people will pay whatever to get it, or so it seems.
    Reply
  • Calin - Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - link

    Several of the flashy brand new architectures of the last few years had any kind of success. Itanium/EPIC, Transmeta, Netburst... As long as Transmeta was supported by a company with very little financial power (so their loss was somewhat expected), Itanium is crawling ahead on life support, and Netburst (while being king of the hill for a good time) will be discontinued. Reply
  • Griswold - Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - link

    The point is: Netburst is certainly a design that could be considered newer or more radical compared to the P3->P-M->Yonah/Conroe/Merom route. In the end netburst was still a technical failure, but certainly not a financial mistake.

    Well and Epic, thats much older than you think. But yes, it never ended up where Intel wanted it to be: on the desktop.
    Reply
  • allies - Monday, December 19, 2005 - link

    It seems like with Intel's new chips, we're going to be back to a point where neither company has a true lead on the other. AMD is in great position at the moment, but they need to get their Turion X2 out to combat Intel's Centrino Duo. Otherwise, they'll find themselves losing laptop sales, an area which they've come a ways in.

    Right now, although clockspeed isn't increasing as fast as it once was, is a very exciting time for computer technologies. Parallelism, die shrinking, heat reduction, among other strides are paving the way to the future.
    Reply
  • ncage - Monday, December 19, 2005 - link

    Are you sure the improvements in games are due to the different Memory Controller technoliges? Are you sure its not the FPU? Reply
  • tfranzese - Monday, December 19, 2005 - link

    I was thinking the same, considering his thoughts are pure speculation on his part. So, until Anand can provide data to back that up, he should stick to commending AMD's architecture rather than trying to credit all their success to the on-die memory controller (which surely helps, but it's only one part in the formula).

    I would doubt AMD is sitting idle though, and as they work on their next architecture will keep their lips sealed in order to maintain an element of surprise. Surprise like when they added SSE support to the Palomino and SSE3 support to Venice - both unexpected additions.
    Reply
  • Furen - Monday, December 19, 2005 - link

    The K8s execution core is pretty much the same as the K7s. If you compare performance (in games) between the two you'll notice that the K8 performs much better. This is due to the fact that it removes the FSB bottleneck (by integrating the memory controller), increases the width of the L2 cache (and the size) and dramatically drops the memory access latency. Sure there are other minor differences but they're mostly minor improvements, like better branch prediction, etc. Reply
  • tfranzese - Monday, December 19, 2005 - link

    I don't see where the two of you are going with this and only serve my point that pinning the successes of the architecture on the memory controller is only speculation. Reply

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