Nehalem's Media Encoding Performance

We had time to run two of our media encoding tests: the DivX 6.8 and x264 workloads.

DivX 6.8 with Xmpeg

Our DivX test is the same one we've run in our regular CPU reviews, we're simply encoding a 1080p MPEG-2 file in DivX. We are using an unconstrained profile, encoding preset of 5 and enhanced multithreading is enabled.

The DivX test is an important one as it doesn't scale well at all beyond four threads, any performance advantage Nehalem has here is entirely due to microarchitectural improvements and not influenced by its ability to work on twice as many threads at once.

DivX 6.8 w/ Xmpeg 5.0.3

Clock for clock, Nehalem is nearly 28% faster than Penryn in our DivX test. Even better is when you put this performance in perspective: at 2.66GHz Nehalem is faster than the fastest Penryn available today the Core 2 Extreme QX9770 running at 3.2GHz. At 3.2GHz, Nehalem will be fast. The improvements in performance here are entirely due to the faster L2 cache and micro-architectural gains; being able to have more micro-ops in flight and improved unaligned cache accesses give us a significant improvement in video encoding performance.

The last time we saw these sorts of performance gains was when Conroe first launched.

x264 Encoding with AutoMKV

Using AutoMKV we compress the same source file we used in our WME test down to 100MB, but with the x264 codec. We used the 2_Pass_Insane_Quality profile:

x264 w/ AutoMKV 

Encoding performance here went through the roof with Nehalem: a clock for clock boost of 44%. Once more, Nehalem at today's artificially limited, modest clock speed is already faster than any Penryn out today. What Intel did to AMD in 2006, it is doing to itself in 2008. Amazing.

A Quick Path to Memory Faster Unaligned Cache Accesses & 3D Rendering Performance
POST A COMMENT

108 Comments

View All Comments

  • kilkennycat - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    Isn't 6GB of RAM a pretty sweet spot for desktop 64-bit applications, whatever about servers? Reply
  • jimmysmitty - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    Well I have been waiting for Nehalem. I gave in and decided to build a rig with the Q6600 but kinda sad now.

    Anwways. Crank the Planet, hes not showing fanboyism. He stated Intel has been promising 20-30% increase with Nehalem. They are seeing 20-50% from these benchmarks. Take 21 and divide it by 14 that gives you 1.5. That means that the AMD Phenoms latency is about 50% slower.

    If anything you are showing fanboyism. Nehalem is showing to be one hell of a chip and you are just angry that AMD has nothing to compare to it. Even after AMD finishes absorbing ATI whats next, K10.5 aka Deneb? Thats just a 45nm refresh (just like Penryn was for Conroe). Unless there are some major changes in the architecture it will just, hopefully, make Phenom run at higher clocks and cooler.

    Other than that I can't wait to see what this does for games. I know that most games are more GPU dependant but I myself play mainly Valve games using Source and thats very CPU dependant and already runs great on my Q6600 but I want to see what this game will do for their particle and physics system...
    Reply
  • Nehemoth - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    Please, Please, Please Intel I would to have this monsters chip in our servers without the annoying FBD, I don't want hoty FBD bring me normal DDR2 (without FBD) or DDR3.

    Just what I ask.

    Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    I'm a big fan of multi-core systems, but I'm not blind to reality: Why no single threaded benchmarks, but only benchmarks that scale very good with more cores/SMT? By the time these things will be on the market, most applikations will still be single threaded and you know it...

    I just want to know how much faster it is per clock per core.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    Interestingly enough, none of our standard CPU benchmarks are single threaded at all - even the most benign ones are multithreaded (including the games). I did run some single thread Cinebench numbers though:

    Nehalem - 3015
    Q9450 - 2396
    Reply
  • bradley - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    Why is there such a large discrepancy between previous single-threaded Cinebench tests from six months ago: where the Q9450 scored a 2944, or a mere 2.4% decrease, compared to the current 2396, or a more substantial 20.5% decrease.

    http://www.anandtech.com/printarticle.aspx?i=3153">http://www.anandtech.com/printarticle.aspx?i=3153

    I too believe single-threaded benches should be the foundation of any meaningful and relevant cpu review, if time indeed was permitting. To me this is the greatest objective real-world equalizer. There just isn't enough multi-threaded software out there, much less software able to run all eight cores. I would also like to emphasize that unlike server chips, desktop Nehalems will only have two memory channels. And as I understand, hyper threading also will only make an appearance in server and enthusiast chipsets. So already this makes an accurate comparison difficult enough.

    Finally, I understand the avg visitor will treat this like any good entertainment, where one is meant to suspend his-her disbelief. Still I have a hard time believing anyone has the ability to abscond away such important chips from a huge corporation like Intel. "Without Intel's approval, supervision, blessing or even desire - we went ahead and snagged us a Nehalem (actually, two) and spent some time with them." That initial premise does make anything coming after less impactful, or seemingly less than straightforward.

    Certainly if history has taught us anything, we know final shipping silicon is sometimes quite different from test chips. We should also assume it's a lot easier to create ond one chip than manufacture hundreds of thousands on a large scale. Nothing is ever a given, which makes it hard to draw much of a conclusion. Interesting preview nonetheless.
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, July 28, 2008 - link

    Shhhhh... gosh we have to have core hype ... and the multicore testers have to optimize for the coming chips... geeze they have to make a living somehow...
    ( You sir, are exactly correct, but we live in a strange world nowadays where the truth is so evident it must be hidden most of the time for various other reasons... )
    Gosh, you want to crash the whole economy with that sane and rational talk ?
    What are you an anarchist ? ( yes I'm kidding, that was a big high five to you)
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    Ignore those numbers (check page 6 of the comments for an explanation), the Q9450 comes in at 2931 vs. Nehalem's 3015.

    -A
    Reply
  • pnyffeler - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    I'm not a Mac person, but I think Mac's may benefit from this technology even more than Vista. As I recall from a previous Anandtech article, Mac's have an excellent memory management system, which very direct benefit in increasing memory size. The increased bandwidth could make the snazzy OS even better... Reply
  • Visual - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    It is great that your "clock for clock" comparisons to the penryn in encoding and rendering are showing an improvement... but could that improvement be from the doubled amount of virtual processors that are visible? Are all of these benchmarks using eight or four threads on the nehalem? Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now