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Projected Performance: Can AMD Catch up with Intel?

I keep going back to this slide because it's incredibly relevant. It's the only indication we have from AMD of what its future roadmap will look like in terms of performance increases:

Each year AMD promised to increase performance of its high-end cores by roughly 10 - 15%. Astute observers will note that, at this rate, AMD will almost never catch up to Intel. AMD at the time was careful to point out that it's talking about 10 - 15% gains in core performance, and it could potentially see even larger increases in total chip performance by pulling other levers. Vishera is an example of AMD doing just that. The Piledriver cores by themselves don't increase performance tremendously, but they do give AMD a little more thermal headroom to work with thanks to some more efficient design decisions and better transistor choice. With Vishera, AMD took the additional power headroom and turned into a frequency advantage. The result is AMD's FX-8350 can operate in the same power envelope as the outgoing FX-8150, yet runs at an 11% higher base clock (turbo frequency remains the same). Through frequency and core level improvements, AMD was able to deliver a bit more than the 10 - 15% performance increased in promised.

If AMD is able to repeat these improvements again next year, I wondered whether or not it would get any closer to closing the gap with Intel - particularly when it came to single threaded performance. We already know from our Haswell investigations that Intel is expecting around a 5 - 15% increase in CPU performance from Haswell over Ivy Bridge. If we assume that Haswell delivers towards the 15% end of that spectrum, and if we assume that Steamroller delivers the same level of improvements that we saw from Piledriver/Vishera, we end up with some pretty interesting predictions for where things end up next year. I modeled the 2013 performance of high-end AMD and Intel platforms based on those two factors and plotted the curves in a few different benchmarks. For each generation I used the parts that AMD stacked up against one another (they are also fairly similarly priced). For 2011 I used the FX-8150 vs. Intel's Core i5 2500 and for 2012 I used the FX-8350 vs. Intel's Core i5 3570. The 2013 data is of course projected based on a 15% increase in performance from Haswell, and a repeat of the Vishera vs. Zambezi increase for AMD. This is mostly an interesting experiment so don't get too invested in the data.

We'll start with Cinebench, by far the most painful of the tests for AMD from a single-threaded performance perspective:

The Vishera gains here were decent but not enough to dramatically shrink the performance gap. Furthermore, Intel put a good amount of distance in place with Ivy Bridge and if it can continue that with Haswell I don't see much hope here.

The multithreaded Cinebench results begin in AMD's favor and remain so even with our projected performance data.

Mozilla's Kraken benchmark is another example of single threaded performance gone awry for AMD.

Thankfully, Vishera does close the gap by a decent amount and if AMD extends those gains it is on an intercept course with Intel. The bad news is, that intercept wouldn't be in 2013.

POV-Ray provides another point of view on single threaded performance, here the situation looks far less dire than under Cinebench:

Unfortunately the curves remain fairly distinct.

Once again, when we increase thread count we see AMD pull ahead.

SYSMark is a particularly telling benchmark as it is lightly threaded and does a good job of simulating all types of workloads:

The result here is AMD closing in, albeit slowly, on Intel's performance advantage. I suspect this is quite possibly the best case scenario for AMD, it doesn't necessarily want to surpass Intel in performance but it wants to get close enough where pricing and other factors (e.g. GPU performance in its APU parts) can make a bigger difference.

Our Visual Studio 2012 test is a good combination of single threaded and multithreaded workloads in one:

With Vishera, AMD did a lot to close the gap betwen itself and Intel. Another increase like this and we won't see AMD surpass Intel, but the two should remain fairly close.

These last two tests show us the other side of the coin. If both AMD and Intel continue on their present tracks, what will happen in a test where AMD already does well today?

In areas where AMD holds a significant advantage, Haswell would need to deliver more than a 15% gain in performance at the same price point to catch up.

None of the results here are all that surprising. AMD remaining on its current course isn't enough to dramatically change its standings vs. Intel in another year. Vishera definitely cut into the performance delta, but the 2013 follow-up will have to do even more to really have an impact. Steamroller is far more focused on increasing IPC, however without a new process node it'll be difficult to demonstrate another gain in frequency like we see today with Vishera. I suspect the real chance for AMD to approach parity in many of these workloads will be with its 20nm architecture, perhaps based on Excavator in 2014.

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  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - link

    LOL why am i not surprised, massive amd fanboy with chips on the shoulder, and a fantasy brain.
    " o organizing work to liberate the working class from wage slavery"
    LOL - perfect, just like the rest of the amd fruitballs. Have fun at the OWS protests, though it would have been decent to join up with Tea Party, instead of coming on a year plus late after all the complaining. (you brought up politics fanboy)

    Anyway back to your fanboy fantasy. As I said, you can look all day long at the pileofcrap amd releases and tell yourself it's the greatest ball of cheese for you, but no one has to believe your bs. One big reason why.
    SB 2500K oc's to 4500 like butter on stock everything, all 4 cores, all day and all night with zero hiccups, and blows the amd crap away period.

    You actually have to be very stupid to not choose it. Very stupid.
    Be aware fanboy, you're looking at stock 2500K in all the charts, and a clear +50% increase in instantly available with it, FOR FREE.

    There is no way any amd fanboy made the correct decision after 2500K was released. And it's not occurring now either. You're living a lie, so please stop sharing it with us, and by the way - I don't think it's your place to tell others WHAT they can use their computer systems for.

    THEY OWN THEM, not you. They are theirs, not yours, and you shouldn't be tooting your virgin purity hippy love angel wing CRAP here, and then also have the obnoxious insolence to tell others they are wasting their computer power.

    There are plenty of people who will tell you flat out you are wasting your life and wrecking the nation with the crap you are doing, no doubt about it, so keep it to yourself, won't you ?

    Now let's hear how your crapdirver amd can possibly match a 2500K in the real world...
    LOL
    ain't happening mister

    Reply
  • Evilwake - Saturday, November 17, 2012 - link

    lol that funny calling a spade a spade look at yourself i my self have your 2500k and have the piledriver dont see any difference in them in the real world in fact whats funny is i can run many programs in the back ground and still play aion without any frame loose or any shuttering problems cant do that with my 2500k it drops in frame rates and shutters like hell so keep telling peeps how much u dont know about cpu's we really like hearing from u. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, December 09, 2012 - link

    another liar, another amd fanboy, another evil person Reply
  • iceman34572 - Wednesday, January 02, 2013 - link

    Who gives a crap who has the better processor? Honestly......do you work for Intel? Then why care what other people like? I have an FX series processor, as well as several Intel machines. I like them both. Going online and getting into a pi$$ing contest over which company makes a better processor and resorting to making fun of people (google "Internet tough guy and you'll see what a majority of people think about that) is non constructive, gains you nothing except negative attention, and makes you look less intelligent than you probably are. I could give a $hit what you like, or which processor you run. Neither AMD nor Intel pays me any money to give a d@mn, and whether I think you are wasting your money or spending it wisely doesn't impact me in the least bit. People, just buy what you personally like, and screw all the fanboyism that seems to be rampant ON BOTH SIDES. Reply
  • pmartin - Thursday, January 03, 2013 - link

    You hope it performs as well as Hasbeen. My guess is it won't. If you want top of the range performance, buy Intel, simple as that. Reply
  • pl1n1 - Saturday, October 27, 2012 - link

    The technical arguments have some merits, the political ones are per-digested socialist propaganda. I almost threw up at the end of the post.
    Must be nice to be able to advance the cause of the class struggle from a cozy living room somewhere in a free market country where your freedom of speech is protected by some freely elected capitalistic pig.

    Useful idiots from around the world unite!
    Reply
  • pmartin - Thursday, January 03, 2013 - link

    Please shut the hell up. Reply
  • captg - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    What about someone with an AMD Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition at stock speeds? Reply
  • Wisenos - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    i run my 965 @ 4ghz... 1.48v 20x200mhz Reply
  • Origin64 - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    4.8GHz? My Phenom II doesnt even do 4, but I have an extremely shitty mobo. vdrops like a downer after a suger rush. Reply

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