Characterizing Dual Core Performance

There are three areas to look at when measuring the performance of a dual core processor:

  1. Single-threaded application performance
  2. Multi-threaded Application Performance
  3. Multitasking Application Performance

For the first category, plain-jane single threaded application performance, the Pentium Extreme Edition or the Pentium D will simply perform identically to the equivalently clocked Pentium 5xx series CPU.  The second core will go unused and the performance of the first core is nothing new.  Given the short lead time on hardware for this review, we left out all of our single threaded benchmarks given that we can already tell you what performance is like under those tests - so if you're looking for performance under PC WorldBench or any of our Game tests, take a look at our older reviews and look at the performance of the Pentium 4 530 to get an idea of where these dual core CPUs will perform in single threaded apps.  There are no surprises here; you could have a 128 core CPU and it would still perform the same in a single threaded application.  Closer to its launch, we will have a full review including all of our single and multithreaded benchmarks so that you may have all of the information that will help determine your buying decision in one place.

The next category is pretty easy to benchmark as well. Things like 3ds max, iTunes, and Windows Media Encoder, are all examples of multi-threaded applications that are used rather frequently.  We've included a few of these benchmarks as well in this article. 

The final category is by far the most interesting as well as the most difficult to truly get a hold on - multitasking performance.  The easiest way to measure multitasking performance is to have a number of applications loaded with one or more actively crunching away, and measure the performance of one or more of them.  However, an arguably more useful way of looking at multitasking performance is to look at the response time of the system while multitasking.  Unfortunately, no real benchmarks exist to measure response time of a system accurately while under a multitasking load, so we're left to do our best to try to develop those benchmarks to help answer the dual vs. single core purchasing debate.  We are still working on developing those benchmarks and unfortunately, they didn't make it into this article, but we will keep cranking away and hopefully be able to debut them in one of the upcoming successors to this piece.

We did, however, string together a few benchmarks that don't explicitly measure response time, but do offer a good look at multitasking performance.  Despite the fact that Intel has these types of benchmarks on their own, we went out and built benchmarks ourselves that was based on the feedback that we received from you all - the AnandTech readers. 

We will describe these benchmarks later on in this piece, but first, let's take a look at two largely single threaded benchmark suites with a touch of multitasking: Winstone and SYSMark.


The Test

Our hardware configurations are similar to what we've used in previous comparisons.

AMD Athlon 64 Configuration
Socket-939 Athlon 64 CPUs
2 x 512MB OCZ PC3200 EL Dual Channel DIMMs 2-2-2-10
NVIDIA nForce4 Reference Motherboard
ATI Radeon X850 XT PCI Express

Intel Pentium 4 Configuration
LGA-775 Intel Pentium 4 and Extreme Edition CPUs
2 x 512MB Crucial DDR-II 533 Dual Channel DIMMs 3-2-2-12
Intel 955X Motherboard
ATI Radeon X850 XT PCI Express

Scheduling and Responsiveness Business Application Performance
POST A COMMENT

142 Comments

View All Comments

  • haveblue128 - Wednesday, July 06, 2005 - link

    Only downside but I think a majorleague heat solution should make everything sweet Reply
  • haveblue128 - Wednesday, July 06, 2005 - link

    Oh Please give us a break. If you want to be a purist, go live in the woods without clothes. I say that multitasking makes my day a breeze.
    Whats your dilemma??
    Reply
  • haveblue128 - Wednesday, July 06, 2005 - link

    Wow-I just purchased a new sys with an Intel Dual CPU setup. As a multitasking monster on my machine, I was always having crashes in the past.
    I think that is gone with George Bush in 2008. THe good news is the dual core pair is already hear and ready to run. Give them a try-no downside, albeit a good bit of heat. That is something I will need to work on, but....
    Reply
  • peufeu - Monday, May 09, 2005 - link

    I forgot to mention... gentoo linux ;) Reply
  • peufeu - Monday, May 09, 2005 - link

    Dual CPUs to compensate for the inept MS Windows.
    Interesting.

    I'm torturing a webserver I just wrote, on my laptop. It's in Python. Right now it's serving about 2000 requests per second with 1000 concurrent connections.

    I don't even notice it's running. The CPU gauge is at 100%, so what ? Nothing special. As reactive as usual. It doesn't swap. The harddisk even put itself in standby....

    Go, bill, go !


    Reply
  • shady28 - Sunday, April 17, 2005 - link


    Making special tests just for these processors seems a bit contrived to me. In particular, comparing dual core processors to a Pentium 4 with HT disabled, in a multithreading/multitasking benchmark, is just plane lame.

    I would have been a lot more interested in seeing how dual core compares in multitasking vs dual opterons or dual Xeons. Right now it looks like dual core is slower at doing one task at a time, suprisingly not that much faster at doing two tasks at a time than HT Pentium 4s. The only exceptions were the off the wall tests done at the end.

    Since these new 'benchmarks' are made to simulate 'real life use', does that mean that all Anand's previous reviews were bogus?

    Reply
  • JimGunn - Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - link

    I think I will want one of these for my next video editing & encoding workstation. Will come in handy for HDV post I am sure! Reply
  • BoBOh - Monday, April 11, 2005 - link

    Where are the code compile tests. We're not all gamers, some are software developers! :)

    BoB
    Reply
  • warath - Friday, April 08, 2005 - link

    I can't wait to see 64-bit dual cores! :) Reply
  • WoodenPupa - Thursday, April 07, 2005 - link

    Well, I'm not a tech whiz like everyone else here, but here's my 2 centavos...

    I can attest to the fact that every machine I ever buy, I bring it to its knees. I usually wait several generations before I upgrade in order to get a more profound effect. Yet that strategy doesn't seem to matter because no matter how fast my computer is, I find that my NORMAL computing habits end up crushing the CPU and everything else.

    I use Cool Edit Pro and some other audio programs, and I am also a chess player, and like to anyalyze games in the background with Fritz or Chessbase, both of which allow for gigantic hash tables. So as a typical case I like to do wave transforms and chess analysis as background items while I compose e-mails or use Word for more serious writing. Naturally I like to listen to music at the same time, but usually I have to give that up. Needless to say, all of this stuff cripples my computer---I'm due for an upgrade, I know---my box is a 2.53 GHz P4, 1 GB of Rambus 800 (no groaning, please), a GF4 ti 4600, 120 GB HD, I'm not even sure what the cache on that is, I don't think it's 8 or 5 MB---feels more like 2.

    I usually end up quitting the Chess program or the Mp3 player---once in a while I can do all of this stuff concurrently if the wave transforms on cool edit aren't too complex, and I minimize the hash tables on the chess program.

    Ideally I want everything to be instantaneous, but...:) Anyway, from what it sounds like, I need a dual or even quad processor setup. Because even with all the above mentioned programs running, I can think of more I would like to add. I'm a monster multitasker and really like to kick a computer right in the face, to show it who's boss. I'm tired of winning, though---I'd love it if one day the computer just scoffed at everything I threw at it. Sadly, I don't think it'll happen in my lifetime.

    Should I upgrade to a dual core, or should I save and get a true multi-CPU Mobo like a quad Xeon??
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now