Gaming Performance

Supreme Commander

Supreme Commander is a popular RTS (Real Time Strategy) title that can be very CPU dependent. Our benchmark involves playing back, as fast as possible, a 4-person match and recording the simulation time for the replay in seconds.

We ran Supreme Commander at 1920 x 1200 with High fidelity presets, v-sync was disabled.

Supreme Commander - ATBench Simulation

None of the AMD CPUs manage to do well here at all and despite Supreme Commander's ability to utilize more than two cores, the added benefit is small enough that triple-core doesn't really do much at all. Here we have another example of the Phenom X3 8450 performing on-par with the similarly priced Athlon X2s.

Crysis

The most demanding FPS on the market right now is Crysis, and we couldn't resist using it as a benchmark. We ran at 1024 x 768 with Medium Quality defaults and used the game's built in CPU benchmark.

Crysis CPU Benchmark

Clock speed is king under Crysis and thus the fastest AMD processor is the old 90nm Athlon X2 6000+ running at 3.0GHz, unfortunately not even it is really fast enough to be competitive here. Armed with low clock speeds, Phenom need not apply.

Half Life 2 Episode Two

Half Life 2: Episode Two

Half Life 2 continues the trend: the architectural enhancements of Phenom aren't enough to overcome its horrendously low clock speeds, the fastest AMD chip here is the aging Athlon X2.

Unreal Tournament 3

Unreal Tournament 3

We finally see some balance in Unreal Tournament 3 thanks to some clever multi-threaded development. Here we see that modern code can run faster on Phenom than the Athlon X2, despite being at a significant clock speed disadvantage. Even compared to Intel, AMD manages to remain reasonably competitive but never quite superior.

Valve Map Compilation

Valve supplied us with their VRAD map compilation tool to measure the performance of compiling Source engine maps.

Valve Map Compilation Benchmark

Valve's VRAD map compilation test scales very well with multiple cores and thus the Phenom X3 is pretty competitive here. AMD doesn't have the clock speed to compete against Intel's 3.0GHz E8400, so it must compete with more cores and it's exactly what we see here. The X3 8750 only runs at 2.4GHz but manages to perform on par with the 3.0GHz Core 2 Duo E8400 thanks to having that third core, which in this case is well utilized.

Unfortunately the map compilation test highlights a major issue with the triple-core strategy. Just as AMD is banking on not many applications needing quad-core, most applications don't need tri-core either and if you're running an application that doesn't benefit from three cores then the Phenom X3 behaves like a dual-core chip with a low clock speed. It's only in these well-threaded applications that triple-core can really shine, and they unfortunately aren't always the most common.

High Definition Media Encoding Power Consumption
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  • bgd73 - Monday, April 28, 2008 - link

    I read a few pages from a 1360 page book about computer repairing, in the history section. It was big nm back then, big power going wild... it states 1mhz for 1mbyte transfer. No wonder I think my 2.8e from 2003 before all your multicore quibbling is still just as decent as modern times...with 2 cores not quite bragged about. They are simply organizing cpus more than ever and reducing the die size. Keeping performance of the first of dual cores is as far as it may go for years...until the mhz is increased. 2800 mhz as a width is as wide as it goes. Organizing it does bring performance, like defragging a drive. Furthermore, if software knows how to use it...other software running simultaneous is losing..just like an old "hack me cuz I am errored forever" single core. Single cores are done, clean up that room with at least 2 thread cpus, that is all I found to be with 2 or more threads..very strong stable,secure, won't blip to a light switching on in the same room on the same circuit. The rest is marketing, they have to say something don't they... Reply
  • gochichi - Saturday, April 26, 2008 - link

    These processors are all "good" but this performance mark is not the "holy grail", I'd like to see more performance over time, as I'm used to.

    I recently switched to Intel, and you know, I'm happy with their prodcuts. I think AMD needs to get moving, their product's weakness isn't good for the industry.

    Both Nvidia and Intel have no competition, their job is just to maximize their profits on old research and development rather than actually competing under pressure.

    Reply
  • hoelder - Friday, April 25, 2008 - link

    If AMD would create and express team on the Processor side, take the best die implementation they currently have, lock the doors and over and over 24/7 cast new dies until they have a mass producible Opteron 4 core or Phenom 4x with 4 GHz, then they are where the should be today. Because in the end it's the CPU clock. And with every smaller die add cores and cache, it is plausible. Intel can afford that of course, but has also a tail of people involved. With a smaller team you can create miracles and with good enthusiasm on the exec level, that works. Reply
  • haplo602 - Thursday, April 24, 2008 - link

    What about linux kernel compilation with j2/3/4/6/8 ??? I'd like to see that comparison ...

    Reply
  • MrMilli - Thursday, April 24, 2008 - link

    Your power usage chart is a bit deceiving.
    In the article you mention that Windows Media Encoder is actually hardcoded to only support powers of two number of cores. Still you use this for measuring the power on a Phenom X3. So basically the 3th core is just idling.
    I think that's the reason there is such a big gap between the X3 and X4.
    Reply
  • enjoycoke - Thursday, April 24, 2008 - link

    I think Intel won't be releasing their new platform until 3rd Quater because they have been having such a good run with their current platforms already and will be taking a bit of a breather against AMD and other rivals.
    They really need constant profits to keep their stock price in line and thats what matter most.

    Reply
  • Archibald - Thursday, April 24, 2008 - link

    It is appears, that if one ignores the 1-10% performance increase(s), the dual-core is plenty for a casual power user (i.e. non-gamer). After all, the multi-core Si-HW is here, but the SW arena is a chaotic battlefield:
    ....Justin Rattner, an Intel Senior Fellow, recently promoted to take over Intel R&D has been quoted as saying that the clock wars of the past two decades will be replaced with ?core wars? over the next few decades. ?Intel & Microsoft are working feverishly on developing ?Concurrent Programming Languages? to effectively take advantage of the concurrent processor architectures that represent the future of the industry. ?Multicore processors require concurrent software:?The Free Lunch Is Over? (for software developers)., for more see this: http://tinyurl.com/62986h">http://tinyurl.com/62986h.

    I tend to favor AMD's approach with 780/790 and Brisbane, although marketing of this combo might be a challenge, from an engineering point of view it may be a decent (quite usable) design.

    Comment: Is the UI design of this blog from the Stone Age?
    Reply
  • derek85 - Thursday, April 24, 2008 - link

    I think AMD just released the perfect CPU to go with their 780G platform for a HTPC:

    - Low cost
    - Lower power consumption
    - HT3 to boot graphics memory bandwidth for better performance
    - Multi-core horsepower for better encoding/decoding

    Phenom is much mightier than Athlon X2 when it comes to multimedia. Now there is just no more reason to choose a similarly priced K8 over this.
    Reply
  • ap90033 - Thursday, April 24, 2008 - link

    Wow "perfect"? Slower in gaming, check. Slower clock for clock than Intel check. Pehnom 9850 cost more than Q6600 check. lol Reply
  • derek85 - Thursday, April 24, 2008 - link

    If it's for a gaming PC I would agree ... but I think I said HTPC. Cheapset X3 is only $150, $50+ cheaper than a Q6600, and will do this job just fine with less heat and power consumption. Reply

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