Benchmarking Performance: CPU Rendering Tests

Rendering tests are a long-time favorite of reviewers and benchmarkers, as the code used by rendering packages is usually highly optimized to squeeze every little bit of performance out. Sometimes rendering programs end up being heavily memory dependent as well - when you have that many threads flying about with a ton of data, having low latency memory can be key to everything. Here we take a few of the usual rendering packages under Windows 10, as well as a few new interesting benchmarks.

Corona 1.3

Corona is a standalone package designed to assist software like 3ds Max and Maya with photorealism via ray tracing. It's simple - shoot rays, get pixels. OK, it's more complicated than that, but the benchmark renders a fixed scene six times and offers results in terms of time and rays per second. The official benchmark tables list user submitted results in terms of time, however I feel rays per second is a better metric (in general, scores where higher is better seem to be easier to explain anyway). Corona likes to pile on the threads, so the results end up being very staggered based on thread count.

Rendering: Corona Photorealism

Blender 2.78

For a render that has been around for what seems like ages, Blender is still a highly popular tool. We managed to wrap up a standard workload into the February 5 nightly build of Blender and measure the time it takes to render the first frame of the scene. Being one of the bigger open source tools out there, it means both AMD and Intel work actively to help improve the codebase, for better or for worse on their own/each other's microarchitecture.

Rendering: Blender 2.78


As a synthetic, LuxMark might come across as somewhat arbitrary as a renderer, given that it's mainly used to test GPUs, but it does offer both an OpenCL and a standard C++ mode. In this instance, aside from seeing the comparison in each coding mode for cores and IPC, we also get to see the difference in performance moving from a C++ based code-stack to an OpenCL one with a CPU as the main host.

Rendering: LuxMark CPU C++

POV-Ray 3.7b3

Another regular benchmark in most suites, POV-Ray is another ray-tracer but has been around for many years. It just so happens that during the run up to AMD's Ryzen launch, the code base started to get active again with developers making changes to the code and pushing out updates. Our version and benchmarking started just before that was happening, but given time we will see where the POV-Ray code ends up and adjust in due course.

Rendering: POV-Ray 3.7

Cinebench R15

The latest version of CineBench has also become one of those 'used everywhere' benchmarks, particularly as an indicator of single thread performance. High IPC and high frequency gives performance in ST, whereas having good scaling and many cores is where the MT test wins out.

Rendering: CineBench 15 MultiThreaded

Rendering: CineBench 15 SingleThreaded


Benchmarking Performance: CPU System Tests Benchmarking Performance: CPU Web Tests


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  • mat9v - Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - link

    To play it safe, invest in the Core i9-7900X today.
    To play it safe and get a big GPU, save $400 and invest in the Core i7-7820X today.

    Then the conclusion should have been - wait for fixed platform. I'm not even suggesting choosing Ryzen as it performs slower but encouraging buying flawed (for now) platform?
  • mat9v - Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - link

    Please then correct tables on 1st page comparing Ryzen and 7820X and 7800X to state that Intel has 24 lines as they leave 24 for PCIEx slots and 4 is reserved for DMI 3.0
    If you strip Ryzen lines to only show those available for PCIEx do so for Intel too.
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - link

    The tables are correct. The i7 7800 series have 28 PCIe lanes from the CPU for general use, and another 4 DMI lanes for the chipset. Reply
  • PeterCordes - Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - link

    Nice article, thanks for the details on the microarchitectural changes, especially to execution units and cache. This explains memory bandwidth vs. working-set size results I observed a couple months ago on Google Compute Engine's Skylake-Xeon VMs with ~55MB of L3: The L2-L3 transition was well beyond 256kB. I had assumed Intel wouldn't use a different L3 cache design for SKX vs. SKL, but large L2 doesn't make much sense with an inclusive L3 of 2 or 2.5MB per core.

    Anyway, some corrections for page3: The allocation queue (IDQ) is in Skylake-S is always 64 uops, with or without HT. For example, I looked at the `lsd.uops` performance counter in a loop with 97 uops on my i7-6700k. For 97 billion counts of uops_issued.any, I got exactly 0 counts of lsd.uops, with the system otherwise idle. (And I looked at cpu_clk_unhalted.one_thread_active to make sure it was really operating in non-HT mode the majority of the time it was executing.) Also, IIRC, Intel's optimization manual explicitly states that the IDQ is always 64 entries in Skylake.

    The scheduler (aka RS or Reservation Station) is 97 unfused-domain uops in Skylake, up from 60 in Haswell. The 180int / 168fp numbers you give are the int / fp register-file sizes. They are sized more like the ROB (224 fused-domain uops, up from 192 in Haswell), not the scheduler, since like the ROB, they have to hold onto values until retirement, not just until execution. See also for when the PRF size vs. the ROB is the limit on the out-of-order window. See also for a nice block diagram of the whole pipeline.

    SKL-S DIVPS *latency* is 11 cycles, not 3. The *throughput* is one per 3 cycles for 128-bit vectors, or one per 5 cycles for 256b vectors, according to Agner Fog's table. I forget if I've tested that myself. So are you saying that SKL-SP has one per 5 cycle throughput for 128-bit vectors? What's the throughput for 256b and 512b vectors?


    It's really confusing the way you keep saying "AVX unit" or "AVX-512 unit" when I think you mean "512b FMA unit". It sounds like vector-integer, shuffle, and pretty much everything other than FMA will have true 512b execution units. If that's correct, then video codecs like x264/x265 should run the same on LCC vs. HCC silicon (other than differences in mesh interconnect latency), because they're integer-only, not using any vector-FP multiply/add/FMA.


    > This should allow programmers to separate control flow from data flow...

    SIMD conditional operations without AVX512 are already done branchlessly (I think that's what you mean by separate from control-flow) by masking the input and/or output. e.g. to conditionally add some elements of a vector, AND the input with a vector of all-one or all-zero elements (as produced by CMPPS or PGMPEQD, for example). Adding all-zeros is a no-op (the additive identity).

    Mask registers and support for doing it as part of another operation makes it much more efficient, potentially making it a win to vectorize things that otherwise wouldn't be. But it's not a new capability; you can do the same thing with boolean vectors and SSE/AVX VPBLENDVPS.
  • PeterCordes - Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - link

    Speed Shift / Hardware P-State is not Windows-specific, but this article kind of reads as if it is.

    Your article doesn't mention any other OSes, so nothing it says is actually wrong: I'm sure it did require Intel's collaboration with MS to get support into Win10. The bullet-point in the image that says "Collaboration between Intel and Microsoft specifically for W10 + Skylake" may be going too far, though. That definitely implies that it only works on Win10, which is incorrect.

    Linux has supported it for a while. "HWP enabled" in your kernel log means the kernel has handed off P-state selection to the hardware. (Since Linux is open-source, Intel contributed most of the code for this through the regular channels, like they do for lots of other drivers.)

    dmesg | grep intel_pstate
    [ 1.040265] intel_pstate: Intel P-state driver initializing
    [ 1.040924] intel_pstate: HWP enabled

    The hardware exposes a knob that controls the tradeoff between power and performance, called Energy Performance Preference or EPP. Len Brown@Intel's Linux patch notes give a pretty good description of it (and how it's different from a similar knob for controlling turbo usage in previous uarches), as well as describing how to use it from Linux.

    # CPU features related to HWP, on an i7-6700k running Linux 4.11 on bare metal
    fgrep -m1 flags /proc/cpuinfo | grep -o 'hwp[_a-z]*'

    I find the simplest way to see what speed your cores are running is to just `grep MHz /proc/cpuinfo`. (It does accurately reflect the current situation; Linux finds out what the hardware is actually doing).

    IDK about OS X support, but I assume Apple has got it sorted out by now, almost 2 years after SKL launch.
  • Arbie - Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - link

    There are folks for whom every last compute cycle really matters to their job. They have to buy the technical best. If that's Intel, so be it.

    For those dealing more with 'want' than 'need', a lot of this debate misses an important fact. The only reason Intel is suddenly vomiting cores, defecating feature sizes, and pre-announcing more lakes than Wisonsin is... AMD. Despite its chronic financial weakness that company has, incredibly, come from waaaay behind and given us real competition again. In this ultra-high stakes investment game, can they do that twice? Maybe not. And Intel has shown us what to expect if they have no competitor. In this limited-supplier market it's not just about who has the hottest product - it's also about whom we should reward with our money, and about keeping vital players in the game.

    I suggest - if you can, buy AMD. They have earned our support and it's in our best interests to do so. I've always gone with Intel but have lately come to see this bigger picture. It motivated me to buy an 1800X and I will also buy Vega.
  • Rabnor - Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - link

    To play it safe and get a big GPU, save $400 and invest in the Core i7-7820X today.
    You have to spend that $400+ on a good motherboard & aio cooler.
    Are you sold by Intel, anandtech?
  • Synviks - Thursday, June 22, 2017 - link

    For some extra comparison: running Cinebench R15 on my 14c 2.7ghz Haswell Xeon, with turbo to 3ghz on all cores, my score is 2010.

    Pretty impressive performance gain if they can shave off 4 cores and end up with higher performance.
  • Pri - Thursday, June 22, 2017 - link

    On the first page you wrote this:
    Similarly, the 6-core Core i7-7820X at $599 goes up against the 8-core $499 Ryzen 7 1800X.

    The Core i7 7820X was mistakenly written as a 6-core processor when it is in-fact an 8-core processor.

    Kind Regards.
  • Gigabytes - Thursday, June 22, 2017 - link

    Okay, here is what I learned from this article. Gaming performance sucks and you will be able to cook a pizza inside your case. Did I miss anything?

    Oh, one thing missing.

    Play it SMART and wait to see the Ripper in action before buy your new Intel toaster oven.

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