CPU Performance: System Tests

Our System Test section focuses significantly on real-world testing, user experience, with a slight nod to throughput. In this section we cover application loading time, image processing, simple scientific physics, emulation, neural simulation, optimized compute, and 3D model development, with a combination of readily available and custom software. For some of these tests, the bigger suites such as PCMark do cover them (we publish those values in our office section), although multiple perspectives is always beneficial. In all our tests we will explain in-depth what is being tested, and how we are testing.

All of our benchmark results can also be found in our benchmark engine, Bench.

Application Load: GIMP 2.10.4

One of the most important aspects about user experience and workflow is how fast does a system respond. A good test of this is to see how long it takes for an application to load. Most applications these days, when on an SSD, load fairly instantly, however some office tools require asset pre-loading before being available. Most operating systems employ caching as well, so when certain software is loaded repeatedly (web browser, office tools), then can be initialized much quicker.

In our last suite, we tested how long it took to load a large PDF in Adobe Acrobat. Unfortunately this test was a nightmare to program for, and didn’t transfer over to Win10 RS3 easily. In the meantime we discovered an application that can automate this test, and we put it up against GIMP, a popular free open-source online photo editing tool, and the major alternative to Adobe Photoshop. We set it to load a large 50MB design template, and perform the load 10 times with 10 seconds in-between each. Due to caching, the first 3-5 results are often slower than the rest, and time to cache can be inconsistent, we take the average of the last five results to show CPU processing on cached loading.

AppTimer: GIMP 2.10.4

Loading a program is usually a single threaded issue, and the Intel chips do well here. Our two AMD chips turbo to the same frequency, so they score roughly the same.

FCAT: Image Processing

The FCAT software was developed to help detect microstuttering, dropped frames, and run frames in graphics benchmarks when two accelerators were paired together to render a scene. Due to game engines and graphics drivers, not all GPU combinations performed ideally, which led to this software fixing colors to each rendered frame and dynamic raw recording of the data using a video capture device.

The FCAT software takes that recorded video, which in our case is 90 seconds of a 1440p run of Rise of the Tomb Raider, and processes that color data into frame time data so the system can plot an ‘observed’ frame rate, and correlate that to the power consumption of the accelerators. This test, by virtue of how quickly it was put together, is single threaded. We run the process and report the time to completion.

FCAT Processing ROTR 1440p GTX980Ti Data

FCAT is single thread driven, and so the Intel chips do well here as well. The 2500X is beating the 2300X, just, as they both turbo to the same amount.

3D Particle Movement v2.1: Brownian Motion

Our 3DPM test is a custom built benchmark designed to simulate six different particle movement algorithms of points in a 3D space. The algorithms were developed as part of my PhD., and while ultimately perform best on a GPU, provide a good idea on how instruction streams are interpreted by different microarchitectures.

A key part of the algorithms is the random number generation – we use relatively fast generation which ends up implementing dependency chains in the code. The upgrade over the naïve first version of this code solved for false sharing in the caches, a major bottleneck. We are also looking at AVX2 and AVX512 versions of this benchmark for future reviews.

For this test, we run a stock particle set over the six algorithms for 20 seconds apiece, with 10 second pauses, and report the total rate of particle movement, in millions of operations (movements) per second. We have a non-AVX version and an AVX version, with the latter implementing AVX512 and AVX2 where possible.

3DPM v2.1 can be downloaded from our server: 3DPMv2.1.rar (13.0 MB)

3D Particle Movement v2.1

3D Particle Movement v2.1 (with AVX)

With more threads, the 2500X steams ahead, although it is worth noting that without AVX, the 2300X and 8350K are relatively close, but the gap widens when we add AVX2 to the mix. The Intel chip actually more than doubles its performance, whereas AMD gets around 50% more.

Dolphin 5.0: Console Emulation

One of the popular requested tests in our suite is to do with console emulation. Being able to pick up a game from an older system and run it as expected depends on the overhead of the emulator: it takes a significantly more powerful x86 system to be able to accurately emulate an older non-x86 console, especially if code for that console was made to abuse certain physical bugs in the hardware.

For our test, we use the popular Dolphin emulation software, and run a compute project through it to determine how close to a standard console system our processors can emulate. In this test, a Nintendo Wii would take around 1050 seconds.

The latest version of Dolphin can be downloaded from https://dolphin-emu.org/

Dolphin 5.0 Render Test

Dolphin is very single thread driven, and so the Intel chips win again, with both of our AMD CPUs scoring roughly the same.

DigiCortex 1.20: Sea Slug Brain Simulation

This benchmark was originally designed for simulation and visualization of neuron and synapse activity, as is commonly found in the brain. The software comes with a variety of benchmark modes, and we take the small benchmark which runs a 32k neuron / 1.8B synapse simulation, equivalent to a Sea Slug.


Example of a 2.1B neuron simulation

We report the results as the ability to simulate the data as a fraction of real-time, so anything above a ‘one’ is suitable for real-time work. Out of the two modes, a ‘non-firing’ mode which is DRAM heavy and a ‘firing’ mode which has CPU work, we choose the latter. Despite this, the benchmark is still affected by DRAM speed a fair amount.

DigiCortex can be downloaded from http://www.digicortex.net/

DigiCortex 1.20 (32k Neuron, 1.8B Synapse)

When it comes to Digi-Cortex, the AMD CPUs have the upper hand here. Both the 2500X and 2300X crush most of the Intel chips, helped a lot by their higher supported memory frequency.

y-Cruncher v0.7.6: Microarchitecture Optimized Compute

I’ve known about y-Cruncher for a while, as a tool to help compute various mathematical constants, but it wasn’t until I began talking with its developer, Alex Yee, a researcher from NWU and now software optimization developer, that I realized that he has optimized the software like crazy to get the best performance. Naturally, any simulation that can take 20+ days can benefit from a 1% performance increase! Alex started y-cruncher as a high-school project, but it is now at a state where Alex is keeping it up to date to take advantage of the latest instruction sets before they are even made available in hardware.

For our test we run y-cruncher v0.7.6 through all the different optimized variants of the binary, single threaded and multi-threaded, including the AVX-512 optimized binaries. The test is to calculate 250m digits of Pi, and we use the single threaded and multi-threaded versions of this test.

Users can download y-cruncher from Alex’s website: http://www.numberworld.org/y-cruncher/

y-Cruncher 0.7.6 Single Thread, 250m Digitsy-Cruncher 0.7.6 Multi-Thread, 250m Digits

Intel's strong AVX2 performance shows in our y-Cruncher tests.

Agisoft Photoscan 1.3.3: 2D Image to 3D Model Conversion

One of the ISVs that we have worked with for a number of years is Agisoft, who develop software called PhotoScan that transforms a number of 2D images into a 3D model. This is an important tool in model development and archiving, and relies on a number of single threaded and multi-threaded algorithms to go from one side of the computation to the other.

In our test, we take v1.3.3 of the software with a good sized data set of 84 x 18 megapixel photos and push it through a reasonably fast variant of the algorithms, but is still more stringent than our 2017 test. We report the total time to complete the process.

Agisoft’s Photoscan website can be found here: http://www.agisoft.com/

Agisoft Photoscan 1.3.3, Complex Test

Agisoft likes a mix of threads and IPC, and the Intel CPU sits between our quad-core and quad-core with simultaneous multithreading AMD CPUs. Moving up to the 2600 from the 2500X gives a reasonable 10%+ gain in performance.

Our New Testing Suite for 2018 and 2019 CPU Performance: Rendering Tests
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  • Daeros - Monday, February 11, 2019 - link

    Your Intel bias is showing again, Ian. You've pitted a very nice selection of midrange processors from AMD against some very nice, almost double the price chips from Intel. If you're going to include the i5-8400 and i5-8600k, why not the R7 2600x or 2700? They're price-point competitors. But then, Intel wouldn't be at the top of the charts in almost any of the tests, would they? Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Monday, February 11, 2019 - link

    All the data is in Bench for those parts. I mention repeatedly (as I did in our buyer's guide) that Intel doesn't really have anything competitive from 8th/9th Gen in the $120-$200 range. I put some parts in that are at least offer thread parity, as explained on page one of this review, if you read that far. But then again, Intel's 8th gen chips are priced well above the usual price right now.

    Subsequently, your data bias is showing. It's not about being at the absolute top of the graph. It never has. It's about competing with what's around you and some context either side from major competitors. If you want to compare higher priced parts against higher priced parts, then there's either a benchmark database to look at, or the corresponding reviews for those chips.

    All quite apart from which, most of my analysis is comparing the AMD parts to other AMD parts because they're not sold at retail and where they would fit in if they did. That's one of the major points of this review.
    Reply
  • c4v3man - Monday, February 11, 2019 - link

    Is Anandtech trying to acquire an Intel i3-8100 processor for testing? This would seem to be a fairly natural comparison point to these processors at it's $117 customer pricing level. Granted you can approximate the results off the i3-8350K, and assume it's roughly 10% slower, but having actual numbers would be preferred over manual re-calculations. Reply
  • HStewart - Monday, February 11, 2019 - link

    What about i5-8400T - according to ARC it price at $179 which will be in price range you stated

    https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/products/p...

    Big difference is that it does not have Hyperthreading, been 6 cores without hyperthreading it could be serious competitor to Ryzen 5 2500X - it does have lesser max frequency than normal 8400
    Reply
  • Korguz - Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - link

    HStewart...
    that price.. could be an intel suggested price, or the tray price....
    Reply
  • HStewart - Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - link

    It is the price on Amazon, and selling out

    https://www.amazon.com/Intel-CM8068403358913-Core-...
    Reply
  • MattMe - Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - link

    @Ian - Whilst not quite as militant as some other forum users, I do agree that the testing and comparisons you have used here are not the most appropriate or useful. A similarly priced Intel CPU like the i3 would demonstrate competitive value in the marketplace. If we are including the more expensive Intel CPUs (because of their similar thread count, which I understand) then the graphs should have the equivalently priced AMD alternatives, again to help consumers understand the value proposition from both sides.

    Regarding the games/GPU options, I feel the testing you have carried out is useful, and although it's unlikely these CPUs would be paired with such a high-end GPU, we are at least ruling out the GPU being the limiting factor until reaching 4k, where your graphs demonstrate that the CPU is no longer the bottleneck. Without doubling the number of tests and data presented in the articles, I feel you've presented the most useful benchmarks and information. You'll never please everyone, I suppose.

    Overall I think this is another fantastic write-up and appreciate the effort you put into the research and testing, but I can understand some people's frustrations when it comes to the comparisons you have chosen to demonstrate.
    Reply
  • mikato - Thursday, April 4, 2019 - link

    Well said
    "If we are including the more expensive Intel CPUs (because of their similar thread count, which I understand) then the graphs should have the equivalently priced AMD alternatives, again to help consumers understand the value proposition from both sides."
    Reply
  • Phynaz - Monday, February 11, 2019 - link

    Typical AMD - Hot and Slow Reply
  • formulaLS - Monday, February 11, 2019 - link

    Typical Phynaz, quit the forums and said he won't be coming back and ended up flat out lying about it. Grow up dude. Reply

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