Business/General Use Performance

Business Winstone 2004

Business Winstone 2004 tests the following applications in various usage scenarios:

. Microsoft Access 2002
. Microsoft Excel 2002
. Microsoft FrontPage 2002
. Microsoft Outlook 2002
. Microsoft PowerPoint 2002
. Microsoft Project 2002
. Microsoft Word 2002
. Norton AntiVirus Professional Edition 2003
. WinZip 8.1

AMD has always dominated performance under business applications, which is why in the past they have always been known as a good CPU maker for office applications. Obviously with the K7 and K8 series of processors AMD changed the rules of the game a bit, offering top of the line performance in far more than just office applications. However, despite AMD's improvements in performance elsewhere, the Athlon 64 continues to hold on as the fastest processor for business applications.

Here we see that there is no performance difference between the three 2.4GHz parts, which is to be expected considering the relatively small datasets and correspondingly low bandwidth nature of business applications.

Even the entry level Athlon 64 3200+ is able to outperform Intel's top of the line Pentium 4 560 here. While Intel will argue that performance here doesn't matter, what does matter is that AMD is faster at a lower price point. Even the old Athlon XP 3200+ is able to offer performance similar to the Pentium 4 550.

Business Winstone 2004

Office Productivity SYSMark 2004

SYSMark's Office Productivity suite consists of three tests, the first of which is the Communication test. The Communication test consists of the following:

"The user receives an email in Outlook 2002 that contains a collection of documents in a zip file. The user reviews his email and updates his calendar while VirusScan 7.0 scans the system. The corporate web site is viewed in Internet Explorer 6.0. Finally, Internet Explorer is used to look at samples of the web pages and documents created during the scenario."

While the Athlon 64 FX-55 and 4000+ manage to land on top, it isn't by a huge margin. The FX-55 holds just under an 8% performance advantage over Intels Pentium 4 3.4EE. The Pentium 4 550 and Athlon 64 3800+ tie in the middle, while the 3400+ offers statistically similar performance.

What's interesting to note here is that the Athlon XP 3200+ manages to outperform, ever so slightly, the newer Athlon 64 3000+, thanks to a somewhat shorter pipeline and higher clock speed. What these results tell us is that the Communication test is much less dependent on the memory subsystem, rendering the on-die memory controller advantages of the Athlon 64 relatively useless. Our theories are confirmed by the fact that there's virtually no difference in performance in the single and dual channel memory configurations of the Athlon 64. There is, however, a boost in performance when going from a 512KB cache to a 1MB cache (3800+ -> 4000+), indicating that the datasets here are too big for a 512KB cache, but fit much better in a 1MB cache.

The Pentium 4 does relatively well here, with the Prescott based 90nm 560 offering similar performance to the Northwood based 130nm 3.4EE, with the higher clock speed able to make up for Prescott's other shortcomings.

Communication SYSMark 2004

The next test is Document Creation performance, which shows very little difference in drive performance between the contenders:

"The user edits the document using Word 2002. He transcribes an audio file into a document using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 6. Once the document has all the necessary pieces in place, the user changes it into a portable format for easy and secure distribution using Acrobat 5.0.5. The user creates a marketing presentation in PowerPoint 2002 and adds elements to a slide show template."

The inclusion of a speech recognition test as a part of this next benchmark immediately excludes the older generation of processors from being in the running for top performance spots. The lack of an on-die memory controller keeps the Athlon XP 3200+ at the end of the pack, while the more bandwidth friendly Pentium 4 and Athlon 64 platforms battle it out for the lead here.

The Athlon 64 FX-55 manages to secure a small 5% lead over the 3.4EE and the Pentium 4 560. It's not a noticeable performance lead in the real world, but it does stand on paper (or on web if you prefer). We once again see that there's no huge benefit to the 4000+'s 1MB L2 cache, but the dual channel configuration of our Socket-939 platforms clearly comes in handy, resulting in a 7% performance boost for the 3800+ over the single channel 3400+.

Document Creation SYSMark 2004

The final test in our Office Productivity suite is Data Analysis, which BAPCo describes as:

"The user opens a database using Access 2002 and runs some queries. A collection of documents are archived using WinZip 8.1. The queries' results are imported into a spreadsheet using Excel 2002 and are used to generate graphical charts."

Although not quite the enterprise level server database, MS Access does get used quite frequently in small to medium sized business environments to handle light database loads.

Here the Pentium 4s completely dominate, with the Prescott core truly extending the performance lead here. None of the AMD chips even stand a chance, not to mention the thrashing that the XP 3200+ gets. The Data Analysis tests do prove that despite the performance in other areas, there are a few pedestals that the Pentium 4 does continue to stand quite high upon.

Data Analysis SYSMark 2004

The Test Business/General Use Performance Continued
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  • RaistlinZ - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

    I may have missed it, but does anyone know if the Athlon 64 4000+ will be multiplier unlocked like the FX-53 is? That's the only thing I see that would differentiate the two chips.
  • RaistlinZ - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

  • Illissius - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

    Re: the necessity of Prescott. You are missing one very important consideration: Prescott has iAMD64 support. (Although it is currently disabled, no doubt because Intel has intentions of selling you the same processor twice). A simple die shrink of Northwood would not.
    I half suspect one of the reasons for Prescott's problems could be that AMD's 64-bit extensions don't mesh very well with a Netburst architecure, but they had to shoehorn it in anyways, and had to make a lot of unappealing design decisions in the process. (I've never designed a processor, though, so this is just baseless speculation.) I'd be interested in seeing 64-bit enabled chips on a Pentium M architecture...
  • CrystalBay - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

    Moores law is dead...:(
  • Runamile - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

    Awsome read. Great Job. And HOLY COW does Intel get their a$$ handed to them!

    I would of liked to see some price/performance curves too. That would of summed it up quite nicely.
  • hertz9753 - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

    Athlon 64 3700+ 2.4GHz 1MB 64-bit
    Athlon 64 3400+ 2.4GHz 512KB 64-bit
    Athlon 64 3400+ 2.2GHz 1MB 64-bit
  • araczynski - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

    nice, but luckily i still see no reason to upgrade my 2.4@3.3, at least not for a few measly benchmark FPS.
  • hertz9753 - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

  • AlphaFox - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

    Id like to see some kind of comparison with an OC XP Mobile. I have one runing at 2.46ghz and not really sure how it stacks up here...
  • PrinceGaz - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

    An excellent article, well done.

    About the only thing missing was a bit of overclocking of the FX-55 to see if the introduction of strained silicon considerably increased the headroom. Obviously it has allowed them to ship parts rated at 2.6GHz which they weren't previously able to do, but how much better is the FX-55 compared to a CG-stepping FX-53? Does the use of strained silicon mean the FX-55 is a new stepping?

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