Cache Size Impact on Performance

As we continue to look at the Athlon 64 platform with respect to Half Life 2 performance it's now time to find out how much benefit the 1MB L2 Athlon 64s gain over the 512KB L2 parts. 

Given that we've already shown Half Life 2 to be sensitive to both memory bandwidth and latency on the platform, we wouldn't be too surprised to see some pretty big differences between 512KB and 1MB L2 Athlon 64 processors.

1MB L2
512KB L2

With a performance advantage as large as 8%, the 1MB Athlon 64s (and Athlon 64 FXs)  do surprisingly well under Half Life 2 when compared to their normally competitive 512KB counterparts.  While 8% alone isn't much, combine that with the advantage of a 128-bit DDR memory bus and the Socket-939 Athlon 64 platform can offer a reasonably high performance improvement over even the Socket-754 solutions. 

SSE/SSE2 Impact on Performance

Just for kicks we turned off the Athlon 64's SSE/SSE2 instruction set support to see if that impacted performance in any way:

SSE/SSE2 Enabled
SSE/SSE2 Disabled

Despite minor variations in performance, it doesn't look like SSE/SSE2 is doing much for the Athlon 64 under Half Life 2.  We just had to fulfill our curiosities. 

Memory Latency Impact on Performance High End Graphics Card CPU Scaling


View All Comments

  • zhangping0233 - Thursday, January 5, 2012 - link

    Nice job, If you need any flashlight, pls contact feel free. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    by the way, you can't mod a 9500Pro to a 9700Pro, the 9500Pro circuit-board only has a 128-bit memory-bus and there's no way you can change it to 256-bit. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    #55- the cut-off point where you can't really tell the difference of a higher framerate, is when the framerate exceeds the monitor refresh rate.

    If your monitor is updating the display 85 times per second (a common setting for cheaper CRT displays), then a *minimum* framerate of higher than 85fps makes no difference. With flat-panels, refresh-rates of 60-75hz are more common so you don't even need to maintain 85fps. A faster graphics-card is still worthwhile though as it allows you to crank up AA and Aniso settings (8x anti-aliasing is lovely).
  • maestroH - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    Coming from the recent dark age of a P4 1.7/9500Pro(@9700Pro) combi, this is great article to decide on my new machine. Although HL2 is playing quite nicely, I am lucky to have a one-off opportunity to buy myself a FX-55/X800XT combi.
    Never having experienced even any fps close to what's on these charts, something in the back of my mind keeps saying that a 10-20 fps more when you are already over 100 fps, will make no difference to the experience except a bigger hole in my wallet. Can anyone tell me where the 'cut-off' point is where even the most discerning of gamers cannot see/feel the difference? Knowing that dual core is coming up (even though games for them still need to be made), would buying a 3500+ be smarter or should I go for the FX-55 simply because I can (only this once)? Thx Anand for the article.
  • essjae - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    Those graphs look nice, but they don't really mean much. Based on similar graphs and results I just bought a a64-4000+ and MSI Neo2 Platinum to replace my P4-3.2GHz and Asus P4c-800E.

    With the same ATI X800XT Platinum, memory, and hard drives, I can't see any difference between then, in fact, the P4 seemed to play smoother.

    Do I have any proof, no, other than playing half-life 2 on my p4 was more enjoyable.
  • Spacecomber - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    Can anyone offer some insight into why the extreme edition northwoods did as poorly as they did? The 3.2GHz EE could barely keep up with the 3.0GHz Prescott; so, it's more than the raw clock speed of the high end Prescotts.

    Could it be related to running the Northwood on a platform really intended for Prescotts?

  • mixpix - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    Awesome article. It was exactly what I've been looking for. My 2600+ is not cutting it with my 6600GT AGP and I was thinking it was the CPU that was limiting preformance. Reply
  • TheCanuck - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    Firing Squad did a review on the Athlon XP performance with HL2 a while ago:

    The 3200+ XP got about 95fps in the Canals_09 demo at 1280x1024 with an X800 XT PE. Not sure how well it compares to the Canals_08 that Anandtech uses, but I doubt the difference would be that great.
  • Guspaz - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    I'm very dissapointed with this article. I have been eagerly awaiting it for ages, expecting to see how Half-Life 2 scales down to lower speed processors; I've long maintained that low end processors like an AthlonXP 1900+, run the game quite poorly.

    The big deal with HL2 is that it was supposed to run on much older computers. But nobody seems to have benchmarked it on anything but pretty new hardware. I expected that a CPU scaling article would cover that, in fact I thought that was the entire point.
  • Visual - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    i'd be curious to see normal 6600, as well as maybe some lower-end ati card in the comparison :)
    ok ok, i know this isn't a GPU shootout, but still...

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