CPU Tests: Encoding

One of the interesting elements on modern processors is encoding performance. This covers two main areas: encryption/decryption for secure data transfer, and video transcoding from one video format to another.

In the encrypt/decrypt scenario, how data is transferred and by what mechanism is pertinent to on-the-fly encryption of sensitive data - a process by which more modern devices are leaning to for software security.

Video transcoding as a tool to adjust the quality, file size and resolution of a video file has boomed in recent years, such as providing the optimum video for devices before consumption, or for game streamers who are wanting to upload the output from their video camera in real-time. As we move into live 3D video, this task will only get more strenuous, and it turns out that the performance of certain algorithms is a function of the input/output of the content.

HandBrake 1.32: Link

Video transcoding (both encode and decode) is a hot topic in performance metrics as more and more content is being created. First consideration is the standard in which the video is encoded, which can be lossless or lossy, trade performance for file-size, trade quality for file-size, or all of the above can increase encoding rates to help accelerate decoding rates. Alongside Google's favorite codecs, VP9 and AV1, there are others that are prominent: H264, the older codec, is practically everywhere and is designed to be optimized for 1080p video, and HEVC (or H.265) that is aimed to provide the same quality as H264 but at a lower file-size (or better quality for the same size). HEVC is important as 4K is streamed over the air, meaning less bits need to be transferred for the same quality content. There are other codecs coming to market designed for specific use cases all the time.

Handbrake is a favored tool for transcoding, with the later versions using copious amounts of newer APIs to take advantage of co-processors, like GPUs. It is available on Windows via an interface or can be accessed through the command-line, with the latter making our testing easier, with a redirection operator for the console output.

We take the compiled version of this 16-minute YouTube video about Russian CPUs at 1080p30 h264 and convert into three different files: (1) 480p30 ‘Discord’, (2) 720p30 ‘YouTube’, and (3) 4K60 HEVC.

(5-1a) Handbrake 1.3.2, 1080p30 H264 to 480p Discord(5-1b) Handbrake 1.3.2, 1080p30 H264 to 720p YouTube(5-1c) Handbrake 1.3.2, 1080p30 H264 to 4K60 HEVC

Up to the final 4K60 HEVC, in CPU-only mode, the Intel CPU puts up some good gen-on-gen numbers.

7-Zip 1900: Link

The first compression benchmark tool we use is the open-source 7-zip, which typically offers good scaling across multiple cores. 7-zip is the compression tool most cited by readers as one they would rather see benchmarks on, and the program includes a built-in benchmark tool for both compression and decompression.

The tool can either be run from inside the software or through the command line. We take the latter route as it is easier to automate, obtain results, and put through our process. The command line flags available offer an option for repeated runs, and the output provides the average automatically through the console. We direct this output into a text file and regex the required values for compression, decompression, and a combined score.

(5-2c) 7-Zip 1900 Combined Score

AES Encoding

Algorithms using AES coding have spread far and wide as a ubiquitous tool for encryption. Again, this is another CPU limited test, and modern CPUs have special AES pathways to accelerate their performance. We often see scaling in both frequency and cores with this benchmark. We use the latest version of TrueCrypt and run its benchmark mode over 1GB of in-DRAM data. Results shown are the GB/s average of encryption and decryption.

(5-3) AES Encoding

WinRAR 5.90: Link

For the 2020 test suite, we move to the latest version of WinRAR in our compression test. WinRAR in some quarters is more user friendly that 7-Zip, hence its inclusion. Rather than use a benchmark mode as we did with 7-Zip, here we take a set of files representative of a generic stack

  • 33 video files , each 30 seconds, in 1.37 GB,
  • 2834 smaller website files in 370 folders in 150 MB,
  • 100 Beat Saber music tracks and input files, for 451 MB

This is a mixture of compressible and incompressible formats. The results shown are the time taken to encode the file. Due to DRAM caching, we run the test for 20 minutes times and take the average of the last five runs when the benchmark is in a steady state.

For automation, we use AHK’s internal timing tools from initiating the workload until the window closes signifying the end. This means the results are contained within AHK, with an average of the last 5 results being easy enough to calculate.

(5-4) WinRAR 5.90 Test, 3477 files, 1.96 GB

 

CPU Tests: Synthetic

Most of the people in our industry have a love/hate relationship when it comes to synthetic tests. On the one hand, they’re often good for quick summaries of performance and are easy to use, but most of the time the tests aren’t related to any real software. Synthetic tests are often very good at burrowing down to a specific set of instructions and maximizing the performance out of those. Due to requests from a number of our readers, we have the following synthetic tests.

Linux OpenSSL Speed: SHA256

One of our readers reached out in early 2020 and stated that he was interested in looking at OpenSSL hashing rates in Linux. Luckily OpenSSL in Linux has a function called ‘speed’ that allows the user to determine how fast the system is for any given hashing algorithm, as well as signing and verifying messages.

OpenSSL offers a lot of algorithms to choose from, and based on a quick Twitter poll, we narrowed it down to the following:

  1. rsa2048 sign and rsa2048 verify
  2. sha256 at 8K block size
  3. md5 at 8K block size

For each of these tests, we run them in single thread and multithreaded mode. All the graphs are in our benchmark database, Bench, and we use the sha256 results in published reviews.

(8-3c) Linux OpenSSL Speed sha256 8K Block (1T)(8-4c) Linux OpenSSL Speed sha256 8K Block (nT)

Intel comes back into the game in our OpenSSL sha256 test as the AVX512 helps accelerate SHA instructions. It still isn't enough to overcome the dedicated sha256 units inside AMD.

CPU Tests: Legacy and Web

In order to gather data to compare with older benchmarks, we are still keeping a number of tests under our ‘legacy’ section. This includes all the former major versions of CineBench (R15, R11.5, R10) as well as x264 HD 3.0 and the first very naïve version of 3DPM v2.1. We won’t be transferring the data over from the old testing into Bench, otherwise it would be populated with 200 CPUs with only one data point, so it will fill up as we test more CPUs like the others.

The other section here is our web tests.

Web Tests: Kraken, Octane, and Speedometer

Benchmarking using web tools is always a bit difficult. Browsers change almost daily, and the way the web is used changes even quicker. While there is some scope for advanced computational based benchmarks, most users care about responsiveness, which requires a strong back-end to work quickly to provide on the front-end. The benchmarks we chose for our web tests are essentially industry standards – at least once upon a time.

It should be noted that for each test, the browser is closed and re-opened a new with a fresh cache. We use a fixed Chromium version for our tests with the update capabilities removed to ensure consistency.

Mozilla Kraken 1.1

Kraken is a 2010 benchmark from Mozilla and does a series of JavaScript tests. These tests are a little more involved than previous tests, looking at artificial intelligence, audio manipulation, image manipulation, json parsing, and cryptographic functions. The benchmark starts with an initial download of data for the audio and imaging, and then runs through 10 times giving a timed result.

We loop through the 10-run test four times (so that’s a total of 40 runs), and average the four end-results. The result is given as time to complete the test, and we’re reaching a slow asymptotic limit with regards the highest IPC processors.

(7-1) Kraken 1.1 Web Test

Google Octane 2.0

Our second test is also JavaScript based, but uses a lot more variation of newer JS techniques, such as object-oriented programming, kernel simulation, object creation/destruction, garbage collection, array manipulations, compiler latency and code execution.

Octane was developed after the discontinuation of other tests, with the goal of being more web-like than previous tests. It has been a popular benchmark, making it an obvious target for optimizations in the JavaScript engines. Ultimately it was retired in early 2017 due to this, although it is still widely used as a tool to determine general CPU performance in a number of web tasks.

(7-2) Google Octane 2.0 Web Test

Speedometer 2: JavaScript Frameworks

Our newest web test is Speedometer 2, which is a test over a series of JavaScript frameworks to do three simple things: built a list, enable each item in the list, and remove the list. All the frameworks implement the same visual cues, but obviously apply them from different coding angles.

Our test goes through the list of frameworks, and produces a final score indicative of ‘rpm’, one of the benchmarks internal metrics.

We repeat over the benchmark for a dozen loops, taking the average of the last five.

(7-3) Speedometer 2.0 Web Test

Legacy Tests

(6-3a) CineBench R15 ST(6-3b) CineBench R15 MT(6-5a) x264 HD 3.0 Pass 1(6-5b) x264 HD 3.0 Pass 2

CPU Tests: Simulation and Rendering Gaming Tests: Deus Ex Mankind Divided
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  • macakr - Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - link

    really? that bad? I can get that on a 15w Ryzen 4700u! Reply
  • Slash3 - Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - link

    The 4700u mobile APU has a much stronger iGPU core, similar to that of Rocket Lake. Reply
  • Alistair - Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - link

    Yeah it is that bad. Generally if you keep the resolution at 900p or 720p (or 50 percent scaling of 1080p, which is ~768p) the performance is ok. But it falls off dramatically at 1080p. No linear scaling here. Basically it is MUCH worse than laptop parts. I have DDR3600C16 so was expecting better. Oh well.

    Runeterra was barely playable at 1440p, just a basic card game, but the FPS shoots up dramatically at 1080p or lower, so that's fine. Would be nice to play Hearthstone and Runeterra with integrated graphics one day...
    Reply
  • Tom Sunday - Thursday, April 8, 2021 - link

    I am getting on the years and like to finally replacing my 13-year old Dell XPS 730x. Its time after being forced to replacing (3-times) PSU's, Motherboards, AIOs, GPU's and RAM. The new Intel i5 11600K holds interest. Will the 'integrated graphics' be good enough for just browsing the Net and watching old western or war movies on utube and with not doing any gaming? How good is the IGPU in this regard? Once I have more money I can hopefully buy a used discrete GPU 'over the table' next year at the local computer show? Will probably have my new system cobbled together by the local stripcenter PC shop and by one of the Bangladesh boys. So it will be good to sound somewhat intelligent discussing the hardware and not being pushed into what is cheap and in stock that day. Thoughts? Reply
  • Spunjji - Friday, April 9, 2021 - link

    The iGPU on Rocket Lake will be fine for those purposes. However, so would the iGPU on the cheaper Comet Lake processors out there - they may be a better (cheap) option if you're going to buy now and upgrade later.

    Another option would be to go for a system based around the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and re-use an existing GPU, which would also give you the option to upgrade the CPU again to something like a 5800X or even 5900X later. Personally, I'd go with that approach.
    Reply
  • 0ldman79 - Friday, April 16, 2021 - link

    The integrated GPU is fine for movies and web.

    I've got a Skylake laptop with GTX 960M, it uses the iGPU until I fire up a game.

    The h264 and h265 playback are accelerated through the iGPU, barely draws any power at all for video playback. The screen draws all the power. It'll play back 1080P 60 h264 or h265 all day long at under 2W. There are no issues using it for the web or anything else using integrated, it'll even play some games at lower settings, roughly 1/4 of a 750 Ti (960M) in gaming, though the newer chips will be slightly better.
    Reply
  • Alexvrb - Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - link

    Vega 11 is actually a bit slower than the latest 8 CU Vega found in Renoir/Cezanne. Not enough to catch up to Iris Xe, I don't think... but impressive given the smaller GPU and same power (or better). That's still GCN, too. If they release an APU with a ~10 CU RDNA2 GPU, it should give them a substantial boost... as long as bandwidth doesn't cripple it. Next gen memory should help, but they might also integrate a chunk of Infinity Cache. It has proven effective on larger RDNA2 siblings, giving them good performance with a relatively narrow memory bus. Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - link

    Good ole iGPU distraction.

    How about the most important stuff? How about having it appear on the first page?

    • performance per watt

    • performance per decibel

    Apples-to-apples comparison, which means the same CPU cooler in the same case for Intel and AMD.

    That is important, not this obsession over a pointless sort-of GPU.
    Reply
  • Jezwinni - Saturday, April 3, 2021 - link

    I agree the iGPU is a distraction, but disagree on what declare the important things.

    Personally the performance for the price is the important thing.

    Any extra power draw isn't going to blow up my PSU, make my electricity bills unmanageable, or save the world.

    Why you consider the performance per watt most important?
    Reply
  • 0ldman79 - Friday, April 16, 2021 - link

    Performance per watt on iGPU only matters in mobile devices, even then it's barely measurable.

    The iGPU is only going to pull 10W max, normally they peak around half that.
    Reply

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