Multitasking Scenario 1: DVD Shrink

If you've ever tried to backup a DVD, you know the process can take a long time. Just ripping the disc to your hard drive will eat up a good 20 minutes, and then there's the encoding. The encoding can easily take between 20 and 45 minutes depending on the speed of your CPU, and once you start doing other tasks in the background, you can expect those times to grow even longer.

For this test, we used DVD Shrink, one of the simplest applications available to compress and re-encode a DVD to fit on a single 4.5GB disc. We ran DVD Decrypt on the "Star Wars Episode VI" DVD so that we had a local copy of the DVD on our test bed hard drive (in a future version of the test, we may try to include DVD Decrypt performance in our benchmark as well). All of the DVD Shrink settings were left at default including telling the program to assume a low priority, a setting many users check in order to be able to do other things while DVD Shrink is working.

We did the following:

1) Open Firefox using the ScrapBook plugin loaded locally archived copies of 13 web pages; we kept the browser on the AT front page.
2) Open iTunes and start playing a playlist on repeat all.
3) Open Newsleecher.
4) Open DVD Shrink.
5) Login to our news server and start downloading headers for our subscribed news groups.
6) Start backup of "Star Wars Episode VI - Return of the Jedi". All default settings, including low priority.

This test is a bit different than the test we ran in the Intel dual core articles, mainly in that we used more web pages, but with more varied content. In the first review, our stored web pages were very heavy on Flash. This time around, we have a much wider variety of web content open in Firefox while we conducted our test. There is still quite a bit of Flash, but the load is much more realistic now.

DVD Shrink was the application in focus. This matters because by default, Windows gives special scheduling priority to the application currently in the foreground. We waited until the DVD Shrink operation was complete and recorded its completion time. Below are the results:

DVD Shrink + Multitasking Environment

As we showed in the first set of dual core articles, tests like these are perfect examples of why dual core matters. The performance of the single core Athlon 64 FX-55 is dismal compared to any of the dual core offerings. You'll also note that the Athlon 64 X2 4400+ completes the DVD Shrink task in less than half the time of the higher clocked single core FX-55. The reasoning behind this is more of an issue with the Windows' scheduler. The problem in situations like these is that the Windows scheduler won't always preempt one task in order to give another its portion of the CPU's time. For a single threaded CPU, that means that certain tasks will take much longer to complete simply because the OS' scheduler isn't giving them a chance to run on the CPU. With a dual core or otherwise multi-threaded CPU, the OS' scheduler can dispatch more threads to the CPU, and thus, is less likely to be in a situation where it has to preempt a CPU intensive task.

In this test, the Athlon 64 X2 4400+ does better than the Pentium D 840, but the Extreme Edition manages to offer slightly better performance. A faster X2 shouldn't have much of a problem remaining competitive, however.
Development Performance - Compiling Firefox Multitasking Scenario 2: File Compression
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  • MDme - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    #92

    the difference between an opteron and an a64/fx is as follows:

    opteron - needs ECC memory cache is 1mb it is multiplier locked, COHERENT HT LINKS

    a64 - uses non-registered (non-ecc) memory (which is faster), cache 512k-1mb, multiplier locked

    a64fx - non-ecc memory, 1mb cache, unlocked.

    so opteron's are not a64/fx's but are quite similar. the main difference is the memory type and the COHERENT HT links

    therefore the X2 4400+ is really an opteron (dual core) running at 2.2 with dual 1mb cache but with the COHERENT HT link disabled that uses non-ECC ram.

    performance should therefore be almost identical between one DC opteron 2.2ghz and one A64 X2 4400+ (possibly the X2 will be faster 5%) due to the non-ECC memory which is faster.


    Reply
  • tygrus - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    If you use a Opteron 875 then label it as such in all diagrams. You can make a note that the Athlon64 X2 4400+ will perform similarly to the Opteron 875. The differences in MB and RAM will affect results and so a direct re-labelling should not be made.
    Good database, multimedia, data analysis should make good use of multi-core/multi-CPU systems. When I mention data analysis I'm talking about software like SAS 9.1.3 and SAP. Even SAS is only threaded for a few tasks and is a big hassel to pipeline one step into another.
    Reply
  • Some1ne - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Good article overall, although I question the validity of declaring that an Opteron 875 is roughly equivalent to an Athlon 64 4400+. I could be wrong, but surely there must be significant architectural differences between the server-class chip (top of the line server-class chip no less) and the desktop Athlon 64? If not then why the price premium for Opterons, and why don't manufacturers just find a way to kludge the Athlon64 to work in MP configurations as in theory if they are really equivalent when run at the same clock speed, it would be much more cost effective to use kludged Athlon 64's, and it would also let higher performance levels to be reached as the dual-core Athlon64's are slated to run at one clock increment higher than the fastest dual-core Opteron's? So anyways, is it *really* valid to treat an Opteron as being essentially equivalent to a similarly clocked Athlon64? As much as I love finally seeing Intel chips trounced pretty much across the board, it seems to me like the results could potentially be inaccurate given that an Opteron 875 was used and simply "labeled" as an Athlon64 4400+. Reply
  • Cygni - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    #89... seeing as how the Opty x75 and A64 X2 are based on functionally identical cores, thats not too likely at all. What DOES seem likely to me reading this article is that BIOS updates, and X2 support on 939 boards, is going to be a very interesting story to follow. It doesnt look like its too easy to get a solid AMD Dual Core BIOS if even Tyan is struggling, of all board mfts. May give a fiesty smaller board mft a chance to slam the bigboys and grab marketshare (such as ECS with the K7S5A). Reply
  • Jason Clark - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    saratoga, waah? There are similarities between C# and C++. While agree it's java'ish as well, it definitely has similarties to c++. One could say c# shaes similarities with c/c/c++.

    read away:

    http://www.mastercsharp.com/article.aspx?ArticleID...

    http://www.csharphelp.com/archives/archive138.html

    "C# is directly related to C and C++. This is not just an idea, this is real. As you recall C is a root for C++ and C++ is a superset of C. C and C++ shares several syntax, library and functionality." Quoted from above.

    L8r.




    Reply
  • Jep4444 - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    I've spoken to a few people from XS who have Engineering Samples of the Athlon X2s and all im hearing is that arent nearly as good as the dual core Opterons, they were apparently rushed Reply
  • xtknight - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    #86 - the r_smp cvar was disabled in quake3 in a patch, for a reason i don't know. i confirmed this by having quake3 crash on my p4 HT CPU with that setting enabled. as for doom3, i'm not sure. i'm guessing it's not implemented well enough yet... Reply
  • Chuckles - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    #83:
    "Real gamers" may use a single core, but I have been hankering for duallies since I tried an older dual G4 to my newer single G4. Even on the crappy MaxBus, I could browse the web, chat, do "real work" and game, without having everything go to pot when a bolus of e-mail came in.
    When you buy a dualie of any type, you buy the ability to do other stuff while you computer working on its latest task. Remember that when you get lagged while Outlook downloads your latest spam.

    Reply
  • Googer - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Why wern't there any SMP Tests done on Quake 3 engine, after all it is said to be multithreaded.

    Also, Carmack said during the devlopment of DOOM3 that the engine was going to support multiple processors, did this ever happen? Does anyone know what the command might be for D3 console to enable SMP, like it's cousin? How much truth is there to this?
    Reply
  • Nighteye2 - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Add to all the arguments that we can potentially see programs taking advantage of this quite soon...without the effort required to implement full multi-threading, game functions could be assigned to use the other processor if it's available. For example, AI can be done by one core, while the other core does the rest of running the game.
    Reply

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