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

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: Simulation and Rendering CPU Tests: Legacy and Web


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  • mode_13h - Monday, August 9, 2021 - link

    > RAMBUS was supposed to unlock the true power of the Pentium 4

    I think Intel underestimated what the DDR consortium was capable of doing. Perhaps they were right, as the DDR makers were eventually forced to license some RAMBUS patents, as I recall.

    > the Willamette I used for a decade had plain SDRAM, not even DDR.

    Northwood was the best. Sadly, I bought a Prescott because I wanted hyperthreading and hoped the 2x L2 cache would compensate for the longer pipeline. But, it turns out you could even get hyperthreading and 800 MHz FSB, in a couple Northwoods. I also thought SSE3 might be useful, but never got around to doing anything with it.

    BTW, I also used DDR400 in my P4.
  • GeoffreyA - Tuesday, August 10, 2021 - link

    For me, both the Prescott and A64 were available, but I went with the latter because I always wanted an Athlon. Originally, was looking at the XP 3200+ and dreamt of coupling that with an nForce2 motherboard. As for Northwood, masterpiece of a CPU. P4 would have put up a respectable defence against the A64 had they continued with it. My aunt had a 2.4 GHz Northwood back then, and my school friend a 2.66 GHz one. His struggled at first, but once he got more RAM and a GeForce FX 5700, it really flew. Still remember running through Delta Labs in Doom 3 at 60 fps! Reply
  • mode_13h - Wednesday, August 11, 2021 - link

    Prescott was rumored to have 64-bit support, though it wasn't enabled. I think that explains some of the additional pipeline depth.

    When Core 2 first launched, I was skeptical the IPC could increase so much that so much lower-clocked CPUs would really outperform their predecessors. It took me a little while to fully accept it. I was hopeful the final 65 nm iteration of Pentium 4 would finally let the Netburst architecture stretch its legs, but even that couldn't overcome its inefficiencies and other deficits.
  • GeoffreyA - Friday, August 13, 2021 - link

    Quite likely. Come to think of it, didn't the Pentium Ds have x64? And they were Prescotts.

    Indeed, 65 nm might have taken Northwood further. Would've made an interesting processor which we'll never see. As for their 31-stage brethren, the 65 nm Cedar Mills dropped power a fair bit.
  • GeoffreyA - Friday, August 13, 2021 - link

    "65 nm might have taken Northwood further"

    Well, we didn't even get to see a 90 nm one.
  • coolrock2008 - Wednesday, August 4, 2021 - link

    Ryzen 5 APUs Table, there is a typo. the 5600G is listed as an 8 core part whereas its listed as a 6 core part in the previous table. Reply
  • Wereweeb - Wednesday, August 4, 2021 - link

    I know how hard it is to actually publish something that is both excellently researched and at a moment the matter is still relevant. Thank you for your coverage.

    Plus, it's Anantech, the important parts here are the data and analysis, not how well a tired writer proofreads their own text.
  • Fulljack - Friday, August 6, 2021 - link

    I disagree. any researcher would say that proofreading are also as important as the analysis itself. it's how you serve the data and the analysis to broader audience, after all. Reply
  • dsplover - Wednesday, August 4, 2021 - link

    Three times the IPC of my beloved i7 4790k’s. I’ll try one, maybe a few as I don’t need the fastest.
    The cooler, fast enough is fine for my 1U builds.

    Thanks AMD. Tiger Lake never appeared, you win.
  • dsplover - Wednesday, August 4, 2021 - link

    I meant 30% more IPC… Reply

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