Yonah vs. Dothan

We didn’t have much time to put together this piece, but at the same time we wanted to present the most complete picture of Yonah as possible, so we went back to our last Pentium M on the desktop article and configured our Yonah system identically so we’d have as close to an apples-to-apples comparison as possible.  Of course it is impossible to use the same motherboard, due to the socket differences we’ve already mentioned, but the rest of the systems are configured identically.  We apologize in advance for the brevity of the benchmark suite, in due time we will present an even more thorough look at Yonah, but for now we are working with what we’ve got.  Also keep in mind that the platform and processor are both pre-release samples, so performance could change, most likely for the better.

With that said, we've got a question and that is: how does Yonah stack up to Dothan?

Unfortunately, our Yonah only runs at 2.0GHz, and our reference Dothan numbers are from a 2.13GHz CPU - so we don’t get the clock for clock comparison we were hoping for, making it even more difficult for Yonah to impress.  Thankfully our first benchmark is clock speed independent as we look at how cache latencies have changed from Dothan to Yonah using ScienceMark 2.0:

   L1 Cache Latency    L2 Cache Latency  
Dothan 3 cycles 10 cycles
Yonah 3 cycles 14 cycles


And changed they have indeed.  If you’ll remember from our earlier desktop Pentium M investigations, Dothan’s very quick 10 cycle L2 cache allowed it to be competitive with AMD’s Athlon 64, despite lacking an on-die memory controller.  With the move to Yonah however, the L2 cache latency has gone up a whopping 40%.  While we’re still dealing with a lower access latency than the Pentium 4, this increase will hurt Yonah. 

We’re guessing that the increase in access latency is due to the new dynamically resizable L2 cache that’s used in Yonah.  In order to save power as well as maximize the use of the shared L2 cache between cores, Yonah can dynamically adjust the size of its L2 cache, flushing data to main memory when faced with low demand.  The associated logic is most likely at least partially to blame for the increase in L2 cache latency. 

So Yonah has a slower L2 cache working against it, but two cores and a handful of architectural enhancements working in its favor - let’s see how they stack up in the real world.

First up, we’ve got our business application tests:

   Business Winstone 2004  Communication (SYSMark 2004)  Document Creation (SYSMark 2004)  Data Analysis (SYSMark 2004)
Dothan (2.13GHz) 24.3 129 202 118
Yonah (2.0GHz) 21.6 146 215 138


Dothan has a sizeable lead in Business Winstone 2004, which we’ve always attributed to its low latency L2 cache.  Since the benchmark gets no benefits from dual core, and doesn’t take advantage of any of the SSE improvements to Yonah, the advantage is clearly in Dothan’s court. 

The SYSMark tests paint a different picture, with Yonah outpacing the faster clocked Dothan by 6 - 17%.  What’s interesting to note is that in these tests, the performance advantage isn’t exclusively attributable to the advantage of having two cores - Yonah’s architectural advancements are at work here as well. 

The digital content creation tests are where Yonah’s improvements should shine:

   Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2004  3D Content Creation (SYSMark 2004)  2D Content Creation (SYSMark 2004)  Web Publication (SYSMark 2004)
Dothan (2.13GHz) 29.8 188 255 169
Yonah (2.0GHz) 34.7 264 323 236


And shine they do; thanks to a combination of the move to dual core as well as the architectural improvements over Dothan, Yonah shows anywhere between a 16 - 40% increase in performance. 

   DivX   Doom 3  
Dothan 39.7 fps 95.5 fps
Yonah 57.5 fps 93.8 fps


The DivX test shows what we’ve pretty much seen across the board from dual core scaling in video encoding, so there’s no surprise there.  Our only gaming benchmark, Doom 3, shows a hazier picture with Dothan on top, and Yonah close behind.  We will investigate gaming performance of Yonah much closer later on.  

What we can walk away from these benchmarks with is an idea of the level of improvement to expect from Yonah, but now comes the real test - how does it stack up against other desktop processors, especially the Athlon 64 X2. 

Same Size, but Twice the Cores Business Application Performance


View All Comments

  • NeonAura - Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - link

    Yonah seems pretty good. Looks to be doing a good job. But I wonder, how much is that 2.0 ghz Yonah chip going to cost? Retail at launch: $400-$450 is my guess. An AMD X2 3800+ is cheaper than that by a bit, and barely sacrifices any performance. The thing is, AMD is just sitting here watching Intel like Intel used to watch them. AMD is waiting for Intel's next move, meanwhile they're ready to start pimping out some fine chips. The Yonah is going to be released Jan-Feb 2006, while the X2's were released June 2005.

    AMD will be ready for Intel, Intel just doesn't know it yet. I'm not a fanboi, but Intel is going to have to throw up some hail marys to take down AMD with the Yonah, Conroe or whatever chips they may have coming. Because AMD hasn't been sitting on their behinds for the past six months. AMD is just being secretive, they want to surprise Intel by putting out their chip that they haven't really talked about right at the same time as Intel puts out Yonah.

    AMD will be playing the same game as Intel soon enough, and Intel better put these chips as cheap as they possibly can or they'll be taken down.
  • mav99 - Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - link

    1. intel has confirmed that merom will be compatible with the new upcoming yonah motherboards. you only need a bios update.

    2. the chipset should support ddr2-667 to match the 667 fsb. why did they use ddr2-533 for the article?
  • yzkbug - Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - link

    My main concern is whether new Conroe/Merom will be compatible with Yonah socket. I hate upgrading the motherboard every time I upgrade my CPU. AMD is definitely better in this respect. Reply
  • Zebo - Friday, December 02, 2005 - link

    Well times are changing- No more 5 years of socket A. AMD doing like Intel nowerdays switching sockets every year..year and half. M2 is coming next year. Before that we had 940 for FX's then 754 and now 939... Reply
  • fitten - Thursday, December 01, 2005 - link

    I typically upgrade my motherboard when I upgrade the CPU as well.... even on my AMD systems. By the time I'm ready to upgrade the CPU, there are typically better boards (more features, better chipset, etc.) around to take better advantage.

    Example, if you bought a Via chipset board with your first Athlon64, it's probably worth spending the extra $85 for a new motherboard to get an nForce4 or better chipset with your new CPU. You can probably get an increase in performance just keeping your old CPU and upgrading the motherboard... especially in features.
  • Shintai - Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - link

    Merom yes, Conroe..will both yes and no. Conroe will use 1066FSB, Meron/Yonah 667FSB. So a Conroe on a Yonah board might be slow due to FSB and multiplier. Reply
  • Leper Messiah - Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - link

    Sooo...yeah. Intel's possible $500+ notebook part thats coming out next year is competive with AMD's currently out $325 desktop part in basically all things, ya know. Except that price thing, and that whole 64-bit thing. Be interesting to see the OC numbers on this and how high they want to take the speeds. As of right now though, meh. Reply
  • fitten - Thursday, December 01, 2005 - link

    Those are pretty good things for a chip destined for your laptop to have... which is where that X2 won't be going (for obvious reasons).

    If you look at this article as being a comparison of desktop systems, then it is pretty ho-hum. If you look at it like you'll be able to have this in a (hopefully) 4-5 lbs laptop and still get over 3 hours (maybe even up to 5) off a battery while you are on the road, then it is a bit more interesting.
  • Leper Messiah - Thursday, December 01, 2005 - link

    See, I (and quite frankly most people) don't even need dual core performance in a laptop. The only way I could actually see my self going out and actually spending money on either one, Yonah or dual core turion is if it was to be my only computer. I don't understand why lap top users need this much power. And I guarentee Intel will make it uber expensive. Reply
  • stateofbeasley - Thursday, December 01, 2005 - link


    The price points are the same as existing Pentium M processors. I don't know why people make the assumption that Yonah will somehow be super expensive, because that's just not true.

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