The Test

For our test setup, the only thing that's really changed is our use of the AMD Athlon 4600+ in the system. In order to compare dual core and single core numbers, we setup a multiboot by adding another option to our boot.ini file. Microsoft provides quite a few convenient boot options, including the ability to specify exactly which kernel and HAL to load. We opted to use the easier /ONECPU option which forces multiprocessor systems to ignore all but a single processor. This should give us essentially the same result as testing a 3800+ single core when used on our 4600+ system (2.4GHz with 512kb cache).

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ (2.4GHz/512kb)
Motherboard: ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe
Chipset: NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16
Chipset Drivers: nForce4 6.82
Memory: 2x 512MB OCZ PC3500 DDR 2-2-2-7
Video Card: ATI Radeon X1800 XL
Video Drivers: ATI Catalyst 5.11 (WHQL)
ATI Catalyst 5.12 (Beta)
Desktop Resolution: 1280x960 - 32-bit @ 85Hz
OS: Windows XP Professional SP2
Power Supply: OCZ PowerStream 600W PSU


ATI singled out Battlefield 2 and FarCry as games that got the best boost from the driver, so we absolutely wanted to include those in our first look at this new driver. To try to get a balanced view, we also included the two other games: Day of Defeat Source and Quake 4. As the driver gets nearer to release we will work on looking at more cards, more games, and more settings, but hopefully this quick test will answer the most pressing questions.

Index Performance Comparison: Cat 5.11 vs. Cat 5.12
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  • huges84 - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - link

    How much RAM did the test system have? Reply
  • Furen - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - link

    Since integrated graphics cards are the ones that (currently) lack things like vertex shaders, they probably will get a much more "dramatic" performance increase from dual-core drivers. Reply
  • Cybercat - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - link

    amazing improvements! At 800x600... Reply
  • Pannenkoek - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - link

    Indeed, I guess this article has only been posted because someone at Anandtech has worked on it, and didn't want to have wasted his time entirely for some beta drivers no one cares about. Reply
  • Cygni - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - link

    Ya, im sure all those people with Dual Core rigs, and all the people that will have Dual Core rigs by the end of this year (probably everybody on this board), doesnt care about Dual Core driver improvements.

    In other news, i hope that post was a joke...
    Reply
  • Pannenkoek - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - link

    This is a _beta_ driver, not a released driver. Anandtech could have waited for the actual release. Now we won't be seeing any article on the real thing when it will come out is my guess.

    Yeah, I'm sure all those people with bleeding edge dual core processors and newest generation ATi cards will rejoice at their 5 extra frames per second at the lowest humanly tolarable screen resolution in this age.

    Besides, it can only be pathetic if they actually get real performance improvements. On higher resolutions it would only show how lousy their drivers would be if they use that much CPU power to make an impact in benchmarks if the driver is off-loaded to another core. And on lower resolutions they apparently stall their rendering pipeline with current drivers. Thumbs up.

    Reply
  • Andyvan - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - link

    Are you seriously saying that it would be better to not know this? I was also under the impression that they were going to post a followup with more tests.

    -- Andyvan
    Reply
  • Pannenkoek - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - link

    I never said it would be better to not know this, whatever this may be. The article states explicitely that there'll be a follow up, I was a bit too cynic perhaps. ;-)

    The point is, there's a lot of fluff about some beta driver which "takes advantage of dual core". Earthshattering. It's the least any graphic card driver developer could do. And I welcome any comprehensive tests and article by Anandtech on real products. I just don't see any point in this article, especially not in the light of an upcoming "complete" article. (I see one: self-advertisement). Good effort by the Anandtech crowd, but it annoys me after all the other prerelease & beta & exclusive vapourware reviews.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Sunday, December 4, 2005 - link

    Keep in mind that ATI's drivers seldom change once they hit beta. Once they're in beta, ATI is usually done with any coding and internal testing, and they're simply handing these drivers out to their partners for testing to see if in the unlikely event a problem crops up. So I certainly wouldn't consider these drivers vaporware, since they will be in everyones hands in another week or so.

    As for why we did this article instead of waiting for the complete article, we felt it was more important for you to be able to see what ATI's dual-core changes are capable of now on the best of hardware, rather than wait longer for a full-comparison article. With the need to swap CPUs on top of everything else, it's going to take us some time to finish the full article. We can certainly wait until we have every last benchmark done, but we'd rather show what we have now and get feedback from you guys, rather than keep you in the dark any longer.=)
    Reply
  • bob661 - Monday, December 5, 2005 - link

    Don't mind him Ryan. Some people won't shop for a Ferrari until they can afford one. Reply

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