AM2/Core 2 Duo Latency and Memory Bandwidth

The introduction of AM2 merely increased the AMD latency advantage. AM2 latency was slightly lower than DDR latency on AMD.

Memory Latency Comparison - Conroe & AM2

However, Core 2 Duo did what most believed was impossible in Latency. One of AMD's advantages is the on-processor memory controller, which Intel has avoided. It should not be possible to use a Memory Controller in the chipset on the motherboard instead and achieve lower latency. Intel developed read-ahead technologies that don't really break this rule, but to the system, in some situations, the Intel Core 2 Duo appears to have lower latency than AM2, and the memory controller functions as if it were lower latency.

Memory Bandwidth

The other part of the memory performance equation is memory bandwidth, and here you may be surprised, based on Conroe's performance lead, to see the changes Core 2 Duo has brought. Results are the average of ALU/FPU results on Sandra 2007 Standard (Buffered) memory performance test. We used the same memory on all three systems, and the fastest memory timings possible were used at each memory speed.

The results are not a mistake. In standard memory bandwidth, Core 2 Duo has lower memory bandwidth than either AM2 or Intel NetBurst. It is almost as if the tables have turned around. AMD had lower bandwidth with DDR than Intel NetBurst, and the Athlon64 outperformed Intel NetBurst. Now Conroe has the poorest Memory Bandwidth of any of the three processors, yet Conroe has a very large performance lead. It appears Conroe, with shallower pipes and an optimized read-ahead memory controller to lower apparent latency, makes best use of the memory bandwidth available.

Perhaps the most interesting statistics are that the huge increases in memory bandwidth brought by AM2 make almost no difference in AM2 performance compared to the earlier DDR-based Athlon64. With this perspective let's take a closer look at DDR2 memory performance on AM2 and Core 2 Duo. This will include as close to an apples-to-apples comparison of Core 2 Duo and AM2 as we can create.

DDR/NetBurst Memory Bandwidth and Latency Memory Test Configuration


View All Comments

  • Calin - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    I hate to rain on your parade, but the E6x00 and X6800 (Extreme) desktop CPU won't see a dual socket mainboard - for that you must use Xeons.
    As for multisocket, it was a niche market when multicore was not available, it is (maybe even more so) when multicore is available. Quad core will reduce it even more for desktop use. As for Intel knowing multicore is the future, I think their quad core will be on market before AMD's quad core - and if you are worrying about performance, keep worrying - we can small talk about this and that all day long.

    AMD is in a much weaker position now - they must sell processors at half (or less) the profit they sold them until now, and the future is grim if you regard their profits. They could survive a long way, but they again are the budget CPUs, the best choice for small money.

    As for 64-bit, you are certainly right - just that right now, 64-bit is of little use on desktop, the operating systems suffer from drivers problems, 64-bit applications are few and far between. You might need 64-bit and profit from it, but you are a minority now.
  • Ingas - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    Maybe AMD in trouble.
    But not because of Core 2 Duo, but because of Woodcrest.

    AMD alwais said that only server processors giving profit.

    So ...
    With Dell's AMD Now - maybe it's not trouble for AMD at all.
  • Calin - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    Dell will only build enough AMD gear as not to lose business with their customers that WANT AMD gear. Even with higher performance losses on 4 sockets, Xeons Core2Duo (which are faster to boot) might put a fair fight against AMD - and then customers will choose based on other things than performance.
    I agree AMD Opteron scale better - but they start scaling from a lower performance
  • duploxxx - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    do you really think you're sure about that. compare the same speed of opteron vs woodcrest and you will talk different.. i know how it performs because i have a wood es system on my table. and i am not a big fan of hexus reviews but look at the site, the wood isn't so bright and shining knowing again it is a compare of 3.0 vs 2.6. Reply
  • mesyn191 - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    For 2S systems Intel will have the lead til' K8L becomes available, but for 4S AMD will have Intel beat and that lead will only increase when K8L becomes available. They're definitly gonna be hurting profit wise, but they'll be doing better than they were when it was P4C vs. AXP and they got through that so I see no reason to worry about them going into bankruptcy before K8L comes out in volume. Reply
  • sld - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    What is wrong with a desktop user looking at the performance of a desktop cpu?

    When you can get a 4x4 at the same price/performance ratio curve as a Core 2 Duo, do please inform me.

    I still believe AMD vs Intel is a David vs Goliath, although like the real David, AMD is beginning to get complacent with just a taste of power, and Core 2 is just what it needs to wake up and start dropping prices. :)
  • sld - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    I forgot to mention that Core 2 is worth a consideration over the K8, but if we really want to punish Intel for being the monster they are, we should institute a complete boycott over the purchase of their existing Netburst inventory. That should hurt them quite a bit...

    Picture a scenario where new chips go straight out of the warehouse and into the embracing arm of a bulldozer. When it comes to that point do you think they will resort to giving the cpus away?
  • mattsaccount - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    Are the Super Pi scores on page 7 right? The text says Conroe wins everything, but the Super Pi bench is reversed (I'm guessing the colors are just backward) Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    Since the lower score is better on Super Pi (faster time) the scales are reversed - from zero at the top to 90 at the bottom. The colors and values are correct, just upside down so the lowest score (fastest) is on the top like the other charts. You apparently caught that while I was typing this explanation :) Reply
  • highlandsun - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    Have you got 32M digit results for Super Pi? Curious to see if that will exceed Conroe's cache and therefore reflect the real memory bandwidth. Also, results for running two copies of Super Pi at once on each system.

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