Nehalem's Media Encoding Performance

We had time to run two of our media encoding tests: the DivX 6.8 and x264 workloads.

DivX 6.8 with Xmpeg

Our DivX test is the same one we've run in our regular CPU reviews, we're simply encoding a 1080p MPEG-2 file in DivX. We are using an unconstrained profile, encoding preset of 5 and enhanced multithreading is enabled.

The DivX test is an important one as it doesn't scale well at all beyond four threads, any performance advantage Nehalem has here is entirely due to microarchitectural improvements and not influenced by its ability to work on twice as many threads at once.

DivX 6.8 w/ Xmpeg 5.0.3

Clock for clock, Nehalem is nearly 28% faster than Penryn in our DivX test. Even better is when you put this performance in perspective: at 2.66GHz Nehalem is faster than the fastest Penryn available today the Core 2 Extreme QX9770 running at 3.2GHz. At 3.2GHz, Nehalem will be fast. The improvements in performance here are entirely due to the faster L2 cache and micro-architectural gains; being able to have more micro-ops in flight and improved unaligned cache accesses give us a significant improvement in video encoding performance.

The last time we saw these sorts of performance gains was when Conroe first launched.

x264 Encoding with AutoMKV

Using AutoMKV we compress the same source file we used in our WME test down to 100MB, but with the x264 codec. We used the 2_Pass_Insane_Quality profile:

x264 w/ AutoMKV 

Encoding performance here went through the roof with Nehalem: a clock for clock boost of 44%. Once more, Nehalem at today's artificially limited, modest clock speed is already faster than any Penryn out today. What Intel did to AMD in 2006, it is doing to itself in 2008. Amazing.

A Quick Path to Memory Faster Unaligned Cache Accesses & 3D Rendering Performance
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  • Poepstamper - Thursday, June 5, 2008 - link

    im not a fanboy but i like AMD better,i dont like big corporations anyways.
    but im pretty worried if AMD has no answer to this,then we would have to pay lots more for a processor.
  • Genx87 - Thursday, June 5, 2008 - link

    Being an AMD fan and sometimes fanboi over the past 12 years. My last major game rig build was a Core 2 Duo 6600. I did an upgrade 3 weeks ago with an E8400. I built a new computer for a friend who has had AMD chips since 1999 with an E7200.

    AMD needs to start making a show.
  • NullSubroutine - Thursday, June 5, 2008 - link

    First off, I am not a fan of either company, just to get that out of the way.

    You do realize that Nehalem is not or will not be a mainstream product for quite some time into 2009. Enthusiast may get a few chips in limited quantities, probably in the $1500+ range. Otherwise this is designed to be a high end Server processor. It will take some time for it to trickle down to be something most average people will buy and use.

    Intel is hitting back the same way AMD hit at Intel back with the K8. Making a great scaleable high performance server chip and letting it trickle its way down to the mainstream market.

    Trying to compare Nehalem to any AMD processor (or even most Core2/quad) is like trying to compare a Chevy Mailibu to a Formula 1 race car, its just not the same thing.

    What is exciting about Nehalem right now is the technological advancement of some of the stuff Intel has done, and the happiness that it will one day be availble mainstream.

    AMD is not going to be put in a bad position (other than the one its already in) in the mainstream desktop market with Nehalem - not for probably near another year. It will hurt it in the Server market, but at first Intel wont have many of these chips availible, so AMD will have a minor chance with a Shanghai or Bulldozer core - if they can actually execute a launch.

    AMD is also not trying to stay equal with Intel, it doesnt have the resources to do it. You are likely, in any near time frame, going to see AMD come out and just PWN Intel in performance numbers. You will see AMD put together what they call a good 'platform' meaning. You can buy your whole platform, MB/CPU/GPU/etc from AMD and it will be a solid platform.

    It's not going to win bragging rights to a bunch of 'nerds' running gaming websites claming how AMD sucks so much. You will probably see that actually, people saying how 1500 dollar processor pwns some 200 dollar one. AMD isnt currently trying to win performance crowns or win over enthusiast that spend boat loads of money on a CPU (or GPU) they are trying to push the mainstream market, which actually has the largest number of people to sell to. However I am sure they would like to keep their server side doing well (it makes good margins).

    I don't think you are going to see an AMD come back to any pure performance crowns. You may some crowns for price/performance/power for the whole platform.
  • NullSubroutine - Thursday, June 5, 2008 - link

    supposed to say You are NOT likely to see AMD come PWN Intel...

    And you could compare 8 series Opteron to Nehalem...
  • AmberClad - Thursday, June 5, 2008 - link

    That picture of the socket -- I only recall a single board with that colored PCB in the INQ's coverage of the wall of Nehalem boards. Maybe that picture is giving away more than intended, as far as the identity of the company that provided the sample? (I suppose it's possible that whoever leaked the Nehalem sample isn't the same person that provided the motherboard.)
  • RaynorWolfcastle - Thursday, June 5, 2008 - link

    These benches are mighty impressive for such an immature platform. There had better be some serious performance and clock speed bumps in store for AMD's K10.5 or they will be dead in the water.

    Also, is there any indication as to when Intel will start transitioning Nehalem to the mobile space? I have a 1st gen (Core Duo) MacBook Pro that's getting a little long in the tooth and I'm debating whether to jump on the Montevina train or wait for Nehalem mobile. I'd love to get a mobile Nehalem if it launches any time in 1H09.
  • emboss - Friday, June 6, 2008 - link

    Non-Extremely-Expensive-Edition single-socket Nehalems now aren't coming until sometime in 2H09, so you'll probably be lucky to see any mobile Nehalems in 2009 at all.

    As such, I'd say Intel failed to tick on time. Conroe hit mainstream July 06 (eg: E6400). We should be getting mainstream Nehalems in 1 month, not 12+ months.

    Then again, Intel has been futzing around with the release dates quite a bit, so it may get pulled forward.
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, June 5, 2008 - link

    Because Nehalem is frankly so much faster than the already rapid Core 2, that as already said, AMD is going to be struggling for a long time to come.

    Unless some miracle occurs, all I know is right now I want Nehalem.
  • TonyB - Thursday, June 5, 2008 - link

    can it play crysis
  • PeteRoy - Thursday, June 5, 2008 - link

    Exactly, where are the gaming performance? It's the first thing I care about by a long way.

    I don't do all the other stuff you benched on my PC.

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