CPU Real World Performance

A small note on real world testing against synthetic testing – due to the way that DRAM affects a system, there can be a large disconnect between what we can observe in synthetic tests against real world testing. Synthetic tests are designed to exploit various feature XYZ, usually in an unrealistic scenario, such as pure memory read speeds or bandwidth numbers. While these are good for exploring the peak potential of a system, they often to not translate as well as CPU speed does if we invoke some common prosumer real world task. So while spending 10x on memory might show a large improvement in peak bandwidth numbers, users will have to weigh up the real world benefits in order to find the day-to-day difference when going for expensive hardware. Typically a limiting factor might be something else in the system, such as the size of a cache, so with all the will in the world a faster read speed won’t make much difference. As a result, we tend to stick to real world tests for almost all of our testing (with a couple of minor suggestions). Our benchmarks are either derived from areas such as transcoding a film or come from a regular software format such as molecular dynamics running a consistent scene.

Handbrake v0.9.9

For HandBrake, we take two videos (a 2h20 640x266 DVD rip and a 10min double UHD 3840x4320 animation short) and convert them to x264 format in an MP4 container.  Results are given in terms of the frames per second processed, and HandBrake uses as many threads as possible.

HandBrake v0.9.9 LQ Film

HandBrake v0.9.9 HQ Film

The low quality conversion is more reliant on CPU cycles available, while the high resolution conversion seems to have a very slight ~3% benefit moving up to DDR4-3000 memory.

WinRAR 5.01

Our WinRAR test from 2013 is updated to the latest version of WinRAR at the start of 2014. We compress a set of 2867 files across 320 folders totaling 1.52 GB in size – 95% of these files are small typical website files, and the rest (90% of the size) are small 30 second 720p videos.

WinRAR 5.01

The biggest difference showed a 5% gain over DDR4-2133 C15, although this seemed at random.

FastStone Image Viewer 4.9

FastStone Image Viewer is a free piece of software I have been using for quite a few years now. It allows quick viewing of flat images, as well as resizing, changing color depth, adding simple text or simple filters. It also has a bulk image conversion tool, which we use here. The software currently operates only in single-thread mode, which should change in later versions of the software. For this test, we convert a series of 170 files, of various resolutions, dimensions and types (of a total size of 163MB), all to the .gif format of 640x480 dimensions. Results shown are in seconds, lower is better.

FastStone Image Viewer 4.9

No difference between the memory speeds in FastStone.

x264 HD 3.0 Benchmark

The x264 HD Benchmark uses a common HD encoding tool to process an HD MPEG2 source at 1280x720 at 3963 Kbps. This test represents a standardized result which can be compared across other reviews, and is dependent on both CPU power and memory speed. The benchmark performs a 2-pass encode, and the results shown are the average frame rate of each pass performed four times. Higher is better this time around.

x264 HD 3.0, 1st Pass

x264 HD 3.0, 2nd Pass

The faster memory showed a 2.5% gain on the first pass, but less than a 1% gain in the second pass.

7-Zip 9.2

As an open source compression tool, 7-Zip is a popular tool for making sets of files easier to handle and transfer. The software offers up its own benchmark, to which we report the result.

7-Zip 9.2

At most a 2% gain was shown by 3000+ memory.

Mozilla Kraken 1.1

One of the more popular web benchmarks that stresses various codes, we run this benchmark in Chrome 35.

Mozilla Kraken 1.1

Kraken seemed to prefer the fast 1.2V memory, giving a 4.8% gain at DDR4-2800 C16, although this did not translate into the faster memory.

WebXPRT

A more in-depth web test featuring stock price rendering, image manipulation and face recognition algorithms, also run in Chrome 35.

WebXPRT

The DDR4-3200 gave an 11% gain over the base JEDEC memory, although this seemed to be more of a step than a slow rise.

Enabling XMP Memory Scaling on Haswell: Professional Performance
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  • menting - Friday, February 6, 2015 - link

    simulation software, pattern recognition, anything that does a lot of data analysis and/or data transformation. Heck, whatever an SSD's BW is good for, high BW memory can also be good for Reply
  • retrospooty - Sunday, February 8, 2015 - link

    Simulation and pat rec maybe, not that anyone uses it other than rare outliers... But Anything an SSD is good for? No, not at all. An SSD improves launch times for anything and everything from browsers to office apps, to graphic suite apps like Adobe CS to games. Everything that normal people do. HB ram improves almost zero for the vast majority of what people actually do with computers. Even what enthusiasts do. Reply
  • menting - Monday, February 9, 2015 - link

    "SSD improves launch times for anything and everything from browsers to office apps, to graphic suite apps like Adobe CS to games. Everything that normal people do". Exactly my point. Everything that normal people do. All that an SSD does is to provide faster storage (granted, it's non-dynamic storage, unlike DRAM) such that when a CPU can't find the data in the cache nor the DRAM, it can go to it for data. If you have enough DRAM, all these software can reside in DRAM (provided that power does not go out). Also, a smart algorithm will know what software you used before so it will keep some parts in memory so the next time you launch it it will be faster. And the speed that it can relaunch will heavily depend on DRAM BW.
    If you want to talk about rare outliers, people who are serious enough Adobe users or gamers who really get affected in a major way by using a SSD vs a traditional HD are rare outliers. I won't be surprised if the number of those people are on par or lower than people that use simulation software or pattern recognition software.
    BTW, if memory BW doesn't make much of a difference, why do graphic cards go for GDDRx instead of plain DDRx?
    Reply
  • retrospooty - Monday, February 9, 2015 - link

    "BTW, if memory BW doesn't make much of a difference, why do graphic cards go for GDDRx instead of plain DDRx?"

    You are seriously clouding the issue here. With a graphics card assuming you are utilizing it with a modern 3d game or such, would benefit immensely from memory bandwidth on the card... It hardly benefits at all from system RAM bandwidth. Like everything, memory bandwidth doubling while timing/latency more than doubles doesn't improve system performance much at all. Some cases ahve it diminishing performance. This is NOT about Video RAM, its system RAM and based on the Intel CPU architecture for the past 15+ years, improving memory bandwidth at the cost of latency doesn't help much...

    AGAIN, as I said in my original post - "We saw almost no improvement going from DDR400 cas2 to DDR3-1600 CAS10 now the same to DDR4 3000+ CAS [rediculous]
    Reply
  • menting - Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - link

    if you just want to talk about system RAM, the biggest blame is on software and CPU architecture, since with the exception of a few, are not optimized to take advantage of BW, only latency, even when the usage condition is ripe for doing so. Reply
  • retrospooty - Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - link

    This is an article about system RAM. Why would anyone be talking about video RAM? Agreed, it is a CPU architecture issue, however this is the world we live in and this is the CPU architecture we have... Intel is pretty much the top of the heap. Reply
  • FlushedBubblyJock - Sunday, February 15, 2015 - link

    Don't worry there are endless thousands of bonerheads who cannot wait to be "sporting" DDR4.
    For most, if they are made to think it should be faster, it is, no matter what occurs in reality.
    I'd say 75% of it is how happy hyped their mental attitude is about how awesome their new bonerhead equipment is marketed to be, including any errors and rumors about what it is they actually purchased and installed, which they in many cases are not clear on.
    Reply
  • xTRICKYxx - Thursday, February 5, 2015 - link

    This would be an interesting topic to return to when DDR4 becomes mainstream with higher speeds. Reply
  • WaitingForNehalem - Thursday, February 5, 2015 - link

    Now this is an excellent article. Thank you! Reply
  • ExarKun333 - Thursday, February 5, 2015 - link

    AMAZING article! Been waiting for this! :) Reply

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