Intel Dual Core Performance Preview Part I: First Encounterby Anand Lal Shimpi on April 4, 2005 2:44 PM EST
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Multitasking Scenario 1: DVD Shrink
If you've ever tried to backup a DVD, you know that the process can take a long time. Just ripping the disc to your hard drive will eat up a good 20 minutes, and then there's the encoding. The encoding can easily take between 20 - 45 minutes depending on the speed of your CPU, and once you start doing other tasks in the background, you can expect those times to grow even longer.
For this test, we used DVD Shrink, one of the simplest applications available to compress and re-encode a DVD to fit on a single 4.5GB disc. We ran DVD Decrypt on the Star Wars Episode VI DVD so that we had a local copy of the DVD on our test bed hard drive (in a future version of the test, we may try to include DVD Decrypt performance in our benchmark as well). All of the DVD Shrink settings were left at default, including telling the program to assume a low priority, a setting many users check in order to be able to do other things while DVD Shrink is working.
As a single application with no multitasking involved, here's how DVD Shrink performs:
As you can see, the new dual core chips can shrink a DVD in about 70% of the time of the 3.73EE. But what happens to performance when you start doing other things in the background?
In order to find out, we did the following:
1) Open Firefox and load the following web pages in tabs (we used local copies of all of the web pages):
We kept the browser on the AT front page.
2) Open iTunes and start playing the latest album of avid AnandTech reader 50 Cent on repeat all.
3) Open Newsleecher.
4) Open DVD Shrink.
5) Login to our news server and start downloading headers for our subscribed news groups.
6) Start backup of Star Wars Episode VI - Return of the Jedi. All default settings, including low priority.
DVD Shrink was the application in focus; this matters because by default, Windows gives special scheduling priority to the application currently in the foreground (we will test what happens when it's not in the foreground later in this article). We waited until the DVD Shrink operation was complete and recorded its completion time. Below are the results:
Now, we start to see where dual core helps. In this relatively simple multitasking scenario, the DVD shrink task took more than twice as long on single core CPUs than it did on dual core chips. The Pentium 4 without Hyper Threading took a full 35 minutes to complete the task, compared to the 9.3 minutes of the dual core Pentium Extreme Edition. Even the fastest from AMD couldn't hold a candle to the dual core offerings.
And this was only with a minimal amount of multitasking. Had more applications been running or had actual user interaction taken place during the test, the dual vs. single core gap would've grown even more.