Wolfdale vs. Conroe Performance

We had heard rumors of Intel introducing a faster, lower latency L2 cache in Wolfdale and it appears to be true:

 CPU ScienceMark L2 Latency (64-byte stride)
CPU-Z 1.40 (8192KB, 128-byte stride) CPU-Z 1.40 (8192KB, 64-byte stride)
Conroe - 2.33GHz 13 cycles 66.87 ns 15 ns
Wolfdale - 2.33GHz 12 cycles 48.86 ns 9.43 ns


Not only is Wolfdale's L2 cache larger, but it also happens to be slightly faster than its predecessor. Intel has shaved off a single clock cycle from Wolfdale's L2 access time; we're already off to a good start.

If you want a quick glance at what Wolfdale will offer, the chart below will give you just that. We've taken some of our normal CPU benchmarks and ran them on a 2.33GHz Conroe as well as our 2.33GHz Wolfdale, the chart below illustrates percent performance improvement of Wolfdale over Conroe at the same clock speed:

Let's point out the zeros first: SYSMark, iTunes and Oblivion all showed no performance increase from Conroe to Wolfdale. Not all applications will benefit dramatically from the improved cache or architectural improvements and these are examples of some.

The DivX 6.6 test shows a particularly impressive 10.5% increase in performance, especially when you keep in mind that we are running the same DivX test we always run and not an SSE4 optimized benchmark. If you'll remember back to our Intel-sanctioned Penryn preview, with SSE4 enabled Penryn's DivX performance skyrocketed. But this test here shows us that even without SSE4 optimizations, Wolfdale is a healthy 10% faster than Conroe. Windows Media Encoder 9 saw a 5.4% increase in performance, which is still tangible.

Wolfdale also seems to do quite well in 3D rendering apps, giving us 6.7% better performance in 3dsmax 9 and a similar boost in Lightwave. Cinebench performance improved even further at 9.1%.

Gaming performance is a bit of a mixed bag; we saw everything from Oblivion's 0.4% performance improvement to 8.5% under Lost Planet. Wolfdale is good for gaming, but the degree is very title dependent.

On average, Wolfdale ends up being just under 5% faster clock-for-clock than Conroe. Definitely not an earth shattering improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. Focusing in on specific benchmarks, Wolfdale can look even more impressive. Without taking SSE4 performance into account as we don't know how widespread SSE4 applications will be upon its arrival, Wolfdale will simply make competing more difficult for AMD's Phenom, but not impossible.

Penryn's Launch Schedule Power Consumption


View All Comments

  • Reynod - Saturday, September 1, 2007 - link

    Another great article Anand.

    Informative and helpful.

    I really hope your doing something similar with the new AMD cpu and will wait and see what you write.

    Like many people thinking of upgrading I await what AMD will offer after the 10th of Septenber ... but its clear Intel have a range of strong offerings at present.

    All we need now is to see what CPU design Nvidia are cooking up ... heh heh.

    We might end up with 3 competing complete platform (cpu, chipset, graphics) providers ... ??

    Maybe that's why Intel is trying so hard to crush AMD at the moment ... wars on two fronts are much more difficult than one !!
  • Lord Evermore - Sunday, August 26, 2007 - link


    Under load however (running our WME9 test) the total system power consumption gap increases to 12.6W

    189.1 - 170.3

    I don't see a 12.6W power difference in that chart. I see 18.8W. 12.6 isn't even the amount it changed from the idle draw.

    At least you got the percentage calculations correct for a decrease (difference/Conroe instead of difference/Penryn).
  • Lord Evermore - Sunday, August 26, 2007 - link

    For that matter, I just noticed the percentage was measured using the correct 18.8W measurement. Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Saturday, August 25, 2007 - link

    Great review! This is valuable information, to know how Intel's next-year CPUs will perform. Reply
  • Carfax - Saturday, August 25, 2007 - link

    Does anyone know what resolution the game benches were run at?

    These benchmarks vary considerably compared to the HKepc ones, which could be explained if Anandtech ran the benches at a higher resolution compared to HKepc.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Saturday, August 25, 2007 - link

    You're missing the whole point. The two sites aren't necessarily using the same graphics card, other hardware, exact test conditions, same driver, etc. If you want to see framerates, read a regular review on a game or graphics card. Anandtech's benchmark set the resolution very low so that it would be CPU-limited. Reply
  • ShowsOn - Friday, August 24, 2007 - link

    I'm wondering if the x264 video encoder could become a new benchmark?

    There is already a set of benchmark files http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?t=122318">herethat provide a consistent encoding task.

    Numerous people in the doom9 forums have already run the benchmark, http://img508.imageshack.us/img508/8092/couper12nx...">which has produced the following chart.

    It would be fascinating to see how much faster - clock for clock - the penryn cores are on this particular task.
  • coldpower27 - Thursday, August 23, 2007 - link

    I must have missed it by could you tell me what resolutions you used in the gaming tests? Reply
  • Affectionate-Bed-980 - Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - link

    I'm sorry but anytime you introduce a new CPU we all expect IN DEPTH articles. No, we don't want a quickie that just touches a few things and a few benchmarks so you can shoot this out the door and say "Hey! I got the first article out!"

    Sure it may be a preview because the chips aren't officially out yet and these are merely engineering samples.

    The biggest complaint was OCing. If you're not going to even do a little minor OC with different voltages, then what the hell is the point of putting a tease up there.

    Anyways.. seriously. I expect more detailed articles than this if you're going to review some piece of hot technology...
  • DarthAgitated - Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - link

    My god man.. Did you pay for this article.. Did someone give you a choice to read this article or spend 15 minutes with a model and you chose the article?

    It's a preview. Of a cpu that's not coming for another couple of months. From a company that usually makes people sign NDA's up the ying yang so you can't report on anything.

    Damn them for managing to get a cpu in advance and telling us something about it. And in case you don't know, intel can tell when a cpu is overvolted. But I suppose they should have possibly fried it or hand it back to their mole and let him try and explain to Intel why their cpu was overvolted or fried. Maybe you can tell the people at anandtech how far they can overvolt a new 45nm cpu..

    Knowing what a cpu can be overclocked to on standard voltages is kind of a good thing to know. Knowing something about performance is probably a good thing to know. Any info is good info.

    Unless it's a press release. Then it's usually useless.

    Thanks for being a downer.


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