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Serious Sam 2

Although the Serious Sam 2 shooter released recently has been receiving pretty controversial feedback from the gaming community, we decided to include it into our today’s test session. On the one hand, Serious Sam 2 appeared very sensitive to the power of hardware resources, and on the other hand, it uses a lot of contemporary algorithms for physics models and AI calculations, i.e. uses a lot of CPU power. Unlike many other shooters Serious Sam 2 manages to load with plenty of work even the today’s fastest processors.

The minimal system requirements for the Serious Sam 2 game provided by the developer are very similar to those set for F.E.A.R. Although, Serious Sam 2 uses these resources in a completely different way. The calculations of gaming physics and enemies’ behavior may eat up to 30% of the time during frames rendering. This happens because Serious Sam 2 is rich in all sorts of monsters and diverse objects. As a result, the fps rate remains dependent on the CPU speed even when the graphics settings are close to the absolute maximum.

Just like in the previous case, we carried out our performance tests with Medium graphics quality settings, in order to make the dependence of the fps rate on the CPU speed more evident. However, we would like to stress that in this particular game the Medium settings imply the use of 2x FSAA and 2x anisotropic filtering.

What we see here, is a pleasing sight for AMD fans again. CPUs with K8 architecture are significantly faster than their competitors from Intel. It looks like during image rendering Serious Sam 2 uses a lot of computational algorithms, which have always been AMD’s trump. Athlon 64 processors with the performance rating over 3200+ outperform any of the Pentium 4 solutions available in the today’s market.

However, the major intrigue is not about the victory of Athlon 64 over Pentium 4. As you can see from the diagram, CPUs with two computational cores run faster in Serious Sam 2 than single-core processors working at the same frequency. It means that this game uses parallel computational threads actively enough, and it is a very big achievement, because there hasn’t been a single game yet that could boast anything like that.

Here is a CPU utilization graph for the dual-core processor during Serious Sam 2 gameplay:

This graph was taken from a system with the dual-core Athlon 64 X2 4800+ processor. As we see, the overall CPU utilization stays around 60%. It means that Serious Sam 2 also involves the second computational core. However, it would be not quite fair to praise only Croteam guys for the implementation of dual-core support. I have to point out NVIDIA drivers also started supporting dual-core architectures. ForceWare version 81.xx allows enjoying the advantages of dual-core technology in DirectX as well as in OpenGL.

Dual-core Athlon 64 X2 processors perform outstanding in Serious Sam 2. Athlon 64 X2 4800+ working at the actual 2.4GHz frequency outperforms even Athlon 64 FX-57 working at 2.8GHz nominal clock rate. Unfortunately, dual-core Intel processors cannot boast anything like that. Even though they are faster than their single-core counterparts working at the same clock frequency, this performance advantage is really tiny. Intel’s dual-core architecture is not as efficient for the fps rate as AMD’s one for some reason.

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