Articles: CPU

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Audio and Video Transcoding

We use Apple iTunes utility to test audio transcoding speed. It transcodes the contents of a CD disk into AAC format. Note that the typical peculiarity of this utility is its ability to utilize only a pair of processor cores.

The only thing that AMD processor can rely on in this rivalry with Core i3-2100 is its four fully-functional x86 cores. However, if the application can’t fully utilize them, the outcome is pre-determined. So, it is not surprising that A8-3800 was so slow in the iTunes test.

In order to measure how fast our testing participants can transcode a video into H.264 format we used x264 HD benchmark. It works with an original MPEG-2 video recorded in 720p resolution with 4 Mbps bitrate. I have to say that the results of this test are of great practical value, because the x264 codec is also part of numerous popular transcoding utilities, such as HandBrake, MeGUI, VirtualDub, etc.

x264 codec works pretty well on AMD processors. Moreover, it can effectively utilize all processor cores. That is why in this benchmark A8-3800 outperforms both – Pentium G850 as well as Core i3-2100. But lower clock frequency makes it fall behind the previous-generation Athlon II X4 630.

The performance in Adobe Premiere Pro is determined by the time it takes to render a Blu-ray project with a HDV 1080p25 video into H.264 format and apply different special effects to it.

A8-3800 does pretty well in Premiere Pro CS5. Four slow Husky cores outperform two fast Sandy Bridge cores in video processing tasks and the overall picture is hardly different from what we have just seen on the previous diagram.

We decided to add Cyberlink Media Espresso 6.5 to the list of benchmarks we use for video transcoding speed tests. This utility is particularly interesting because it allows using the graphics accelerator resources. We measured the time it took to transcode a small 10-minute H.264 1080p video clip into an iPhone 4-friendly format (H.264, 1280x720, 4 Mbps). In all tests we enabled ATI Stream technology supported by our Radeon HD 6970 graphics card, which accelerated the transcoding process.

This is the first application for HD video processing and the result is the same: A8-3800 falls somewhere between Pentium G850 and Core i3-2100.

Final Rendering

We use special Cinebench test to measure the final rendering speed in Maxon Cinema 4D.

Rendering is somewhat similar to video transcoding. Both these tasks scale beautifully as the number of available processor cores increases. That is why the results are quite predictable. A8-3800 outperforms the dual-core Pentium G850, but yields to the dual-core Core i3-2100, which is enforced with Hyper-Threading support.

Rendering speed in Autodesk 3ds max 2011 with both, Scanline as well as Mental Ray, was measured using SPECapc test.

The new A8-3800 runs at about the same speed in all applications supporting multi-threading. We could say that in these cases quad-core AMD processors demonstrate acceptable performance for this price range, however, they do compete against dual-core Sandy Bridge. So, if it comes to applications that aren’t so good at multi-threading, then A8-3800 immediately turns into an outsider. A particular disappointment about Llano is its low clock speed. This is the reason why A8 APU falls behind Athlon II X4, because the minor microarchitectural improvements have very little effect after all.

In other words, Llano processors are not the best choice for a system equipped with an external graphics card. Previous generation quad-core Socket AM3 processors, not to mention the competition, can deliver much higher performance.

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