Articles: CPU

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Performance in Applications

To test the processors performance during data archiving we resort to WinRAR archiving utility. Using maximum compression rate we archive a folder with multiple files with 1.1 GB total size.

3000-series Core i3 processors are as usual a few percents ahead of their predecessors, but fall significantly behind the quad-core Core i5. The six-core Bulldozer also outperforms our today’s heroes.

The processor performance in cryptographic tasks is measured using a built-in benchmark of the popular TrueCrypt utility that uses AES-Twofish-Serpent “triple” encryption. I have to say that this utility not only loads any number of cores with work in a very efficient manner, but also supports special AES instructions.

Encryption is an example of a task where Core i3 processors reveal their weaknesses. Sufficient number of computational cores and AES instructions support are necessary to ensure that encryption algorithms will work fast. Core i3 with Ivy Bridge microarchitecture doesn’t have either of these. The result is obvious: they fall behind all of their competitors with the exception of the processors on Sandy Bridge microarchitecture.

Now that the eighth version of the popular scientific Mathematica suite is available, we decided to bring it back as one of our regular benchmarks. We use MathematicaMark8 integrated into this suite to test the systems performance:

Wolfram Mathematica is traditionally one of those applications that work well on Intel processors. Therefore, we are not surprised to see that dual-core Core i3 are way ahead of the quad-core and six-core AMD processors. Other than that the picture is quite common. Since all contemporary Intel processors have very close clock frequencies, Ivy Bridge CPUs are always a little bit ahead of the Sandy Bridge ones, and four fully-functional cores are always better than two cores with activated Hyper-Threading support.

We measured the performance in Adobe Photoshop CS6 using our own benchmark made from Retouch Artists Photoshop Speed Test that has been creatively modified. It includes typical editing of four 24-megapixel images from a digital photo camera.

New Ivy Bridge microarchitecture provides about 6% performance boost in Adobe Photoshop (provided the processors work at consistent clock frequencies). This is true for Core i5 as well as for different Core i3 modifications. However, this boost is obviously not enough to compare the 3000-series Core i3 processors at least against the old Core i5 on Sandy Bridge microarchitecture.

The performance in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 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.

HD video processing and transcoding is not a common task for inexpensive Core i3 processors. And in fact, it is not a really good fit for them anyway, because the number of computational cores does matter a lot here. As a result, Core i3 processors from the 3000-series perform as fast as the quad-core Bulldozer and fall behind their higher-end quad-core counterparts by more than 30%. However, we can’t deny that Ivy Bridge microarchitecture is indeed superior to Sandy Bridge here. New Core i3 are as much as 7% faster there than the old Core i3 processors. In fact, Premiere Pro should be regarded as one of those applications that let the new microarchitecture really show its strong sides.

In order to measure how fast our testing participants can transcode a video into H.264 format we used x264 HD Benchmark 5.0. It works with an original MPEG-2 video recorded in 1080p resolution with 20 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.

Everything we have just said about Adobe Premiere Pro is true here, too. Video transcoding doesn’t work too fast on dual-core processors, and Hyper-Threading technology doesn’t really make up that well for the lack of physical computational cores. Therefore, Core i3 processors lose even to AMD Llano and AMD Bulldozer with at least four cores during the second and the most resource-consuming transcoding pass.

Following our readers’ requests, we’ve added a new HD video benchmark to our tests. SVPmark3 shows the computer performance in the SmoothVideo Project application which makes videos smoother by adding new intermediary frames. The numbers in the diagram reflect the speed of processing Full HD videos without the graphics card’s help.

HD video processing is not the best environment for Core i3 processors. Even taking into account their low price point, we can’t recommend Core i3 for the tasks like that. Inexpensive AMD products with Bulldozer microarchitecture with more computational cores inside will do much better here.

We will test computational performance and rendering speeds in Autodesk 3ds max 2011 using the special SPECapc for 3ds max 2011 benchmark:

The processors usually perform the same way in rendering tasks as they do during video transcoding. However, things are different this time. Here dual-core Core i3 with Ivy Bridge microarchitecture perform as fast as the quad-core competitor CPUs.

We use special Cinebench 11.5 benchmark to test final rendering speed in Maxon Cinema 4D suite.

Dual-core Core i3 processors look pretty good against the background of the AMD quad-core products. Two Intel cores deliver about the same performance. However, if we compare Core i3 against Core i5, it becomes obvious that four Core cores are a much faster option. Unlike Core i5, Core i3 processor is a product, which functionality has been limited for the purpose of lowering the price, and activated even Hyper-Threading technology cannot fully make up for the limited number of physical cores.

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