Articles: CPU

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General Performance

As usual, we use Bapco SYSmark 2012 suite to estimate the processor performance in general-purpose tasks. It emulates the usage models in popular office and digital content creation and processing applications. The idea behind this test is fairly simple: it produces a single score characterizing the average computer performance. After the launch of Windows 8 SYSmark 2012 got updated to version 1.5, and this is exactly the version e are using in our test session.

The microarchitectural improvements implemented in the Haswell design lead to a clear advantage of the new Core i5 over their 3000 series predecessors even at the same clock rates. This advantage amounts to about 10%, which is comparable to the gap between the Core i7-4770K and Core i7-3770K we saw in our earlier tests. This makes the flagship Core i5 with Ivy Bridge design comparable only to the midrange Haswell-based Core i5 models: the Core i5-3570K falls behind the Core i5-4570. This is no breakthrough, though. The new Core i5 are just a little faster than the older ones. For example, the newest Core i5-4670K is only 16% faster than the old Core i5-2550K, which is hardly much progress considering the gap of two generations between them. On the other hand, Intel can afford to update its CPU families in such a relaxed way since there is competition from AMD. AMD’s topmost FX-8350 processor fails to catch up with the Core i5-4430, the junior quad-core Haswell!

Let’s take a closer look at the performance scores SYSmark 2012 generates in different usage scenarios. Office Productivity scenario emulates typical office tasks, such as text editing, electronic tables processing, email and Internet surfing. This scenario uses the following applications: ABBYY FineReader Pro 10.0, Adobe Acrobat Pro 9, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Microsoft Excel 2010, Microsoft Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft Outlook 2010, Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, Microsoft Word 2010 and WinZip Pro 14.5.

Media Creation scenario emulates the creation of a video clip using previously taken digital images and videos. Here they use popular Adobe suites: Photoshop CS5 Extended, Premiere Pro CS5 and After Effects CS5.

Web Development is a scenario emulating web-site designing. It uses the following applications: Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended, Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, Adobe Dreamweaver CS5, Mozilla Firefox 3.6.8 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 10.

Data/Financial Analysis scenario is devoted to statistical analysis and prediction of market trends performed in Microsoft Excel 2010.

3D Modeling scenario is fully dedicated to 3D objects and rendering of static and dynamic scenes using Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended, Autodesk 3ds Max 2011, Autodesk AutoCAD 2011 and Google SketchUp Pro 8.

The last scenario called System Management creates backups and installs software and updates. It involves several different versions of Mozilla Firefox Installer and WinZip Pro 14.5.

We can note that the Haswell microarchitecture enjoys its maximum advantage over the Ivy Bridge in the 3D Modeling scenario. The new Core i5 are more than 20% ahead of their predecessors there, suggesting that the new CPU design is more optimal for loads that can be processed in parallel. As a result, the Core i5-4670K is as fast as the Core i7-3770K, the senior LGA1155 processor of the previous generation, not only at single-threaded loads (where Hyper-Threading's effect is small) but at other loads as well. The Haswell looks good in four scenarios: System Management, Media Creation, Office Productivity and 3D Modeling.

We shouldn’t overestimate the benefits of the new microarchitecture, though. The Core i7 and Core i5 processors of different generations are comparable just because the Core i7 and Core i5 series do not differ much in their specs. Anyway, that’s an argument in favor of the new Core i5: they can often deliver the same performance as the more expensive 1-year-old CPUs at different computing loads.

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