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Testbed and Methodology: Now on Windows 7

The main heroes of our today’s performance tests are Core i7-870 and Core i5-750 LGA1156 processors that are the senior and junior representatives of the new Lynnfield family. They will be competing against the CPUs with the same price tag available for all other platforms: LGA1366, LGA775 and Socket AM3.

As a result, our testbeds were built using the following hardware and software components:

  • CPUs:
    • AMD Phenom II X4 965 (Deneb, 3.4 GHz, 4 x 512 KB L2, 6 MB L3);
    • AMD Phenom II X4 955 (Deneb, 3.2 GHz, 4 x 512 KB L2, 6 MB L3);
    • Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 (Yorkfield, 3.0 GHz, 1333 MHz FSB, 2 x 6 MB L2);
    • Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 (Yorkfield, 2.83 GHz, 1333 MHz FSB, 2 x 6 MB L2);
    • Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 (Yorkfield, 2.66 GHz, 1333 MHz FSB, 2 x 3 MB L2);
    • Intel Core i7-950 (Bloomfield, 3.06 GHz, 4.8 GHz QPI, 4 x 256 KB L2, 8 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i7-920 (Bloomfield, 2.66 GHz, 4.8 GHz QPI, 4 x 256 KB L2, 8 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i7-870 (Lynnfield, 2.93 GHz, 4 x 256 KB L2, 8 MB L3);
    • Intel Core i7-870 (Lynnfield, 2.66 GHz, 4 x 256 KB L2, 8 MB L3).
  • Mainboards:
    • ASUS P5Q3 (LGA775, Intel P45, DDR3 SDRAM);
    • Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 (LGA1366, Intel X58 Express);
    • Gigabyte GA-P55-UD6 (LGA1136, Intel P55 Express);
    • Gigabyte MA790FXT-UD5P (Socket AM3, AMD 790FX + SB750, DDR3 SDRAM).
  • Memory:
    • 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1333 SDRAM, 7-7-7-20 (Mushkin 996601);
    • 3 x 2 GB, DDR3-1333 SDRAM, 7-7-7-20 (Mushkin 998679).
  • Graphics card: Sapphire Radeon HD 4890;
  • HDD: Western Digital VelociRaptor WD3000HLFS;
  • PSU: Tagan TG880-U33II (880 W);
  • OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64;
  • Drivers:
    • Intel Chipset Software Installation Utility 9.1.1.1015;
    • ATI Catalyst 9.8 Display Driver.

I would like to point out separately that we are switching to the new Windows 7 operating system in our tests. Although it hasn’t been officially announced yet, it already exists as the final RTM version. In our case, when we refer to Core i7 CPU benchmarks, it is especially important. The thing is that this operating system has special optimizations improving the performance of systems supporting Hyper-Threading technology. Intel and Microsoft engineers have worked closely together on implementing SMT parking technology that optimizes Windows 7 for CPUs with virtual cores. As a result, it should eliminate most situations when Hyper-Threading technology could slow down certain applications in Windows Vista, because the Windows 7 scheduler distinguishes between physical and virtual cores and prevents the situations when execution of two simultaneous threads on a single core causes performance to drop.

 
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