Wolfdale vs. Conroe
First of all we were eager to check out the practical value of all innovations introduced in the new Wolfdale CPUs. Therefore we compared the performance of processors with Core micro-architecture based on the old and the new core working at the same frequencies. For this test we used Core 2 Duo E6850 and Core 2 Duo E8400 processors: they both work at 3.0GHz speed and use the same 1333MHz bus.
The obtained results can hardly be disappointing. New Wolfdale processors turn out much faster than their predecessors even when working at identical frequencies. The average performance gain in this case is 6%, but in some applications it may be much higher. I would also like to add that Wolfdale processors can work at higher frequencies, which indicates clearly that Intel prepared a potential hit.
More detailed results analysis shows that larger L2 cache turns out the determinative factor for higher performance of the new processors. As we may see, the performance gain is especially high in those applications that are sensitive to L2 cache size. For example, Wolfdale’s advantage over Conroe in games reaches 11%, and on average hits 7.2%.
Introduction of Fast Radix-16 Divider also played an important part here: the performance gain in computational tasks, such as final rendering, for instance, also turns out above average. The same significant performance improvement can be observed when we work with H.264 codec from Mainconcept and during video processing in After Effects CS3: it must be thanks to the Super Shuffle Engine unit speeding up some of the SSE instructions processing.
As for the SSE4.1 instructions support, from this prospective software developers aren’t ready for the new processors yet, although these instructions are potentially very demanded. Therefore, we can’t make any specific conclusions here. In fact, only TMPGenc codec may currently boast new instructions support, as well as DivX in experimental mode. Moreover, if you enable Experimental SSE4 full search in DivX, the performance will drop, which doesn’t allow us to state that this codec is nicely optimized for SSE4.1. Nevertheless, we expect to see the applications that would be able to efficiently employ the new SSE4.1 instructions, and then the value of the new SIMD set will become evident. For example, as far as we know, the corresponding changes should be soon made in the upcoming MainConcept H.264 Encoder, Pinnade Studio Plus and Sony Vegas.