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Conroe Performance Unveiled

Now comes the most exciting part I assume. X-bit labs got a great opportunity to take a closer look at the new system based on the upcoming Conroe processor running side-by-side with a competitor solution. As you may have already heard from some other sources that were among the lucky ones to play with these systems, the upcoming Intel Conroe processor demonstrated unprecedented results sometimes exceeding those of the competitor by the good 30% or even more. But before we take a look at the results that I managed to obtain on these two systems, I would like to share some thoughts with you.

I was given the opportunity to run a few synthetic (PCMark05) and gaming (Quake4, F.E.A.R. Half-Life 2) tests on two platforms. The Intel platform was assembled with the Conroe processor working at 2.6GHz, Intel D975XBX BadAxe mainboard based on Intel’s 957X chipset. As for the competitor platform it was an AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 overclocked to 2.8GHz frequency running in DFI LanParty UT RDX200 mainboard on ATI RD480 chipset. Both systems were equipped with two ATI Radeon X1900 XT graphics cards in CrossFire mode and 1GB of memory. The Intel platform supported DDR2, of course, while the AMD platform was still running with DDR SDRAM configured with very aggressive timings of 2-2-2 and 1T Command Rate.

This is where I feel like pointing out my first big concern. We are comparing two different platforms here: DDR1 against DDR2. Even though Intel claims that AMD should benefit not more that 5-10% by switching to DDR2 this is not a very convincing argument, IMHO. The implementation of the memory controller may have very significant influence on the performance, so I wouldn’t be so certain about the 5-10% performance boost.

The second concern I would like to share with you is the fact that we are actually comparing the current AMD processor against the Intel solution, which will be current in at least three months. Three months is a lot of time. In three months AMD has every chance to roll out something a way faster than their current FX-60, don’t you think so? So, is this a fair comparison? Intel claims this is the best approximation of what the high-end competitor to the upcoming Conroe platform is going to be. Well, it is not really fair, IMHO, but it certainly has great marketing power, that’s for sure.

My third concern is that at this point I didn’t have any X-bit’s original demos at hand, so I had to use the timedemos integrated into all the gaming applications. And you know the deal with timedemos: people get very suspicious about the results, because the temptation to add a little optimization here or there is too big. Here we can only bet on Intel’s word that no optimizations have been made whatsoever.

Now that I shared with you some of my thoughts that will hopefully prevent you from making any hasty conclusions, we can move on to the actual benchmark results.

 
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