Performance – Applications:
Let’s talk about application performance, the one thing that everyone probably wants to know is if the i7 is going to give new levels of performance over the existing Core CPUs or if (like the AM2) it is just a bump and one that can be easily bridged with a little over clocking. Well with our usual tests in hand we have a combination of synthetic and real world tests to show you that the i7 is not just a bump in performance.
From FutureMark we bring PCMark Vantage into our application testing pool, although a synthetic benchmark it still gives us a decent baseline for comparison and makes the numbers crowd happy.
Wow, that is really all I can think to say about the way the i7 simply outperforms everyone in 64-Bit performance. For 32 Bit performance only the 920 lags behind the QX9770.
Sisoft Sandra 2009:
Another numbers synthetic, Sandra 2009 is good for giving RAW performance numbers and also for giving a baseline for comparison.
The numbers here are interesting, it seems for sheer CPU power on the V8 can out do the i7. For Multi-core efficiency and memory bandwidth the i7 cannot be touched.
The third in our synthetic test group I only used Everest for backing up the memory performance numbers for Sandra 2009, although it is useful for much more than that.
Again we see the tri-channel memory bringing the speed back to DDR3.
Cinebench R10 x64:
The last of our truly synthetic tests is Cinebench R10 x64, this test (From Maxon the makers of Cinema 4D) is intended to give a fair evaluation of your systems ability to render images and to support real-time OpenGL rendering.
Again the i7 stands head and shoulders above all but the V8 monster.
Photoshop is the industry standard for image manipulation. For my testing I used Driverheaven.net’s Photoshop CS2 benchmark.
Again we see the i7 965 at the top of the heap while the QX9770 come in second place, followed by the i7 940 and 920.
Although not truly a real world test HyperPi is still not a completely synthetic test. It is also perfect for testing memory to CPU to HDD performance and stability. I ran a 32M run on all cores for each system.
Here the numbers are interesting, the i7 965 (18:30:172 best core time) is at the top of the heap but coming in at a close 2nd is the QX9770 (19:00:204 Best Core time) beating out the i7 940 by almost 50 seconds (19:50:102 Best core time).
Lightwave 9.3 x64:
Lightwave is one of the industry standards for 3D animation and a great test of system performance. Lightwave is also very CPU dependant, but also needs a fast HDD and memory for best results.
For testing I used the Moonbase Scene and rendered frame 32 @ 1920×1080 (HD 1080i) with 7-Pass PLD for AA, Gaussian Sharp reconstruction filter and classic cameras. Segment memory was set to 512MB.
And the King is dethroned, previously the V8 system was the fastest Ligthwave rendering system I have ever worked with (yes there are faster out there but they are massive systems) However we have a new speed king here. The i7 965 was able to outperform the V8 by 9 seconds. This might not sound like much but over a 60 frame render it is 9 minutes saved on your render time.
For my Transcoding/encoding tests I used AutoGK 2.45 to transcode a standard 2-1/2 hour movie from DVD to 100% quality AVI. AutoGK2.45 uses virtual dub for its transcode but is more efficient and can spread the work load over multiple CPUs (cores) making it a good test for multi-core performance.
Application Performance Summary:
For Transcoding all of the i7 CPUs simply walked away from the others in the group. This is due mainly to the faster memory speeds and also better SSE code in the i7.
We had posed the question; is the i7 going to be a leap or a step in terms of performance. Well it seems the answer is, for the most part, a resounding yes for application performance. The i7 brings a better system to the table with its tri channel memory support IMC (internal memory controller) better caching structure and improved hyperthreading (over the P4). While the Massive V8 system still holds the crown for many of the synthetic CPU tests, there were only a few places where the entire i7 family did not win out over the competition. Even the lowest clocked i7 was able to outperform the rest of the crowd in Transcoding, and (other than the V8) in Lightwave as well. Looks like the i7 is will handle just about all of the apps you throw at it.