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Benchmark Results: Productivity

Intel’s Second-Gen Core CPUs: The Sandy Bridge Review

ABBYY’s FineReader 10, an optical character recognition app, was another requested benchmark. We’ve automated the scanning of a 111-page document for testing—a task that apparently really appreciates parallelism.

The top two finishers are quad-core, Hyper-Threading-enabled CPUs, and third place goes to AMD’s six-core entrant. Fourth belongs to the Core i7-950 (Bloomfield), also able to work on eight threads concurrently.

It takes more than twice as long to get this workload completed on either of the dual-core CPUs compared to Intel’s Core i7-2600K.

Another significant comparison here is between the Core i5-2400 and Phenom II X4 970 (both $185 processors). In case you haven’t been keeping score, the i5 has beaten the Phenom II in every single test. It looks like AMD is going to have to drop prices to make its fastest quad-core chip competitive.

I stopped using the Lame benchmark a while back, but it makes for yet another point of comparison (and a decent indication of performance on a clock-for-clock basis, given its single-threaded operation), so I’m including it here.

The scaling falls in line with what we’d expect. As you get down to the Phenom IIs, bear in mind that the X6 1100T has Turbo CORE, which is able to send it to 3.7 GHz in a workload like Lame.

The only other anomaly would seem to be the Core i7-875K. But its 3.6 GHz Turbo Boost ceiling is undoubtedly the reason it beats the Core i5-655K, despite a sizable base clock disparity.

We phased WinZip out a while ago. But with the release of WinZip 14, Intel got the developer to include AES-NI support. So, we’re putting it back into rotation, alongside the latest versions of WinRAR (no AES-NI support) and 7-Zip (free to use; includes AES-NI).

If you didn’t know any better, you’d think we duplicated the charts for Lame and WinZip. Indeed, it looks like the fine folks at WinZip still haven’t optimized for threading, and so performance is based almost exclusively on IPC throughput and clock rate, rather than parallelism. Boooring.

Thanks to all of our readers who suggested adopting WinRAR 4.00 and 7-Zip 9.20—we’ve upgraded both utilities to the latest versions.

While the results of our WinRAR compression routine don’t look significantly different than the WinZip charts, you will notice that the dual-core Core i5-655K gets knocked down to last place and the Core i3-2100 falls behind the Core i7-950 and Core i7-875K.

Unfortunately for AMD, the six-core 1100T and four-core 970 don’t move up in the standings, despite the threading optimizations in WinRAR. We’re not sure if this is a development issue or not, but there’s a pretty clear tendency toward the new Sandy Bridge processors here.

Rather than run the same set of files through a third compression utility, we took advantage of 7-Zip’s built-in ability to measure each platform’s performance in millions of instructions per second.

Parallelism really benefits the 7-Zip metric, which we set to take advantage of all available threads on each CPU.

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