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Benchmark Results: Adobe Creative Suite CS5.5

Intel Xeon E5-2600: Doing Damage With Two Eight-Core CPUs
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Our Premiere Pro workload comes from Adobe’s Creative Suite launch. It’s a professional-grade trailer for a new TV series, and we’ve seen it take anywhere from under a minute to over an hour to render. Generally, the difference is attributable to hardware support for the Mercury Playback Engine, enabled exclusively through Nvidia’s CUDA. So, I picked a FirePro card for all of our testing, allowing a closer look at CPU performance without GPU interference.

The results are compelling. You can use a single Core i7-3960X for this task, but it takes more than two times longer to render than a pair of Xeon E5-2687Ws. Even the Xeon 5500s get destroyed—and those were supposed to be the most significant server processors in history according to Pat Gelsinger back in 2009.

Of course, context is critical. Check out all of the processors we tested on page seven of Intel Core i7-3930K And Core i7-3820: Sandy Bridge-E, Cheaper. If you’re using a desktop card like Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 580, even a Phenom II X6 1100T can get this job finished in half the time of two pricey Xeon E5s. I’m no fan of locking out the competition, but when there’s money on the line, professionals working in CS5 simply owe it themselves to use a CUDA-enabled card.

CPU Utilization during After EffectsCPU Utilization during After Effects

The results in our After Effects rendering test don’t look anything like Premiere Pro. The Core i7-3960X—twelve threads with access to 32 GB of memory—fares best. The Nehalem- and Westmere-based architectures, with 16 and 24 threads, respectively, and 48 GB of memory roughly match each other. The Xeon E5s fall somewhere in between.

The scores in Photoshop get us back to the performance picture we’d expect. Though the Xeon 5600s and 5500s yield fairly similar results, they both outperform a Core i7-3960X. In turn, Intel’s new Xeon E5-2687Ws make quick work of previous-generation dual-socket platforms.

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Top Comments
  • 19 Hide
    willard , March 6, 2012 4:54 PM
    dalethepcmanNo gaming benchmarks? I know this is a high workstation / mid server build, but you know some of the boutiques will make a gaming rig out of any platform. Just out of curiosity, I would have liked to see 2x7970 or 2x580 and a few gaming benchmarks thrown in.

    I'd be really surprised to see these in gaming machines, even in the high end boutiques. That's a $2k processor they reviewed, and basically all it offers over the $1k SB-E chip (for gamers) is an extra pair of cores, which games can't make use of.
  • 18 Hide
    willard , March 6, 2012 5:24 PM
    esreverwhy aren't AMD cpus tested too? I wouldn't mind seeing how 2x interlagos stacks up.

    Anandtech benched those next to the new Xeons. Went about as well as Bulldozer vs. Sandy Bridge.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5553/the-xeon-e52600-dual-sandybridge-for-servers/6
  • 14 Hide
    esrever , March 6, 2012 5:19 PM
    why aren't AMD cpus tested too? I wouldn't mind seeing how 2x interlagos stacks up.
Other Comments
  • 8 Hide
    CaedenV , March 6, 2012 4:36 PM
    My brain cannot comprehend what CS5 would look like with this combined with a 1TB R4 drive, and the GTX680 version of the Quatro would look like... and I am sure my wallet cannot!

    Great article! I was not expecting my mind to be blown away today, and it was :) 
  • 19 Hide
    willard , March 6, 2012 4:54 PM
    dalethepcmanNo gaming benchmarks? I know this is a high workstation / mid server build, but you know some of the boutiques will make a gaming rig out of any platform. Just out of curiosity, I would have liked to see 2x7970 or 2x580 and a few gaming benchmarks thrown in.

    I'd be really surprised to see these in gaming machines, even in the high end boutiques. That's a $2k processor they reviewed, and basically all it offers over the $1k SB-E chip (for gamers) is an extra pair of cores, which games can't make use of.
  • 9 Hide
    nforce4max , March 6, 2012 5:07 PM
    I must say DROOL :o 

  • 14 Hide
    esrever , March 6, 2012 5:19 PM
    why aren't AMD cpus tested too? I wouldn't mind seeing how 2x interlagos stacks up.
  • 0 Hide
    reclusiveorc , March 6, 2012 5:19 PM
    I wonder how fast TempEncode would chew thru transcoding avi/wmv files to mp3/mp4
  • 18 Hide
    willard , March 6, 2012 5:24 PM
    esreverwhy aren't AMD cpus tested too? I wouldn't mind seeing how 2x interlagos stacks up.

    Anandtech benched those next to the new Xeons. Went about as well as Bulldozer vs. Sandy Bridge.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5553/the-xeon-e52600-dual-sandybridge-for-servers/6
  • 14 Hide
    cangelini , March 6, 2012 5:25 PM
    esreverwhy aren't AMD cpus tested too? I wouldn't mind seeing how 2x interlagos stacks up.

    Mentioned on the test page--I've invited them to send hardware and they haven't moved on it yet.
  • 10 Hide
    willard , March 6, 2012 5:32 PM
    cangeliniMentioned on the test page--I've invited them to send hardware and they haven't moved on it yet.

    I would guess that's because Interlagos is garbage compared to the new Xeons and they know it. I don't think they're terribly eager for the front page of Tom's Hardware to show the low end Xeon's beating the best Interlagos has to offer.
  • 9 Hide
    cangelini , March 6, 2012 5:47 PM
    willardI would guess that's because Interlagos is garbage compared to the new Xeons and they know it. I don't think they're terribly eager for the front page of Tom's Hardware to show the low end Xeon's beating the best Interlagos has to offer.

    Not really my place to speculate--only to point out that I similarly wanted to see AMD hardware included and explain why it isn't there :) 
  • 5 Hide
    willard , March 6, 2012 5:48 PM
    jtt283What, or who, was the target? Are there military applications for this weapon?Sorry, vote me down all you like, but the title was just silly.

    No, the title is a fairly common phrase in American English.

    "Now that I've got X, I can really do some damage" would probably be the way I hear it used most often.
  • 6 Hide
    willard , March 6, 2012 5:49 PM
    cangeliniNot really my place to speculate--only to point out that I similarly wanted to see AMD hardware included and explain why it isn't there

    Yeah, I understand that you're in a sensitive position. But being a lowly commenter, I'm free to speculate all I want!

    Muahahahaha!
  • 6 Hide
    cangelini , March 6, 2012 5:52 PM
    willardYeah, I understand that you're in a sensitive position. But being a lowly commenter, I'm free to speculate all I want!Muahahahaha!

    Precisely ;-)
  • 1 Hide
    wiyosaya , March 6, 2012 6:08 PM
    Interesting results.

    In my opinion, the SolidWorks test is also one of those not representative of typical SolidWorks tasks. PhotoView only renders realistic images of a SolidWorks model. Personally, I think the Specviewperf SolidWorks test would be significantly more representative of average SolidWorks use.

    Although I really hate to draw this comparison, PhotoView is more like using Power Point to organize a display of images created in Photoshop. In this comparison, most of the grunt work is done by Photoshop rather than Power Point, as is most of the grunt work done in SolidWorks then rendered in PhotoView. Performance differences revealed by the Specviewperf test are more informative, IMHO. See these.
  • 0 Hide
    juan83 , March 6, 2012 6:08 PM
    great review.. i wonder myself how long we 'll have to wait to see 8 cores and 16 threads on desktop segment as a default pc.. (or less than 400 dolars)

    we have to wait to long for that..
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 6, 2012 6:37 PM
    I would love one of those with a pair of FireGL cards and a mix of SCSI and SSD drives. I'm sure a dual core version of all of that will run me close to $8K though. Consider though how much Sun SPARC stations and SGI Workstations costed a decade or so ago? Workstations that were not nearly as capable went 20-25k. A dual core E5-2687 with FireGL cards and SSD drives is the fastest workstation you could put together on any platform and you can do it for far less than the 25k from years ago. Absolutely crazy to think about it in those terms.
  • 3 Hide
    EXT64 , March 6, 2012 6:52 PM
    I think you need to run some folding at home on that. I can't imagine what it would get in PPD, considering how well the old Intel 6 cores (Gulftown) do.
  • 1 Hide
    jaquith , March 6, 2012 7:11 PM
    Great article and thanks! 16-cores/32-threads is nice! :) 

    Reading this however, all I can do is think how PO'ed I am at Intel not enabling the 7th & 8th cores on the SB-E i7-3960X and i7-3930K.
  • 5 Hide
    cangelini , March 6, 2012 7:14 PM
    jaquithGreat article and thanks! 16-cores/32-threads is nice! Reading this however, all I can do is think how PO'ed I am at Intel not enabling the 7th & 8th cores on the SB-E i7-3960X and i7-3930K.

    I'm going to drop these into X79 and compare the numbers to see how power is affected. Maybe get a little overclocking out of them, just to check ;-)
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