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Intel Xeon E3-1275 Review: Sandy Bridge Goes Professional

Benchmark Results: SPECapc And SPECopc Testing

First of all, it’s important to note that we’re running viewperf 10 because the newer SPECviewperf 11 isn't properly recognized by the HD Graphics P3000/3000 engine, and several of the benchmark's sub-tests consequently fail to yield scores.

Even the results in viewperf 10, however, show the HD Graphics P3000 and 3000 parts performing similarly. Intel’s contention is that it’s optimizing for real-world scenarios where customers will benefit from improved performance, rather than benchmarks. So, we’ll have to see if any of our other graphics-oriented metrics demonstrate the workstation-specific part distinguishing itself.

Meanwhile, Nvidia’s Quadro FX 580 puts down significantly better numbers in all six sub-tests, absolutely warranting an upgrade to the $150 card in five of them. Intel’s processor graphics hold up admirably well in Maya, even though this isn’t one of the apps that the workstation team says it has optimized for yet.

The latest version of LightWave (10) is a significantly different piece of software than LightWave 3D 9.6, the latest build we can test using SPEC’s canned workload. Much of this has to do with input from Rob Powers, the guy who served as the animation technical director for Avatar and is now vice president of 3D development at NewTek. We’ve discussed custom benchmarking tools with Rob in the past, but don’t have anything to show for those talks as of yet. So, we’re still stuck using this much older version of LightWave to test modern graphics hardware.

The OpenGL render test actually shows our three configurations performing somewhat similarly. It’s in the Interactive and Multi-Task benchmarks where Nvidia’s Quadro FX 580 distances itself from Intel’s HD Graphics P3000/3000 products.

That a $150 discrete solution outperforms integrated graphics really isn’t much of a shocker. What’s more interesting is that HD Graphics P3000 and HD Graphics 3000 return similar results. This seems to be yet another app not yet differentiated by Intel’s workstation-specific part.

Given the similar clock rate and Turbo Boost profile of the Core i7-2600K and Xeon E3-1275, similar CPU Render scores in 3ds Max 9 are expected. The fact that Intel’s HD Graphics implementations outmaneuver the Quadro FX 580 in the Hardware Shaders test, however, is a little more surprising. In the final test, graphics, Nvidia’s card reclaims its position on top.

The sub-category chart breaks the results down further. In just about every category, the Nvidia card outperforms Intel’s best effort (except for the Hardware Shaders test).

There’s actually a bit of good news for Intel, though. While there doesn’t really seem to be any benefit to using HD Graphics P3000 over HD Graphics 3000, there’s also a case for using the processor graphics included for “free,” rather than spending an extra $150 on discrete graphics. Nvidia’s card simply doesn’t have that big of an advantage.