The new CPU charts for 2008 from Tom’s Hardware have, at long last, arrived. There are 18 entries from AMD and 36 processors from Intel, which were put to the test using a fresh gauntlet of benchmarks. For more meaningful comparisons and the most consistent benchmark results, our testing platforms were fully re-equipped. Tthe graphics card used was a powerful MSI N280GTX-T2D1G-OC based on the Nvidia GeForce GTX 280.
Each platform is fitted with a 4 GB of main memory and is operated using Windows Vista Enterprise. The AMD system uses DDR2-1066 memory, while the Intel machine employs DDR3-1333 memory. An X-Fi Xtreme Gamer sound card from Creative takes the pressure off the processor when it comes to audio calculations and ensures reproducible results. In addition, the workloads of the benchmarks are processed on a RAM disk in order to ensure that the hard drive does not slow up the fast quad-core processors.
We test using 31 benchmarks representing office, video, audio and gaming markets. We also added six Linux benchmarks, which are also executed using a RAM disk. The Linux benchmark suite covers kernel compilation, PHP, packing of files using Gzip, SciMark, OpenSSL encryption, and compilation of Mplayer software using the GCC compiler.
In order to ensure that our testing procedure is suitable for coming generations of processors, it contains five applications designed for eight-core CPUs and five additional applications for quad-core models. Very few benchmarks are able to handle more than one processing core, because software developers currently have little need to adopt threading. Examples of those with the capability include iTunes and Lame. Because there are still a number of tests that do not, in fact, support multi-core CPUs, those tests reflect the benefits of frequency over parallelism instead.
When it comes to desktop processors, the competitive situation between Intel and AMD has changed considerably. Unlike in the past, Intel is now ahead in just about every category. The Intel models are also generally more overclockable, which means it is possible to build a high-end system for a relatively low cost. AMD is having trouble keeping up with Intel’s upper echelon of performance-oriented solutions and its current processor models offered only minor overclocking potential up until recently, when the SB750 southbridge improved scalability on Black Edition Phenoms. Only a new method of manufacturing is likely to change this situation significantly, though.
Editor’s Note: As with our recently updated graphics charts, we put together a brief introductory piece to familiarize you with the hardware and software used to generate the long list of benchmarks that you’re able to compare through our charts tool. On the last page of this piece, you’ll find links to the new charts list and the previous CPU update from earlier this year, which can still be used as a reference.