Phenom vs. Athlon Core Scaling Compared

yipsl

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Thanks for the thread and for Tom's doing both of the articles relating to Athlon X2 vs. Phenom scaling. Since Phenom isn't a brand new architecture, the CPU's of greater importance to those of us upgrading AM2 boards than it is for someone trying to decide between a Phenom and a Q6600.

We all know it's a budget quad core. AMD won't be on top for quite some time, but who cares about that? All that matters is that the processor delivers as an upgrade path. Now, if only the motherboard manufacturer's get out new bios updates in time for B3.
 

gpippas

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So the article shows that Phenom doesn't scale swell as an Athlon 64. Well that just fills you with hope. Despite the authors optimism about Phenom still being faster than A64 even he couldn't resist the link with Prescott.

This is further proof that something is fundamentally wrong with the Stars arch. AMD need to forget about schedules and make as many improvements as they can with the B3 stepping. Higher clockspeed obviously isn't the answer. Increasing IPC and fixing errata and the like are. Obviously I know it’s not easy to just make things better but given the time they must surely be able to make some performance improvements. Its not like existing Phenom owners will care because there aren’t any.

It doesn't matter at the moment if there isn't an enthusiast chip out at the moment. What matters is that it is barely competitive with its predecessor let alone the competition.

AMD's answer might even be to skip the B3 stepping. Instead of working on the fixes for the 65nm Phenom's, move the entire workforce onto implementing the fixes on 45nm and getting that out the door as quick as possible.
 

Reynod

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Still think the mem / cache frequency is the key to improved performance ... as a quick fix.

It's locked at 1.8Ghz ... was 2.0 Ghz on the ES ... or am I wrong ... Iv'e been known to be wrong once or twice ... lol.

Can someone play with an ES there ... presuming you can move the mem controller / L3 cache speed up and down on it ??

Results might be interesting.



 

caveira2099

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Well, it has been quite a long time I read THG guides, and I really am sorry to admit that the quality of the reviews are dropping.

I have good knowledge of cpu architectures (I work with and develop for HPC for 8 years), and I cannot agree with the conclusions of your last reviews of the Phenom processor. I thought you guys were "impartial", but taking all Phenom's reviews only lead to a tendency in favor of the current Intel offering.

First of all, in any of your articles is emphasised that each implementation of the x86 made by Intel or AMD has its own strengths and weakness, and that, despite these being multi-purpose cpus, each is best at doing certain tasks. All you say is that Intel's implementation is "unbeatable" today.

This said, I ask you: did you guys know that AMD's implementation is quite better than Intel's for a cluster in which scalability is desired? That an integrated memory controler can make better use of the available memory bandwidth?

So, if you guys think you know hardware and cpu architecture, didn't you notice anything strange with the synthetic benchmark for the Phenom with Sandra?? How can a Phenom have slower memory performance than every Intel quad in this sort of benchmark? Didn't you feel uncornfortable at the time of writing that, or it was, in fact, lack of knowledge?

Please, refer to your coleagues at http://legitreviews.com/article/597/4/ and http://legitreviews.com/article/617/1/ to read a "pretty print" version of what I am saying. You guys messed up here.

I think you should change your conclusions to something like: "we test a variety of simple tasks of a home user who might be interested in these cpus, and the most suitable or best performing for these is..." without quoting a dubious title of "unbeatable", "champion" or "king". Any cpu you point as that can be beaten by some other brand in some task you guys might not even imagine. And let's not forget that a certain cpu cannot be the best for someone who cannot buy it.

Note that by doing so, you can't complain that so many forum members waste their times uselessly "fighting" one another because Intel or AMD "is the best".

I expect more professional and impartial articles from THG, or if it is not the case, please, make it clear that you are not trying to be impartial. I really like your previous material, the interactive charts are great, site layout, news, etc.. So, the quality of the texts must be as great, not inferior.
 

Reynod

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Good points Cav ... your a server man.

I acknowledge the AMD arch scales very well ... the chip was obviously respun with the server market clearly in mind.

No arguments from me.

We need people like you to post here ... yes the Intel fanboy's are a bit trollish ... but a loveable bunch of rogues nevertheless.

Core2 is an excellent choice for the enthusiast ... because of it's headroom ... AMD's is currently poor.

Most who post are interested in single socket systems I'd guess.

Not many of us have 19" racks and SuperMicro's !!

Cheers and all of the best to you !!



 

bojangles34

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^^ Agreed with Cav. The last few CPU articles seemed to be very biased. They always seem to lean toward Intel. If you're writing about stuff exclusively on AMD, keep Intel out of it. It will set the readers' minds to flashback on Intel's result's and will unbalance the statistics.

Oh and I noticed an error on the Gaming Benchmark page. All pictures show the Nvidia 8800 GTX 768 MB instead of ATI HD 3870. Nice copy/paste work there.
 

gpippas

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I think it would make a big difference if they could get it to run at the same freq as the core like they do with A64's. It would also scale much better which is what the article was about but the author didn't mention.

I agree with Cav the articles have been getting worse missing out important facts. I am AMD fan but I think if anything the articles have been AMD biased. At least the author recocmomended to wait for B3 stepping. I understand were Cav is coming from with a server perspective, which are perfectly valid but not for this article. The article is specificly looking at the desktop aspect of K10 rather than server side, where K10 with the exception of the errata and slightly slower clockspeeds is very competitive.
 

zenmaster

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Cav misses a critical point, however.

This is a Phenom, not Opteron, Review.
As a result things such virtualization Hosting such as with VMWare ESX don't apply.

This is a desktop chip review.

Unfortunately, if anything, the review has a Phenom bias.
They are running w/o the BIOS patch.
They are running the NB at 2.0 per the ES settings vs the 1.8 Shipping settings.

I've read a number of reviews that this can be a noticable difference.

While I could understand not implementing the TLB fix since it may be something folks turn off, not addressing the NB speeds is simply bad testing.
 

caveira2099

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I actually wrote this bearing in my mind that it is a desktop cpu review. What I pointed is:

1) You can't go writing that a Phenom is "that much inferior" if you can't even benchmark it well.

2) A "generic" benchmark simply doesn't exist. If you do such a test, there is always a reason behind every result, being it good or not. THG is only showing results, without the "rationale" - it actually seems they publish results without even thinking of what it really means.

3) I only pointed the memory throughput case (which performance is more often observed in server environments) to show that this feature of the cpu is sometimes important. And honestly, it would be a poor excuse to say "oh well, we made the wrong test and showed wrong numbers, but it's ok because a home (desktop) user would never know anyway".

4) The most important: THG must point "best for this app", or "slower for that game", instead of giving its readers a generic good/bad classification - not forgetting the cost. The best system for a task is the one that performs best for the price you want to (or can) pay. (when the boss here tells me what he wants, my first question is how much is he willing to pay - not asking this can give serious issues some days latter... :p )

I might not have given the best example, for it's from a different perspective, but THG's reviews are really losing the quality I was used to see here. It was not the first time I saw THG go wrong, but the benchmark mistake was detected by Sisoft a month ago, and THG never even made a 1-paragraph note.

This can lead some people who blindly believe in THG benchmark results to buy a system or a brand that might not be exactly the best deal.

Thanks guys, and the best to you too.
 

blackened144

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I was just reviewing Tom's CPU charts.. I set it to compare the fastest Phenom you can buy vs the fastest Kentsfield CPU you can buy.. I checked EVERY SINGLE REAL WORLD BENCHMARK and the QX6850 wins in every single benchmark. There may have been a few ones I missed because I did it quickly, but from my rough calculations, Intel wins in 100% of the real world benchmarks. Now that sounds like the Intel offering is "unbeatable" to me... This is the reason I decided to buy an Intel CPU instead of a new AMD, I see no bias there..
 

zenmaster

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Oh I agree about the "For this app or for that app".

Truth be told, take an E2160 and OC it to about 3.2Ghz and toss in an 8800GTS 512MB card, you will likely not notice much of a difference than with even an OC'd Q6600 in most games. Oh, it may BENCHMARK different, but will you feel it?

On the othehand, if you were Tarring files, creating multimedia content, etc... you would DEFINTELY see the difference.

Part of the problem with Benchmarks, is that the results are often over-gyped. I know I can easily OC my system another 10-15%, but I could not feel the difference in use, but I could hear the difference in fan noise. The result is I clocked back down.



 

shabodah

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This is the point we are trying to make. If going from 1.8ghz to 2.0ghz on the IMC makes that big of a difference, the fact that Athlon x2 is running up to 3.2ghz on the IMC versus the Phenom's 2.0ghz on the ES is A HUGE ISSUE. IMHO, having zero L3 cache and running the IMC at core frequency would net the same or better scaling of Phenom than A64x2.


 

joefriday

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This article's encoding benchmarks show pretty well the limiting returns of multiple processing cores. Going by some of the good multi-threaded encoding benchmarks, it seems that doubling cores will give a 50% performance increase, half of theoretical. Dual core is 150% the performance of single core, and Quadcore is 150% the performance of Dual core but only 225% the performance of single core. That would mean that an octocore would be only 337% the performance of a single core, less than 50% of theoretical. In other words, the collective computing power of four computers with single core processors could outperform one computer with an octocore. Granted, you can't really harness the power of four separate computers to perform a single task, such as encoding (I think even a beowolf cluster would have the same inefficiencies as a multi-core, but idk for sure), and of course power consumption would be much higher, but this meandering is more to point out the observation of diminishing return of core number than it is a motion for folks to adopt multiple PC configurations.

Here's how it works out, provided the 50% increase we've been witnessing is a given when continually doubling the core count. If at some point the # of cores becomes such that due to I/O bottlenecks (or software) there is no longer a 50% performance return for every doubling of the core count, we will have a much faster rate of diminishing return:

1 core = 100% (performance per core ratio of 100% of a single core processor)
2 cores =150% (performance per core ratio of 75% of a single core processor)
4 cores =225% (p/c ratio of 56.25% of a single core)
8 cores =337%. (p/c of 42%)
16 cores = 506% (p/c = 31%)
32 cores = 759% (23.7%)
64 cores = 1139% (17.79%)
128 cores = 1708% (performance per core ratio of 13.34% of a single core processor)

As you can see, we get some massive inefficiencies towards the top end of the spectrum. How many cores will Intel/AMD add to their CPUs before calling it quits?
 

spoonboy

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Im totally with you on the o/c point. I dont see the reason in taking a processor, overclocking it as far as you can and having it their for its entire lifespan, if your just making the system hotter and more power hungry and not feeling/seeing benefits in games, while also shortening the lifespan of the cpu into the bargain. I recently took my core 2 e6300 to 2.6ghz after having it since dec 2006, after having it at 2.4 for a few months and 2.150 for probably 6 months before that. I only did that because I got really into supreme commander which loves cpu power. If you cant see the benefits in the games you regularly play, then dont have a screaming oc on all the time. #end of rant lol#
 

spoonboy

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The only thing wrong with the architecture in terms of performance (and not oc ability or power consumption) is:

1.) L3 cache is way too small
2.) HT speed doesnt change with increasing core clock

Alter that and alter amds fortunes. If the phenom had 4mb L3 cache im sure as eggs is eggs that it would really come alive.

On the points in brackets, well thats down to quality of the manufacturing process, and the fact that very large chips have heat and power consumption issues. #End of 2nd rant lol#
 

gpippas

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spoonboy

I agree with you thats why I wrote it afterwards. More L3 cache would see a nice performance improvement but I don't think that at 65nm AMD can squeeze any more L3 cache in.

Even with the extra cache the largest performance increase would come from a scalable IMC. If it was at the cpu clocks speed the performance increase would be huge. Who cares if you end up with odd multipliers leading to wierd ram speeds. All the benchmarks show quite a significant difference between ES 2ghz IMC and the retail 1.8ghz models, which like others have said was neglected by THG.

Like I already said how the author neglected to mention the differences in IMC is beyond me because when it comes to clock scalability its of paramount importance. Also to ignore the fact that his ES sample runs faster. Surely THG have enough money to buy a 9600 BE if AMD refuses to provide them with one.

Oh and spoonboy where in Yorkshire are you? I'm in Sheffield.
 

spoonboy

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Sorry mate for not spotting you said it afterwards, I just glossed over most of the posts to be honest ;)

Na here im gonna dissappoint you, Im actually from Exeter, devon, but one of my colleagues showed me the group on facebook which i joined "if its not from yorkshire its ****". Made me laugh so i joined it. Your also not gonna like that im a leeds fan. Come on the leeds! playing crewe this evening if your interested but probably not lol.

cheers
 

Mathos

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hmmm has anyone actually tried upping the IMC clock on a phenom? It's actually supposed to be adjustable to within 100Mhz of the core clock for purposes of getting max speed out of your RAM if the core clock is based off an odd multi. I'm still waiting on UPS to get here tomorow, before I can throw the phenom 9600 BE into my mainboard and play around with it, so I can't confirm.

But according to the original phenom review, the split plane thing was suppose to allow you to do that, on an AM2+ based board.
 

gpippas

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It is the sort of thing a yorkshire man would say. I'm not actually from Sheffield I'm from Cambridge so I'm actually a southener. I only moved up here a couple of years ago. As for Leeds your right I don't like them. My girlfriend is a Leeds fan. She's got a small Leeds emblem tattooed on her stomach. Her best mate is also a Leeds fan and they were down the pub earlier to catch a rare glimpse of Leeds on tv. On top of that Leeds won. As an Arsenal fan I do enjoy taking the piss out of her.

Back on topic I'm pretty sure all the reviews said that increasing the IMC by just a hundred mhz caused system instability.

Mathos
As the only person I have heard of that is going to own a Phenom BE that isn't a reviewer it would be quite interesting to let us know how you do with overclocking it including the IMC.
 

shabodah

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Yeah, well, a lot of the things phenom was supposed to be able to do got left out. The AM2+ boards do not allow you to adjust the IMC clock in bios and the AMD software does not have an option for it at this point. Hopefully it will come out soon.

What I want to know, is what clock do they run on an older AM2 boards?
 

gpippas

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shabodah

I want to know how well an Athlon 64 performs in an AM2+ mobo with 1066 ddr2 and like you said vice versa but nobody seems to be bothering review anything.
 

jakemo136

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According to reviews, an Athlon 64 in an AM2+ mobo won't be able to take advantage of faster ram speeds without an overclock. I just bought a AM2+ mobo and an x2 5000+ BE, and ram defaults to 800MHz. Haven't yet tried overclocking, but I want to see if I can acheive ddr2 1066 speeds somehow... May be time for a new thread but anyone know how I would go about altering memory speeds with an unlocked multiplier?
 

keithlm

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Thanks for your posts, they relate a few things I have known but have not taken the time to attempt to convey.

When comparing the AMD and Intel Quads I have seen benchmarks of AVG, WinRAR, Lame, iTunes etc. Most of the results are about the same when you compare CPU's of about equal pricing. (at stock speeds.)

(There are a few benchmarks with extremely different results. I have to question the validity of some of them. I suspect in the future we will see fixes for many of these benchmarks. Not just because of AMD... but when Intel comes out with their Nehalem chip... they will need to have those benchmarks fixed for the same reason AMD needs them fixed. But of course AMD needs these fixes NOW.)

I agree with your conclusion that we need more conclusive results on these benchmarks. When I see benchmarks times of: 2:40 vs 2:34, 0:52 vs 0:47, 1:32 vs 1:20, 2:44 vs 2:57 etc... or game FPS of 104.6 vs 113.4, 103.4 vs 110, 47.47 vs 49.85 etc... I have to consider that these numbers do not actually show a "winner" and a "loser" for the average desktop user. (If you put a user in front of both machines they won't see a difference in speed.)

HOWEVER ANOTHER MATTER: what about running several benchmarks concurrently? It is one thing to say that a chip runs two or three benchmarks faster. It is another thing to be able to say that the benchmarks still run faster when being run at the same time. I suspect a benchmark like that might show some surprising results. (ESPECIALLY since many of the quoted benchmarks ARE single threaded anyway.)

Over time we have started to see more multi-threading in benchmarks, I suspect we will start seeing more concurrent tasks being run as well as more complicated multi-threading. Perhaps even virtualization. What happens to that WinRAR speed in Windows when I'm also running Linux? What if I do some video encoding in windows while compiling the kernel in Linux?
 

keithlm

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You see no bias in comparing a $240.00 CPU to a $980.00 CPU and concluding that the more expensive CPU is better? (Or were you being completely unrealistic and using sarcasm and I didn't catch onto that.)
 

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