SYSMark 2007 Performance

Our journey starts with SYSMark 2007, the only all-encompassing performance suite in our review today. The idea here is simple: one benchmark to indicate the overall performance of your machine.

SYSMark 2007 - Overall

Let's go down the matchups shall we? The Phenom II X4 970 BE is competitive with the Core i5 750. Intel manages a 5.9% performance advantage in this comparison, but as I mentioned earlier the two chips will trade blows across much of our benchmark suite.

The Phenom II X6 1075T doesn't have a direct competitor but here it does worse than the cheaper Core i5 750. SYSMark is mostly a test of good dual-core performance and as a result Intel's turbo does more for performance here than AMD's 2-extra cores. It's a valid scenario to keep in mind as the number of applications that can stress all 6 cores are limited. Although when you're running one, there's generally no substitute for more cores.

As I mentioned in the introduction, the Phenom II X2 560 will easily lose to the Core i3 530 as the graph shows above. The same is true for the Athlon II X4 645. The chip gives you four cores at a very competitive price, but in a test that primarily stresses two cores the 645 doesn't get a chance to run.

The Athlon II X3 450 vs. Pentium G6950 matchup begins in Intel's favor, however this is the one and only time in our review that you'll see this happen.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Performance

To measure performance under Photoshop CS4 we turn to the Retouch Artists’ Speed Test. The test does basic photo editing; there are a couple of color space conversions, many layer creations, color curve adjustment, image and canvas size adjustment, unsharp mask, and finally a gaussian blur performed on the entire image.

The whole process is timed and thanks to the use of Intel's X25-M SSD as our test bed hard drive, performance is far more predictable than back when we used to test on mechanical disks.

Time is reported in seconds and the lower numbers mean better performance. The test is multithreaded and can hit all four cores in a quad-core machine.


Adobe Photoshop CS4 - Retouch Artists Benchmark

Our Photoshop benchmark has traditionally favored Intel's architectures, which is definitely visible when you look at the Phenom II X6 1075T and Phenom II X4 970 BE above. The Athlon II X4 645 does slightly better than the Core i3 530 (effectively on-par with the 540), while the Athlon II X3 450 does noticeably better than the Pentium G6950. You can also see why I'm not really interested in the dual-core parts. They perform well, but that third core does come in handy for very little added cost.

The Lineup 3D Rendering Performance
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  • Stuka87 - Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - link

    I would really like to see a "Bang for your Buck" graph. In many test, AMD comes close to the i7, but the i7 cost more. So when you do a performance per dollar ratio, AMD may come out on par, or maybe even ahead in some cases.

    I also find it interesting that some of the Phenom II x4's have a lower power consumption at idle than the X2's. I realize the X2's use the same silicon, but with the cores turned off, shouldn't they use less?

    Great over all article as always though :)
  • Zanfib - Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - link

    Anand, as always great work,

    You write "Bulldozer is out of the question however, AM3+ chips aren’t backwards compatible with AM3 motherboards (although the opposite is true, you will be able to use your 970 in an AM3+ motherboard)."

    Is this the definitive truth? :-)

    I have read a lot of people guessing whether AMD will have AM3 compatibile Bulldozer modes available, or only AM3+ (AM3Rev...).

  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - link

    This information came directly from AMD :) Not saying it's 100%, just saying it's the source.

    You'll see AM3+ motherboards in advance of the Bulldozer client launch so you'll be able to buy a new board for your CPU and then later drop in a Bulldozer.

    Take care,
  • stmok - Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - link

    Yeah, its true.

    Bulldozer isn't backward compatible with current Socket AM3 motherboards.

    But Socket AM3+ motherboards will be backward compatible with existing AM3 processors.

    Mentioned on a number of sites...


    "AMD also told us that it will introduce a new AM3+ socket for consumer versions of Bulldozer CPUs. AM2 and AM3 processors will work in the AM3+ socket, but Bulldozer chips will not work in non-AM3+ motherboards."


    "For the desktop, the Zambezi processor is good news and bad news. The good news is it's an 8 core product, the bad news is it needs a new socket - AM3r, or AM3+. This is an electrical upgrade of the AM3 platform, to provide the power phases and planes/states required by the power gating features of Zambezi. As you might have guessed from the name, this socket is backwards compatible with existing AM3 processors, so you'll be able to piecemeal your upgrade - motherboard for your birthday, CPU for Christmas, or however your upgrade cycle works."


    "When we initially set out on the path to Bulldozer we were hoping for AM3 compatibility, but further along the process we realized that we had a choice to make based on some of the features that we wanted to bring with Bulldozer. We could either provide AM3 support and lose some of the capabilities of the new Bulldozer architecture or, we could choose the AM3+ socket which would allow the Bulldozer-base Zambezi to have greater performance and capability.

    The majority of the computer buying public will not upgrade their processors, but enthusiasts do. When we did the analysis it was clear that the customers who were most likely to upgrade an AM3 motherboard to a Bulldozer would want the features and capability that would only be delivered in the new AM3+ sockets. A classic Catch-22.

    Why not do both you ask? Just make a second model that only works in AM3? First, because that would greatly increase the cost and infrastructure of bringing the product to market, which would drive up the cost of the product (for both AMD and its partners). Secondly, adding an additional product would double the time involved in many of the development steps.

    So in the end, delivering an AM3 capability would bring you a less featured product that was more expensive and later to market. Instead we chose the path of the AM3+ socket, which is a path that we hope will bring you a better priced product, with greater performance and more features - on time.

    When we looked at the market for AM3 upgrades, it was clear that the folks most interested in an AM3-based product were the enthusiasts. This is one set of customers that we know are not willing to settle for second best when it comes to performance, so we definitely needed to ensure that our new architecture would meet their demanding needs, for both high performance and overclockability. We believe they will see that in AM3+."
  • Taft12 - Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - link

    <i>But Socket AM3+ motherboards will be backward compatible with existing AM3 processors.</i>

    This was not true from AM2+ to AM3, and I don't believe for a second this is true across the board from AM3 to AM3+. Many motherboard manufacturers (even top tier ones) will not bother with BIOS updates to older boards that went EOL some time ago.

    If your board has a 7xx or Nvidia chipset and has been EOL for a year, I wouldn't count on anything. Better safe than sorry.
  • JMC2000 - Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - link

    "This was not true from AM2+ to AM3, and I don't believe for a second this is true across the board from AM3 to AM3+. Many motherboard manufacturers (even top tier ones) will not bother with BIOS updates to older boards that went EOL some time ago."

    From what I read, it is not the same situation before: Most AM2+ boards can run AM3 cpus, pending on BIOS support, AM2+ cpus will not work on AM3 boards, because they do not have a DDR3 memory controller. AM3+ (AM3r2) cpus will not work on AM3 boards, because the power gating logic on Bulldozer based cpus is not compatible with the power plane setup on AM3.

    Basically, AM3 cpus are both backwards and forwards compatible with previous and upcoming sockets in their line.
  • Dark_Archonis - Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - link

    Yes, for AMD owners, the party is over. Bulldozer is not compatible with AM3 motherboards, so anyone who wants Bulldozer will need a new motherboard.
  • Madmanden - Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - link

    The party's over for both AMD and Intel users. They both have to get a new board for upcoming CPUs.
  • mike23 - Thursday, September 23, 2010 - link

    this is a very good point.

    Benchmarks that cover something more than common tasks (that low and mid range processors do adequately every day) would be helpful.

    With regard to the competition issue...It's blatantly obvious where Intel sees AMD as competition. All the way up to the 4 core I7 series. Beyond that, no competition and ridiculous prices.

    If not for AMD's efforts, you wouldn't have the I5's and I7s in the 200-300+ range right now. So, yes, they are providing strong competition in certain market segments.
  • DMisner - Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - link

    Would you consider doing something of a Folding@Home benchmark, possibly running the SMP client for a day or something and seeing what kind of PPD figures you would get with these processors?
    Seems like F@H is really what I do most with my computers.

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