CPU Performance: System Tests

Our System Test section focuses significantly on real-world testing, user experience, with a slight nod to throughput. In this section we cover application loading time, image processing, simple scientific physics, emulation, neural simulation, optimized compute, and 3D model development, with a combination of readily available and custom software. For some of these tests, the bigger suites such as PCMark do cover them (we publish those values in our office section), although multiple perspectives is always beneficial. In all our tests we will explain in-depth what is being tested, and how we are testing.

All of our benchmark results can also be found in our benchmark engine, Bench.

Application Load: GIMP 2.10.4

One of the most important aspects about user experience and workflow is how fast does a system respond. A good test of this is to see how long it takes for an application to load. Most applications these days, when on an SSD, load fairly instantly, however some office tools require asset pre-loading before being available. Most operating systems employ caching as well, so when certain software is loaded repeatedly (web browser, office tools), then can be initialized much quicker.

In our last suite, we tested how long it took to load a large PDF in Adobe Acrobat. Unfortunately this test was a nightmare to program for, and didn’t transfer over to Win10 RS3 easily. In the meantime we discovered an application that can automate this test, and we put it up against GIMP, a popular free open-source online photo editing tool, and the major alternative to Adobe Photoshop. We set it to load a large 50MB design template, and perform the load 10 times with 10 seconds in-between each. Due to caching, the first 3-5 results are often slower than the rest, and time to cache can be inconsistent, we take the average of the last five results to show CPU processing on cached loading.

AppTimer: GIMP 2.10.4

As a raw single threaded test, we see Intel's high 5.0 GHz CPUs near the top. The Ryzen 3700X and Ryzen 3900X beats the 3950X here by small margins, perhaps due to memory traffic or the complexity of dealing with more cores in the system. However the Ryzen 9 3950X sails past Intel's HEDT chips.

3D Particle Movement v2.1: Brownian Motion

Our 3DPM test is a custom built benchmark designed to simulate six different particle movement algorithms of points in a 3D space. The algorithms were developed as part of my PhD., and while ultimately perform best on a GPU, provide a good idea on how instruction streams are interpreted by different microarchitectures.

A key part of the algorithms is the random number generation – we use relatively fast generation which ends up implementing dependency chains in the code. The upgrade over the naïve first version of this code solved for false sharing in the caches, a major bottleneck. We are also looking at AVX2 and AVX512 versions of this benchmark for future reviews.

For this test, we run a stock particle set over the six algorithms for 20 seconds apiece, with 10 second pauses, and report the total rate of particle movement, in millions of operations (movements) per second. We have a non-AVX version and an AVX version, with the latter implementing AVX512 and AVX2 where possible.

3DPM v2.1 can be downloaded from our server: 3DPMv2.1.rar (13.0 MB)

3D Particle Movement v2.1

For some simple math without AVX acceleration, the 3950X piles on the core performance and IPC to give our best results, above and beyond what the Core i9-9980XE can provide for less power at under half the cost.

3D Particle Movement v2.1 (with AVX)

However, this is one benchmark where ratcheting in AVX2 and AVX512 really helps. There's no escaping the Intel HEDT family here, but on AVX2 mode AMD wins the best of the rest.

Dolphin 5.0: Console Emulation

One of the popular requested tests in our suite is to do with console emulation. Being able to pick up a game from an older system and run it as expected depends on the overhead of the emulator: it takes a significantly more powerful x86 system to be able to accurately emulate an older non-x86 console, especially if code for that console was made to abuse certain physical bugs in the hardware.

For our test, we use the popular Dolphin emulation software, and run a compute project through it to determine how close to a standard console system our processors can emulate. In this test, a Nintendo Wii would take around 1050 seconds.

The latest version of Dolphin can be downloaded from https://dolphin-emu.org/

Dolphin 5.0 Render Test

Dolphin is another ST test, and Intel's 4.7+ GHz family are ahead of AMD here. The 3700X is a smidgen ahead of the 3950X, perhaps due to having only one chiplet rather than two.

DigiCortex 1.20: Sea Slug Brain Simulation

This benchmark was originally designed for simulation and visualization of neuron and synapse activity, as is commonly found in the brain. The software comes with a variety of benchmark modes, and we take the small benchmark which runs a 32k neuron / 1.8B synapse simulation, equivalent to a Sea Slug.

Example of a 2.1B neuron simulation

We report the results as the ability to simulate the data as a fraction of real-time, so anything above a ‘one’ is suitable for real-time work. Out of the two modes, a ‘non-firing’ mode which is DRAM heavy and a ‘firing’ mode which has CPU work, we choose the latter. Despite this, the benchmark is still affected by DRAM speed a fair amount.

DigiCortex can be downloaded from http://www.digicortex.net/

DigiCortex 1.20 (32k Neuron, 1.8B Synapse)

DigiCortex likes memory channels, and so Intel's HEDT chips win here. Again we see the 3700X beating the 3950X, likely due to the available bandwidth per core being higher and more cores not making much of a difference in performance.

y-Cruncher v0.7.6: Microarchitecture Optimized Compute

I’ve known about y-Cruncher for a while, as a tool to help compute various mathematical constants, but it wasn’t until I began talking with its developer, Alex Yee, a researcher from NWU and now software optimization developer, that I realized that he has optimized the software like crazy to get the best performance. Naturally, any simulation that can take 20+ days can benefit from a 1% performance increase! Alex started y-cruncher as a high-school project, but it is now at a state where Alex is keeping it up to date to take advantage of the latest instruction sets before they are even made available in hardware.

For our test we run y-cruncher v0.7.6 through all the different optimized variants of the binary, single threaded and multi-threaded, including the AVX-512 optimized binaries. The test is to calculate 250m digits of Pi, and we use the single threaded and multi-threaded versions of this test.

Users can download y-cruncher from Alex’s website: http://www.numberworld.org/y-cruncher/

y-Cruncher 0.7.6 Single Thread, 250m Digitsy-Cruncher 0.7.6 Multi-Thread, 250m Digits

y-Cruncher is another piece of software that can use AVX-512, but AMD still comes very close. For single threadeded AVX2, the 5.0 GHz CPUs from Intel have a small lead, but in multi-threaded AVX2 the 16-cores with Zen 2 allow AMD to power through Intel's maintream offerings by 25%.

Agisoft Photoscan 1.3.3: 2D Image to 3D Model Conversion

One of the ISVs that we have worked with for a number of years is Agisoft, who develop software called PhotoScan that transforms a number of 2D images into a 3D model. This is an important tool in model development and archiving, and relies on a number of single threaded and multi-threaded algorithms to go from one side of the computation to the other.

In our test, we take v1.3.3 of the software with a good sized data set of 84 x 18 megapixel photos and push it through a reasonably fast variant of the algorithms, but is still more stringent than our 2017 test. We report the total time to complete the process.

Agisoft’s Photoscan website can be found here: http://www.agisoft.com/

Agisoft Photoscan 1.3.3, Complex Test

This variable threaded workload shows the power of AMD's 16 Zen 2 cores at a high frequency. Despite 5.0 GHz all-core turbo being on the 9900K, only having 8 cores lets it down here. Intel's HEDT line of processors just don't have the per-core performance to keep up.

Test Bed and Setup CPU Performance: Rendering Tests
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  • zmatt - Thursday, November 14, 2019 - link

    Maybe they should stop using such an old and buggy game as a bench mark then since its trivial to hit more than acceptable frames with modern hardware.
  • imaheadcase - Thursday, November 14, 2019 - link

    Um they are using 1080p, its not GPU bound be any stretch of the imagination on the games they tested. lol
  • Spunjji - Thursday, November 14, 2019 - link

    Boost frequency isn't guaranteed, so it's not false advertising any more than Intel's TDP.

    If the games you're playing are a few years old and your GPU is sufficient to make the CPU the limit, you'll likely see no real-world benefit from anything above the Ryzen 3600X / Core i5 9600. Discussion of high-end CPUs rapidly becomes moot, even for that niche-within-a-niche.
  • shaolin81 - Thursday, November 14, 2019 - link

    Problem isn't the chip, but the fact they tested it with High Performance profile, which nearly never parks idle cores and therefore there's nearly no change to hit max Turbo on single core. If they try Balanced profile, the would reach 4.7 or 4.75 more easily.
    I'm wondering how Anandtech doesn't know this.
  • GlossGhost - Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - link

    Quite a lot of people don't know this. Maybe we, who know, are stupid instead?
  • Targon - Thursday, November 14, 2019 - link

    One thing to consider is motherboard and the VRMs on the motherboard, power supply, and even RAM. There was an issue causing slightly lower CPU performance prior to AGESA, and is supposed to help a bit as well.

    You also don't take into account that the IPC of the new Ryzen chips is actually a bit better than what you see with the i9-9900k and ks. It may not be enough to offset the clock speed difference, but it does come into play.

    Now, the other thing that will come into play is the security problems that keep showing up. Security mitigations are put into place, and Intel chips get another slowdown. In another year or two, Ryzen third generation vs. the 9900ks might actually be completely even with zero advantage to Intel. You may not be worried about security, but if an OS update puts in the security patches, your performance WILL drop.

    We only have another 7 months until the next generation Ryzen chips come out with another 8 percent IPC improvements, will Intel still be on 14nm with a 10900k being the high end from Intel without any IPC improvements?
  • zmatt - Thursday, November 14, 2019 - link

    What's the highest refresh rate you can get on gaming monitors today? 144hz right? When both Intel and AMD's best are exceeding 144fps in these benchmarks is there a real world difference between the two? I don't think so. You can only be as fast as your refresh rate ultimately.
  • brantron - Thursday, November 14, 2019 - link

    There are 240 Hz monitors with FreeSync and/or G-Sync, so you could (hopefully) run games somewhere between there and 144 Hz without stuttering.

    I've only seen comparisons to 60 Hz, though, and that's really going to depend on the game.
  • Winnetou - Thursday, November 14, 2019 - link

    The highest refresh rate is 300hz now, thuogh it's only one monitor now. There are multiple 240hz ones though.

    Even so, your point is actually worthless here. Having a really high framerate does help with responsiveness and input lag. That's why top CS players still play at 720p low, on 600 FPS. For casuals like us it may be worthless, but for them it isn't. And maybe even for us it won't be, just too small of a difference to be quatifiable.
  • RSAUser - Friday, November 15, 2019 - link

    The frame rate that high is to avoid lows.

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