Intel Core i7 Application Results

We take the Intel Core i7 965EE, 940, and 920 processors, and run them through six "content creation" applications stretching from Premiere Pro CS4 to encoding MP3s. Clock-for-clock comparisons are supplied as well as a look at what two extra cores get you compared to the "old" dually Core 2 Duo E8500.

Applications

When it comes to quad core processors, content creation applications are where the rubber meets the road. While we are covering gaming today as well, do not doubt for one second that content creation is where the Intel Core i7 is going to sell with the biggest purpose. Gamers and hardware enthusiasts are going to talk i7 up, but content production houses are going to be the ones buying in bulk!

Synthetic benchmarks are great, but they do not get your work done and they certainly do not keep your workload efficient. While most of our applications here are focused more on end users, we do have an Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 workload featured at the end of this article. We have only had the program in our hands for a couple of days, but it does seem to very much leverage processor cores beyond two.

So letآ’s get to some applications that many of you reading right now likely use that are outside the realm of gaming and benchmarks. And while I have read that the Core i7 has made great advances in the speed of Excel spreadsheets, well I hope someoneآ’s god blesses you so you never have to find out first hand.

Test System Specifications:

Intel Core i7 965EE (3.2GHz - 24*133MHz), Core i7 940 (2.93 - 22*133MHz), Core i7 920 (2.66 - 20*133MHz)

ASUS P6T Deluxe X58 Motherboard

Corsair 3 x 2GB TRGX6G11600C8S @ 8-8-8-24-1.65v

Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (3.2GHz آ– 16*200MHz), Core 2 Duo E8500 (3.16GHz - 9.5*167)

Corsair 2 x 2GB CM3X2048-1600C7DHXIN @ 8-8-8-24 @ 1.91v

Shared Components:

DivX Converter

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DivX and Intel have both claimed in the past that DivX is a programmed to take advantage of Intel processors as well as being able to reach into multiple cores. As we show again here, DivX is not the poster child for multithreading. It does however slightly use all 4 cores in our quad core processors, but not with the zeal we see in our multithreaded synthetic benchmarks.

Looking at our Core 2 and i7 processors both at 3.2GHz we see that Nehalem CPU comes in around 15% faster than the last آ“Conroeآ” generation core. Certainly a welcomed benefit, but hardly a reason to rush out and purchase a new CPU.

Lame 3.98.1

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The LAME MP3 encoder has been around for a LONG time and is distinctly single threaded in nature. Still one thing that many of us do is encode MP3s as I know many of us like to get high quality music files for our needs. The new 3.2GHz i7 shows to come in just a bit faster than the legacy Core 2 at 3.2GHz. Again, no reason to run out and buy a new CPU.

Worth mentioning here though is that the WAV file you see encoded here is an hour long. Where is takes 2 minutes on a new Core i7 processor, it would have taken you over 5 minutes on a 2.8GHz dual core Pentium 4.

WinRAR v3.80

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WinRAR is a program that many enthusiasts use on a daily basis and it is butt kicker when it comes to memory bandwidth. In fact, it is probably the best test of memory bandwidth on the planet that actually has its foot in the door of real world testing.

You will notice that our i7 at a much slower clock of 2.66GHz still manages to outpace the Core 2 3.2GHz processor in this application while the 3.2GHz i7 simply blows the older processors with much less memory bandwidth out of the water by about 25%.

Videora IPod Converter v4.02

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This is a new test for us. I came across it while looking for something آ“easyآ” in the realm of video encoding. Videora is a آ“one clickآ” converter for tons of video types. In this instance we are taking a DVD rip and encoding for use on an iPod iPhone 3G. This application does make great use of the processor cores available to it.

While the i7 is not a tremendous standout here, if you are looking at moving from a dual core CPU, there is plenty of reason to do so if you would use an application like this a bunch. All said, Nehalem vs Core 2 clock-for-clock, the i7 edges out the Core 2 being about 15% faster.

TMPGEnc 4.0 Xpress v4.6.2.266

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TMPGEnc has been around a long time and is extremely adept at reaching into multicore CPUs. In this instance we are taking the save DVD rip above, and encoding it into a WMV file.

In this encoding application the i7 shows to be about 13% faster.

Premiere Pro CS4

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I have had my copy of Premiere Pro CS4 in my possession for about 48 hours as of writing this. I did not have time to get a آ“properآ” PPCS4 workload together, so I simply threw some encoding at it. I use PP to encode our own videos to Flash or آ“FLVآ” files and that is what I did in this case. I took a TV show in the form of an AVI and encoded it to flash while cutting down the bitrate and resolution.

I did check the Core 2 3.16GHz dual core score and got a repeatable result. Why the quadcore Core 2 at 3.2GHz CPU would be 70% faster is not making much sense to me and we will be looking more into that. (So check back with us.)

The 13 minute score crushes the graph and makes the i7 encoding time look a bit less impressive than I think it truly is. Clock-for-clock the i7 shows to be over 20% faster than the Core 2. That could be a very big deal if you are dealing with 1+ hour encodes as we often do around here while rendering from the Premiere Pro timeline.

The Bottom Line

The Intel Core i7 looks to be doing very well in the encoding and content creation arena. Simply put, these are areas that can benefit greatly from 10% to 20% faster encode times. While this may not be realized on the آ“normalآ” consumersآ’ desktops, there is no doubt in my mind that some of our آ“file sharing enthusiastsآ” as well as content creation professionals will see huge benefits in gaining an edge on current efficiency problems. If you currently using a dual core system the Core i7 seems to be a perfect processor to transition to that can save you some encoding cycles.

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Intel Core i7 Processors

Discussion

Please join our HardForum discussion on Core i7 and applications.