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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday October 10 2018, @04:04AM   Printer-friendly
from the unsurprising dept.

The Core i9 Gaming Benchmarks Intel Commissioned Against AMD Are a Flat Lie

Intel — or to be precise, a company Intel hired to create a whitepaper on Core i9 gaming performance — has crossed that line. According to Forbes, Intel contracted with Principled Technologies to distribute a whitepaper containing various claims about gaming performance between Intel's upcoming Core i9-9900K and Core i7-8700K and the AMD Threadripper 2990WX, 2950X, and Ryzen 7 2700X. With AMD having surged into competitive positioning in the past 18 months and Intel taking heat from its 10nm delays, Chipzilla has every reason to push a narrative that puts it in the driving seat of gaming. But Intel is using this whitepaper to claim that it's up to 50 percent faster than AMD in gaming based on Ashes of the Singularity in particular, and that's where the problems start. The Intel results are somewhat higher than we'd expect, but the AMD CPUs — particularly the Ryzen 7 2700X — are crippled.

There are several problems with the AMD benchmarks as run by Principled Technologies. PT was careful to document its own configuration steps on both systems, which is why we know what, precisely, the company did wrong. First, the Ryzen systems were tested without XMP enabled. XMP is the high-end memory timing standard that enthusiast kits use to hit maximum performance and Ryzen gaming performance is often tied directly to its RAM clock and sub-timings. Using substandard timing could lower Ryzen's performance by 5-15 percent. Second, all of the benchmarks in question were run using a GTX 1080 Ti and a resolution of just 1080p. If you wanted to create a report tailor-made to Ryzen's weaknesses, that's the resolution you'd use. Unfair? Not necessarily — it's the most common resolution after all. But there's a reason we include 1440p and 4K results in our resolutions comparisons for gaming, and Intel/Principled didn't do so.

Third, Principled Technologies notes that it enabled "Game Mode" in AMD's Ryzen Master utility. The implication is that it did this on both systems. This can have serious side effects on how well an AMD system benchmarks. On Threadripper, engaging Game Mode cuts the CPU core count in half and enables NUMA to allow the remaining CPU cores to schedule workloads on the cores closest to the memory controllers. On Ryzen 7, clicking Game Mode just cuts the core count in half. That's why AMD's user guide for Ryzen 7 specifically states that Game Mode is reserved principally for Threadripper and that Ryzen customers shouldn't use it [...] the 50 percent performance gain that Intel claims for itself is exactly the kind of result we'd expect if the 2700X had been crippled by having its CPU neutered.

In addition to what is mentioned above, AMD's stock Ryzen 7 2700X Wraith Prism cooler was used for the AMD system while a premium Noctua NH-U14S cooler was used for the Intel system. This could allow the system to hit higher frequencies for longer periods of time.

See also: Intel Stands Behind Controversial Tests That Favored Its CPU Over AMD's

Previously: Intel Announces 9th Generation Desktop Processors, Including a Mainstream 8-Core CPU


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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by RamiK on Wednesday October 10 2018, @07:30AM (2 children)

    by RamiK (1813) on Wednesday October 10 2018, @07:30AM (#746855)

    Why even allow half the cores to be disabled on the budget processor?

    it's a load-specific scheduling consideration: Most games aren't that well optimized and don't benefit from more than a couple of threads so giving them fewer, but dedicated, cores reduces context switching and, ultimately, improves performance.

    I believe this is still common place with recent Unity engine titles. Especially independent ones.

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday October 10 2018, @07:49AM (1 child)

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday October 10 2018, @07:49AM (#746862) Journal

    IIRC, Game Mode was always intended for Threadripper, because some games would not react well to 16 cores (or 32 threads). Although not that many titles had issues.

    Incidentally, Threadripper 2's 24- and 32-core variants have slower memory/PCIe access for half of the cores [anandtech.com]:

    For 32 cores, AMD takes the same 32-core EPYC silicon, but upgrades it to Zen+ on 12nm for a higher frequency and lower power. However, to make it socket compatible with the first generation, it is slightly neutered: we have to go back to four memory channels and 60 lanes of PCIe. AMD wants users to think of this as an upgraded first generation product, with more cores, rather than a cut enterprise part. The easy explanation is to do with product segmentation, a tactic both companies have used over time to offer a range of products.

    As a result, one way of visioning the new second generation 32-core and 24-core products is bi-modal: half the chip has access to the full resources, similar to the first generation product, while the other half of the chip doubles the same compute resources but has additional memory and PCIe latency compared to the first half. For any user that is entirely compute bound, and not memory or PCIe bound, then AMD has the product for you.

    In our review, we’ll see that this bi-modal performance difference can have a significant effect, both good and bad, and is very workload dependent.

    So, Game Mode is not for Ryzen... right? Except that the rumor mill thinks that AMD will release a 💥mainstream🔥 16 core Ryzen next year since they will probably double the amount of cores per CCX with "7nm" Zen 2.

    One more thing: The Game Mode on Threadripper was originally described [anandtech.com] as disabling one of the two dies. Threadripper 2 has either 2 or 4 dies. Ryzen just has 1 die. So is Game Mode on Ryzen just disabling cores on the same die? Maybe the setting doesn't actually do anything with single-die Ryzen and the shady company is in the clear on that point. It would be nice to get clarification on that.

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    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10 2018, @02:33PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10 2018, @02:33PM (#746959)

      Intentions aside, the reason it was kept around for everyone else was because it's useful for some games regardless. There plenty of reddit posts of people trying it out and reporting improved FPS in older games and you can probably just try it yourself and see.