Intel Core i7-970 Processor Review, Lower Cost 6-Core

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LAME Audio Conversion and x264 Video Encoding

In our custom LAME MT MP3 encoding test, we convert a large WAV file to the MP3 format, which is a popular scenario that many end users work with on a day-to-day basis to provide portability and storage of their digital audio content.  LAME is an open-source mid to high bit-rate and VBR (variable bit rate) MP3 audio encoder that is used widely around the world in a multitude of third party applications.

LAME MT
Audio Encoding

In this test, we created our own 223MB WAV file (a long, droning Grateful Dead jam) and converted it to the MP3 format using the multi-thread capable LAME MT application in single and multi-thread modes. Processing times are recorded below, listed in seconds. Shorter times equate to better performance.

  

A single instance of the LAME MT benchmark can process only two threads simultaneously, hence, the similarly clocked Core i7-970 and i7-975 perform right on top of each other here in multithread mode but the 970, as expected, is a little slower in single thread mode due to it's lower core clock and Turbo Boost speed. Another thing this test shows is that there are no performance-improving core enhancements in the Gulftown core versus Bloomfield, with clock-for-clock dual-threaded performance shaking out exactly the same between generations.

x264 Video Encoding Benchmark
H.264 HD Video Encoding

The x264 benchmark measures how fast a system can encode a short, DVD quality MPEG-2 video clip into a high-quality H.264 HD video clip. The application reports the compression results in frames per second for each pass of the video encoding process, and it is threaded so it can take advantage of the additional resources afforded by multi-core processors.

The Core i7-970 additional cores and cache allowed it to pull well ahead of any other processor in the X.264 video encoding benchmark, with the exception of its big brother, the 3.3GHz 980X Extreme. Here, the Core i7-970 is between 10% and 43% faster than the Core i7-975 which is measurably faster than the remaining processors in this test.  AMD's chips, as is painfully obvious in the graph, bring up the rear but a significant margin.


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