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picCOLOR
It's been a while since we tested CPUs with picCOLOR, but we now have the latest version of this image-analysis tool in our hands courtesy of Dr. Reinert H.G. Mueller of the FIBUS research institute. This isn't Photoshop; picCOLOR's image analysis capabilities can be used for scientific applications like particle flow analysis. In its current form, picCOLOR supports AVX2 instructions, multi-core CPUs, and simultaneous multithreading, so it's an ideal match for the CPUs on our bench. Check out FIBUS' page for more information about the institute's work and picCOLOR.

picCOLOR offers an interesting shake-up in our results for once. Although the i9-7900X still totally outruns every other chip in our stable, this time it's trailed by the Ryzen 7 1800X instead of the Core i7-6950X. Faster memory still doesn't do squat for the 7900X, though.

STARS Euler3D
Euler3D tackles the difficult problem of simulating fluid dynamics. It tends to be very memory-bandwidth intensive. You can read more about it right here. We configured Euler3D to use every thread available from each of our CPUs.

Interesting. Euler3D seems to lean on the memory subsystem in ways that are particularly amenable to high performance with the i7-6950X and not so much so for the i9-7900X. Not every workload benefits from Intel's rebalanced cache hierarchy with Skylake-X, it seems.

Digital audio workstation performance
DAWBench is a popular addition to our CPU test suite, and we're now working directly with the creator of DAWBench, Vin Curigliano, to refine our testing methods. As part of that collaborative effort, Vin provided us with a beta version of the DAWBench DSP 2017 benchmark. We're leaving DAWBench's virtual instrument test on the bench this time around, however, since these high-powered Intel CPUs tend to max out the benchmark and an updated version of the test isn't quite ready yet.

DAWBench DSP 2017 relies on the freely-available Shattered Glass Audio SGA1566 VST plugin. We used the 64-bit version of this VST in our testing. DAWBench DSP lets us enable instances of this plugin until the session becomes unresponsive. We used Reaper as our host DAW for the test, and we monitored the project using a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface with the company's latest USB ASIO drivers. We set a 96 KHz sampling rate and used two ASIO buffer depths: a punishing 64 and a slightly-less-punishing 128.

As we've come to expect, the i9-7900X delivers a modest performance improvement in this test versus the Core i7-6950X. Strangely, the 7900X-and-DDR4-3200 pairing actually performs worse than its DDR4-2666-equipped configuration, though. We'll have to monitor this test and see whether it's a behavior that changes as the X299 platform matures.