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Test notes
We have focused our testing today on the question of thread-level parallelism, in part because we believe that is the most important performance question one can explore in relation to multi-core processors. However, we are excited about the possibilities for better multitasking that may come with dual-core CPUs, and we'd be glad to take your suggestions for testing multitasking scenarios.

Also, we have included results for the Pentium D 840 in our testing, which we obtained by disabling Hyper-Threading on our Extreme Edition 840. Since the Pentium D 840 is just an Extreme Edition 840 sans HT, the numbers should be valid.

Our testing methods
As ever, we did our best to deliver clean benchmark numbers. Tests were run at least twice, and the results were averaged.

Our test systems were configured like so:

Processor Opteron 148 2.2GHz
Opteron 152 2.6GHz
Opteron 175 2.2GHz
Dual Opteron 248 2.2GHz
Dual Opteron 252 2.6GHz
Dual Opteron 275 2.2GHz
Xeon 3.2GHz (Nocona 1MB)
Xeon 3.4GHz (Nocona 1MB)
Dual Xeon 3.2GHz (Nocona 1MB)
Dual Xeon 3.4GHz (Nocona 1MB)
Pentium 4 660 3.6GHz
Pentium D 840 3.2GHz
Pentium Extreme Edition 840 3.2GHz
Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz Athlon 64 3800+ 2.4GHz (Venice)
Athlon 64 4000+ 2.4GHz
Athlon 64 FX-55 2.6GHz
Athlon 64 X2 4200+ 2.2GHz
Athlon 64 X2 4800+ 2.4GHz
System bus 1GHz HyperTransport 800MHz (200MHz quad-pumped) 800MHz (200MHz quad-pumped) 1066MHz (266MHz quad-pumped) 1GHz HyperTransport
Motherboard Tyan Thunder K8WE S2895 SuperMicro X6DAL-G Intel D955XBK Intel D955XBK Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe
BIOS revision 2/21/2005 beta 080010 BK95510J.86A.1152 BK95510J.86A.1234 MCT2/dualcore
North bridge nForce Professional 2200
nForce Professional 2050
AMD 8131 PCI-X Tunnel
Intel E7525 955X MCH 955X MCH nForce4 SLI
South bridge 6300ESB ICH7R ICH7R
Chipset drivers SMBus driver 4.45
IDE driver 4.75
OS integrated INF Update 7.0.0.1019 INF Update 7.0.0.1019 SMBus driver 4.45
IDE driver 4.75
Memory size 2GB (4 DIMMs) 2GB (4 DIMMs) 1GB (2 DIMMs) 1GB (2 DIMMs) 1GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type OCZ PC3200 512MB registered ECC DDR SDRAM at 400MHz Kingston PC3200 512MB registered ECC DDR DRAM at 333MHz Corsiar XMS2 5400UL DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz Corsiar XMS2 5400UL DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz Corsair XMS Pro 3200XL DDR SDRAM at 400MHz
CAS latency (CL) 3 2.5 3 4 2
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 3 3 2 2 2
RAS precharge (tRP) 3 3 2 2 2
Cycle time (tRAS) 8 7 8 8 5
Hard drive Maxtor DiamondMax 10 250GB SATA 150
Audio Integrated nForce4/AD1981B
with NVIDIA 4.60 drivers
Integrated 6300ESB/ALC650
with Realtek 5.10.0.5820 drivers
Integrated ICH7R/STAC9221D5
with SigmaTel 5.10.4456.0 drivers
Integrated ICH7R/STAC9221D5
with SigmaTel 5.10.4456.0 drivers
Integrated nForce4/ALC850
with Realtek 5.10.0.5820 drivers
Graphics GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB PCI-E with ForceWare 71.84 drivers
OS Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
OS updates -

Note that we have more total memory on the workstation-class setups. I don't believe any of our benchmarks are constrained by available RAM in a 1GB system, but you'll still want to keep the difference in mind.

All tests on the Pentium systems were run with Hyper-Threading enabled, except where otherwise noted.

Thanks to Corsair, OCZ, and Kingston for providing us with memory for our testing. This matchup required lots of high-quality RAM, so we had to spread the love around. All three brands are far and away superior to generic, no-name memory.

Also, all of our test systems were powered by OCZ PowerStream power supply units. The PowerStream was one of our Editor's Choice winners in our latest PSU round-up.

The test systems' Windows desktops were set at 1152x864 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The tests and methods we employ are generally publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.