Cinebench R20 ditches the graphics test

Cinebench: Regardless what you think about the software, you know of it. It's ubiquitous in hardware reviews across the web because, if nothing else, it's extremely easy to automate. The version of Cinebench that you're likely to find in CPU reviews to date is Cinebench R15, released in September 2013. (Yeah, more than five years ago.) It's time for a new version, and Maxon has responded with Cinebench R20.

In case you're wondering (as I was) about the large jump in version numbers, it's because these Cinebench releases are intended to be representative of the performance of Maxon's curiously-named Cinema 4D 3D animation package, which just hit its 20th release. The latest version of Cinebench is a major upgrade for the benchmark, because R20 is now based on Intel's Embree ray-tracing kernels that are optimized for AVX, AVX2, and AVX-512 instructions found in more recent Intel and AMD processors. Those same kernels can be found in other software, including open-source Cinema 4D competitor Blender, which has a pending patch that will add Embree support to its Cycles renderer.

There's no more GPU test in the new version; it's a pure CPU benchmark now. Maxon says the vastly more complex scene in Cinebench R20 (compared to R15) requires around 8x the processing power and 4x the memory. The company also notes that the benchmark "will not launch on unsupported processors," although what exactly qualifies as an "unsupported processor" is anyone's guess at this point. The new benchmark does require a 64-bit version of Windows and at least 4 GB of RAM. 

Oddly, Maxon also claims that Cinebench R20 will run on Windows 7 SP1 even though the application is available only from the Microsoft Store. Mac users can grab it on the app store. If you'd like to benchmark your system—or just look at the pretty pictures—you can grab Cinebench R20 at Maxon's website.

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