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Athlon K8 and Intel Core 2 architectures compared

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Posted October 30, 2008 by admin in CPU & Motherboards

When Intel released the first Core 2 Duo, it was a quantum leap in performance and efficiency compared to the previous P4-based designs. After two years of lagging in gaming performance, Intel took the lead in a rather dramatic fashion from AMD?s K8 ? with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo often outperforming a 2.8GHz Athlon64 FX-62. When July 16th, 2006 rolled around there were probably dozens of reviews testifying to this fact with a broad spectrum of gaming benchmarks.

Testing performance is valuable, as it helps consumers decide what products to purchase. However, it often does little to explain the results. In some cases it is clear ? for instance, many people know that the SPECfp sub-tests are extremely bandwidth dependent and likely to show an increase in performance for anything which improves memory bandwidth.

A while back, we wrote an overview of VTune ? Intel?s performance analysis tool. AMD also offers a similar tool, CodeAnalyst. In this review we will use these tools to examine several gaming benchmarks at various settings to try and explore the reasons for the performance differences between the dual core AMD K8 and Intel?s Core 2 Duo. This first part focuses on examining comparable aspects of the two microarchitectures, such as the overall IPC, branch prediction and cache hierarchies. The second piece will focus on some microarchitecture specific aspects of each CPU (such as macro-op fusion for the Core 2).

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