Testing Configuration and Theories on Performance

Anytime we have a completely new architecture to test from a processor or graphics card point of view, a whole lot of additional testing is done up front in order to confirm (or deny) theories and speculations on technology performance.  While we have already looked at the performance of Llano in the mobile space the desktop platform provides us with many more permutations and available configurations of the hardware to really get into the data of the design.  For example, now with a motherboard BIOS and options we are used to seeing we can test for overclocking and performance changes with memory speeds, etc. 

What exactly are we going to be testing for today?  Quite a bit actually.  Here is a list:

  • General processor performance – how well do the slightly revamped "Stars" cores on the A8-3850 compare to the x86 performance of Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPUs?
  • Graphics performance – does the GPU portion of Llano really have the power to bring entry-level discrete graphics at such a reasonable price point?  How does it compare to the processor graphics found on Sandy Bridge?
  • Memory performance – now that the memory controller is being used by both x86 and GPU cores, how does memory speed affect overall performance?  Will memory overclocking help for integrated graphics users?
  • Dual Graphics performance – does the integrated + discrete graphics technology that AMD is touting really live up to the claims?  Can it improve performance for budget gamers?
  • Power consumption – how does the Llano core compare to budget priced Sandy Bridge processors in terms of performance per watt for both x86 processing and graphics processing?

There will be other points of interest along the way, but I think those will really cover the meat of the matter when it comes to judging the new AMD A-series against the competition from Intel.  

Here is our system configuration as we used for testing:

  • A8-3850 Testing System Configuration
  • AMD A8-3850 APU
  • ASRock A75 Pro4 motherboard
  • 4GB Corsair DDR3 memory (CPU tests run at 1333 MHz 7-7-7-20)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285 – 270.61 driver (used in some CPU performance testing for direct apples-to-apples comparing with Intel processors tested previously)
  • Intel X25-M G2 160GB SSD
  • PC Power and Cooling 1200 watt PSU (WAAAY overkill for this configuration but again used for consistency between platforms)
  • Windows 7 SP1 64-bit

Lowest idling frequency

Settings were adjusted after to 7-7-7-20 for testing

Integrated Radeon HD 6550D graphics running here

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