SiSoft SANDRA 2002 is an interesting suite of individual benchmarks and system utilities. The CPU benchmarks are artificial tests that can give a different view of processor and subsystem performance, far away from application-based testing. The benchmarks that truly isolate processor performance are the CPU Arithmetic and Multi-Media tests. Please note that in all CPU testing, there was no change in the default activation of all MMX, SSE and SSE2 enhancements.
The first stop on the SiSoft SANDRA train is for the CPU Arithmetic tests. These highlight the theoretical performance of the ALU (integer) and FPU (floating-point) portions of each CPU. In our SANDRA ALU testing, the Athlon XP 2700+ pushes AMD out to an even larger lead, and comes within a hair of topping the 6000 mark. The FPU scores place the Intel Pentium 4 back on top, but note that this includes SSE2 enhancements in the total score.
The CPU Multi-Media benchmarks are split in the exact same way, with the Athlon XP 2700+ taking the ALU section, while the Pentium 4-2.8 GHz wins in the FPU area. The big difference is that AMD closes the gap quite substantially when multimedia extensions are brought into the FPU equation, and loses out to the Pentium 4-2.8 GHz by the smallest of margins.
The SiSoft SANDRA memory bandwidth tests are the most popular section of the benchmark suite, and give us an excellent opportunity to examine the potential benefits of an AMD 333 MHz front-side bus. The differences here are quite startling, especially when comparing the 266 MHz Athlon XP 2600+ to the new 333 MHz Athlon XP 2700+. AMD still falls a bit behind the SiS 645DX/Pentium 4 combination, but the Intel DDR lead has shrunk considerably. As usual, RDRAM holds court in overall bandwidth, even when comparing basic PC800 to DDR333.
PCMark 2002 Pro is an intriguing system benchmark, as it relates more to a more generic computer application usage pattern. Instead of relying on synthetic scores or actual business applications, it cuts a swath between the two methodologies. PCMark 2002 Pro performs CPU tasks such as image compression, text search and audio conversion, while combining this with a selection of similar benchmarks for memory, hard drive and video components. As we are dealing specifically with processors, the two portions we tested are the CPU and Memory benchmarks.
In the PCMark Pro 2002 CPU test, the Athlon XP 2700+ increases performance levels above that of previous Athlon XP models, yet still falls back of the Pentium 4-2.8 GHz. The actual performance jump is a combination of the slightly higher core speed and the 333 MHz FSB, and help the Athlon XP 2700+ achieve a higher score than older Athlon XP processors.
The PCMark 2002 Memory test is a slightly different story, and shows less of a performance gain than SiSoft SANDRA. The Athlon XP 2700+ does demonstrate a performance jump compared to the Athlon XP 2600+, but still loses out big to the Pentium 4. Some of this discrepancy is due to the differences in CPU design, as the 512K L2 cache of the Pentium 4 lends itself better to some of the large data-set tests found in PCMark 2002.