SPEC CPU - Single-Threaded Performance

SPEC2017 and SPEC2006 is a series of standardized tests used to probe the overall performance between different systems, different architectures, different microarchitectures, and setups. The code has to be compiled, and then the results can be submitted to an online database for comparison. It covers a range of integer and floating point workloads, and can be very optimized for each CPU, so it is important to check how the benchmarks are being compiled and run.

We run the tests in a harness built through Windows Subsystem for Linux, developed by our own Andrei Frumusanu. WSL has some odd quirks, with one test not running due to a WSL fixed stack size, but for like-for-like testing is good enough. SPEC2006 is deprecated in favor of 2017, but remains an interesting comparison point in our data. Because our scores aren’t official submissions, as per SPEC guidelines we have to declare them as internal estimates from our part.

For compilers, we use LLVM both for C/C++ and Fortan tests, and for Fortran we’re using the Flang compiler. The rationale of using LLVM over GCC is better cross-platform comparisons to platforms that have only have LLVM support and future articles where we’ll investigate this aspect more. We’re not considering closed-sourced compilers such as MSVC or ICC.

clang version 10.0.0
clang version 7.0.1 (ssh://git@github.com/flang-compiler/flang-driver.git

-Ofast -fomit-frame-pointer
-mfma -mavx -mavx2

Our compiler flags are straightforward, with basic –Ofast and relevant ISA switches to allow for AVX2 instructions. We decided to build our SPEC binaries on AVX2, which puts a limit on Haswell as how old we can go before the testing will fall over. This also means we don’t have AVX512 binaries, primarily because in order to get the best performance, the AVX-512 intrinsic should be packed by a proper expert, as with our AVX-512 benchmark.

To note, the requirements for the SPEC licence state that any benchmark results from SPEC have to be labelled ‘estimated’ until they are verified on the SPEC website as a meaningful representation of the expected performance. This is most often done by the big companies and OEMs to showcase performance to customers, however is quite over the top for what we do as reviewers.

Single-threaded performance of TGL-H shouldn’t be drastically different from that of TGL-U, however there’s a few factors which can come into play and affect the results: The i9-11980HK TGL-H system has a 200MHz higher boost frequency compared to the i7-1185G7, and a single core now has access to up to 24MB of L3 instead of just 12MB.

SPECint2017 Rate-1 Estimated Scores

In SPECint2017, the one results which stands out the most if 502.gcc_r where the TGL-H processor lands in at +16% ahead of TGL-U, undoubtedly due to the increased L3 size of the new chip.

Generally speaking, the new TGL-H chip outperforms its brethren and AMD competitors in almost all tests.

SPECfp2017 Rate-1 Estimated Scores

In the SPECfp2017 suite, we also see general small improvements across the board. The 549.fotonik3d_r test sees a regression which is a bit odd, but I think is related to the LPDDR4 vs DDR4 discrepancy in the systems which I’ll get back to in the next page where we’ll see more multi-threaded results related to this.

SPEC2017 Rate-1 Estimated Total

From an overall single-threaded performance standpoint, the TGL-H i9-11980HK adds in around +3.5-7% on top of what we saw on the i7-1185G7, which lands it amongst the best performing systems – not only amongst laptop CPUs, but all CPUs. The performance lead against AMD’s strongest mobile CPU, the 5980HS is even a little higher than against the i7-1185G7, but loses out against AMD’s best desktop CPU, and of course Apple M1 CPU and SoC used in the latest Macbooks. This latter comparison is apples-to-apples in terms of compiler settings, and is impressive given it does it at around 1/3rd of the package power under single-threaded scenarios.

CPU Tests: Core-to-Core and Cache Latency SPEC CPU - Multi-Threaded Performance


View All Comments

  • schujj07 - Monday, May 17, 2021 - link

    You are comparing a gaming laptop against a high end professional laptop. First the 4900HS is a 35W CPU and the 10810U is a 15W CPU. If both laptops have equally size batteries, the one with the lower TDP "should" have longer battery life. On top of the the G14 has a 120Hz display and a dGPU. Both of those will pull extra power and the screen was specifically talked about in reviews of the laptop. Setting the screen to a 60Hz refresh rate instead of 120Hz significantly increased battery life. Finally the weird freezes is most likely due to the dual GPU design and switching between the iGPU and dGPU. Unless you are using so much RAM that you are page swapping. Reply
  • Otritus - Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - link

    @schujj07 I have the same zephyrus laptop as morello159. I haven't experienced weird freezes when switching between gpus on mine, or my old laptop with an intel processor and nvidia gpu, so optimus working isn't likely to be causing the freezing. The random high power draw is a valid complaint though. I think the randomness is caused by Asus's turbo settings, which was mostly fixed by me modifying power limits and disabling turbo. But, the default experience is the processor randomly boosting ridiculously high when it should be in a near idle state and not clocking anywhere near as high. Like the chip randomly pushes all 8 cores to 3.8Ghz, when it should be running in the 1.4-1.7Ghz range. Reply
  • bji - Monday, May 17, 2021 - link

    Why should I care AT ALL that one platform has been more stable *for you* (your words)? You are irrelevant. Just one piece of anecdotal data. Reply
  • Calin - Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - link

    They are trading blows in performance, but AMD is doing that on 35W instead of 45W for Intel.
    For manufacturers that use the same chassis with Intel AND AMD processors, the Intel one will run hotter, be noisier and/or have lower battery life when working hard (I don't seem to find anything related to idle/low power consumption).
  • jenesuispasbavard - Monday, May 17, 2021 - link

    If you're planning on further testing, maybe using Intel XTU you can limit the PL1/PL2 to 45W and see how that performs? Reply
  • jenesuispasbavard - Monday, May 17, 2021 - link

    Maybe I should scroll to page 2 before commenting on page 1... Reply
  • vyor - Monday, May 17, 2021 - link

    I'm sorry, but your SPECFP2017 results are just wrong. There is no possible way that the 1185G7 is faster than the 11980HK by 2x in 503.bwaves

    That's just absurd, especially when every other test bar 3 shows the exact opposite results, and even of those that show similar results it isn't nearly to the same degree baring 549.fotonik, and that one has the 4900HS somehow being faster than the 5980HS.

    So no, your testing is just wrong and broken.
  • Otritus - Monday, May 17, 2021 - link

    The 1185G7 being twice as fast is a little questionable, and possibly the results for the Tiger Lake processors were switched accidentally.

    As to the 4900HS being faster than the 5980HS in one very specific subtest, I suppose companies have never released a new CPU architecture slower than the old one. That's why Bulldozer was well received for its incredible performance over Thuban. Rocket Lake was well loved for consistently beating Comet Lake and Zen 3 in gaming, with the 11900K always at the top of the chart. Broadwell-S of course isn't better than Skylake or competitive with Coffee Lake in gaming.
  • vyor - Monday, May 17, 2021 - link

    Except that Zen3 is consistently faster in almost every way. Reply
  • Otritus - Monday, May 17, 2021 - link

    Keyword "almost"
    Zen 3 does not win every benchmark over Zen 2, just the vast majority of them due to superior clock speeds and IPC. In 1 very specific subtest, out of all the test conducted, is it really unreasonable to see the older architecture get a win. The last time I can think of a new architecture winning every single benchmark was Conroe. Sandybridge might also get this title with workloads that didn't need more than 4 cores, but I don't exactly recall. Remember IPC is an average of performance at a given frequency, so if a few benchmarks have negative improvements in IPC, but most have large positive improvements, you can easily see a 20% IPC uplift.

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