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
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  • Bbdffd - Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - link

    I think AMD still not able to defeat intel in Gaming even with their 7nm processor (5980hs).
  • Cooe - Thursday, May 20, 2021 - link

    "The performance lead against AMD’s strongest mobile CPU, the 5980HS"

    The 35W R9 5980HS is NOT AMD's strongest mobile CPU Brett. That would be the 45W unlocked & higher clocked R9 5980HX. I expect better from AnandTech... -_-
  • Spunjji - Thursday, May 20, 2021 - link

    It is a little bit complicated... the 5900HX appears to beat the 5980HS by a little way in multi-thread tests but fall behind in single-thread, and if you look at things in performance-per-watt terms the 5980HS is easily the strongest. There's also the fact that there don't seem to be any shipping devices with the 5980HX in them. Strange times.
  • ottonis - Friday, May 21, 2021 - link

    So well, according to Intel's advertising materials, their new 11th gen Tiger Lake based 8c mobile CPUs were supposed to wipe the floor with AMD.

    Well... not really, according to this review, at least not within the same power consumption envelope and in multicore tasks.
  • block2 - Monday, May 24, 2021 - link

    Running Intel at 35w if possible would be interesting.

    Unclear on quick read if external GPUs were disabled so that these tests aren't in reality a GPU test.
  • JayNor - Friday, May 28, 2021 - link

    news out today in tomshardware that there is a B series of the 8 core TGL that boosts to 5.3GHz. This is even for parts with the GPU ...
  • mode_13h - Saturday, May 29, 2021 - link

    About right, for a desktop CPU.
  • Makste - Monday, May 31, 2021 - link

    This is a NUC part, not a laptop part.
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, June 1, 2021 - link

    Not really. NUCs normally use the U-series notebook CPUs. That's all a NUC is -- a notebook CPU in a compact enclosure.

    NUC Extreme is something completely different. They're more like a normal desktop PC, and the latest NUC Extreme that Intel just announced is the one that will use these H-series CPUs.

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