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Valve talks about Multi-Core CPU Processing in Source

By: Cameron Wilmot | Editorials in Gaming | Posted: Nov 6, 2006 5:00 am

Benchmarking Hybrid Threading



After the presentation we were all given a copy of the Hybrid threading application to take home and benchmark.


The benchmark comes with a number of tests which are able to give us an indication of the Multi-Core performance which Valve was able to achieve using the Hybrid Threading method. We will provide the blue particle explosion test for our testing. We will run the benchmark for 60 seconds using FRAPS and provide Minimum, Maximum and Average frame rate scores. We did not move around during the benchmark - we simply stood still and watched the demonstration take place as this is the most consistent method of benchmarking since we are not using a regular timedemo.



Unfortunately I don't have a Quad Core processor for testing but we will be testing on an Intel Core 2 Duo clocked at 3.15GHz (450MHz FSB x 7) on Gigabyte DQ6 (Intel P965 chipset) with 2GB of RAM and XFX GeForce 7900GS graphics card. We will test with two cores enabled and then with just a single core enabled to see the type of performance improvements made possible by Valve's Multi-Core threading technology.


These are simple demonstrations but they include some of the basic types of AI, physics and rendering which we can expect to see added to the Source engine and in Episode 2 next year.



The results speak for themselves - while not quite a perfect scalable jump in performance, we do see a very solid 34% increase in performance going from single core to dual core. Our tests were not exactly intensive - add these effects to the actual game and throw in a few enemies in an action packed scene and you'll see a greater jump in performance, that's for sure.


Other websites who attended the editor's day are seeing a Core 2 Quad processor double the frame rate of a regular Core 2 Duo processor. Valve even mentioned their current code should be good to go on an eight core processor - we haven't even heard anything about that yet, so it's clear Valve are looking well into the future.



It was interesting to note that Valve had no comments about AMD performance using their Multi-Core code. Gabe, one of the head developers and gaming developer super stars, even mentioned that with the current code they saw the Intel Core 2 Quad being 3.2x faster than AMD's Athlon X2 processor at the same clock speed. Valve is clearly fans of Intel at the moment and why not... they've got a rocking gaming processor finally.



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