Current ULV Processors - How fast are they?

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by changt34x, Jan 31, 2015.

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  1. changt34x

    changt34x Notebook Consultant

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    As we all know, most mainstream computers have gone the way of ULV Core i processors. While a couple years ago your standard Best Buy mainstream computer would have a standard voltage Core i5, now pretty much everything 15 or 17 inch mainstream has a i5-4200U or a i7-4500U.

    For reference, I have a E6410 with a i7-640M, pretty much the top model dual-core i7 of the day. If I compare benchmarks like Cinebench with a i7-4500U, the Haswell ULV comes out on top but not by a significant margin. This shouldn't be a surprise as Arrandale launched in Q1 2010, or 5 years ago. However, if I move forward just one generation to the i7-2620M, it still pushes past the Haswell ULV on benchmarks, and Sandy Bridge is almost 4 years old.

    My usage pattern is quite intensive and has grown in the past few years, but the core components haven't really changed. I run 2-3 VMs the majority of the time (Windows and Linux). Graphics wise, I do have some CUDA accelerated programs, but they perform on Intel iGPUs fairly well too. CPU wise, I do run statistical models and renders, but compute time spent is not that critical as it is usually overnight. When I used the E6410 (until 2013), the CPU and NVS3100m were still holding up fine but the 8GB memory limit is what was holding me back. It would be great to be able to use something like a T440s (12GB RAM) or E7240 (16GB RAM) for portability and battery life.

    So, how far has ULV performance really come and what standard voltage CPU would our most recent ULV cpus (Haswell and Broadwell) be relatively close to? What are these CPUs really capable of/Would it be reasonable to expect to be able to complete my workload on a ULV processor? While the percentage increase in benchmarks between the ULV i7 and the old 640M are not impressive the ULV CPU may also not be able to sustain long periods of load at high frequencies.
     
  2. TomJGX

    TomJGX I HATE BGA!

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    The ULV CPU's have the same performance as the standard voltage ones till a certain limit.. For example, there is no difference in between the i5-4200u, i5-4200M except for the fact that the i5-4200u is TDP Limited which means it can't hold turbo for that long.. so that's the main problem with them.. So if you are going to buy laptops now, the only option is to get the full voltage i7 quad core...
     
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  3. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    As you note, you're comparing regular cpu's with low voltage versions. Don't. :)

    Consider upgrading when the current platform(s) are available with a cpu line comparable to what you once bought at. Then the performance will be real and measurable.

    Even the U processor Broadwell chips are about 30% faster (raw cpu) than i5-4250U, that is a fair and substantial comparison and upgrade to the new platform.

    See:
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/8941/gigabyte-gbbxi7h5500-broadwell-brix-review/3

    ULV cpu's may have similar performance to a limit - but that limit is largely influenced by manufacturer's and how thin and sexy they want to make their chassis look - while ignoring any actual performance gains a new platform may offer.

    My advice? Simply ignore ULV parts for systems you want the fastest performance in. Hopefully manufacturers will get the message too.
     
  4. Qing Dao

    Qing Dao LORD OF THE UNDERWORLD

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    Many current dual core ULV chips are weaker than some Core 2 Duo CPU's, and it is especially true if their ability to turbo has been restricted. Anyone looking at ULV chips as a performance upgrade should stay far away.
     
  5. ajkula66

    ajkula66 Courage and Consequence

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    ^^^^^^

    This. Times a zillion.

    Going from a full-blown Sandy Bridge CPU to anything ULV with an idea of "upgrading" performance-wise - regardless of how "new and improved" Intel wants us to believe their recent offerings are - is setting oneself up for a failure.
     
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  6. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    I don't think it is Intel's fault if someone thinks a 'ULV' processor is the replacement/equivalent to a normal processor from yesteryear.

    The failure is totally placed on the individual, not the company.

    Buying a new VW in 2015 is not 'upgrading' performance in any way when coming from an circa 1980's Porsche 944 Turbo S. And the fault doesn't lie with the VW (even in GTI trim), rather, the driver for missing the important distinctions between the two model lines.
     
  7. ajkula66

    ajkula66 Courage and Consequence

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    You do make a good point here. Way too many people don't do proper research before purchasing a PC. Or anything else, for that fact...
     
  8. John Ratsey

    John Ratsey Moderately inquisitive Super Moderator

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    Intel dual core CPU performance hasn't improved substantially over the past 5 years but the power consumption has reduced. There are some charts in my E7440 review that include some of the notebooks you are familiar with.

    Quad core might be worth investigating if you are running multiple VMs but the thermal requirements of these CPUs mean they are more commonly found in larger notebooks. I presume that you are using an SSD. If not, that could be a bottleneck.

    John
     
  9. nipsen

    nipsen Notebook Ditty

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    ^mhm.

    Thing is that if you don't run the processor at the limit all the time - which is rare in anything other than server runs, or for example if you have some sort of simulation going constantly - then an ULV processor basically is what it is, a normal processor with better power management. Arguably, the benefits of having lower heat dispersion enables you to run at higher speeds for longer stretches of time as well, thanks to the normally very bad cooling solutions on laptops. Or, that with a normal to high load, you can suddenly run the same tasks for longer before the processor would throttle anyway. Practically, that you are able to run at sub-boost frequency with a mostly (intel special) stable watt-drain, and on comfortable temps. Or it rates the same as a "full watt" processor, if you ran them at the same core speeds. I've actually seen a few examples of the ULV processors having the ability in certain setups to run faster than the full processors, because the cooling in the setup is so horrendously bad. While the synthetic runs tend to be faster in one quick run on the better processor, before it flats out and gives you inconsistent, laggy results. Specially annoying if you rely on stable frequencies over a certain limit to avoid lag in videos, that sort of thing, where the operations complete in a short amount of time.

    But you don't see that on the synthetic benchmarks run in ideal conditions. Still, important to note the difference between the celeron cores that are stripped of the extended instruction sets and don't have boost (that also are sold as "ulv" sometimes), and between the i5 and i7 ulv versions (that have comparable watt drain) that are completely normal processors as the rest, just with lower tdp rating and lower minimum/sub boost speeds.
     
  10. picolino

    picolino Notebook Consultant

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    Is it correct for someone to take the processor base frequency into account when considering throttling issues, or can the processor frequency drop even lower than that?

    For example, the i7 4650u has a base frequency of 1.7 GHz and a max turbo frequency of 3.3 GHz. According to its TDP, this allows the CPU to work in full load with a 1.7 GHz frequency,
    using 15 W on average. I think (and correct me if I am wrong) that the cpu will sometimes spike to 3.3 GHz, and sometimes fall under 1.7 GHz, but the end result will be that you maintained
    an average frequency of 1.7 GHz to complete your task.

    We assume that heat generation is not a problem (cooling is sufficient), so no throttling due to overheating.
     
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