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Old 09-02-2008, 03:42 AM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default Sandra 2009 Brings GPGPU Benchmarking to our Toolbox

From our front-page news:
SiSoftware, creators of one of the most popular benchmarks ever, have released version 2009 of Sandra. We've used Sandra in our reviews for as long as the site's been around, and it's likely easy to understand why. It offers a slew of different tests, from ones that target to the CPU to the RAM to the GPU. What? Did I just say the GPU? Why yes I did, and that happens to be one of the new features of the latest version.

As mentioned in the last news post, GPGPU is a term that really came out of nowhere, but is here to stay. Since GPUs have been found to be so highly-efficient in the general purpose game, a huge push is being put forth to shift certain applications over to those, to take advantage of the highly parallel architecture that the GPU offers. Noticing this, SiSoftware was quick to add three new tests to the latest version, all which test the GPU and spit out a result similar to what we currently see with their CPU benchmarks.

The new benchmarks are 'Video Rendering', 'Graphics Processing' and 'Graphics Bandwidth', all of which are self-explainable. You can see the results of the middle test below, which delivers results for both the float and double precision shaders in MPixel/s and GPixel/s, respectively. I could not immediately get the Video Rendering test to function properly, despite having a fully up-to-date system.

How useful the new benchmarks will prove to be in real-world use is unknown, but it could be just as useful as the results the CPU ones we have now. This is at least a start, and though there is not that much importance on GPGPU right now, I think we'll see things change over the next year, when applications that take advantage of the GPU begin to hit the market, such as video renderers and image manipulators. After we evaluate the new version more, we may begin to include results in our GPU reviews, if there is some interest in such metric.


We believe the industry is seeing a shift from a model where the vast majority of workload is processed on the traditional CPU: in a wide range of applications developers are using the power of GPGPU to aid business analysis, games, graphics, and scientific applications. Coupled with the charts added to the latest version of the software, we can work out whether a CPU or GPU would be faster, more power efficient or cost efficient.


Source: Sandra 2009 Press Release, CPU vs. GPU Arithmetic, CPU vs. GPU Memory Bandwidth
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Old 09-02-2008, 09:42 PM   #2
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I want to see GPGPU benchmark results from the 4870 and GTX 280... so I can compare them to Folding@home results!

ATI has always claimed their card offers 1TFlop of performance, but it only delivers half the performance of a GTX 280 for Folding. Would be nice to see some more numbers beyond just Folding on this.
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Old 09-03-2008, 01:42 AM   #3
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I can get that information tomorrow. Have the Skulltrail hooked up right now, and the PCI-E 1.1 might be a bit limiting in terms of real bandwidth. Ideally, I'd like to take a deeper look and figure out just how useless these results would be to include in our results.

I have to wonder why we can't have a test that simply tells us how much FLOPS it's capable of though. I want to pop in an HD 4870 and know that it really is capable of over 1 teraFLOP of computational power.
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Old 09-03-2008, 03:13 AM   #4
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Don't inconvenience yourself on my behalf Rob! But if you have time to kill or something, I'm all eyes...

A PCIe 1.1 16x slot won't limit anything that I know of... unless perhaps some kind of ultra high-end SAS RAID card or something? I'm not aware of anything being limited by it, at least yet. Latency is also the same between 1.1 and 2.0 specs afaik.
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Old 09-04-2008, 01:53 AM   #5
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Forgot to post in here. I tried to run the benchmark on an ATI card... but couldn't. The options were faded out, and I'm unsure why. I am e-mailing SiSoftware to find out the reason, and hopefully will be able to get all those results very shortly.
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Old 09-04-2008, 06:15 AM   #6
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Thanks for the update Rob! Hopefully it's just a driver issue, would hate to hear that their program was something silly like CUDA only...
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Old 09-04-2008, 02:22 PM   #7
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Not at all. When you install the application, it tells you what you have installed, and what you don't. Things listed are .NET 3.5, Java RE 6, DX 10 latest update, et cetera. The last two things listed are AMD's STREAM 1.1 (or higher) and also NVIDIA's CUDA. Even after uninstalling the NVIDIA driver, the CUDA still checks out fine, but with the latest version of the ATI driver, it says the feature will be unavailable.

I'm unsure what this means, exactly, or why that's the case. Perhaps something is left over from the NVIDIA driver... I'll have to check it out later. I'll post here once I have an update.
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Old 09-07-2008, 03:31 PM   #8
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Looks like my wish has been granted. Last week, I inquired about inclusion of FLOPS metric in these new benchmarks, and they took the request seriously. A new version to be released tomorrow will include exactly that.

I'm looking forward to giving it a shot... I'd really like to begin including raw FLOPS results in our reviews, to see just how much the GPUs live up to the manufacturers rating.
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Old 09-07-2008, 08:19 PM   #9
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I've heard that before about CUDA not being uninstalled when you remove the NVIDIA drivers, since it is somewhat separate. Not idea though... Might it be a 32/64bit thing?

Interesting idea about the FLOPS metric, hopefully theywill make the distinction between single and double-precision performance.
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Old 09-08-2008, 12:16 AM   #10
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Yes, that's something I noticed as well. I even ran Driver Cleaner and CUDA still remained (at least according to Sandra). Odd to say the least. I still haven't really figured out the AMD side of things. It says Stream is not installed, but all I see on the AMD site are SDKs... and all of them are for Linux and Windows XP. Not sure what's up with that.
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Old 09-11-2008, 03:06 PM   #11
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Hmm, it looks like the Stream SDK has now become available for Vista... so I'm wondering if THAT will fix the ATI card issue? I'll give it a shot later if I'm able to break free from regular duties for a few minutes...

http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquir...ase-stream-sdk
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Old 09-11-2008, 07:20 PM   #12
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That was probably the problem!

A bit surprising to know AMD's Stream didn't support any of that.

Quote:
# Support for Microsoft Windows Vista® operating system (32-bit and 64-bit) and DirectX® 9 and DirectX 10 interoperability under Windows Vista
# Support for ATI Radeon™ HD 4850 and ATI Radeon™ HD 4870 graphics processors
# Support for ATI Catalyst™ 8.8 Display Driver
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Old 09-26-2008, 12:49 PM   #13
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Good Morning Rob.

I have a quick question I like to ask you. I'm working with Sandra 2009 and I was abel to get nVidia CUDA drivers but when I tried to get AMD Stream Computing GPGPU 1.1 I was unable to locate it.My question is were did you locate the AMD drivers.

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Old 09-26-2008, 12:59 PM   #14
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Hi Chuck:

Welcome to the forums! I don't believe GPGPU 1.1 works with SANDRA, since it doesn't have Windows Vista support, but I believe the latest 1.2 beta does. You can download that here:

http://ati.amd.com/technology/stream.../sdkdwnld.html

I've been benchmarking ATI cards for the past few days, so I'll have to give this a try myself later as well. Thanks for the reminder :-)
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Old 09-26-2008, 01:14 PM   #15
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Thanks Rob and FYI ATI now has the GPGPU 1.1 for Vista 32 and 64 as well as XP 32 and 64. All though they are still in the Beta version.

Just a FYI

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