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Dual-core AMD Turion: slow out of the gate

Dual-core AMD Turion: slow out of the gate

The early results on AMD's dual-core Turion 64 X2 mobile processor are not encouraging, neither in terms of performance nor power management. Our first Turion 64 X2-based laptop, the HP Compaq nx6325, just finished up in the CNET Labs, and we thought we'd share the results here ahead of the review. With a Turion 64 X2 TL-56 processor running at 1.8GHz, the HP Compaq nx6325 produced an overall SysMark 2004 score of 155, which trails by a healthy 17 to 18 percent the scores from similarly outfitted systems, such as the Panasonic ToughBook 74 and the Compaq Presario V3000, that use a 1.8GHz Intel Core Duo chip.

One possible explanation: the Turion 64 X2 serves up half the L2 cache (1MB) found on the Core Duo (2MB). Core Duo chips can dip into a larger pool of L2 cache as they make their way through SysMark workloads. Perhaps under heavy multitasking scenarios, the fact that each core on a Turion 64 X2 chip has its own L2 memory cache (as opposed to the Core Duo's single repository that the two cores must share) can help AMD's processor enjoy better results.

Although the nx6325 topped the Core Solo-based Toshiba Tecra A6 by 15 percent on SysMark, we expected a Turion 64 X2 system to be able to swim along side its dual-core Intel competition rather than treading in the muddy waters between Intel's single- and dual-core mobile offerings.

SysMark 2004 performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  

In another underwhelming performance, the HP Compaq nx6325 finished behind its predecessor on CNET Labs' MobileMark application benchmark. The older HP Compaq nx6125 features a single-core AMD Turion 64 chip running at 2GHz, and it bested the dual-core nx6325 on our mobile application performance benchmark. Power-saving features factor heavily into the test, which is run while a laptop is on battery power, but the nx6325 doesn't offer much more in terms of battery life, lasting a mere 7 minutes longer.

Granted, this is our first glimpse at a Turion 64 X2-based laptop. We'll be able to present a more rounded picture of AMD's new dual-core mobile chips as we're able to test more systems, but if the HP Compaq nx6325 is any indication, Intel's Core Duo can rest easy for now.

MobileMark 2005 performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Battery life (in minutes)  
Application performance