What attributes of microprocessors affect Scala’s performance and CPU bandwidth?

By July 22, 2012 No Comments

Scala’s MMOS core is a very well crafted multi-threaded application. Scala makes good use of CPU resources – and depending on the nature of the ScalaScript content MMOS wants as much as it can get! In the Windows2000/WindowsXP environment an interesting effect can be seen: Two relatively slow processors are often faster than a single high-speed part! With everything else held constant, [memory, video, audio, network, serial, MPEG] a dual processor Pentium III-S 933 MHz is visibly faster than a single Pentium4 2.0 GHz machine in most operations.

With the Symmetric Multi-Processor support in the Windows 2000 operating systems and the well designed multi-threading of MMOS it is possible to perform smoother video transition effects (wipes, crawls, zooms) than is possible on single processor systems costing over twice as much! The use of multiple CPU’s also proves an effective way to deal with the contention that can result from background loads placed on a machine, such as decoding MPEG audio streams, decompressing JPEG images, or receiving a new script via ScalaNet or some other network transport.

As a general guide for Scala InfoChannel IC3 Playback systems: 

Basic “TV resolution”, (640×480, 720×480, 720×576, 800×600 @ 16bpp or 24/32bpp), ‘static image display’ presentations can execute well on systems based around VIA/Cyrix C3-1gHz or Intel P4 Celeron 2.0gHz or faster systems. Simple low bit rate MPEG2 is acceptable on such a system, although the HARDWARE MPEG-2 decoders such as the “The Sigma Designs NetStream 2000TV”, or the Optibase VideoPlex Plus/Pro PCI cards is advisable.

High resolution: “Plasma, LED, or CRT Computer Monitor Displays 1024×768+” require at least Intel P4 Celeron 2.0 gHz, Intel Pentium-M 900 mHz, or Intel P4C 2.0gHz processors.

Truly “Dynamic” Presentations: High Resolutions, Multiple simultaneous “Wipes” or “Text Crawls” and presentations that use IC3’s integrated MPEG-2 software CODEC require at a minimum a system with either a single Intel 2.4 HT gHz or dual P4 Xeon.

Our “most recommended” CPU’s are the Intel CeleronII(256KB L2 cache) FC-PGA and the Intel PentiumIII-S and -M(512KB L2 cache) FC-PGA 0.13 micron “Tualatin core” parts.

The Intel Pentium4 Extreme processors with their total Intel “Northwood” core P4 or Intel Pentium-M parts.

Suggested CPU’s for single processor systems: (Windows2000sp4 Pro/WindowsXP Home)

Socket 370 motherboards with the VIA/Cyrix C3, (0.13 micron Ezra core), at 1.0 gHz+; the Intel CeleronII FC-PGA 633 MHz+; or the Intel PentiumIII-S or PentiumIII-M ‘Tualatin core’ at 900 MHz or better).

Socket 478 motherboards with Intel Pentium4 ‘C’ series, (0.13 micron ‘Northwood core’), parts at 1.6 GHz or better.

Suggested CPU’s for dual processor systems: (Windows 2000 sp4 Pro/Windows XP Sp2 Pro)

Socket 370 motherboards with Intel PentiumIII-S.

Socket 603 motherboards with Intel Pentium4 XEON (with 512 kb or 1 mb of L2 cache).

Today’s ADM Athlon XP and 64/Opteron systems on motherboards based on the nVidia nForce 3 (AXP) or nForce 3 (A64) offer quite good performance and stability.

2004.09.15  Scala Tech. Notes: We advise our customers to avoid Pentium 4 CPU’s based on the Intel “Prescott” 90 nm CPU core in their Scala IC3 Player systems.

In June, 2004 Intel launched a new series of Pentium4 CPU’s. The “Prescott” 90nm core is designed to carry the P4 design into the 4-7GHz speed ranges.

Currently these “Prescott” P4’s are available in speed grades from 2.4 GHz to 3.6 GHz. [soon to be available at 3.73 Ghz] These new variants of the older P4 designs can be detected through the use of a “CPU Identification Utility” such as “WCPUID v.3.xx”–which can be found at any of the following web site locations:



These newer P4 chips can be differentiated from the older Pentium4 designs, such as the highly successful and recommended “Northwood 130 nm core”, by any of the following attributes:

“Prescott” P4’s have 1 MB of Level 2 cache; [the “Northwood” P4’s have 512KB of L2 cache]

P4-Celeron’s based on the “Prescott” CPU core have 256KB of L2 cache;
[“Northwood” P4-Celeron’s have 128KB of L2 cache]

Prescott P4’s carry the letter “A” or “E” after their GHz speed rating-examples: “Pentium4 2.4A”, “Pentium4 3.2E”

P4-Celeron’s carry the letter “D” after the “Celeron” trade name-example:
“Celeron-D 2.8 GHz.”

Only “Prescott” based Pentium4 parts are available in the newer “LGA-775” or “Socket-T” carrier.

Even though these 90nm parts retail about $7 to $20 cheaper than their “130 nm cousins” at the same speed grade; “Prescott-based” P4’s and Celeron-D’s are less desirable for the following reasons:

The extremely high heat output that they have-up to 70% more heat output than the previous generation of P4 chips at the same operating speed;

In many benchmarks of CPU performance, “Prescott” P4’s are approximately 15% slower than their “Northwood” predecessors; “Prescott” P4’s are much more susceptible to a condition known as “Thermal Throttling”–in which the CPU lowers its clock speed to reduce extreme heat output. This is NOT a good condition for a Scala IC3 Player!

It is expected that Intel will correct this situation. At last week’s Intel
Developer Forum it was announced that there would be corrective “stepping” of the “Prescott 90 nm core” to deal, at least in part, with issue of “current leakage” which is largely the cause of the increased heat output of this processor. The revised parts are expected to be available in the marketplace in late October or early November.

The following are web sites that have useful information/test reports on various aspects of this issue:

Testing Pentium 4 Thermal Throttling – Article
Posted by NgtCrwlr on Friday, April 02 @ 22:51:10 CST

Digit-Life – The issue of diminishing Pentium 4 CPU performance at overheating has been widely discussed. Still, there are all sorts of myths about the Thermal Monitor and Thermal Throttling technology. That is why we decided to refresh our practical knowledge in this field (dropping the theoretical aspect which is abundant in the above-mentioned articles).

For this purpose, we conducted a very simple experiment on two top Pentium 4
3.2 GHz CPUs, one with a Northwood core and the other with a Prescott. With the CPU loaded at 100 percent, we powered off the cooler fan and watched the temperature rise and the performance decrease as time went by.


Throttling problems

As I was testing the XPC SB81P, some of my benchmark numbers were coming out much, much lower than expected. I’d already confirmed that all the basic system settings were correct (like memory speed, CPU frequency, and the like), so I decided to do some testing to see if CPU thermal throttling might be the culprit. For those of you not familiar, the Pentium 4 include san internal facility to cool itself down when it gets too hot by reducing the amount of work that it does. Without getting too technical, the CPU doesn’t exactly lower its own clock speed, but the effect is the same. Thermal throttling is a failsafe, and it shouldn’t be encountered in normal use because the CPU should never get so hot that it’s necessary.


The P4 Northwood Vs. The Prescott

Based on a 90-nm manufacturing process, the Prescott offers new architectural features compared to its predecessor, the Northwood. However, because of its higher leakage currents, the Prescott’s thermal heat emission is disproportionately high. At 3.6 GHz, 3.8 GHz and 4 GHz, the Prescott’s
TDP (thermal design power) will far surpass the 100-watt mark. But what about the processor’s performance at these clock speeds?


Intel’s Pentium 4 3.4GHz processors Prescott and Northwood ramp up

What about the heat?

As you may have heard, the Prescott 3.4GHz isn’t a cool-running chip. Intel estimates its key power load indicator, TDP, at 103W. Northwood, by contrast, is 89W at 3.4GHz. That’s quite a lot of power to dissipate. And
TDP, or Thermal Design Power, isn’t even a peak number.

To get some sense of the real-world implications of Prescott

Under load, the Northwood P4 3.4GHz hit temperatures of 64 degrees C (148 degrees Fahrenheit). In the same conditions, the Prescott raced past Northwood’s peak temperature on its way to a steady peak of 78 degrees C (or 173 degrees Fahrenheit).  http://tech-report.com/reviews/2004q1/pentium4-3.4ghz/index.x?pg=1

The general conclusion is this: in fact, the new Intel Pentium4 (Prescott-C) processors do not offer any substantial advantages over Pentium4 (Northwood) processors. The radical change in the processor architecture has resulted in merely small performance boost in some applications. But in the vast majority of programs (mostly, games) Prescott loses to Northwood.

Among the shortcomings are increased heat emission and compatibility issues with some motherboards. Finally, the overclocker will not like it that the technological limit of the Prescott-C is the same as that for Northwood-D1
(i.e. 3.6 GHz).


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