High-Precision Deep Zoom

Technical Info

New Computer System

After over two years of faithful service, the Core2-quad system was showing its age.

It was time for an update. This time, I went all-out and got the fastest single-CPU sytem I could put together.

The new system is based on the Core i7-980X processor, and it is a serious computing demon.


This uses a 6-core Core i7 980X processor. It is the Gulftown code name, Family 6, Model C, Stepping 2, Revision B1. It has 256Kx6 of L2 cache and 12MB of L3 cache. The specified clock speed is 3.33 GHz, but it overclocked effortlessly to 4.0 GHz without even having to touch the power supply voltage.

The motherboard is an ASUS P6X58D-Premium with 12 MB of G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1600 memory.

More on the details of the system, including photos, details of the motherboard, memory, hard disks, case, and overclocking, can be found here.

This family of processors resurrects Intel's HyperThreading technology, which was last seen on the Pentium-IV.


I have a couple of quick benchmark tests I use to check performance. I have results on these going back to the Pentium-IV system. These times are not entirely fair comparisons of hardware, since the software has evolved over time, but they do give an idea of the overall increase in computing power that has developed over the past 6 or 7 years.

First test
Calculation Times
Pentium-IV Extreme Edition 3.2 GHz56 sec
Core2-Quad 2.4 GHz14 sec
Core-i7 980X 4.0 GHz(OC)1.6 sec
Second Test

This is an ocean of blackness right in the middle of the set. Since every pixel is in the set, it's a good test of the high-precision arithmetic code performance.

Calculation Times
Pentium-IV Extreme Edition 3.2 GHz310 sec
Core2-Quad 2.4 GHz65 sec
Core-i7 980X 4.0 GHz(OC)13.4 sec

Basic Arithmetic Performance

This table shows the single-thread performance of the basic arithmetic routines, comparing the Core i7 980X at 4.0 GHz (overclocked) against the QX9650 Core2 Extreme at 3.0 GHz (note -- this is NOT the 2.4 GHz Core2 quad Q6600 that drew most of the videos on the site).

Even adjusting for the 33% higher clock speed, the Core i7, on a per-core basis is significantly faster than the Core2.

Speed of Arithmetic Calculations (single thread)
PrecisionTotal BitsFractional BitsFractional Part Decimal DigitsMultiplications, Millions/secondDivisions, Thousands/secondMandelbrot Operations, Thousands/second

PassMark Results

The 4 GHz overclocked 980X system gets a PassMark CPU rating of 12216. The system rating is 2684. (note - these ratings may be a little different than what was uploaded to PassMark, but only by a tiny fraction of a percent. Each time the tests are run, the results are slightly different.)

For comparison, here are detailed results from the 980X at 4 GHZ, from the 980X at the stock 3.33 GHz, and from the Core2 Extreme QX9650 at 3.33 GHz (slightly overclocked from its stock 3.00 GHz).

The hard drive on the QX9650 was a Hitachi HDS721616PLA380. The 980X has the Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS.

I didn't include video results because this system was not designed to have stellar video performance. The EVGA GT240 is a nice mid-range video card that works more than well enough for playing animations. If I begin CUDA programming, then the video card will become a significant part of the system performance, but for now it is not relevant.

PassMark Results
Test980X 4GHz980X 3.33GHzQX9650 3.33GHzUnits
CPU Mark12194.110556.85217.0 
Memory Mark3658.73231.8839.2 
Disk Mark1298.91254.4425.0 
PassMark Rating 2482.92418.21074.4 
CPU Integer Math4634.43869.42099.9MOps/sec
CPU Floating Point Math5390.24626.73242.2MOps/sec
Memory Allocate Small Block7738.66656.04413.0MBytes/sec
Memory Read Cached3267.12831.12937.3MBytes/sec
Memory Read Uncached3073.02677.52552.4MBytes/sec
Memory Write3340.92925.51626.2MBytes/sec
Memory Large RAM10306.29167.7572.3Operations/sec
Disk Sequential Read178.2179.258.8MBytes/sec
Disk Sequential Write171.6157.655.8MBytes/sec
Disk Random Seek+RW9.410.02.9MBytes/sec