When it comes to checking and testing components of the system, there are numerous apps available but one of best and most often used is SiSoft’s Sandra system benchmark. I’ve been using SiSoft Sandra since my career start as a hardware reviewer almost a decade ago, back in December 1999. First system tested was based on AMD Athlon 650 MHz and 3Dfx Voodoo3 3500TV.

Getting back from the memory lane, we received word from Adrian Silasi of SiSoftware about the release of SiSoft Sandra 2010, now updated to fully utilize the latest operating systems and hardware components. You can use Sandra 2010 on all or almost all 32-bit x86, 64-bit x86 [x86-64], IA64/Itanium and ARM processors, supporting Intel’s AES cryptographic and soon-to-be-introduced AVX multi-media instruction set. Sandra 2010 also supports upcoming processors from both AMD and Intel, such as AMD’s 12-core Magny-Cours or Intel’s 8-core Nehalem-EX [Beckton]. QA process for Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 took some time but Sandra 2010 boasts some exceptional features: you can benchmark your virtual machine in no less than five different virtualization environments: Virtual PC 7, Virtual Server 2005, Hyper-V Server, VMware Server and VMware WorkStation/Player.

Sandra 2010 also pushes the subject of GPGPU [General Purpose Graphics Processing Unit]. The benchmark now supports five native GPGPU environments, including DirectCompute, AMD CAL/Stream, AMD and nVidia OpenCL modules and nVidia CUDA.

As you can see, in order to cover all the differences, GPU Computing module underwent through major changes and now supports OpenCL for both CPU and GPUs and DirectX 11 Compute Shader a.k.a. DirectCompute. There were some challenges but in the end ? especially with AMD’s OpenCL implementation. Benchmark maker claims sustained performance cannot be achieved on AMD hardware thus you should take AMD GPU results with a certain reserve. Two GPGPU tests are GPGPU Processing and GPGPU Bandwidth. Second video test that underwent major changes are Video Rendering and Video Memory tests, with added support for DirectX 11 [Shader Model 5.0] and new releases of OpenGL.

We are currently testing the benchmark and we have already experienced "interesting" behavior when it comes to compared hardware, we’re currently working with benchmark developer on clearing our feedback.