Preliminary Benchmarks: VIA C3 Versus Transmeta TM5600

By Van Smith

Date: September 21, 2001

As the VIA C3 finds more success in the marketplace, we present a series of benchmarks comparing relative performance between the competing MPU products from VIA and Transmeta.  Due to time constraints, this article will be limited to presenting a series of preliminary results given with minimal commentary.  A follow-up article will be delivered in the coming days.


Test Setup

Because the Transmeta's Crusoe chips are limited primarily to laptops, the TM5600 results presented in this article were obtained on a Sony VAIO.  To ensure parity between the relative CPU platforms, the same hard drive was used with the VIA C3 (C5B).  The same video controller, an ATi Mobility chipset, was used in the C3 system.  Due to availability, an AGP video controller had to be used with the C3 system versus the PCI-based ATi controller in the TM5600 system.

Both chips were clocked at 600 MHz.


Benchmark Results

In applications that spill out of the Transmeta Crusoe TM5600's 512 kB L2 cache, this chip performs abysmally.  In WinStone 99, the VIA C3 (C5B) more than doubles the performance of its Transmeta rival.

In Quake III, neither chip delivers very good performance with the ATi Mobility graphics core, although the C3 is slightly faster.

The Quake III comments hold true for 3dMark 2000 as well.


In cached benchmarks, the Crusoe performs competitively.  Although both chips have similar scores in CPUMark99 (note: the CPUMark99 scores below are slightly below what Transmeta reports; we will investigate the discrepancy), the Crusoe outdistances the C3 in FPU WinMark by over 60%.  This win is due in part to the C3's half-speed FPU.  The upcoming C5X and C5XL will both feature full speed floating point units.

Despite the TM5600's lead here, unfortunately this does not translate often into real world performance...

...and here we see this evident again in the WinBench99 Business Graphics test where the C3 nearly doubles the TM5600's score.

Finally we look at OfficeBench scores.  These are timed tests, so lower scores are better.  As is readily evident, the Transmeta Crusoe profoundly lags behind the VIA C3 in these tests of Microsoft Office application performance.  Again, the reason is that for the Crusoe to perform well, its emulation software ("Code Morphing" in Transmeta-speak) and application code must fit within its cache structure or performance degradation becomes severe.  Sadly, this means that on most real world applications the Crusoe is very slow and certainly far slower than the inexpensize VIA C3 as is clearly demonstrated in the graph below.

We will provide more benchmarking and analysis in upcoming articles.


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