Intel uses iTunes for performance benchmarking

Intel’s approach to processor marketing in recent years has been to de-emphasise performance numbers and rankings and focus on applications but it was still something of a surprise to see it demonstrating how well its chips work by running iTunes.

During a press conference at CES 2010 to officially debut the company’s line of 2010 processors (which have already been covered extensively by APC) Intel took the unusual approach of demonstrating the performance enhancements from its new improved ability to dispatch processor tasks by showing how quickly iTunes could launch and synchronise a video after an iPod was connected. “There’s a subtle but significant improvement in performance because more tasks can be dispatched inside the processor cores” executive VP of Intel’s architecture group Sean Maloney said.

iPod owners already know that the Windows version of iTunes is anything but an advertisement for good or stable application design so as a benchmark of how a processor can help matters no matter what software is running this could prove quite informative. Unsurprisingly the newer i5 processor was much quicker to finish the task than the older Core II Duo it was matched against.

Despite that early invocation of Apple when asked when Apple might adopt the latest releases in its own hardware Maloney was quick to deny all knowledge: “I don’t preannounce our customers’ products and I certainly don’t preannounce Apple’s products.”

Second-weirdest benchmark of the day was a brief fitness demonstration by women’s soccer legend Mia Hamm of how her heart rate increased after exercising which Intel used as a metaphor for the ability of its newer processors to vary performance frequencies. It was certainly more entertaining to watch than 3DMark but rather less illuminating.