b (Benchmark) command

Measures speed of the CPU.

Benchmark execution also can be used to check RAM for errors.


b [number_of_iterations] [-mmt{N}] [-md{N}] [-mm={Method}]

The LZMA benchmark is default benchmark for benchmark command.

There are two tests for LZMA benchmark:

  1. Compressing with LZMA method
  2. Decompressing with LZMA method

The LZMA benchmark shows a rating in MIPS (million instructions per second). The rating value is calculated from the measured speed, and it is normalized with results of Intel Core 2 CPU with multi-threading option switched off. So if you have modern CPU from Intel or AMD, rating values in single-thread mode must be close to real CPU frequency.

You can change the upper dictionary size to increase memory usage by -md{N} switch. Also, you can change the number of threads by -mmt{N} switch.

The Dict column shows dictionary size. For example, 21 means 2^21 = 2 MB.

The Usage column shows the percentage of time the processor is working. It's normalized for a one-thread load. For example, 180% CPU Usage for 2 threads can mean that average CPU usage is about 90% for each thread.

The R / U column shows the rating normalized for 100% of CPU usage. That column shows the performance of one average CPU thread.

Avr shows averages for different dictionary sizes.

Tot shows averages of the compression and decompression ratings.

The test data that is used for compression in that test is produced with special algorithm, that creates data stream that has some properties of real data, like text or execution code. Note that the speed of LZMA for real data can be slightly different.

LZMA benchmark details

Compression speed strongly depends from memory (RAM) latency, Data Cache size/speed and TLB. Out-of-Order execution feature of CPU is also important for that test.

Decompression speed strongly depends on CPU integer operations. The most important things for that test are: branch misprediction penalty (the length of pipeline) and the latencies of 32-bit instructions ("multiply", "shift", "add" and other). The decompression test has very high number of unpredictable branches. Note that some CPU architectures (for example, 32-bit ARM) support instructions that can be conditionally executed. So such CPUs can work without branches (and without pipeline flushing) in many cases in LZMA decompression code. And such CPUs can have some speed advantages over other architectures that don't support complex conditionally execution. Out-of-Order execution capability is not so important for LZMA Decompression.

The test code doesn't use FPU and SSE. Most of the code is 32-bit integer code. Only some minor part in compression code uses also 64-bit integers. RAM and Cache bandwidth are not so important for these tests. The latencies are much more important.

The CPU's IPC (Instructions per cycle) rate is not very high for these tests. The estimated value of test's IPC is 1 (one instruction per cycle) for modern CPU. The compression test has big number of random accesses to RAM and Data Cache. So big part of execution time the CPU waits the data from Data Cache or from RAM. The decompression test has big number of pipeline flushes after mispredicted branches. Such low IPC means that there are some unloaded CPU resources. But the CPU with Hyper-Threading feature can load these CPU resources using two threads. So Hyper-Threading provides pretty big improvement in these tests.

LZMA benchmark in multithreading mode

When you specify (N*2) threads for test, the program creates N copies of LZMA encoder, and each LZMA encoder instance compresses separated block of test data. Each LZMA encoder instance creates 3 unsymmetrical execution threads: two big threads and one small thread. The total CPU load for these 3 threads can vary from 140% to 200%. To provide better CPU load during compression, you can test the mode, where the number of benchmark threads is larger than the number of hardware threads.

Each LZMA encoder instance in multithreading mode divides the task of compression into 3 different tasks, where each task is executed in separated thread. Each of these tasks is simpler than original task, and it uses less memory. So each thread uses the data cache and TLB more effectively in multithreading mode. And LZMA encoder is slightly more effective in multithreading mode in value of "the Speed" divided to "CPU usage".

Note that there is some data traffic between 3 threads of LZMA encoder. So data exchange bandwidth via memory between CPU threads is also can be important, especially in multi-core system with big number of cores or CPUs.

All LZMA decoder threads are symmetrical and independent. So the decompression test uses all hardware threads, if the number of hardware threads is used.

7-Zip benchmark

With -mm=* switch you can run a complex benchmark for 7-Zip code. It tests hash calculation methods, compression and encryption codecs of 7-Zip. Note that the tests of LZMA have big weight in "total" results. And the results are normalized with AMD K8 cpu in that complex benchmark.

The CPU rows show CPU frequency. It's measured for sequence of simple CPU instructions. Note: It can be inaccurate, if hyper-threading is used.

The Effec column shows Efficiency - the Rating normalized to CPU frequency.

The E / U column shows the Efficiency normalized for 100% of CPU usage.


7z b
runs benchmarking.
7z b -mmt1 -md26
runs benchmarking with one thread and 64 MB dictionary.
7z b 30

runs benchmarking for 30 iterations. It can be used to check RAM for errors.

7z b -mm=*

runs complex 7-Zip benchmark.

7z b -mm=* -mmt=*

runs complex 7-Zip benchmark for different number of threads : (1, max/2, max), where max is number of available hardware threads. So it can test 3 main modes: single-thread, multi-thread without hyper-threading, multi-thread with hyper-threading.