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Intel To Drop Rambus Exclusivity, Support SDRAM 140

Overload128 writes "Over on ZDNet, there's an article detailing Intel's plan to let Rambus memory stand on its own. It seems that it will stop bundling RDRAM with Pentium 4s and stop giving rebates to OEMs that use P4s and RDRAM. They are also releasing a new chipset soon, called 845 that will support SDRAM (SDR) with DDR support for P4s not far down the line."
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Intel To Drop Rambus Exclusivity, Support SDRAM

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    from the article:

    "I think that Intel is slowly but surely backing away" from RDRAM, said Kevin Krewell, senior analyst with Instat/MDR (formerly MicroDesign Resources). "When they do finally introduce the DDR version of the 845, they'll get good performance--not as good as RDRAM...but everybody, overall, will be happier."

    I'm laughing so hard that I'm crying here.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I work at CompUSA.

    Let me tell you something, most customers come in and want a cheap computer that will work when they want it to.

    It used to be that people only wanted intel, but AMD's prices are so competetive that people don't care anymore, and will accept any system.

    HOWEVER! The management of our store ENCOURAGES us to tell our customers that AMD computers have incompatibilities. The store makes more money from intel systems (most people are willing to pay more for a brand name, so we jack up the markups), and we make more commission on intel systems as well. Most employees will just come right out and tell everyone "AMD systems have compatibility problems" and then the customers will look at intel, and tell their friends not to buy AMD either.

    Its bullshit.

    Whats also funny, is that almost everyone i know who knows more than 2 craps about computers has an athlon, but the people who bought a store bought computer got suckered into an intel.

    AMD is hands down better. There are no compatibility problems. AMD now has 23% of the market share of desktop computers (up from 5% only 3 short years ago), and you don't gain that much market share that quickly if your product sucks.

    Intel is running scared now that dual athlon systems are out.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Erm, the P4 bus runs at effectively 400MHz (100MHz QDR) and RDRAM at 800MHz (although the bus width is narrow).

    The problem with memory is not the bandwidth, its the latency. For example, the peformance difference between SDR DRAM and DDR DRAM is 5-10% running benchmarks and general apps, despite the later having twice the bandwidth. 3D graphics cards use DDR because they dont have the latency issues and hence benefit from DDR.

    Another point is that RDRAM has worse latency then SDRAM but has good bandwidth. So what did intel do? They increased the cache line size on the P4 to 128 bytes, a four times increase over the P3. This little modification is what makes RDRAM usable on the P4 as 128 bytes is long enough to mask out the latency problem. It'ill be interesting to see how DDR performs on the P4.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I;m curious (and htis is NOT a flame - I'm really curious) If you've had the $$ for a new box and you want a speedster system - what kept you from getting an Athlon based system?

    Try this, tell your companies excutives that when you call your software vendor for support they won't help you because you are not running Intel Processors in your server but only "compatible" processors.

    Our accounting package, MAS90/200, is ONLY supported on Intel processors. Until software vendors ok, AMD, we can't as a company use them. Similiarly with other software we use, and it's not like you can just migrate from an existing installation of your core business apps to another because it limits your pc selection. Really, until HP offers Vectras with AMD, and IBM offers servers (our standards for machines), our company won't be getting AMD but is stuck with Intel.

    I tend to think this is another reason that IBM, Dell, and HP do not offer AMD chips in their server lines (yes HP has some durons in laptops and AMDs in consumer line pcs but not Vectras or Netservers).
  • The only thing I can think of is Intel hopes this will put pressure on Rambus to lower prices, that a lot of people will only pay attention to the CPU clockspeed and price in purchasing, so once that starts affecting RDRAM sales, Rambus will reduce its margins. But DDR RAM isn't that much more expensive than SDR, so skimping on the tech doesn't make that much sense. Maybe it did when they were designing the chipset, and wanted it out as fast as possible?
  • OK. I'll bite. I haven't bought a P4 yet, but I might.

    Firstly, for the application I'm interested in the P4 really screams! How do I know this? Because (an old version of) the application IS one of the SPECCPU2000 benchamarks ( and the P4 does really, really well on that one benchmark.

    Secondly, the CPU cost is just not a big part of total system cost. RAM, disks, case, etc all add up.

    Thirdly, I have reports of stability problems for high-memory Athlon systems under Linux. They're a bit old now, and possibly obsolete, but I'd want to be sure.

    The big issue against the P4 is memory costs and lack of a dual processor platform, although this last is due to change soon. I like at least 2GB of RAM, ideally 4, and that does tend to point at SDRAM as the only affordable technology. Even DDR SDRAM may be a problem if the mobos don't have enough channels/slots. So, I need to know what damage SDRAM does to the P4 in my favourite benchamrk.
  • Since you ask, computational pure maths. Everytime I can double my data sizes, I can solve the next problem. I admit that 1GB or so would be enough for other purposes (I also do a lot of compiling and a lot of RAM really helps there).

  • only thing that makes it look expensive now is the utter collapse of the DRAM market. About six months ago, that would have been a reasonable price for PC133 SDRAM.

    I don't know how to break it to you, but the price for *all* memory decreased lately, not just SDRAM. Yet Rambus is still over 4 times the price of SDRAM, just like it always was.

    And Rambus has some technical strengths, too, when matched with a chip design like the P4 - the max bandwidth of RDRAM is higher than equivalent (PC133 DDR) SDRAM, though latency is higher. THe problem with Rambus was twofold:

    Bullshit. The bandwidth of 266MHz DDR is 2128 MB/s. The bandwidth of 800MHz Rambus is 1600MB/s. P4 uses two channels of RDRAM, making the total bandwidth 3200MB/s. That's why in P4 you need to install RIMMs in pairs, one for each channel. So the bandwidth of Rambus is less than that of DDR, and on top of that Rambus has much higher latency and generates a lot more heat. RIMMs need heat sinks for crying out loud!

    I, for one, have about 100 PCs to buy once there's a product worth buying.

    Ahem, Athlon. Or P3 if you are the Intel type (it outperforms P4 you know...)

  • Your assumption "dualchannel ddr-ram will not speed up nforce" is wrong.

    nforce uses UMA for graphics and just needs VERY FAST Memory, even when it only performces fast at linear access.

    I would agree if you say "nforce+dualchannel will not be faster than other ddr-chipsets".
  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @05:49AM (#2192463) Homepage Journal
    Actually, I think AMD systems rock - I recommend them to my friends, and I have two of them at home.

    The problem with AMD boxes in a corporate envirnment is consistency. When I buy a box for work, I'm not looking for blazing speed and lowest cost. I want a PC that'll be available in exactly the same config for at least 9-15 months from its date of introduction. There aren't any AMD-based systems being sold by the major manufacturers that meet that criteria - the typical "corporate" system (like the Dell Optiplex, Gateway E-series, etc.) will use a known stable chipset with a long planned lifecycle in the roadmap, Intel processors, and typically an ATI video chipset. When I buy them (in bulk), it's easy for me to use a standard system image to build the PC. Then all we have to do is generate a new NT SID, and set up the user profile. It only takes about a half hour for us to build a new PC as a result, including the time to image the PC.

    As for the current P4 systems, the reason we're avoiding them is RDRAM. I have no interest in stocking multiple RAM types, and the performance isn't sufficiently optimized to make it worthwhile. For my purposes, there's nothing wrong with the P3/i815 platform (or BX, for that matter), but BX is gone and i815 will be rapidly phased out once i845/Brookdale is available around the beginning of October. Hotrods don't really benefit us at all (our current main platform is still 440BX/P3-650), but stability does. Brookdale is slated to be around for a couple of years, with the DDR version coming out early next year.

    One other advantage of buying the "corporate" class systems is that all the manufacturers who want the business will cheerfully share their product roadmaps with you - including model names/numbers, availability dates, length of product cycles, and pricing. However, it's NDA'd, so I don't get to share, unfortunately. However, I should have i845 sample systems in here during August from a couple of vendors to test.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @05:02AM (#2192464) Homepage Journal
    Rambus RAM is nowadays well under $1/MB (the Chip Merchant, for instance, sells 256MB of PC800 RDRAM for $170) - the only thing that makes it look expensive now is the utter collapse of the DRAM market. About six months ago, that would have been a reasonable price for PC133 SDRAM.

    And Rambus has some technical strengths, too, when matched with a chip design like the P4 - the max bandwidth of RDRAM is higher than equivalent (PC133 DDR) SDRAM, though latency is higher. THe problem with Rambus was twofold:

    First, the horrible business practices of Rambus, the company.

    Secondly, when Rambus finally became available to the PC market (with the i820 chipset), the platform was so underwhelming that Rambus was effectively squashed. That was when the company turned their attention to litigating rather than working to improve the product - and we all have seen examples of companies that lead through legal agtion. They die.

    And now that Intel is going to ship Brookdale, they might start selling some P4 chips at last. I know that, at least at my shop, we've held off entirely on PC purchases this year (except for a couple of servers and laptops), in order to wait for a viable P4 platform. I'm sure I'm not the only one - expect Intel's sales numbers to start rising again and some of the top-tier PC vendors to show signs of breaking out of their slumps. I, for one, have about 100 PCs to buy once there's a product worth buying.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • The rambus strategy was pretty dumb but going with sdram instead of ddr is even dumber. What intel should do is dual channel ddr like the nforce but it will be a major accomplishment just to see regular ddr for the P4. That's how pathetic this situation is. Now this sounds like pure intel bashing but I'm being honest. I have great respect for Intel technologies over the past decade or so and still do (xscale and that new intel camera we just bought) but they really screwed up since the Pentium 3 and still continue to make mistakes.
  • he was talking about a 1.7 ghz P4 on sdram. It will suck compared to a 1.2 ghz athlon on ddr. And nforce gives the athlon dual channel ddr-intel doesn't have anything like that
  • > It was a stupid technology anyways

    I don't think the technology was so stupid -- otherwise all the other memory and CPU chip manufacturers wouldn't have picked it up so fast back when the standards were being discussed.

    The problem was that Rambus couldn't execute on their designs, and then decided to try to make money by blackmailing everyone else under the sun... :-/

    The RAM is still a lot faster, and if we can get rid of all of Rambus's patent nonsense, the price will eventually come down.


  • Superior? Look at the benchmarks, man! RDRAM consistently falls short of DDR (or in some cases, _SDR_) SDRAM!

    Just look at the benchmark results...

    Bandwidth []
    General Benchmark 2 []
    General Benchmark []
  • I have 512MB RAM in the one I have for work, and it crashes once every couple of days. I thought this was due to instability in my video driver (a ATI All-in-Wonder Radeon), but that could be a different reason for my problems.

    I have a SGI flat panel monitor and still haven't been able to get maximum resolution on it because the driver doesn't support DVI out yet. I heard a while ago that this was fixed in Xfree 4.1 - anyone know about this?


  • I think Intel lost big-time because of the RAMBUS stuff. I know I lost a lot of respect for them after that, and explicitly asked for an Athelon system for my desk. I wanted 512MB RAM, and I couldn't stomach the RAMBUS price difference for it.

    I'm upgrading my Power Macintosh G4/450 dual processor home system to 1.5GB RAM today. I paid less for 1GB RAM than the RAMBUS folks have to pay for 256mb. I'll bet I'll get better performance on this machine than I would have on the P4, not because Intel is slower than the G4, but since I have so much more RAM.


  • I bought a P4 package from a local shop, composed of case/ps, Intel D850GB motherboard, CPU and 128MB of RAMBUS memory. They were offering it at a good price ($599 US), probably as a result of the Intel subsidized bundles mentioned in the article.

    I could have bought an AMD package for a bit less money and it would have probably run most programs faster than the Intel package. Why did I buy the Intel package? I don't care about Quake or minor differences in performance. I wanted a reliable and well supported system that wasn't going to have compatibility problems with hardware and software. The large memory bandwidth was also a plus for the Intel package.

  • The first boards will be showing up in August.
  • by augustz ( 18082 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @05:10AM (#2192473) Homepage
    The Rambus folks have single handedly run one of the most vile business models around. Regardless of the quality of their product (which thankfully is low) its important to make an active stand against this kind of behavior, because in the end it hurts us all. Imagine if a company like this had got some patents on underlying internet protocals. The internet would cost a ton and barely exist.
  • Do you even know anything about perl? -- AC Replying to Tom Christiansen post

    Nice to see you could come up with an original .sig. In case you were wondering, that is pretty bad form.

  • I for one am damned glad this happened. I want a p4, but there's no way I was ever going to get rambus. It's just too damned expensive. I thought it was eventually coming, but I'm definitely glad that it's official now, this should drop the price of a p4 system by a few hundred dollars here, which is frankly good for everybody...

    Plus, we all know rambus inc is evil with it's frivoulus litigations, so this is a good thing for the rest of the industry as well as intel and us.

  • Really, for the hour or two every year, you might want to consider building your own system. If you go with decent parts (ie, nothing from a company going bankrupt) you won't have any install issues. These days you can boot off of CD and have an install going in minutes.

    But I dislike using an OS I didn't install myself because I've got strong preferences for what gets installed, etc. Well worth the 20m it takes to install Win2k, or 45m for Linux (Takes longer, cause I always install a bunch more stuff.)

    If that hour or two is really that hard to come by, or if you never do it and it would take a lot longer, consider making a list of parts and getting a local consultant or small store to do it for you.

    Saving shipping alone is likely to pay for an hour or consultant time (Expect $50/hour, it's not really high-end stuff) and you get a lot more control over what you get.

    This is proven by the simple fact that you can get a Dual Athlon this way, where many major companies (Dell, etc) won't even sell powerful single-CPU Athlons.

    I've had great luck buying my computer parts from a hardware consultant. He burns everything in, with the appropriate manufacturer's util when applicable, downloads and burns drivers when needed, and delivers them to my home after 6pm, when I'm back from work. Being that he doesn't have a storefront it usually ends up being the same price (+/- 5%) as the local stores, even the really cheap ones. (With retail products, he doesn't do the volume to get really cheap OEM stuff, but these days I like the warranties.)

  • I end up buying Intel CPU's for one reason: I want to buy Dell. I recommend Dell to all my friends and family, I use them at work, and I own one myself. They're pretty reliable and fairly inexpensive. And when something does go wrong, the on-site support is very nice.

    If Dell decides to start using AMD cpu's, then my next purchase would most likely be a Dell with AMD inside.

  • not until lower cost Athalon MP boards are available

    Such as the Tyan Tiger Athlon MP motherboard for $250. Without video, SCSI and NICs though, but it does have IDE RAID.

    Better than the $500 for the fully features Tyan Thunder...

    I just hope that AMD get a move on with their southbridge redesign to make it more relevant (SuperIO on board, NIC, USB2, etc), with decent NB-SB interconnect speeds, etc.

  • What's the word on SMP AMDs???

    Like the man said, AMD rocks, and for some of us, price is #1 consideration. Now give me a dual Duron system with oodles of SDRAM!

    Intel who??

  • For example huge databases, or applications like Photoshop, 3D Studio MAX, Maya, Premiere...even math software can consume memory like nothing when you do heavy number crunching.

    Or maybe he uses Emacs! ;-)

  • All they need now is a case that has room for more than one of those beasts..
  • Instead of jumping all around, could you just read carefully what I wrote : I said that the SDRAM solution was dreadfully slow on the P4. I never said a thing about RDRAM. Sure, RDRAM has move bandwidth and bigger latency.

    "The answer to the Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is... 42"
  • It's people like you that give techies bad reputation. If you used your brains and read what I wrote in the first place, instead of feeling to be on a crusade of bullshiting everyone, you'd have understood, as a lot of other people did too, that I meant the i845 chipset with the SDRAM. So instead of jumping around and crying foulnames because you think you know stuff about hardware, go pick up a pair of glasses. Next time you'll be able to read what I wrote.

    "The answer to the Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is... 42"
  • I've read a review about this a few weeks back. The performance of a 1.7Ghz P4 is pathetic to even a 1.2Ghz Athlon with DDR SDRAM. Intel execs must be on crack or something to release this chipset for the P4. It will seriously lower performance. The thing is P4 will be much faster with DDR memory than 'Rambust' and Intel is afraid to admit their mistake. Do yourself a favor and never buy a P4-Chipset845 combo, you'll be seriously sorry.

    "The answer to the Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is... 42"
  • Unfortunately, you're absolutely right. All this is going to do is drive up the prices of the actual processors.

    I personally hope that the removal of RDRAM will force them to drive up the quality of the pentium series (or create a new series for Pete's sake).

    Anyway, I dont have numbers, but I'm pretty sure that AMD systems are more than comparable these days. Maybe they'll start looking at them as more serious competitors now that they have SMP solutions.
  • by Sokie ( 60732 )
    When nVidia releases nForce, DDR will suddenly have a Dual Channel configuration witha 128-bit wide memory interface. That means that a nForce board with two banks of PC2100 DDR will have about 4.2GB of bandwidth with very low latencies.

    Relevant THG Page []

    Of course this is all still theoretical, but if it turns out to be true, DDR will have a higher bandwidth and drastically lower latencies than RDRAM.

  • Rambus, fail? That is one spectacular failure. To date, Rambus has been used in all Nintendo 64s, all Playstation 2s, and several video cards, not to mention every P4 system to date, and many P3 systems as well. I'd hesitate to say it was dead, because I'm sure they must be plotting something...
  • Actually, the reason is the dual memory channels, rather than any performance characteristics for RAMBUS. NVIDIA's dual DDR nForce should whallop anything else out there, plus have great latency.
  • The P4 is single processor only. The Intel Xeon (P4 based) supports SMP.

    Since I am a big believer in SMP, and the Xeon line is a little out of my price range, I will be switching to Athalons next time I upgrade (not until lower cost Athalon MP boards are available).
  • Owning RDRAM because it has a high max bandwidth is as useful as owning an F1 racing car for daily commutes in heavy traffic.

    Basically Intel has realised that everyone on the internet knows that for their office apps/games SDRAM gives much better performance even without considering cost. Very few people have a use for RDRAM, and their sales surely shows that.

  • Beowulf has nothing to do with Rambus, Intel, AMD, or any other specific hardware company. You can use any group of PC's (not all the same, even) to build a beowulf cluster. I've seen DEC Alpha clusters, Pentium clusters, and yes, Dual-PIII clusters.
  • Intel has stated (at the motherboard expo some months back) that their SDR chipset for P4 cuts performance by 25% & DDR cuts performance from RDRAM by ~12%... Or so their graph I saw suggests... Now Dual DDR channels could be very interesting (& if you look at potential bandwidth it could lead you to a figure beating a Dual RDRAM interface by ~12%)...

    Oh one other note, currently Intel's SDR/DDR chipsets only support PC100 & PC1600 due to bus limitation (bus is 100 Mhz Quad Data Rate). Changing to a non-synced bus to support PC133 or PC2100 could cause a major penalty in performance.
  • Only Xeon P4's are currently SMP capable, standard P4's are not...

    Athlon's on the other hand are all capable of SMP... It's just the MP Athlons that are supported by AMD due to a number of reasons...
  • Strangely I noticed my room was cooler after I switched from my K6-2 450 sys to my Athlon 1.2 (which I oced to 1.33 within 2 days & could take higher if I wanted)... I don't think most heat stats can be compared to each other easily...
  • my old system did have a TNT2 Ultra which was a very hot graphics card while my new system uses a Radeon 64MB VIVO, but if that makes such a big difference then soemthings wrong as the card is generating more heat than the system is...

    The PS should not be a factor as my new PS seems hotter than my old one... drives & such are the same, ACPI is off on both...
  • by Amokscience ( 86909 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @07:50AM (#2192496) Homepage
    The opinion is widespread because people associate the MB chipset with the proc. And AMD 3rd party chipsets were (and still continue to be even today) notorious for shoddy hardware and drivers.

    My brothers K5 was a flaky machine. My friend's K6-2 decided to just die. He always had sound card compatibility problems. Many IRC friends had sound issues with the early K7s. Video cards were always iffy ("Use the latest drivers! Upgrade every week!").

    Notice that I left out any mention of the Motherboard chipset manufacturer. Most people, even techies, don't make the proper distinction.

    A friend who works for AMD has a nice 1Ghz Athlon system. In Win2k it will occasionally hiccup for about a second or so. The problem? The VIA drivers suck. It's like building a great house but letting someone do a crappy job on your driveway and lawn.

    Now, of course, some people haven't had any problems or researched the issues ultra-carefully before diving into the Kx fray but those people are few. I'm happy to say that a friend and I put together a nice Athlon rig for colocation and it's been doing just fine. However, this is an issue that has plagued AMD's public perception from the K5 days and that's why there is this reputation, deserved or not. I myself tread very carfeully when dealing with MB purchases.
  • by jeffsenter ( 95083 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @05:31AM (#2192497) Homepage
    The comment from the submitter makes it seem as if this is something new and important. This is actually really old news. Intel's 845 (Brookdale) chipset, which supports regular SDRAM and DDR has been in the works and well known for a while now and even benchmarked []. Intel is probably initially only releasing it in the SDRAM flavor because of exclusive contracts with Rambus Inc. It is expected that in less than a year the DDR version will be out. Intel publically stated they are less than pleased with Rambus Inc. a long time ago.

    As another poster mentioned the performance of the P4 with SDRAM is terrible. This is because the P4 was designed for memory with high bandwidth such as Rambus RAM and DDR as opposed to regular SD RAM. Tom's Hardware, perhaps the foremost Rambus hater, has an article [] on the 845 chipset and its very poor performance with SDRAM. Ace's Harware also has a summary [].

    All and all Intel's relationship with Rambus and use of Rambus RAM has been very foolish. The P-III was not designed to take advantage of the high bandwidth of Rambus so the improvements versus SDRAM were limited and the price of Rambus made VIA's competing SDRAM chipsets and AMD's solutions much more attractive. Now that Intel finally has a chip (P4) for which it makes sense to use Rambus RAM, Intel is slowly moving toward abandoning Rambus probably in favor of DDR. Although, given how hated Rambus is among RAM makers and the continued superior price-performance of DDR RAM, Intel's moving away from Rambus makes a lot of sense.
  • Hmm, in real life P4/RDR systems outperform K7/DDR systems by about 3x on memory bandwidth. Since P4/RDR offers only 50% more theoretical bandwidth than K7/DDR, it appears that it is DDR that is having more problems reaching its theoretical limit.

    Besides, 60% of 3.2 GB/s is still faster than 75% of 2.4 GB/s. I don't really care who is faster relative to theoretical peak, I just care who is faster. And that's P4/RDR.
  • Nope, you are wrong. The bandwidth of dual channel PC800 RDRAM is 3.2 GB/s (800 MHz x 16 bit x 2 channels). The bandwidth of DDR SDRAM is only 2.1 GB/s or 2.4 GB/s. The corporate push behind DDR is attempting to confuse customers by giving a name of PCxxx where xxx is the bandwidth, not the frequency.
  • The problem is that while dual channel DDR will supply that much bandwidth, K7's FSB is quite sluggish and won't be able to take advantage of it. You will already note that currently shipping K7 systems show very minimal performance speedup with DDR over SDR (it's i820 all over again). There's no point in throwing even more bandwidth at the chip, which cannot use the bandwidth.

    The most exciting DDR product is the ServerWorks GCHE chipset which has dual channel DDR supporting quad Foster processors, which can actually take advantage of the increased bandwidth.
  • by bludstone ( 103539 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @05:36AM (#2192501)
    Am I the only one who still sees "DDR RAM" and thinks "dance dance revolution random access memory?"

    so do you think my butterfly upswing another trickstyle will really push my computer THAT much faster?

  • They benchmarked and compared P4 and Athlon and came to the conclusion that P4 has much greater memory bandwidth than Athlon There is no need to benchmark what is a fact, that can be read from the specs.
    Yes, RDRAM has more bandwith than DDR-SDRAM. DDR-SDRAM on the other hand has lower latencies then RDRAM.

    Which is the winner in terms of real world performace is not clear as the P4 have yet to be tested with DDR-SDRAM, and of course different apps have different needs en terms of bandwith/latency.

    In the area price/performace I have a heard time beliving RDRAM will ever beat SDRAM with Rambus running the show.

  • It's nice to see intel giving up on Rambus for the more open SDRAM but why do they bother with SDR? As seen on the Atlhon The P4 will be severly cripled with 133mhz mem sticks. The Atlhon doesn't scale very well with clockspeed over about 1.1ghz with only SDR mem so why should the P4 be different.

    No thank you until DDR chipset/boards arive.

  • by RainbowSix ( 105550 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @04:33AM (#2192504) Homepage
    At first this might seem like a good move, until you remember the only current selling point of the P4 is memory bandwidth (until SSE2 is mainstream). So effectively, the took the best feature and killed it to save on costs to the consumer. Too bad most consumers will see "1.8ghz now with 128 megs of SDRAM!" and buy it because they heard SDRAM is cheaper than RDRAM, yet the 1.8gig CPU is over $500.
  • by Capt. DrunkenBum ( 123453 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @06:47AM (#2192505) Homepage
    "Software hasn't caught up yet."

    Well, WinXP is just around the corner.

  • Its not joe smoe who will switch to linux, it is the people that are on the verge of switching. Something like this will make people like me want to go completely linux, and people like my dad start to consider it more and more.
  • Am I the only one who still sees "DDR RAM" and thinks "dance dance revolution random access memory?"

    Am I the only one who still sees "DDR RAM" and thinks "RAM made in what used to be East Germany[?] []"?

  • Plus, they designed the P4 from the ground up to support RDRAM. It'd be just stupid to quit supporting them now, that it's becoming almost affordable to buy Rambus memory.

    I don't recall which Intel executive (one of the chief architects of the Pentium IV architecture) it was that lead to this common misconception, but he later refuted that this was what he meant. He had said that the Pentium IV was designed to take advantage of large bandwidth chipsets, like Rambus. He then went on to remind everyone that like most microprocessors, the Pentium IV was designed to depend on the supporting chipset to interface with the memory technology. The Pentium IV was therefor not optimized for a specific memory technology. Instead the chipsets were designed to optimally work with the Pentium IV and whatever memory they supported.

  • Well, you have to consider two things. One is that the consumer would probably have had to purchase a system with a 1.7GHz CPU because of the higher cost of RDRAM. The performance difference between a 1.7GHz system with RDRAM and a 1.8GHz with SDRAM is probably pretty close for most consumer applications. In fact, most consumer applications will be faster with the SDRAM system. If nothing else, average users will feel better about buying a faster clocked machine. The second thing to consider is that there will likely be interleved DDR chipsets available for low end servers (several Socket A MP boards with this capability are out or will be released soon). Sure you can interleave RDRAM too, but the incremental cost is much higher due to the tighter engineering contraints of RDRAM channels. I think that overall consumers will win (or at least feel like they won, without spending more money).
  • Perhaps Intel didn't design the P4 for Rambus from the get-go, but it was designed as a bandwidth-hungry chip. While the P4 has been reviewed and analyzed to death, and indications of its merit seem to be on a perpetual see-saw, a few things seem to be objectively emerging.

    First off, the P4 is strongest when streaming and when the new SSE2 stuff is being used.

    Second, the P4 is clearly bandwidth-hungry, and knows how to use it. This goes hand-in-hand with the first point.

    Now a little more controversial, there have been some reports that on non-streaming problems, in other words, away from its design peak, the P4 is bandwidth-wasteful. In other words, the P4 needs the bandwith to run well, whether it's really needed or not. Between the cache line size and prefetch pattern, the P4 just needs lots of bandwidth. It is well mated to Rambus. It may also suffer badly without Rambus, or at least that much bandwidth.

    I'll be curious to see benchmarks of:
    P4+Intel SDR SDRAM
    P4+Intel DDR SDRAM
    P4+non-Intel SDR SDRAM
    P4+non-Intel DDR SDRAM

    From what I've heard on various performance websites, the Intel/Rambus contract forbade them from fielding a non-Rambus solution with > 1GB/s bandwidth. One could look at PC133 and say it was a violation, but I suspect one could finesse that by saying that you can never in practice achieve the peak. I believe the rest of this has been reported as waiting for certain contract provisions to expire. I don't know the details, only the same rumors as everyone else.
  • Now I'm curious. If you are interested in an AMD system and Dell won't sell you one, shouldn't this count as a reason for thinking Dell might not be so great after all?

    And if you are too busy to put together a list of components you want in your computer so a build-to-spec computer builder can make you a system (for much less than Dell), how do you find time to post to Slashdot? It seems the former takes quite a bit less time, and is (no offense to the present audience) a lot more fun. --- "The 24-hour Dell Technical Support center is currently closed. Please call back at another time." (The recorded answer to my first ever Dell tech support call. Not a joke!)

  • That's an awful story about CompUSA. I shouldn't be surprised, but it seems so underhanded to spread FUD this way. It reminds me of the famous cases when Nestle employees would dress up in white coats and "advise" new mothers in a hospital that they are stifling their baby if they breast feed it, and should instead buy "modern" Nestle baby formula.

    Next time I'm at the mall I'll leave my girlfriend in some fitting room and go test our local CompUSA sales clerks to see if they too came to the conclusion that AMD systems have compatibility problems.

  • by marm ( 144733 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @06:47AM (#2192513)

    I don't recall which Intel executive (one of the chief architects of the Pentium IV architecture) it was that lead to this common misconception, but he later refuted that this was what he meant.

    This isn't a common misconception... it is, in essence, true.

    The P4, as it stands today, has very small on-chip caches, certainly by comparison with, say, the Athlon, and the primary reason why that is is because of memory latency. Smaller caches have lower access latencies, mitigating the effects of RDRAM's high access latency. RDRAM also has very high bandwidth, significantly higher than even DDR SDRAM, which means that keeping these small caches filled is less of a problem.

    Consider also the very long, 20-stage pipelines found in the P4. These also require very large memory bandwidth to keep them filled, and what memory technology does that better than RDRAM? Conversely, a branch-prediction miss by the P4 takes a long time to work its way through this 20-stage pipeline before the P4 can restart its work. This gives RDRAM breathing space to refill the P4's small caches from elsewhere in memory that it would not have if the P4's pipeline was shorter.

    Cynics might argue that perhaps the P4's branch-prediction isn't as good as it could be, in order to make up for some of the access latency that RDRAM suffers from...

    Don't forget the benchmarks either: where does the P4 really shine, and convincingly beat the Athlon? That'll be benchmarks where the data set that is being processed is large and (mostly) sequential. Why? Well, it's obvious, isn't it? It's down to RDRAM's massive bandwidth. Other tests which do not hammer the memory bandwidth as hard, or where the data set is scattered around memory, show the Athlon coming out on top.

    All of this points to the fact that the P4 was at least designed with RDRAM in mind. If not specifically for RDRAM, then at least for a memory technology with large bandwidth and high latency, and how many types of memory do we know that fit that description?

    I suspect that future revs of the P4, designed to work better with DDR SDRAM, will have larger on-chip caches, and (possibly) better branch prediction. The larger L1 and/or L2 caches will be necessary in order for the P4 to have competitive performance when using SDRAM. However, this will come at a price - a lot more transistors on the die. More transistors == larger die size, higher power requirements, and, worst of all for Intel, means that they will not be able to scale the clock speed up as fast as they would like to, which leaves me wondering whether they will genuinely be able to keep up with the Athlon in terms of performance.

  • This is a couple of weeks old...

    But Intel is shooting themselves in the foot with this. They're holding off on DDR support for reasons that nobody claims to even try to understand and handing the high midrange over to AMD in giftwrap. Truthfully, in that kind of performance territory there's very few people this kind of performance should even remotely matter to (the usual high-demand games and scientific computing crowd being the usual exceptions). The fact is that even with this development there's no compelling reason to buy a P4.

  • Yeah... as a general rule that does seem to be the case. Those who know about computers build, and usually build AMD. Those who don't buy and tend to wind up with Intel.

  • I don't know about Gateway -- their hardware can get very weird sometimes. A lot of their systems ship without reset buttons and have what seem to be soft power switches. I've had to unplug Gateways to get them to reboot.

  • In other words, it's completely nonsensical.

    Rambus won't take over the marketplace; that should be self-evident by now. If this is their motive, than they're in even bigger trouble than it looks from the outside.

    Imagine that: forced to market the overrated technology of a disgraced company...

  • See what rambus did to themselves... THis is the last blow rambus, thus beginning the final stages of its demise. It was a stupid technology anyways

  • Rambus RAM is nowadays well under $1/MB (the Chip Merchant, for instance, sells 256MB of PC800 RDRAM for $170) - the only thing that makes it look expensive now is the utter collapse of the DRAM market.

    Crucial sells 256 MB of DDR 133 for $40, so the relative cost of Rambus is, in fact, rising. The question is: will Intel build a decent DDR chipset?

  • Except that VIA's P4 chipset uses DDR and is actually faster than the 850 with RAMBUS. DDR has the speed and a much lower latency than RAMBUS, which is why the nForce chipset is shattering memory performance with dual channel DDR.

  • The boards have been delayed to September, but I too am drooling at getting ahold of one of these. Screw the onboard video, I want the dual channel DDR!

  • finally! i might actually think about getting a p4 now... its good to see that intel cant just bully their products onto the market like ms has been doing.

    anyone know if they plan on making it SMP enabled anytime soon, or is that too much to ask?
  • Your comment sounds exactly along the lines of what I heard from another corporate purchaser -- chipset stability is the most important factor, above cost and speed. That was the deciding factor against AMD-based systems (some of which have very dodgy chipsets), and Rambus boards. The question remains if the i845 will be another i820, or if it will be reasonably sound model like the 815. If folks like you yelp at Intel, the PIII may be around for another year or so.
  • Are you nuts? Everyone always sells RDRAM with
    the max bandwidth of RDRAM is higher than equivalent (PC133 DDR) SDRAM, though latency is higher.
    ..but that's the deal killer right there!! I'm not playing video games on these machines -- I can't expect linear, consistent reads of large blocks of memory. I have a bunch of unix daemons grabbing all sorts of random chunks from RAM. How is moving from 60 clock ticks for a cache miss to 200 clock ticks a good thing?? Oh, but if I'm moving more than a few K it'll get to the CPU in 25% larger blocks.

    This is exactly like Intel pumping up Mhz for marketing purposes rather than actual engineering. High latency, on servers, sucks ass. RDRAM? No thanks.

  • "Rambus" Affecianados? (sp?)

    "Rambus Owners Club"

    Stories on how Rambus was the most underappreciated technology of its time/ way ahead of its time.

    P4-Rambus support groups and Rambus hacks?

    All I see is the future retro-technology, and the enthusists who will religiously follow it.

  • I'm more interested in getting the most out of an old BX board or the newer Abit VA-6, Getting an Athlon means getting a whole new board and processor. Upgrading and or OC'ing an Intel PIII (now most are under $90) is a minimal investment. Going with Athlon only makes sense if getting a whole new bundle (memory,CPU, board). I never even considered the P4 because of the price and incompatabilities of Rambus.
  • A few months ago I wrote a raytracer that had almost the same problem. Ran under windows, everythign worked fine, ran under linux, the lighting calculations seemed off.

    After tons of debugging, it was in the implementation of the sqrt() function on windows vs linux. I think i was passing it a zero, and on windows, the return value somehow evaluated to false, but on linux it evaluated to true (or something along those lines).

    In any case, same software, different compilers, totally different results. The FDIV error on P1's was supposed to happen like once every 5000 years or something. Of course, maybe that's on average, and *all* of the bugs were happening to you :)

  • See here: ml []

    Assuming this is correct, the FDIV bug was more related to rounding errors on very high numbers, so I'd say that problem was probably not from the pentium bug, but maybe if it were optimized for 486's and then the exe was copied to the Pentium there *could* be a problem. Then again, maybe POVRay had a bug (gasp!).

  • by bribecka ( 176328 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @04:38AM (#2192529) Homepage
    It's nice to finally see Intel realize that the RDRAM exclusivity was a major mistake. I may be blind or idealistic, but I can't help but think that Intel isn't really at fault here. They may have actually thought that Rambus was a better product. But judging from the final product from Rambus, along with the flurry of lawsuits they bring up against practically anyone who uses bits and bytes, I have to say that Rambus as a company is shady at best.

    I think among tech-types, this is a bigger embarassment to Intel than the Pentium bug back in the day. I mean, that bug was fairly harmless really, but it was blown up quite a bit in the media. Of course the actual seriousness of that bug is probably somewhere in between what Intel said and what the media said.

    But for this Rambus fiasco, the tech community has scolded Intel pretty hard since day one with one benchmark after another, and Intel's refusal to accept that they may have selected an inferior product may have hurt them in the eyes of people who actually respect them for their technology.

  • Nope.

    But then, SDRAM reminds me of "Samba de Amigo" - and let me tell you, shaking your mouse like a maraca is a -bad- idea.

  • It was economic reality that this would eventually happen. The average person might be willing to pay for this equipment, since they don't know there is any option. However the high end power users know there are other options, and they know that the RDRAM Memory is over priced, over rated, and under powered.
  • The real question is "Will Intel build a dual channel DDR motherboard?". nVidia's upcomming nForce will have a dual channel DDR design, enabling peak bandwidth much greater than RDRAM, i.e. about 4.2GB/s with 133MHz DDRRAM, compared to Rambuses 3.2 or so.
  • I know that, at least at my shop, we've held off entirely on PC purchases this year (except for a couple of servers and laptops), in order to wait for a viable P4 platform.

    That comment intrigues me... do corporate customers still consider AMD-based platforms to be non-viable? What are your reasons for waiting for a 'viable' P4 platform? Why is the current P4 platform it just the price?
  • AMD released a dual processor chipset for their Duron/Athlon a bit over a month ago (the AMD 760MP). Currently there is only one motherboard out there using this chipset, and it's a rather expensive board with on-board SCSI, LAN, etc. (the Tyan Thunder K7).

    August hopefully will bring the first reasonably priced dual-Athlon boards to market, with Tyan and MSI both planning lower-cost dual boards. Just when exactly they'll arrive though or at what price, no one quite knows yet.

    As for the processors, all Athlons and Durons are, in theory, dual capable, but the only ones tested and guarunteed for dual-processor operation are the new AthlonMP processors, which sell for a fair bit more then the regular Athlons. That being said, I don't think anyone's run into a Duron or Athlon that didn't work in a properly configured dual setup.

  • RDRAM has it's ups and downs. Yes, it does offer more bandwidth per pin then DDR does, however it requires more control, power and ground pins to go along with the data pins. End result? Both RDRAM RIMMs and DDR DIMMs are 184 pins, and one RDRAM RIMM offers up to 1.6GB/s while a single DDR DIMM offers up to 2.1GB/s of bandwidth. RDRAM in the P4 is dual-channel though, so that number doubles in this case.

    However, on top of this whole bandwidth issue there are MANY downsides to RDRAM. First off, the whole idea of the low-pin-count was to reduce the cost of producing motherboards and chipsets, but since you need two seperate 400MHz DDR channels to get decent performance from an RDRAM system (as the i820 painfully illustrated), the end result has been chipsets and boards that are MORE expensive rather then less so. Case in point, MSI just recently released the first 4-layer dual channel RDRAM board of any company (as far as I know), all other RDRAM boards are 6-layer ones, which apperently adds ~$15-$20 to the cost of these boards. DDR boards, meanwhile, are mostly 4-layer boards, and SDRAM boards are almost exclusively 4-layer products.

    In addition to that there's also the much publicized latency issue (though RDRAM doesn't really have much worse latency then DDR SDRAM, to the point that a good RDRAM chipset will have lower latency then a crappy DDR chipset any day). There's also some issues with RDRAM being essentially a serialized I/O port being used as a bus (hence the requirement for cRIMMs to fill up empty RIMM sockets), which causes some bad transmission line-type problems.

    All in all, RDRAM is a great technology for some uses, but the PC isn't really one of those uses (at least not now). The Sony PlayStation2? Now that's a perfect example of where RDRAM makes perfect sense. But a PS2 is VERY different from a PC..

  • Interesting FWIW, the i845 (Brookdale) chipset that Intel is shipping for SDRAM support has full DDR support built in already, several motherboard manufacturers have already demoed i845 boards using DDR memory. However, Intel will be disabling DDR support until Jan. 2002. Official reason, from what I've heard, is that the DDR stuff isn't fully functional yet. Unofficial rumor is that Rambus has got Intel by the balls (albeit by a quickly loosening grip) due to some legal/contractual deals. ie Intel produces a DDR chipset now and Rambus sues them for patent infringment (though it's becoming increasing clear that intelligence will prevail and Rambus will get their *sses thrown out of court for the whole SDRAM/DDR litigation thing).

    On the subject though, IMO Intel DESPRATELY needs a DDR chipset for the P4. Though sales of this chip have picked up significantly, they're still less than Intel's initial forcast, and I think that a lot of it has to do with RDRAM. SDRAM gets rid of that problem, but then saddles the P4 with another problem, ie a 5-25% performance hit (with the largest performance drop coming in the areas where the P4 had previously been the strongest). End result is that it makes the Athlon look like quite an attractive platform from the performance side of things. Where previously the top speed grades of Athlons and P4's were pretty much neck and neck, with PC133 SDRAM the P4 looses quite badly in all but quite rare cases.

  • Except no one in their right mind would buy a P4 with SDRAM.

    PC133 memory kills any performance advantage the P4 has. See Tom's Hardware [] for benchmarks.

    Until they support DDR, there is no real alternative to Rambus for P4s. If you are spending money on an overpriced P4, you are wasting your money if you use PC133 SDRAM.

    On the other hand, Athlons work rather nicely with DDR, and are a much better value.

  • Unfortunately, it is due to some sort of brand loyalty. I WISH that I could get a nice elegant Athlon system from my favorite PC vendor (DELL) but they just won't do it. I have nothing but positive experiences with Dell PC's and am very reluctant to switch, but if anyone knows of another MAJOR PC vendor that bundles their systems with AMD I would be happy to look into it. But as of late, they are not THAT easy to come by. And please, spare me the "build your own system and save" replies - my time is precious.
    Since when is "public safety" the root password to the Constitution?
  • If you are talking about the divbug in the early Pentiums... The thing with the divbug wasn's so much that it existed (there are almost always bugs in new processors) it's more how Intel handled the situation. They kept quiet about it although they were well aware of the bugs existance and when it was discovered they tried to play it down as almost insignificant. They were not willing to replace the bad processor at the begining, which they finaly were practically forced to. For many users it didn't matter but for some it really did. I remember rendering pictures which came out allright on a 486 but had strange holes and missing shadows on some objects when rendered on a P66. I didn't know about the bug then so I was very confused... :)
  • It's nice to see Intel get with the program and dump Rambus. This outfit has been screwing with the system too long. They have created quasi-standards then demanded licensing for them; built an empire on suing manufacturers, and have been investigated for all sorts of fraud. It's time for Intel to move on to support real standards in an open competitive enviroment. It's nice to see them taking steps in that direction

  • Gee, six months ago it would've been a reasonable price? Well hell, if you want to base "reasonable pricing" based on 6 month old data please let me know. I'll sell you anything you want at prices from 6 months ago. You can buy 256MB of high quality PC2100 RAM for $40-50 now, including shipping. 256MB of PC800 RDRAM is $100-$120. So only a 2.5x markup for RDRAM. Nice. Yes, it's better than the 10x markup that used to exist, but still - you're paying a premium price for an inferior product. Yes, inferior. Because RDRAM has numerous technical issues that can't be solved. There's no tolerance in the design for timing. The more chips you add, the slower the entire memory system runs because the serialized bus is limited to the speed of the slowest chip. And while bandwidth is high, the constant problem in memory architectures is lowering latency. Unless you're doing some VERY specific operations you are more likely to be doing random lookups on memory than streaming huge chunks. Even with modern dataset sizes this is true. Intel upper management made several very bad decisions about 5 years ago. One of them was RAMBUS. And given the long cycle times in the semiconductor industry, it's taking until now to start recovering. Hopefully Intel will come out with a slightly redesigned P4 that will finally get the performance that it was supposed to for current apps. At the same time they should be able to ditch the RAMBUS monstrosity for cheaper memory that runs faster in everyday situations.
  • by acidblood ( 247709 ) <[ten.ppced] [ta] [oiced]> on Thursday July 26, 2001 @04:34AM (#2192551) Homepage
    Brookdale was already in Intel's roadmaps for a long while. They're just waiting for their contract with Rambus to end, since it's preventing them from releasing DDR products.

    Plus, they designed the P4 from the ground up to support RDRAM. It'd be just stupid to quit supporting them now, that it's becoming almost affordable to buy Rambus memory.

    Personally, I loathe Rambus as much as the next guy, but if you think rationally, this decision should have been taken by Intel a long time ago -- now it doesn't make sense anymore.
  • 1 lb heatsink jokes aside, the P4 runs cooler then the Athlon. Hell, with the default Athlon OEM heatsink, 1+ ghz CPUs have no problem hitting 50+C. The slot athlon is rated to 70C, the socketed athlon is rated to 95C, which is only 5C short of boiling. My home CPU (K7 1133), with OEM heatsink and only one case fan has hit temps of 71C. (Yes, I'm shopping for another heatsink, I just kept the OEM heatsink on because that's what we sell to our customers, and I'm curious about the temp.)

    On the other hand, the P3 @ 1.13 Ghz (and the P4 @1.5 Ghz) have a max temperature rating of 72C, which probably means its normal operating temperature is a tad cooler.

    Now the difference in temperature measurements probably means that the actual temp vs the measured temp of the pentiums are more accurate, rather then the underreporting I suspect the K7's temp measurement reports. The pentium has its temperature measured by an internal diode. The K7 goes by max case surface temperature of the cpu. I'm guessing that the K7 method of temperature reporting will lead to a lower then real temperature then the P4's method of temperature reporting.

    So, if heat is an issue, or if there is a lot of computers in a room and AC might be an issue, then there might be a reason to go with the P4. Of course, the ignores the fact that RDRAM is supposed to run hot, and I'm too busy/lazy atm to look up the total heat output of a P4 + RDRAM solution vs K7 + DDR-SDRAM solution. Anyways, now since the P4 is switching to to DDR-SDRAM, that is no longer an issue. Intel traditionally has had a better chipset then AMD's 3rd party solution, at least in the opinion of many people in the technical community. This is another factor in favor of Intel. Also, the K7 doesn't beat the P4 in *all* benchmarks. There are some benchmarks where the P4 will beat the K7. So even though the K7 is a great chip for the money, I could see using the P4 for a computer devoted to a specialized app if the time saved was worth the extra price of the P4.

    There is also brand loyalty, and service/supplier agreements that lock a company into dealing with intel-only products. If a company is getting great technical support from an intel-only supplier, I cannot see any reason to change, great technical support is worth the extra cash.

    Of course, "intel" and "pentium" are household names, everyone keeps asking me who "AMD" is and what they do. And the P4 has a higher mhz rating which makes the idiots flock to it.

    From the consumer side, intel is hurting. I work in a shop that has switched over to selling only AMD, based on AMD's price. Sure, we can and will custom order Pentium CPU's, but after we show the customer the price difference between the P4 and the K7, they have all switched over to the K7. Intel still has a stronger market in multi-processor solutions, but the release of the Athlon MP (as well as the fact that all K7's, Athlon or Duron, support a dual processor configuration) and the availability of a dual-processor motherboard will change that, especially when the other motherboard manufacturers release their motherboards and the prices lower to a more reasonable level. AMD has a different SMP solution then Intel, and I believe that AMD's version will convince shops to switch over to the Athlon MP, as long as AMD markets a dual-processor configuration successfully, and can keep up with the demand.

    Okay, I'm done playing devil's advocate. Last Pentium CPU I've owned was a P100. I'm quite happy with my Athlon, even if it is a portable heater.

    References: Processor Electrical Specifications [] - Gotta credit my sources for the temperature ratings.

  • THis is the last blow rambus, thus beginning the final stages of its demise.

    You're probably right, however, I doubt RamBus will go quietly and will now focus even more intently on extorting money for its numerous patents - they've lost one case (if memory serves) but they'll probably waste millions of their money and the memory makers to try and extract every dime they can from their illegal patents. I wish they'd just file for Chapter whatever and go away

  • Gateway & COmpaq have been selling Athlons for some time. Dell's reluctance can only be attributed to a sweetheart deal from Intel - I too love Dell systems (My laptop is an Inspiron and I managed a support group who handled Dell servers and desktops - it was great) and can't understand why they refuse to add AMD processors to their lineup. I've been surprised they have held out this long - but Dell has a HUGE edge over others in that their corporate contracts which are for HIGH margin machines allow them to earn plenty of money without trying to attract low end buyers with AMD or Celeron type processors. I fear that until (if ever) corporate execs are willing to buy Athlon machines because they feel they are cuttin gedge, Dell will have no need to bother with AMD which is sad.
  • by baptiste ( 256004 ) <> on Thursday July 26, 2001 @05:29AM (#2192558) Homepage Journal
    I've seen lots of people posting about how excited they are that Intel is finally about to ship the i845 so they can finally get that P4.

    I;m curious (and htis is NOT a flame - I'm really curious) If you've had the $$ for a new box and you want a speedster system - what kept you from getting an Athlon based system? The benchmarks I've seen between teh fastest P4s and Athlons haev been mixed - P4s excel in some areas while Athlons at much slower clock speeds excel in others the P4 can't seem to master. I'd paint it a draw unless all you do is play Quake :)

    So is it brand loyalty? The need to have that ultra high (and meaningless) MHz number? P4s are more expensive, though sometimes the mboos are cheaper than equivalent Athlons.

    I'm not trying to start a flame fest of replies - I'm just curious if maybe theres experiences out there that the numerous HW sites haven't touched on that make waiting for the i845 worth doing.

    Yes, I tend to lean towards Athlons due to teh price/performance ratio. I can't stomach the prices Intel wants for some of their CPUs when a 1GHz Athlon 266FSB is now < $100 But in teh technical community that is /., besides brand bias/loyalty are there really black and white compelling reasons to shun Athlons in favor of a P4 with SDRAM support? Remember, some of the benchmarks that P4s excelled on were due to memory bandwidth of RDRAM and with SDRAM, they may not be so high - only time will tell of course.

    So if you reply, try to be insightful instead of saying AMD sucks - who knows - this thread might be worth reading for folks who don't check the HW sites daily :)

  • by baptiste ( 256004 ) <> on Thursday July 26, 2001 @06:07AM (#2192559) Homepage Journal
    I wanted a reliable and well supported system that wasn't going to have compatibility problems with hardware and software.

    This statement is one I've run across all too often. I've used AMD processors in WIndows and Linux systems for years since the K6 days. I'v enever had a compatability problem (OK - the linux kernel developers blacklists the AMD Irongate USB support for one release till they got specs to fix a bug)

    Why is this opinion that AMD stuff will cause all sorts of compatabiltiy problems still prevelant? I mean AMD was a key WIndows 2000 partner with Microsoft to ensure Athlons ran WIndows 2K flawlessly. I can't remember that last time I saw a widespread AMD only problem - yes the VIA chipsets have had a few problems with the newest linux kernels - but widespread - well, not from what I've seen and now there are MANY vendors with chipsets out there.

    So is this still a major issue - If it was I'd expect to see the HW review sites freaking out about all teh compatability rpoblems with AMD products. I jsut haven't seen it except when folks say it because they read it somewhere. THoguhts?

  • That comment intrigues me... do corporate customers still consider AMD-based platforms to be non-viable? What are your reasons for waiting for a 'viable' P4 platform? Why is the current P4 platform it just the price?

    At my employer (large corp in Europe), we are still clinging to the P3 platform for now. Reasons:

    Great choice and great prices on P3/i815 business systems with >= 256 MB SDRAM

    P4, especially with RDRAM, is too expensive for the performance increase you get

    we don't see the need for much more performance in the near future - where's the killer app gobbling up cycles like peanuts in the office environment? Spending more money just to have MS Worse (misspelling intended) wait a little faster for user input doesn't make economic sense.
    Of course we could be wrong here, but spending top dollar on first-tier hardware just on the possibility that such an app might come along doesn't look like a sensible business decision. Rather than that, we buy second- or even third-tier iron and upgrade when the need arises.

    and, by the way, many current P4 and AMD systems are too loud. Most of our users won't notice a 20% performance increase, but they sure as hell notice their PC making a racket below their desks

    as for AMD:

    There are less offerings in the office PC segment from the big name manufacturers we deal with, although the situation has been getting better lately

    The chipsets, well... one may disagree here, but here in businessland Intel is still number one in reputation, in spite of all their past mistakes. VIA & co. are still looked at with a little suspicion (can you say "4 in 1"?)

    I actually had our main supplier make us an offer for an AMD-based alternative to our current 1GHz/i815 P3 box and received it just two days ago. Performance-wise, the AMD system likely runs rings around the PIII box (i haven't got the actual system yet), but it's also 9% more expensive than the latter for several reasons (faster processor, additional graphics card needed, DDR RAM, no onboard NIC available for this particular model). I know we're comparing apples to oranges here, but the situation being as it is, we can't justify the added expense and additional QA/deployment/maintenance cost to our management. nVidia TNT2 graphics instead of the lame i815 onboard graphics? Cool, but we run business apps here, not UT or Quake.

    My guess is that AMDs future in the business environment depends as much on the chipset manufacturers as on itself. According to the head sales rep of one of our suppliers, there are also some strong regional differences in the way that AMD is seen as an alternative to Intel.


  • Especially since they're changing the form factor for the next generation of P4 (Northwood, due in November), so current Pentium 4 motherboards are simply a dead end.

    AMD has promised to make future Athlons at least for the next couple of years compatible with current Athlon MB's (perhaps with a BIOS update) but current Pentium 4 motherboards will be incompatible with anything on the market very soon.
    Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.
  • by Haxx ( 314221 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @05:26AM (#2192564) Homepage

    I have yet to see one and I don't know anyone who owns one. Im not convinced they even exist.

    -And if the band you in starts playing different tunes......
  • And Rambus has some technical strengths, too,
    when matched with a chip design like the
    P4 - the max bandwidth of RDRAM is higher
    than equivalent (PC133 DDR) SDRAM

    Yeah and the bus width of a Rimm is 1/4 that
    of a Dimm, which means that less data goeas
    across at one time but at a faster rate. that is like having the
    speed limit on a 4 lane Highway be 50, then
    on a 1 lane highway have it be 200. all things being equal, you will
    have the same amount of cars go by you in
    a fixed amount of time on either road.

  • by kypper ( 446750 ) on Thursday July 26, 2001 @04:39AM (#2192572)
    my RAM won't cost as much as my damned CPU/Motherboard combo.

    Screw 3...
  • The Atlhon doesn't scale very well with clockspeed over about 1.1ghz with only SDR mem so why should the P4 be different.
    It's even worse. The P4 relies heavily on memory bandwith and is expected to perform VERY poor with SD-RAM. The northbridge has a 3.2GB/s data transfer rate, but the memory bandwith will be seriously crippled. It's like having a Nascar engine under the hood and 155/70/R14 tires on your car (OK, that's when the fun really starts...).
    No thank you until DDR chipset/boards arive. Intel has a deal with Rambus 'til 2002. So one might expect to see a brand new Intel P4 DDR-board under the christmas tree (I hope you have a geeky girlfriend / boyfriend / spouse / husband / parents , if not, turn them to the dark side).

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison