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Intel

Double-Whammy Look At The Pentium 4 157

SystemLogicNet writes: "We at SystemLogic.net have just taken a technical look at the Pentium 4 architecture. In the article we go over all the basics that all the other sites cover like the double pumped ALUs, iSSE2, the longer pipeline, etc, but in addition we have some discussion about how different program structurings have an impact upon the design, and performance of the Pentium 4. One of the major areas where this comes into play is how complex data structures interact with the underlying philosophy that the Pentium 4 is built upon -- extreme bandwidth. This Pentium 4 technical background can be read over here. At the same time, we've done a rigorous analysis, including benchmark description and discussion regarding the Pentium 4's performance, and this can be read over this way."
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Double-Whammy Look At The Pentium 4

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  • Check out the hardware list used for each machine, you'll see the AMD box was robbed compared to the Intel box. My AMD at home smokes my P4 machine at work. The testers are a little Intel biased, shows in the the charts blowups as well
  • That they compare a 1.1 GHz Thunderbird against a 1.7 GHz P4?

    Sheesh - go down to your local computer store and get a 1.4 GHz Thunderbird at least - it'll only set you back less then 200$.

    Anyhoo - I think given the actual mhz difference the Thunderbird does VERY well.

    • Yes and surprisingly the P4 1.7ghz also seems to benchmark surprisingly well compared to the VIA C3 733mhz processors.....

      Why they're centuries ahead of the powerful K6 233mhz.

      Hey lets do a dual cpu benchmark: Dual Athlons compared to Dual P4's, oops MP P4's dont exist, doh!

  • It is a little early to begin reviewing the Pentium IV. Intel released it early due to market pressure from AMD.

    When the .13 micron Northwood chip is released, the clock speeds reach 2.4 GHz and higher, the new chipset is released, and there are other optimizations, then the Pentium IV will be what it was designed to be.
  • What a joke... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SaDan ( 81097 ) on Saturday August 04, 2001 @12:41PM (#2124633) Homepage
    You want a real comparison of the P4 1.7gig to a MODERN Athlon processor? Go here:

    Tom's Hardware Guide [tomshardware.com] or AnandTech [anandtech.com]

    Sorry, but comparing a 1.1gig/200Mhz FSB Athlon to a 1.7gig P4 is laughable at best. What hardware review site uses a processor that's over a year old (Athlon 1.1gig/200FSB) in a comparison to one of the latest processors from the competition?

  • by lavaforge ( 245529 ) on Saturday August 04, 2001 @12:02PM (#2129363)
    Intel has recently announced that the latest prototype version of the Pentium 4 will crush any AMD offering in both clock speed and overall performance.

    Using the new process of W.attage H.alting R.esistance E.ngineering, Intel can reduce pent-up system tension at an even lower cost.

    Also, the WHORE system is fully compatible with the C.omposite R.ecursive A.lgorithm C.reation K.it used for extreme overclocking.

    "The CRACK/WHORE combination should be a killer setup for many of our users, and we have already had several U.S. senators make inquiries" says John Thompson, head of engineering at Intel. "We even allow for massive clustering with the P.arallel I.nsulating M.ultipartite P.olymer, or PIMP management process.

    Thompson also spoke of project BITCHSLAP for correcting wayward systems, but could not elaborate on it...

  • One Quick Question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kalrand ( 177637 ) on Saturday August 04, 2001 @11:54AM (#2131920)
    Did you just cut and paste a press release onto the front page of Slashdot?

    I sure hope you Slashdot isn't selling Front Page space to any little company that pays...
  • by Digital_Fiend ( 41244 ) on Saturday August 04, 2001 @11:53AM (#2134950) Journal
    the graphs are not done fairly. they almost never started at 0 to a result slightly higher than the higher result of the two processors, they were always done so that the intel bar was much longer (and therefore appeared to do much better) than the athlon when the actual results were that the two processors were pretty close.

    also, note that the 1.7 ghz p4 has a 600 mhz advantage over the 1.1 ghz athlon and usually the performance difference was only 10-40%. the p4 has over 50% more processor mhz than the athlon. what an unfair comparison, especially when the 1.33 ghz athlon is out and available for purchase. processor mhz for processor mhz, the athlon beat the p4.
    • That is called truncation. It's a favorite for showing "huge" differences when the real numbers show otherwise. Chop the bottom of the chart a few points below the *bad* data set. Chop the top a few points above the *good one*. (Used to work in a shop where our motto was:"You give us the answer - we'll give you the problem to support it)
    • also, note that the 1.7 ghz p4 has a 600 mhz advantage over the 1.1 ghz athlon and usually the performance difference was only 10-40%. the p4 has over 50% more processor mhz than the athlon. what an unfair comparison, especially when the 1.33 ghz athlon is out and available for purchase. processor mhz for processor mhz, the athlon beat the p4.

      The point of the extremely long (20-stage) pipeline of the Pentium 4 is the ability to reach extremely high clock speeds - much higher than the Athlon could ever reach. Of course, Mhz-for-Mhz, the Athlon is going to beat the Pentium 4 performance-wise, but it wouldn't tell us anything except the obvious differences in the two's design philosophies.
      • Somehow I don't think so. The remark was in the context of the way the graphs were drawn and the choice of processors. The point is that this was a comparison of the best (at the time) Intel processor with an AMD processor that was three clock speed releases back. But Hertz are really irrelevant, unless you are an Intel marketeer. What is relevant is what your $$ can buy and what it can do today. Folks can mumble on about upgrade paths, but from what I've seen in my own company, this is only relevant to the preservation of software over upgrades. When most office machines cost a K$ or so, you don't upgrade them, you pitch them.

        Today on pricewatch, the 1.1 Ghz AMD processor costs $77, the 1.4 GHz $154 and the 1.7 Ghz P4 costs $324. Today I can put together an AMD based system using the 1.4 Ghz Athlon that will perform roughly the same as a 1.7 (or 1.8) Ghz P4, at 1/2 the price of the P4 machine. For most rational folks, the choice is obvious.

    • The 1.4 ghz athlon has been out for a couple months now... the 1.1 ghz athlon has been out for at least 10 months.

      Here is a june 6 pcworld review [pcworld.com] where an amd 1.4-GHz system is "the fastest system yet tested by PCWorld.com" beating out 5 systems based on the 1.7 ghz p4.

      Here is a tech report review [tech-report.com] of an amd 1.33 vs intel 1.7 where they conclude: "Intel's new entry, the 1.7GHz Pentium 4, performs about like a 1.2GHz Athlon in most situations."

      You cant get duel [amdzone.com] processing power from a pentium 4 like you can with an athlon.
    • MHz, SchmHz!
      However, the skew was disgustingly pro-intel.

      Anandtech had reviews of the 1.1GHz Athlon _11_ months ago, and modern variations of Moore's Law tell us a lot about periods that long.
      Also note that the Athlon chosen was using previous-generation memory technology.

      I want to see a Q3 2001 AMD result, i.e. 1.4GHz/266MHz DDR. Anything else is a con.

      FP

    • In general, one shouldn't talk about MHz vs. MHz. The only real metrics are: the maximum amount of bang that you can get out of a processor, or the maximum bang per unit buck. Of course, here you are using the MHz comparison to extrapolate the amount of bang of a more suitable Athlon to use for the test.
    • In addition to that, LOOK AT THE RAM SPEED!

      For christ's sake. The P4 is using pc800 RDRAM and a 400 mhz FSB. (100X4) The athalon is only running a 200mhz FSB and PC 133 SDRAM!!!

      I mean, lets be realistic, here, folks. The P4 has a 600 mhz clock speed, 667 mhz ram clock speed, and 200 mhz front side bus advantage.
      on pricewatch, the P4 1.7Ghz $326, 128MB PC800 is $44, and a P4 Mobo is $115.
      By comparison, a 1.33Ghz Athalon is $120, 128MB of DDR is $17, and DDR boards are $94.

      P4 = $485, Athalon = $231
      Add to the other advantages the $254 price advantage (more than double).

      Anyone say the test is fair, or that the P4 is a good deal?

      me either.

      ~z
  • There is a good page about wh the Pentium 4 sucks [emulators.com]. It's written by an assembly-level programmer, so he know quite a bit about processors.
    • Volrath50,

      Thanks for posting the Emulators, inc. link. It's a great article and I had lost the bookmark.
    • This tired old article... that guy is writing from the assembly programmer's point of view, not the computer architect's point of view...
    • It breaks many of the code optimization tricks that us assembly language programmers have used for years. In turn this shows up as a decrease in performance in things like device drivers which tend to contain more assembly code than most applications, and it will shows up in slower execution speed of compiled applications, for example Windows and Linux applications written in C++.

      That guy has some valid points, from his limited point of view that is. However, what he regards as a crime from intel is in fact intel's biggest and probably best step. Ditch the legacy crap.

      Benchmarks show that programs compiled with intels compiler using P4 optimisations, beat the crap out of the competition - including T-birds.

      • ``Benchmarks show that programs compiled with intels compiler using P4 optimisations, beat the crap out of the competition - including T-birds.''

        What goes through the mind of vendors who assume that customers will, of course, run out and replace all their software to take advantage of a new chip.

        Intel:
        Buy systems with our new processor. It'll perform better than everything else!
        Customer:
        OK! (later) Hey this isn't so great! In fact, some things seem to run slower.
        Intel:
        Oh, that's your fault. You didn't replace all your existing software.

        This sounds all too much like the music industry who thinks we'll run out and buy new copies of stuff we already own in order to enjoy some new technological advance.

        I'm sure the P4 will be great... in a couple of years.

      • Benchmarks show that programs compiled with intels compiler using P4 optimisations

        That's predictable. A code recompile is needed with every one of the Pentium processor generations in order to make any significant performance gains. I'm not saying that's good or bad, there are downsides and upsides to that. For one, we'd get faster code but that means that the compilers have been re-tweaked and all our software is re-compiled, but then that usually means waiting for the next revision, and buying new software.

        The link claimed that the optimizations available in modern compilers aren't much beyond Pentium.
      • Actually, I recall seeing a nice boost (err, decrease) in execution times on Athlons with P4 optimized compiler code too.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      As an end user in the market for a new box based on p4 or athlon tech, I appreciate why he thinks the P4 sucks but I tend to think of two things that bias his judgement.

      1) He's writting in assembly.
      Any change that doesn't rely on x86 basics he's grown to love will likely be considered by him as bad. Eg. "... and even went so far as to expect developers to rewrite their applications to make use of the Pentium 4." The assembly language programming paradyne that he has embraced is not as conducive to rewritting so it's a chore. If he was writting in C and using asm for the most preformance intensive functions as is now standard practice for the non lazy (who know their target platform and optimize for it)it would not be such a chore. Perhaps if he used an Intel compiler plugin that optimizes for the P4 he would not be complaining. Should he have to do so? Nope, but it seems to be the way everything is heading whether you look at AMD or Intel. Also with AMD embracing functionality of SSE2 on their newest processors this is not going away.

      I love asm, but most people would not try to write a modern office suite in it. It's a shame but it's the way things are. I wish more programmers of commercial applications coded better but I don't think this is going to get resolved anytime soon, unless we move more to an appliance architechure where resources are both well defined and limited or go opensource. I'm not holding my breath.

      2) It sounds like as an early adopter he got burned on price. There was a time (11 months ago?)where the p4+rdram was about 3.5 times the cost of an athlon+sdram. If you look at the present it's more like 2.1 times the cost for a p4+rdram vs an athlon+ddr memory. That is still a sizeable chunk but remeber the cpu and memory just part of the equation. There's still case,ps,motherboard,storage and yes the OS and productivity license which despite being in a Windows dominated world is likely to be the first thing cut to save costs. It's already happened on the low end and the highend, and I think it's only a matter of time before it happens on the mid end.

      As a side note it's interesting to once again hear the arguments for and against thermal protection. I think the arguments both have their points, but I think it would be better to have it, but also be able to turn it off from the BIOS. AMD's new chips will have the integrated thermal diode so really the issue is will endusers be to easily configure it manually.
      • If he was writting in C and using asm for the most preformance intensive functions as is now standard practice for the non lazy (who know their target platform and optimize for it)it would not be such a chore. Perhaps if he used an Intel compiler plugin that optimizes for the P4 he would not be complaining. Should he have to do so? Nope, but it seems to be the way everything is heading whether you look at AMD or Intel.

        While I agree that as technology moves forward the traditional ways of X86 programming will have to expand along with the technology, and in some areas change completely, I'd just like to share something about upcoming AMD technology in this regard.

        The next-generation chips from AMD are being designed with programming optimizations done at the firmware level. For example, a FORTH interpreter is being ingrained into the preprocessing area on the chip die itself. This makes it easier not only to add firmware-level software like BIOS, bootloaders, etc more easily, without resorting to running the code through a compiler into X86 instructions and machine code, but it will also make it much easier to write more optimized C compilers (and other compilers for that matter). If you combine this with the improved instruction technology that AMD will be incorporating, it makes for a very powerful new platform for all programmers.

        Dwain Snyders
        Research and Development, AMD

        • So man, whats your deal? You're just trying to see what kind of ridiculous architecture claims you can make and still get modded up? You want this dwain snyders guy to be spammed but you don't want to do it directly so you make up a fake 'anti spam' email address so people harass him and call him an idiot? Whats the reason for doing this? Your claims this time are more ridiculous than last time which leads me to believe that you're just treating this like a big joke... whatever...
      • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday August 04, 2001 @07:03PM (#2161428) Homepage
        It's already happened on the low end and the highend, and I think it's only a matter of time before it happens on the mid end.
        What the hell is a mid *end* ???. Imagine a line.. you have low end, mid and high end. Wtf is a mid end.

        Kjella
      • If he was writting in C and using asm for the most preformance intensive functions as is now standard practice for the non lazy (who know their target platform and optimize for it)it would not be such a chore.

        Damn... that's the first time I've seen someone who programs in C/C++ tell someone who programs in ASM that he's lazy. What balls, man! Way to go! ;-)
  • Misleading graphs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hyrdra ( 260687 ) on Saturday August 04, 2001 @12:56PM (#2150099) Homepage Journal
    I was shocked by this review site. Most all the graphs are misleading. Most magnify the area of differenc between the two processors to make the margin look larger. For example, in the benchmark "Content Creation Winstone" (http://www.systemlogic.net/reviews/hardware/proce ssors/intel/p41700/i/c7.gif [systemlogic.net]), the difference is only 3.6 points, yet the scale is nearly 1/3. That's nearly 3x magnification.

    Some only differ by a few percent, the lowest about -4.5% of P4 score, yet the distance represented on the graph would suggest nearly a 60% difference or more.

    This review site needs to get a clue about statictics and start using proper graphing according to real differences, not magnified margins.
  • The review was pretty interesting. Essentially it comes down to this:

    1. The P4 1.7G is a faster processor than the Athlon 1.1G (and probably the 1.4G but they really can't say).

    2. It costs a few hundred bucks more.

    3. Just wait till next year's model, which will be even better.

    It seems to me that the people who want the highest performance will pick up the P4, and those who want to save money will pick up a Celeron. Who would buy the Athlon? People who want to compromise between price and performance.

    As for the temperature slowdown switch, I'm all for it. Why fry my processor unnecessarily?
    • I still can't understand why anyone can support the temp slow down on the P4. Why should I buy a 1.8 Ghz processor if everytime I really need the processing power, it throttles down? I might as well by a PIII 1 Ghz that will remain at 1 Ghz. It would be good if Intel incorperated the Power Now feature that AMD has. That would make so much more sense.
    • Re:The P4 Blues... (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They said clockrate really might not matter. I think we all realise it does. Just look at the benchmarks. 1100 versus 1700 and the 1700 wins. Imagine that. Similar architectures this should be no surprise. Even I can walk down to my local store and get a 1.33ghz Athlon now. Why couldn't they?

      As for the it costs a few hundred bucks more, it makes a difference especially when your competitor is a few hundred bucks less AND making inroads into what was traditionally your turf.

      "Just wait till next year's model, which will be even better." I think we all hope this is true, but it might not be. Both sides have stumbled at various points along the way.

      As for the buyers. They will buy a Duron at the low end or even an Athlon. Why buy a Celeron when a Duron gets you more preformance, costs the same, and lets you upgrade to a faster processor and isn't a complete dead end yet? Even the big companies are advertising them in the local newspapers.
  • 5 I'm hoping might be worth something. It seems the second generation of odd-numbered pentiums are pretty good. (I liked the P3 coppermine, and my P1 was damned nice for the time)

    On the other hand, the Athlon and its offspring seem to be better no matter which way you cut it. You'd think they'd keep intel on its toes...

    • A bomb is bad, the bomb is good. Right?
    • The Pentium Pro was very nicely designed and was an excellent processor to use if you were running NT or Linux (and I imagine the BSDs would do just as well). It's just that Windows 95 sucked on it. But give it the right conditions (all 32 bit code) and it would fly. I remember hearing that in at least one benchmark, a Pentium Pro running NT could beat a Pentium Pro running Windows 95.

      I had a duel Pentium Pro machine. Truly a kick-ass machine.

  • Whew! That review was scathing! Any time someone
    bashes that hard on a product/company I get
    suspicious of their data.

    But in this case, I believe it. I've been madly
    in love with AMD's Athlon/Duron line since I first
    tried it. I upgraded all my employers PC's to
    Duron processors (the day-to-day performance diff
    tween Duron and Athlon not even noticable).

    The dnet client on an AMD Duron/Athlon will whip
    any Pentium hands down, clock-for-clock.

    I do believe Intel really shit their nest this
    time.
  • it's sad that Intel feels the need to optimize for an untested and foreign program structure (XP) when they haven't even gotten imperative programming optimizations done right. oh, and that failing-branch-10%-of-the-time might knock the wind out of the P4's sails (sales) too. i'll stick to the Open Source support of the Athlon.
    • it's sad that Intel feels the need to optimize for an untested and foreign program structure (XP)

      Whoa there! That is the best feature of the chip! Once XP catches on (remember OOP 10 years ago, vs. OOP now?) Intel will have secured themselves a leg-up on the imposter brands.

    • If you have any details on the P4 branch prediction please post them... Oh thats right... you don't have any details on it do you, since it's such a closely guarded secret... stfu
    • The parent article appears to be a troll. I can't find any use of the word "Xtreme" in either cited article, and it's bizarre to claim that someone has optimized a processor to suit a software development methodology. There's a couple or three levels of abstraction inbetween. What's the possible connection?
    • And what is the success rate for the Athlon's branch prediction?

      If you don't know this kind of stuff, then don't criticize Intel. Branch Prediction is hard stuff. If I asked you to do it with 90% accuracy, I bet you couldn't.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Now curl up on your uncle Vinny's lap and I'll tell ya a bedtime story about branch prediction..

        Actually, it's not exactly "hard" stuff from an implementation point of view. Cycle times are short so you want a predict equation that you can do quickly and in one cycle. In fact, you can get pretty good results with a simple 4 state strongly not taken (00) - weakly not taken (01) - weakly taken (10) - strongly taken (11) saturating counter that updates when a branch is confirmed to be taken or not taken. If your BHT (branch history table) is sufficiently large, you can get decent results. Sprinkle in some voodoo magic by adding a GHR (global history register) which hashes the opcode address based on the state of the last n taken branches and you can get a couple of extra percentage points. I've seen upwards of 95%-97% prediction rates with such implementations but that's in a RISC environment which also provides fairly accurate branch hints in the opcode itself (much like the Itanium does). (The compiler knows what the code should do and what the semantics of a branch are: an "if", "for", "switch" construct, etc.)

        Where things probably get weird for Intel is that their BHT probably suffers a bit of address aliasing/underutilization due to the fact that x86 opcodes are variable length. With RISC architectures (fixed length opcodes), you can chop off the last couple of address bits since the 0,1,2,3 cases don't matter == less address aliasing over a greater range of addresses.

        Mispredict bypass buffers are another nicety that help back out of branch mispredicts because you don't have to go running back to the I$ and wait two cycles. In fact, while you're going down the codestream for the "predicted taken" path, you can also load up the "not predicted taken" path into a line buffer from an alternate cache such as a BTB (branch target buffer: if the data is available, a TLB entry exists, etc) and bypass the 2 cycle hit on the I$ on the mispredict. Two cycles are two cycles...

        Engineers have a very big bag of tricks to work from..but they do have to know when to cut the apron strings and say "out with the old, in with the new." I think the key to major ramp-ups in speed for the x86 architecture is going to be when Intel proclaims "The Great Simplification" (a la "A Canticle for Leibowitz") and deprecates a whole slew of ancient modes (e.g., 286 type stuff) such that they must be emulated through an OS trap. By that time, DOS based OSs like W9x will be about as common as Win311 is now so it won't even matter. About the only people who I can see complaining then are VMWare, Netraverse, Plex86, and the WineHQ Team.

  • by Foxman98 ( 37487 ) on Saturday August 04, 2001 @11:49AM (#2156168) Homepage
    The Pentium 4 is, by Intel, considered to have "Hyper pipelined technology."

    I can see the ads now..... "The Pentium 4 - Because our Pipline is bigger than theirs!
  • Intel is struggling (Score:2, Informative)

    by ioman1 ( 474363 )
    Intel's biggest problem is that they are losing inovative engineers. Anyone with any real talent has left Intel already. Management is running the scene and they need to pull their heads out of the ground to see what is going on. A good example of this would be with the Rambus fiasco. It was the managers that made the decision to use Rambus, not the engineers. Another example would be the web tablet. This product has been in development for a long time. In fact, if people at the last CES didn't show much excitement for it, the Web Tablet would have been scratched already. By the way, 80% of the webtablet group have been either laid-off or re-deployed to other groups. What does that tell you?
  • They zoom into just the ends of the graph. If the bar being twice as long done not mean twice as good what is the point of the graph you have to read the numbers 2 know what is going on.
  • You have little patience, /. grasshoppers.

    I agree that the P4 is not the best CPU at this time. However, Intel has designed this new architecture looking out 10 years or so. Many of these choices are dictated by the laws of physics, and all other processors will be heading this direction over time.

    The fundamental problem is that propagation speed of a signal on a chip is essentially fixed (that's why the minor improvement from a special trick like copper wiring was a big deal). As you speed up the transistors, the signal propagation delay becomes more of a bottleneck.

    To avoid this, you have to break the logic steps into smaller pieces that live in a smaller portion of the chip. The standard way to do this in synchronous logic is to pipeline the work into more stages. The total signal propagation delay to do one instruction remains about the same, but at least you can pipeline alot of instructions to try to get more work done.

    This processor is not very competetive today, but in 5 years there won't be any other way to make forward progress. By that time, Intel will have worked out the kinks (problems with branch prediction, memory interface snafus, etc.), and this core will probably be as wildly successful as the Pentium Pro/PII/PIII/Celeron core was.

    BTW, remember how sucky the Pentium Pro was when it came out? It was a piece of crap on 16-bit code and it would generate huge pipeline bubbles for no good reason. Over time, they fixed these problems and made countless $billions in the process. Watch for a repeat with this new architecture.

    • I agree that the P4 is not the best CPU at this time. However, Intel has designed this new architecture looking out 10 years or so. Many of these choices are dictated by the laws of physics, and all other processors will be heading this direction over time.

      That's all well and good, but how does this help me right now? I want to buy a computer today. What should I buy? A Pentium 4 which might or might not become worth something years ahead down the road, or an Athlon which I _know_ is good _today_. Future forecasts may be fun to do, but they don't do anything for immediate purposes.

      As for the Pentium Pro, Intel didn't have a real competitor at the time. Today, AMD is serious trouble for them, so they can't afford to simply sit back and tell the customers to wait 5 years.

      • Well, I wasn't saying that the P4 was a good buy. I wouldn't buy one today; I'd get an Athlon.

        I was just trying to explain some background information for all the people who keep posting "1N73L 5UX5 -- 4MD R00LS" all the time, so they won't be confused when Intel doesn't go out of business next year.

      • That's all well and good, but how does this help me right now? I want to buy a computer today. What should I buy? A Pentium 4 which might or might not become worth something years ahead down the road

        The previous poster is not trying to suggest that the P4 you buy today will magically become a better chip in 10 years, he is arguing that the P4 architecture is designed for the future and that it will r0x0rs, given time. But that won't do anything for the chip you already bought. Get an AMD if you're buying now, compare again if you're buying in 5 years.

    • You're absolutely right. But like you say about the Pentium Pro - It SUCKED when it came out.

      The Pentium 4 is an inferior chip right now, so it's a poor purchase choice, again, now - and for more reasons than are made evident in this comparison.
    • And what about all the poor saps who buy the current P4? Oh well, like many a fascist dictator has said, your current sacrifices will be appreciated by the people of the future!
    • I agree with most of what you say; however, I think many companies' time would be better spent trying to improve the bottlenecks that already occur in every-day usage (Disk, memory, bus, etc.). This would have a much more tangible impact that pumping up the processor speed. Most processors are already crippled due to the lack of a memory bus that can keep up with them, along with disk I/O. It's disappointing to see these MHz wars continue while the real performance issues receive short shrift.
      • The memory bottleneck will soon be very real for P4 processors, once the i845 comes out.

        Dropping RDRAM and going backwards to PC133 memory is going to seriously kick P4 processors in the nuts.

      • however, I think many companies' time would be better spent trying to improve the bottlenecks that already occur in every-day usage (Disk, memory, bus, etc.)

        This gets into a structural problem with the PC industry. All the real profit in the system is made by the CPU manufacturers and Microsoft, and therefore they are the only ones doing significant R+D work. Everything else in the system is tagging along. (Well, the disk drive people have made huge accomplishments, but it sounds pretty much like a break-even business.)

        It still is sorta dishearting to see a retail store sell a superduper 1.5Ghz Pentium IV system with a crappy disk and crappy video and a crappy monitor and not much memory, and lots of MS shovelware.
        • Thenk Yew.

          It is as if people are lab testing Lamborghinis, but all roads are dirt or cobblestone.

          The other thing (that you don't mention in your thoughtful analysis) is the software end of the deal. WTF are people doing with the computational power anyway? Fast CPUs bottlenecked at disk or bus, super vid cards...for what apps? I still don't see anything that even tests my DURON chip overmuch.

          The high-end (media processing, content developers) users who NEED max performance may not even find single-CPU systems adequate at all...For true utility, we have to look at the ACTUAL goal for product usage. I think we find there is very little value for most users in anything over a 700m Duron or even 500+m PIII...

          A 1.7P4 or 1.3Tbird, on a solid board w/ Raid drives (or SCSI)...that's for geeks, (the kind of rabid techies whose .sig includes system specs down to the make of their mb spacers) the OEMS, to get back to your point, are just selling numbers to the ignorant...

          And remember, people use 50" flat panel hdtv-capable screens to watch Rikki Lake and Survivor, so the waste is not without paralell.
  • I have one and it's quite fast. I've been
    using my P4 1.7GHz to play Tribes 2 under
    Win2k and it's super smooth.

    I've never heard anyone who has a P4 complain
    about lack of performance or stability.

    AMD chips are great but their mother boards
    aren't that great due to the reversed
    engineered AGP implementation. I have an
    Athlon that's gathering dust because the
    motherboard was a choke point in performance
    and reliability.
    • I don't think anyone has said that the P4 isn't fast necessarily... but i've heard many complaints about the price/performance ratio, which is much worse than an equivalent Athlon platform.

      I've never had any complaints about the speed or the price of an Athlon system. I've heard complaints about the stability, but it's hard to take many of those complaints seriously when there are so many people out there who don't know how to build an Athlon system properly (using crappy power supplies, cheap RAM, etc.)

      I've built and used many Athlon platforms. They are as stable as you could hope for on any of the popular platforms (Windows 95/98/ME, Windows 2000, Linux) ... hell, a friend of mines main server for his company network is an Athlon and it's worked out fine.. no problems with stability at all.

      Sorry, but I have seen no evidence of what you claim is a "choke point in performance and reliability" ever ... so long as the person who built the system knows what he's doing.
    • AMD chips are great but their mother boards aren't that great due to the reversed engineered AGP implementation. I have an Athlon that's gathering dust because the motherboard was a choke point in performance and reliability.

      Interesting. This machine is equipped with A7M266 & TB 1200/266. It's been rather stable:

      uptime
      8:52pm up 127 days, 2:22, 27 users, load average: 2.06, 2.07, 2.08

      A choke point in performance and reliability indeed...

  • Ok, every article on the Intel Pentium 4 has so far shown that my expectations of the p4 are way off. I was able to get the original specs for the chip, and I must admit, I was drooling all over the paper. Things like 512k first level cash and things of that nature. Then I read the new specs on the p4 when it is released, where is this chip I drooled over. Well it dose not exist, they cut and chopped all the good stuff out. Now an Athlon 1.3 ghz is running just under a p4 in most bench marks when the p4 is running at 1.7 ghz. With a 400 mhz difference, the p4 should be whooping the Athlon for fun. But as any informed person knows, mhz dose not give a accurate idea of how fast the chip truly is. Now what gets me is who actually decided to cut all the good things out of this chip they wanted to create. Well from what I have read (I believe I found some articles through SlashDot, but am not fully sure and would love clarification on where this info would be) the engineers did not cut out the good stuff. It was the marketing and accounting departments. So we are getting business drones (we are Intel, you will be assimilated) deciding the design of Pentiums chips. This is completely wrong to let departments that do not really understand the chips except that the idea to them "BIGGER IS BETTER".

    This is no way to properly run a business, and now with amd's big pushes with their Athlon chip, they are being hit hard. With amd biting Intel's heals and making major headway, you would think Intel would wake up and smell the coffee( mmmm coffee). But they are still just designing rather non-innovative chips that are not really putting up a big fight against amd's Athlons. The p4 are still considered expensive, and still are being soled mainly with the rambus (bs chips) ram.

    I am actually hoping that amd will push there Athlons to higher ghz speeds soon, so that we can see a true 1.7 ghz Athlon vs. p4 1.7 ghz. Or say at that time 2 ghz vs. 2 ghz battle. That might be able to wake up Intel. But we have to wait and see. What I really would like to happen is to see a real processor war. At this point, there is only Intel getting beaten down bit by bit in the 32-bit pc market. But I guess we will have to wait and see.

    My 2 cents plus 2 more
  • Did anyone here read the Technical Overview! They must have really been excited about the P4's architecture. It seems like every other sentance ends in an exclamation point!

    "This means that the higher levels don't have to experience a cache miss before moving to the data in the second array, while the 32-byte-line design would! This has the benefit of greatly decreasing average memory access latencies for contiguously used data!"

    I have honestly never seen anyone more excited about CPU Caches.
  • the Athlon kicks the P4's ass! Down by 600 Mhz and only plain ordinary slow single rate PC133 memory and the Athlon still comes close.
    I think the article makes two very good points:
    • The P4 is a big waste of money
    • The reveiwers are morons.

    Note to David Pitlyuk and Paul Mazzucco: Big Blue outperforms the top 486 in every benchmark too.

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