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Intel Plans CPU Naming Change 3192

Jemm writes "According to The Globe and Mail, Intel will start using performance numbers rather than clock speed to number their chips. 'Under the model number system, processors will be given numbers to describe their performance, in addition to being described as running at 2GHz or other speed.'"
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Intel Plans CPU Naming Change

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  • Payback (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:55PM (#8555217) Homepage Journal
    Ahhhh, I am sure it will be said again here, but payback is in order. This sort of marketing angle will only go so far though as Apple and AMD have found out. What really matters is real power []. This will translate into more sales as Apple is now finding out with significant interest in the G5 Xserve from a large number of corporations and government agencies. So, if Intel can get around some of the performance bottlenecks and deal with the loss of backwards compatibility, they may be able to get back on track.

    • Re:Payback (Score:5, Funny)

      by flewp ( 458359 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:00PM (#8555273)
      I think you mean what matters is Real Ultimate Power.

      In the future, your computer will:
      1) Be a mammal.
      2) Fight ALL the time.
      3) Flip out and kill people.
    • Problem.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:10PM (#8555407) Journal
      When Intel abandons this scheme, what precisely will a 4500+ processor actually mean? It's bad enough trying to quantify it now, but at least we have the actual P4 GHz to compare against.

      Something will clearly need to be done - independant benchmark-wise - to prevent abuse. It's going to get bad folks.

      The good news: I think we're going to see '5000+' processors before the end of the year now.

      The bad news: They will run like 4 GHz models.

      • Re:Problem.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:36PM (#8555844)
        How is that any worse than it already is? You already need benchmarks to see which processor is best for your application. It's not like naming processors after how many GHz they run at is any better.
        • Re:Problem.. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:41PM (#8555934) Journal
          The difference is that as of now, we at least have one platform (Intel) accurately stating clock speed. AMD generally keeps their performance ratings close to Intel's however they have stretched the meaning of their 'XXXX+' definitions where Intel simply could not.

          If BOTH of them start these arbitrary rating systems, we won't even have THAT small bit of stability. Intel could easily release a '6000+' processor tomorrow with no regard to clock speed. AMD would have to follow suit, and on it goes.

      • Re:Problem.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dalcius ( 587481 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:39PM (#8555889)
        It's important that numbers be sane, but when a ~2gig AMD chip can run with Intel chips clocked at a much higher speed, something needs to be done to let the public know in a non-technical fashion.

        I don't think anyone can blame AMD for the switch and I think perhaps a standard benchmark/rating system might be in order.

        Probably not realistic, but it would be nice.

        • Re:Problem.. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:44PM (#8555991) Journal
          No, I don't blame AMD (except for the questionable ratings of a few of their later Athlon XP's), HOWEVER, without a stable GHz metric to build off of, things are bound to get messy.

          Marketing of both companies are going to have a field day.

        • Re:Problem.. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:44PM (#8556002) Journal
          They would just game the benchmark. What you'd get were CPUs that were very good at benchmarks, and not so hot at other stuff.

          At least with Mhz it was harder to fake it, but Intel managed to increase clock speed without actually getting much more performance, so they even managed to play that system.
      • Re:Problem.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Gherald ( 682277 )
        I think the article got this wrong. If you read the Anandtech Report [], they believe it is going to be an Opteron-ish number scheme, not an AthlonXP-ish one.

        Quote from the report:

        News broke earlier today that Intel will most likely change its current "Megahertz" strategy in favor of a more subdued "Model Name" approach. This does not necessarily mean Intel will change its processors to a PR rating, like "3000+". Rather, the new model system sounds very familiar to AMD's Opteron approach, with three or fou
      • Re:Problem.. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by afidel ( 530433 )
        Well since all the GHz measurements from AMD are vs an equivilant performance Intel chip, and now that reference is gone, why not use the industry standard benchmark. Name chips based on the SpecIntBase score and be done with it!
        • Re:Problem.. (Score:3, Informative)

          by Slack3r78 ( 596506 )
          Because the baseline isn't an Intel chip? The baseline for AMD's pro-rating scale is a 1GHz Duron. IE: A 3200+ is 3.2 times faster than a 1GHz Duron.
          • Re:Problem.. (Score:5, Informative)

            by mikis ( 53466 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @10:27PM (#8557965) Homepage
            Not Duron, but older Athlon Thunderbird. And it does not mean "3.2 times faster than Duron", it means it is fast as 3200MHz TBird would be.

          • Re:Problem.. (Score:5, Informative)

            by Hoser McMoose ( 202552 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @04:36AM (#8560101)

            Why does this incorrect info keep getting posted (and modded as "informative" at that)? AMD stated several times quite publicly that their rating initially was meant to compare against the "Thunderbird" Athlon chips. More recently they've simply said that it's relative performance between the AthlonXP line and that it can "outperform it's closest competitors". Here's a direct quote from AMD's AthlonXP FAQ []

            Q: What does the 3200+ model mean?

            A: This is a model number. AMD identifies the AMD Athlon XP processor using model numbers, as opposed to megahertz. Model numbers are designed to communicate the relative application performance among the various AMD Athlon XP processors. As additional evidence that performance is not based on megahertz alone: the AMD Athlon XP processor 3200+ operates at a frequency of 2.2GHz yet can outperform an Intel Pentium(R) 4 processor operating at 3.0GHz with an 800 FSB and HyperThreading on a broad array of real-world applications for office productivity, digital media and 3-D gaming.

            AMD's model numbers not rated against Intel's P4 chips? You might want to tell AMD that!

        • Re:Problem.. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:05PM (#8556359) Journal
          "Name chips based on the SpecIntBase score and be done with it!"

          The problem is that AMD and Intel custom design their chips to perform better at different tasks/instructions. Then there is the problem of compilers. Was the SpecIntBase compiled with AMD and/or Intel specific instructions? Which versions? Is SSE2 faster on Intel than AMD? Was 3DNow substituted for a few SSE instructions in the benchmark? Did the newest version of Lightwave 3D take any of this into account? This type of thing can make a HUGE difference in performance.

          I don't think there's a simple way through this at all other than common program benchmarking and even then there will be a lot of misleading (and often wrong) results.

      • Re:Problem.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:05PM (#8556365)
        The good news: I think we're going to see '5000+' processors before the end of the year now.

        The bad news: They will run like 4 GHz models.

        A 4GHz Itanium, Pentium M, Alpha, UltraSPARC, or any other of the lower clock speed processors would be much beyond a 5000+ Pentium rating. The article said that the Pentium M, which is a great processor, is having trouble in the marketplace because people are used to the Hz rating. This will become more of an issue with multiprocessor systems and multicore processors or even with technologies like hyperthreading.

        This has been done for years with cars. There are horsepower measurements displayed on car ads all the time. Of course there are many other performance measures like 0-60 times, torque, braking, etc. But those are usually only reported in enthusiest magazines (read: car geek stuff, like we are computer geeks).

        I think this is going to be welcome by average consumers, but us geeks are still going to read Tom's Hardware and other media that are full of benchmarks and other performance measures.
      • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:11PM (#8556460)
        Do nonsense numbers have to double every 18 months for the sake of being a Moore's Law compliant statistic?
      • by devnulljapan ( 316200 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:52PM (#8557294)
        I think we should just settle down and refer to it as the Intel USB 2 Really Fast (TM) [] processor. That'll clear things up.
      • Flops (Score:5, Interesting)

        by nycsubway ( 79012 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @10:44PM (#8558320) Homepage
        That sounds similar to how AMD names their CPUs, and frankly I never understood what they really meant in terms of one being better than another. How about giving the power of a CPU in gigaflops?

        While no measure can be truely accurate, the number of floating point operations a CPU can do per second is a more accurate judge of cpu power than the clock speed.

        I'm glad Intel is choosing to use a different naming convention, hopefuly it will be something more meaningful.

        • Re:Flops (Score:4, Informative)

          by Hoser McMoose ( 202552 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @05:11AM (#8560209)
          Gigaflops is only a tiny fraction more useful than GHz, if at all.

          Gigaflop tests come in three basic varieties. First are ones that fit entirely into the L1 cache of a processor, making the memory subsystem totally irrelevant. This is no good since the memory subsystem plays an important role in performance. In this sort of test a 2.8GHz Celeron processor with 128K of L2 cache and a 400MT/s bus speed would get a score essentially identical to a 2.8GHz P4 with 512KB or 1MB of L2 cache and an 800MT/s bus speed. In 90% of real-world applications though even a much slower 2.0GHz P4 would beat the pants off a 2.8GHz Celeron (the current Celeron chips are absolutely abysmal perfomers).

          The second type of gigaflops test has a slightly larger dataset, so performance is almost entirely determined by what level of cache it fits into. For example, if they used something like a 60K dataset, an AthlonXP or Athlon64 would blow the doors off any P4 because it would be running everything in L1 cache while the P4 would be running out of (the much slower) L2 cache. Clock for clock the AthlonXP chips could easily be twice as fast in such a test. Things would get even worse if your data set fit into the L2 cache of one chip but not another, ie if you had a 750K data set, a "Prescott" P4, with 1MB of L2 cache, could be HUGELY faster than a "Northwood" P4 with only 512KB of L2 cache, even though in reality their performance is fairly close (with the "Northwood" usually being slightly faster).

          The third option would be to use a HUGE dataset, turning this entirely into memory bandwidth test. Fine for what it's testing, but hardly an accurate picture of overall performance.

          There are good reasons why the rather smart guys over at Ace's Hardware make use of Linpack (basic Gigaflops test used by to show off the memory subsystem of platform. By varying the size of your dataset it does a good job of illustrated the effects of cache and memory. However it doesn't tell you much else about processor performance.

          I think that gigaflops would be a slightly worse metric for processor performance than MHz because it's FAR easier to abuse that test. The best thing for consumers is if the model numbers are really NOT meaningful at all. For example, look at video cards, where our top-dogs today are the ATI Radeon 9800 and the nVidia GeForce 5900. Nobody looks at those and says "Ohh, 9800 is bigger than 5900, therefore the ATI MUST be better". Everyone KNOWS that the model numbers here are meaningless, so if they want to know which is faster they ask a friend (or at least the salesperson) or do some research on their own. That is what I would like to see for processors as well. AMD's already got this with their Athlon64 FX line and Opteron line of processors. Hopefully Intel will do the same.
    • Re:Payback (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MC_Cancer_Pants ( 728724 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:14PM (#8555480)
      I like this explination personally. Very technical but try and keep up

      Two children are playing on a beach, filling up a plastic pail with sand. The first child uses a teaspoon to scoop sand into the pail. The second child uses a much larger toy shovel, moving a great deal more sand with each scoop and working more efficiently.

      The same concept also applies to processor performance. A computer with a processor that does more work per cycle, like an AMD Athlon processor, can out perform the same computer with a less efficient processor
      • Re:Payback (Score:4, Funny)

        by Bombcar ( 16057 ) <> on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:37PM (#8555854) Homepage Journal
        Just wait for the Mac users to come in and say that the Dual G5 is like a steamshovel when compared to the kids.

        And as I Gentoo user, I'll just have to point out that my shovel was compiled with -fomit-instructions and -fomit-marketing, and is 10x faster than your shovel.

    • Re:Payback (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:18PM (#8555559)
      Payback? No, acknowledgement that the numeric marketing angle works and that they are getting beat out on price/performance by AMD.

      My fear is that this could start an inflationary "speed rating" arms race where the baseline keeps getting changed to pump numbers higher and higher. The AMD system was all good and well when it was more-or-less anchored to Intel processor MHz ratings for comparable performing processors, but what happens when Intel releases the P-IV 4800 "It's twice as fast as the old 2.4 GHz model!". Then AMD comes out with the Athlon XP 6000+, then we have the P-IV 7500 "this is really much faster than AMD's new processor, we swear" model. And so on ad nauseum.

    • Re:Payback (Score:5, Funny)

      by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:18PM (#8555568) Journal
      What really matters is real power.

      Yeah, and Intel consumes plenty of that. :-)
  • The Megahertz Myth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Liselle ( 684663 ) * <`slashdot' `at' `'> on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:55PM (#8555219) Journal
    Good news for the average computer idiot who wants to upgrade or buy a new machine. I think it's past time to undo the damage Intel's marketing has done with the Megahertz Myth []. I'm weary of explaining it to people. It will be nice to have something more helpfully descriptive to a consumer than "cache" and "bus", or at least clarify that they don't refer to paper money and vehicles that carry children to school. :P
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:58PM (#8555258)
      You don't believe Intel's FUD but happily believe and spread AMDs FUD? Good job :rolleyes:
    • by Herbster ( 641217 ) * on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:01PM (#8555283)
      Yes, but now we'll run into trouble because Intel's Performance Rating will be artificially larger than AMD's - I can't imagine Intel giving any CPU a lower PR than its MHz figure!
    • by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:03PM (#8555305) Journal
      It would be nice to have a descriptive measure of performance written in the name. What this new naming convention will lead to, however is statements along this lines of:

      "You wasted all that money on an Athlon64 3400? I got a Pentium 5 Series 17Quadrillion Hyperfubar with a squigabyte of intellicache."
      "Bah, the Apple G5 can't match a Celeron G7 - the G7 must be a newer series of the same chip."
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:43PM (#8555985)
      Intel has NEVER stated that Mhz equals performance. Go look on their site. They like to quote SPEC, and their own performance tests, and all the rest of the BS that companies do. Never Mhz. The Mhz myth comes from two places:

      1) Fanboys. I first remember it gaining real popularity among the Apple fanboys when Apple went PPC. They claimed that the PPC showed a positive second derivitave (growth of growth) in Mhz where Intel showed a negative second deravitive and how PPC could scale to huge speeds that CISC just couldn't handle. That of course, neve came to pass. Which lead us to:

      2) The anti-Mhz myth. That Mhz don't mean anything. This is just FALSE. When you compare a single architecture (meaning one kind of one brand of processor) mhz give a VERY good idea of how performance will scale. If something gets X on a processor at 500mhz, you can with confidence say it will get nearly 2*X with the same kind of processor at 1000mhz. That doesn't mean it's the be-all, end-all benchmark, just a useful (and truthful) was of evaluating chip performance within a line.

      PR numbers are just a bunch of crap. So far, I've never even seen any that are reliably based off of benchmarks. Even if they were, it wouldn't matter. Show me any benchmark, I'll show you how it's not relivant to things a lot of people do. Like take SPEC. It is a big industry standard benchmark. People doing scientific and engineering work place a lot of faith into it since it benchmarks what they do.

      Well Intel LOVES SPEC, their processors when mated with their compiler do very well at it. Does that mean we should use it? Hell no. SPEC isn't applicable to everyone. It's got nothing to do with games, audio, video, bussiness, servers, etc. It's a science and engineering benchmark. What's more, it's a benchmark designed to come form source code, so to bench the compiler as well as the system. It's a good, open, standard benchmark, but it won't work as the single number to completely describe chip performance (nothing will).

      PR numbers improve nothing, and just confuse and BSify the situation. At least Mhz are factual numbers and have some basis in reality. From what I've seen of PR numbers, they are mainly a dream of marketing and don't apply to the real world.
      • by Elladan ( 17598 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:50PM (#8557263)
        2) The anti-Mhz myth. That Mhz don't mean anything. This is just FALSE. When you compare a single architecture (meaning one kind of one brand of processor) mhz give a VERY good idea of how performance will scale. If something gets X on a processor at 500mhz, you can with confidence say it will get nearly 2*X with the same kind of processor at 1000mhz. That doesn't mean it's the be-all, end-all benchmark, just a useful (and truthful) was of evaluating chip performance within a line.

        Except, of course, that this isn't true either. True, mhz means something, but it's not even a good indicator within a processor line.

        A 1000mhz processor will only be twice as fast as a 500mhz processor if the ram and the peripherals are ALSO twice as fast. Otherwise, it depends entirely in the workload whether the processor is faster. If your computer is basically just loading data from disk, copying it from one place to another with a simple transform, and sending it to the network or something similar, the 1000mhz processor may not be faster at all with the same ram! In fact, it could even be slower, if to get the right multiplier for the CPU, the front side bus speed was actually reduced (that does happen quite often) and hence the ram runs slower!

        On the other hand, if your computer simply runs a tiny program (a few k) that fits entirely in the L1 cache, and almost never talks to main ram or the peripherals, then it may in fact run twice as fast when you double the clock speed.

        In reality, real programs are somewhere in between, so to figure out whether it's worth it to get a faster processor or eg. buy more ram instead, or faster ram, or a 15krpm SCSI disk, or whatnot, you have to figure out what your computer is going to be doing and estimate accordingly. Or even better, test the actual machine out to see how fast it is before you buy a lot of them.

        • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @10:25PM (#8557941)
          Not system speed. Believe it or not there are plenty of CPU intensive applications that don't hit much of the rest of the system. Also, there are plenty of cases (like the case I'm in now) where the CPU is the limiting factor. My disks are plenty fast for what I do, almost nothing slams my memory bus, all my other system and IO busses aren't even close to peaked. Any time I slam my system it's either the graphics card or the CPU that is the limiting factor. For the work slamming the CPU, I will get basically 150% performance by increasing CPU speed to 150%.

          Ya, it's not the be-all, end-all number. I noted that. The problem is that there is the thinking that somehow a BSified PR number will somehow be better. Errr, no. I'd prefer that all my components be rated in real, factual, terms. I can then use those to make SOME kind of meaningful comparison. I want to buy a 7200rpm harddrive, not a PR 12000+ harddrive. I want to buy 1024MB of RAM, not PR 3500+ of RAM.

          Going to BS PR numbers improves NOTHING. You are still faced with the situation of picking which part you need to improve, only now, it's difficult to make any kind of sensible comparison.
      • by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:53PM (#8557314)
        If something gets X on a processor at 500mhz, you can with confidence say it will get nearly 2*X with the same kind of processor at 1000mhz.

        This is true if your benchmark (or something) is able to effectively isolate the CPU. Otherwise, you have to start worrying about bus latency, page faults, and the speed of everything else in your computer.

        There's also a myth that CPU performance equates to the performance of an entire computer. This one has folks going out and buying all-new computers when what they really needed to do was buy more RAM or uninstall RealPlayer, Gator, that weather program, etc.

        This myth is definitely supported by Intel, which likes to run ads that imply that buying a Pentium MCCXVI processor will help you get better audio and video streams on that computer that's still dialing into AOL with a 28.8 modem.
        • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @10:34PM (#8558086)
          I quote myself (emhpasas added) "That doesn't mean it's the be-all, end-all benchmark, just a useful (and truthful) was of evaluating CHIP performance within a line."

          I KNOW that the chip isn't the only thing in a computer. There is a reason why I'm still running a 1.6ghz P4, I spend my money on other subsystems since for me, they are the ones that make the most difference. However when evaulating CHIP performance specifically when evaluating, again quoting myself "a single architecture (meaning one kind of one brand of processor)" Mhz is an effective comparison. A P4 Northwood at 2.4ghz on a 400mhz bus will be able to do calculations roughly 150% the speed of a P4 Northwood on a 400mhz bus at 1.6ghz.

          Now if you compare different bus speeds (533mhz vs 400mhz) different architectures (Northwood vs Prescott) or ESPICALLY wholly different architectures (P4 vs Athlon) it breaks down. But SO DO PR NUMBERS! There is NO gaurentee, and in fact a high degree of probablility, that AMD and Intel will have DIFFERENT BS schemes that have nothing to do with each other and less to do with reality.

          I am not saying that Mhz is the ideal benchmark. I am saying that it is turthful and facutal and useful in limited in-line comparisons. PR numbers are the dream of a marketing department and have shit to do with shit and are worthless, even in comparing like chips.
  • That's great. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustinXB ( 756624 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:56PM (#8555232)
    They go from lying to you subliminally to lying to your face.
    • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:35PM (#8555831) Journal
      Just out of curiosity, what would you have them do? Are you saying that any time Intel or AMD wants to show you a CPU, they should list clock frequency, L1, L2, and L3 cache sizes, each of their individual latencies, main memory latency, clock multiplier, average IPC, number of pipeline stages, instruction set extensions (SSE, Powernow, etc), architectual information, die process size, average and max heat dissipation figures, speculative execution capabilities, out-of-order operation specs, core stepping and revisions, a picture of the actual die, and about 10,000 other things that contribute to performance?

      And just what the hell are you going to do with all that information, let alone the average consumer? I seriously doubt most of the engineers at Intel or AMD could even take all that information and have a good idea of what Spec numbers or other benchmarks would look like. At some point, you've got to figure out a way to simply things so that most people can at least have a rudimentary understanding of what it is they're buying. AMD attempts to do that with the model numbering scheme, which is designed to denote the relative performance of each CPU. Intel is now moving to some sort of similar system, now that clock ramping on the P4 is reaching its limits.

      There is no measurement of absolute performance. There is no single number that gives you an honest picture of how things are. You can take 100 benchmarks of different applications, and you'll still have only a relative idea of performance, at best. Intel would be lying if they sold you a chip rated at 2.4GHz, which was only actually running at 1GHz. AMD doesn't mention GHz, and until you can produce a 3GHz Thunderbird core Athlon, their model system is perfectly legitimate.

      • Ok, what he wants is to know is two things.
        1. That Microsoft Word will now open from cache in .1 second as apposed to 2 seconds. A 100% increase in speed!!!
        2. That FPS game *.* will get an extra 5FPS in 640x480. Granted he will never play it at that level. :-)

      • Re:Well... (Score:3, Funny)

        by Jugalator ( 259273 )
        Well, maybe what they should do is a model number that have no relationship to its performance. Just pick arbitrary cool numbers like "Intel P100A" with "P" for "Processor", and "100A" for the first processor in a "100-series", etc.

        Same goes for AMD btw. I think it would be good if there was NO CLUE given in the processor mode name of their performance (other than that "this 200 series is much better than the former 100 series!"). That would force the customers to actually look which is better and not be
  • by kc0dby ( 522118 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:57PM (#8555240) Homepage
    It might just be time for a standard.

    Really, the technical community needs to sit down and figure out a universal cross-platform benchmarking method.

    • by Canadian1729 ( 760713 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:01PM (#8555285)
      It probably is time for a standard, it will need a group to oversee it and make sure the CPU makers post fair speed ratings. Maybe we should let ICANN handle it since they're doing such a great job with domain names :)
    • by eddy ( 18759 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:02PM (#8555288) Homepage Journal

      Great, then we'd get what we have on the graphics card market; two giants spending significant amounts of time to make 3DMark run faster.

      There are complexities and tradeoffs.... ah, forget it.

    • by philthedrill ( 690129 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:04PM (#8555311)

      Really, the technical community needs to sit down and figure out a universal cross-platform benchmarking method.

      Well, there's SPEC [] and TPC []. Other than that, benchmarks are both overrated and the best metric we have for evaluating performance. Then you have cases when a CPU is optimized for a particular benchmark to inflate performance numbers (hence the term benchmarketing).

    • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:39PM (#8555900) Homepage Journal
      "Really, the technical community needs to sit down and figure out a universal cross-platform benchmarking method."

      That'd be nice, but the real world doesn't work so well in this regard. The platforms are different enough that all have different strengths. Your 300fps in Quake3 doesn't tell me squat about how fast Lightwave will render. If a program's optimized for one app but not another.. well shoot, there's another problem that a benchmark really cannot provide much insight into.

      I'm sick of benchmarks anymore. Computers have too many little things going on that affect the overall result. The solution? There needs to be a broadening of what your computer does. Maybe voice recognition is the next big bfd. Maybe it's a flashy new interface that requires a lot more graphical power. Maybe it's getting more people interested in 3D rendering. Heck, I dunno.

      I do know that my 'underpowered' laptop I'm writing this message on is still going strong and is still quite useful to me. I can't think of anything off the top of my hand (save for a few games I suppose, but I'm more of a console gamer anyway) that this thing won't do in some form. Heck, I bought it because the LCD runs at 1600 by 1200.

      Maybe the next big thing isn't how fast the processor is, but how many you have running. I wouldn't mind having a render farm here.
  • Follow the leader (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oingoboingo ( 179159 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:58PM (#8555244)
    FIrst Intel adopts the x86-64 ISA in their new chips, and now they start using performance ratings. What next? Jerry Sanders to replace Craig Barrett as CEO? How times have changed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:58PM (#8555246)
    Their naming convention will be 2 steps away from gHz performance now!

    Presenting the AMD XP 5500+, which runs at 4 gHz, but is equivalent to a Pentium V 5.5EE, which is equivalent to a 4.0 gHz!
  • by Zeppelingb ( 609128 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:58PM (#8555247)
    Wicked Fast 7 million chip!
  • Sounds fine to me. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:00PM (#8555274) Homepage
    The planned system, which would focus on the chips' overall performance and de-emphasize how fast its chips run,

    One of the effects I foresee is that consumers (and corporate management) will latch onto Intel's new system and use it to make hasty decisions and brag -- except this time, they have a better chance of being right. In a sense, Intel will have already done the work for them.

    I see no problem with a marketing machine that actually helps to dispose of the "Megahertz Myth" in favor of a more accurate measurement of a chip's performance.
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by orkysoft ( 93727 ) <orkysoft AT myrealbox DOT com> on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:01PM (#8555280) Journal
    Will they finally call the Pentium 4 3.2GHz a Pentium 4 2.4? Their fmul/fdiv operations take twice as long as on the Pentium 3, after all.

    If not, they're a bunch of hypocrites.
  • by Random BedHead Ed ( 602081 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:03PM (#8555302) Homepage Journal
    Intel has long coasted along on what Apple likes to call the "megahertz myth." The power of a processor is more than just its clockspeed, as Apple and AMD have struggled to point out for years. Intel ignored the debate because they were ahead in clockspeed, so it was a convenient metric that always showed them to seem ahead of the competition. This change in CPU naming might indicate a recognition that its rivals may overtake it in clockspeed. Perhaps they're planning strategic changes that could take them below Apple or AMD in clockspeed and want to jump on the "clockspeed ain't everything" bandwagon as soon as they can.
    • This change in CPU naming might indicate a recognition that its rivals may overtake it in clockspeed. Perhaps they're planning strategic changes that could take them below Apple or AMD in clockspeed and want to jump on the "clockspeed ain't everything" bandwagon as soon as they can.

      I suspect, to be honest, that it has as much to do with Intel's recently announced 64 bit desktop chip foray. Presuming they do something similar to AMD and have more general purpose registers for 64 bit mode, they need a way
  • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:04PM (#8555310) Journal
    The problem is that you can't measure processor performance with one number. There's just no way to do so.

    Before, AMD and Intel used to use clock rates. They didn't pretend to actually be summing up their chip's performance with the metric they slap on the box. It was even okay when just AMD had a performance number, because there was no sense of putting an industry-wide metric on a box. Now, one of two things will happen:

    Possibility 1) AMD and Intel will decide upon a standard benchmark suite to determine "performance" and processors will be optimized around that benchmark instead of around real world software (i.e. consumer loses).

    Possibility 2) AMD and Intel will come up with *different* measurements to determine their "equivalency number". AMD will focus on chip feature X and Intel on chip feature Y, each probably choosing the one that best supports their case. Both will accuse the other one of using an inaccurate and artificial metric. Each one focuses on improving their score in their chosen test. The performance profiles of the two chips diverges more. Since most software must be least-common-denominator, all developers except those few that choose to include custom-compiled or assembly bits and processor-specific support will make software that runs slower on average. (i.e. consumer loses).

    I liked it much more when Intel and AMD's marketing departments stuck with slapping stupid stickers on boxes and making deals with OEMs -- neither one directly affected me.
    • I think VIA started it, but I'm pissed at AMD for continuing it, and now Intel for jumping on board. Mhz are a useful and TRUTHFUL stastic. It tells you how fast a given chip cycles at. This is a fact, not a bunch of marketing BS. Further, for within chip comparisons, it is a useful number. For example:

      I have a P4 1.6ghz, I know that the max my board supports is a P4 2.4ghz. Supposing I want to upgrade, how much speed will I gain by maxing my processor? Answer: A bit less than 150% of my current performanc
      • by kryptkpr ( 180196 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:53PM (#8556147) Homepage
        Uninformed consumer goes to the local discount electronics store. Looks at a computer based on Intel's CPU, sees 2000 megalobangerz. Looks at the AMD based computer right next to it, sees 1800 megalobangerz for a hundred bucks less. Decides the Intel is "better", so its ok to cost more. Reality, the computers are pretty much the same.

        AMD did this becuase their chips simply do more work per clock cycle, this was done at the expense of not being able to scale the clock nearly as high as Intel. A 2000+ AMD is *roughly equivillent* to a 2.0Ghz P4.. it wins some, it looses some.

        The jump you talk of was at 2600+, when AMD went from a 2.0 Ghz at 266 mhz FSB (called a 2400+) to a 1.833 Ghz at 333 mhz FSB, called a 2600+ Barton. Performance #s goes up, clockspeed goes down.. but FSB goes up! Yes, it's annoying, but this was done as to give most consumers who do minimal research a "fairer" basis for comparison when shopping for computers.

        MHz is an absolutely useless metric for comparing processors today when FSBs range from 200 mhz to 800mhz and cache from 128kb to 1MB and higher. Intel and AMD went different routes when designing their offerings, and as you say, it's very difficult to come up with a single number to describe their performance. The problem is that MHz is the number that has been 'historically' used, and it just so happens that AMD went the route that yielded a smaller MHz (and god bless them that they did); so they made the transition to a BS-marketing-numbers system.
  • by Spriggig ( 525973 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:04PM (#8555315) Homepage
    I imagine their ads will start sounding like razor commercials. "Introducing the new and improved 'Mach 19'! Now in candy-apple red and midnight blue!"
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:07PM (#8555366)
    With more than one company providing relative performance indices as "names" for their processors, and none really providing a basis for these relative ratings, the consumer will now be forced to rely on product review sites like Tom's Hardware or Anandtech to evaluate the real performance of processors.

    That's a good thing in as much as the numbers will stop meaning anything to those with the technical know-how to get useful information from Tom or Anand.

    But there are a lot of Stupid People out there using and buying computers every day, and they will be completely in the dark when it comes to evaluating their choices. For them, the deciding factor when choosing a processor in their premanufactured desktop machine will be only what a further descent into Marketing can tell them. ...Which is probably exactly what Intel wants.

  • by miu ( 626917 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:08PM (#8555383) Homepage Journal
    Tall, grande, Venti?...

    Yeah! Maybe Intel should do the Mhz in Italian. Then they could sell to those Mac people, they like European stuff and stuff.

    Or anime hyperobole. The 'super mega ultra rating' vs the 'super ultra mega excellent rating'.

  • by fuzzy12345 ( 745891 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:13PM (#8555463)
    My Pentium(TM) Family User's Manual, Volume 3: Architecture and Programming Manual shows, on the front cover, a hand holding a chip marked "intel pentium iCOMP(TM) Index=815 (m)(c)INTEL '92 '93

    It is either a 90 or a 100MHz part, don't know which.

    The practice of inventing a silly(TM) performance index that looks better on your chips than your competitor's, or can't be used without a license, is pretty old.

  • Extreme (Score:5, Funny)

    by An-Unnecessarily-Lon ( 761026 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:14PM (#8555472) Journal
    I hope they name them Extreme something. Cause everyone knows that things are better when they are EXTREME!
  • Well then... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:15PM (#8555502) Journal
    Guess the rumours of Intel's problems with 90nm, Prescott's severe ramping problems, issues that even 775 can't solve, and the incredible heat dissipation of the newer chips are all true. This seems to be yet more confirmation, even moreso than the release of 2.4GHz Prescott chips this week. Gee, boys, guess we should have listened to Bob Colwell when he was standing around screaming about the unsustainable clock ramping and heat dissipation curves.

    When the architect of the P6 says something, you usually ought to listen. Perhaps next time you'll get off your high horses and follow the suggestions of the smart people. Now he's gone, you're fucked for '04, and you're in serious trouble on the desktop front if Tejas doesn't turn out to be a rabbit out of a hat.

    • Re:Well then... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I can almost guarantee what this new naming move is about: a pre-anouncement of a desktop version of the Centrino (i.e. Pentium-m) CPU. For those who haven't been following, the pentium-m (completely different chip from the p4-m) is based on the p3 core, but with SSE2, big-ol cache, and some advanced heat-management thingamajigs(TM). It runs clock-per-clock much faster than p4 (as p3s always have).. the 1.7ghz version (fastest currently available) runs comparably to a p4 2.4ghz (or faster, depending on who'
  • by gklinger ( 571901 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:16PM (#8555526)
    That's what I say when non-technical friends and family ask me questions about what kind of computer they should buy.

    "It doesn't matter."

    I realize it sounds trite but these days, it's true. They can buy pretty much any new computer they can find and it's perfectly capable of doing what they want to do because, in truth, what they want to do rarely requires a state of the art machine. To simplify things further is the fact that comptuers are getting cheaper and you are getting way more for your money. Buying a new computer isn't the financial hardship it once was.

    My mother doesn't care what kind of CPU is in her computer or how fast it is. She just wants to send email to her grandkids and play bridge and she can do that quite happily on a computer she can pick up at Wal*Mart for a few hundred bucks. Power to the people, indeed.

  • by Timbo ( 75953 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:21PM (#8555629) Homepage
    Older intel CPUs used a performance metric named iCOMP which was stamped on many CPUs. A bit of googling suggests [] this is still around. Perhaps this is another case of reinventing an old idea?
  • Pentium M (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PhotoBoy ( 684898 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:21PM (#8555635)
    This seems to bear out the rumours that "the next big thing" from Intel on the desktop will be based on the Pentium M which is a chip which ably demonstrates that more Megahurtz isn't necessarily better.

    I guess Intel is starting this change in numbering early so it doesn't debut a new chip and a new way of labelling the speed of the chip at the same time. Launching both at the same time might look suspicious to less informed buyers, especially if Intel goes from selling 4Ghz chips to 2.4Ghz chips with a PR of 4500+. By starting early hopefully people will be more accustomed to the new numbering scheme and less likely to think they are being conned. A friend recently told me he had bought a new 3Ghz Athlon XP, he was ready to take it back to the shop after I explained what the 3000 meant!

    I wonder how compatible this will be with AMD's PR ratings? What would the equivalent to an Athlon 64 with a PR of 3400 be? I hope Intel doesn't invent a PR system that deliberately uses bigger PR numbers than AMDs. I can see confusion amongst consumers who will think an Athlon 64 4000+ is not a match for a "Pentium 5 6000" even if they are equivalent performers.

    While Megahurtz has long been a poor way of determining the speed of a chip, I think having two different PR systems that aren't compatible could be worse.
    • Re:Pentium M (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Decimal ( 154606 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @11:45PM (#8559156) Homepage Journal
      A friend recently told me he had bought a new 3Ghz Athlon XP, he was ready to take it back to the shop after I explained what the 3000 meant!

      I hope you also explained that he got the same, if not more, power as an Intel P4 3GHz, for a cheaper price. It would be silly to educate people about what AMD ratings are not, without explaining what they really are.
  • How about we as the technical computer consumers come up with our own designator? We could start by basing it on a known quantity, for example a 1GHz P3 with a 133MHz bus. Then we benchmark the different parts of that CPU. FPU intensive, Integer intensive, MMX intensive, SSE intensive, cache hit intensive, cache miss intensive, and a mix intensive. Then whatever score is produced is weighted and collectively called 1.00 Then from that point on all CPUs are to be referred to by their number based on their weighted scores. So perhaps a 2GHz Pentium 4 is only a 1.5 when compared to the P3. Or even better, I'd love to see the individual scores of the different sections. I'd like to make it really easy for people to get specialized processors that best suit their needs. In some cases, it is hard to determine what would be the best cpu for the application. You may need one that can fly through compiling software but you don't really give a crap about SSE, MMX or FPU.
  • by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:53PM (#8556149)
    When I saw Intel was doing this I immediately thought "that's the end of Moore's" law. Intel has been trying to win the clock rate race for years. But, consider there newest Pentium, Prescott. This chip now has a 31 stage pipeline and is built for high clock rates. Yet, it still is clocked at less than 3.2 Ghz -- the highest speed of the older Northwood. Why is this? Even the earliest Pentium 4s were able to greatly out-clock the pentium III's when they first came out. They weren't faster overall, but did have higher clock rates than the PIII. But now we have the 31 stage Prescott and the about same clock rate.

    If Intel thought it could keep bumping the clock rate up, they wouldn't move to something like AMD's performance rating. Yet here we are.

    Something has changed.

    • by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:16PM (#8556530) Journal
      "Even the earliest Pentium 4s were able to greatly out-clock the pentium III's when they first came out. "

      Yeah, you can do that when you do a complete core overhaul. Going from Northwood to Prescott is a fairly large change, but nowhere near as big a change as going from the PIII to the P4.

      "But now we have the 31 stage Prescott and the about same clock rate.
      If Intel thought it could keep bumping the clock rate up, they wouldn't move to something like AMD's performance rating. Yet here we are.
      Something has changed."

      What has changed is that Intel is having problems with the 90nm process, Prescott produces massive amounts of heat, the LGA 775 socket isn't going to solve those problems enough to ramp Prescott beyond 4GHz, if even that high, and the changes being made with the introduction of IA32-64 (aka AMD64) will give processors a pretty decent bump in performance.

      Intel knows now that clock frequency ramps have limits. Sure, Bob Colwell told them as much when the P4 was being designed, but now they're actually slamming into walls of fire (heat). Right this second, they're not in such a serious situation that changing to performance ratings is necessary, but they will be fairly soon. Thus, if they do it now, it looks like a new initiative to give Intel an advantage in the marketplace. If they wait until their backs are against the wall, it looks like Intel is struggling to keep up and has lost its edge in the marketplace.

      You see now why this is being done? It's just management finally starting to get a little smarter.

    • by Christ-on-a-bike ( 447560 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @10:00PM (#8557441)
      That's all fine and dandy, except that Moore's law was a prediction of exponential increase in the number of transistors on a chip, not the clock rate.

      Now that's a trend I think is broadly continuing. Multi core CPU's are a part of it. We may also see async processors coming out with zillions of transistors, but no central clock.

  • by sparkie ( 60749 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:00PM (#8556259) Homepage
    Well, when Intel starts dishing out their performance rating, they're gonna have to call their new P4 5.0GHz a P4 3000+ :)
  • by Caractacus Potts ( 74726 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:07PM (#8556395)
    I always referred to AMD's numbers as being in GiggleHertz. I propose this term be used for the Intel chips as well.
  • Patent? (Score:3, Funny)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:36PM (#8556861) Homepage Journal
    Given the current problems with patent madness, how long will it be before someone files something like 'Method to describe the relative performance of a microprocessor architecture using a multi-tiered numbering system independant of the architecture clock speed'?

    For the sarcasm imparied, I'm semi-joking. Still, I'd not be surprised if something like that was tried. Patenting something silly like 'single click purchasing' soundes ridiculous too after all.
  • by theCat ( 36907 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:53PM (#8557321) Journal
    Around my house, any new purchase must score high on the WifeMark, which is a complex combined index of software and hardware performance. The benchmark is simply my wife's reaction to me maxing out the credit card again on a computer. The levels are:

    "Feels about as fast as what I have now. And last time she almost killed me for buying a new box."

    "Nice, seems faster, but the wife will kill me if I spend this kind of money for nothing special."

    "Damn that's fast. I want. She's just going to have to deal with it."

    I've been using that benchmark for years. I don't even look at the official numbers. Once it gets to the point where the kit I run now is clearly sh*t for anything normal, I upgrade. Just come home one day with a new box and figure she'll come around.

    Got a Mac G4/466 right now, specifically to run OSX. She likes OSX. Before that a used 7600/200 (G2ish) because web browsing got slow and she likes web browsing. Before that a Quadra 630 (486/33ish) because it was best for desktop publishing and we were big into that at the time. Before that, I owned a SE/30 (386/16ish) but that was before we were married. For sure, I more than double performance each time, noticing when something is finally "damn fast" for what is currently important and figuring it scores high on the WifeMark.

    Happy with the G4 running Panther, it does email and web browsing and web development work Real Well (as does the 7600 to be honest, but no OSX for that one). I'll upgrade the G4/466 chip someday, maybe when I can get a G4/2000 for cheap on EBay. But otherwise I might run this box for a long time as I can't see anything coming along that scores highly on the WifeMark.

    BTW, I still have all the machines listed above. Old Macs never die, they just become web servers.
  • well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cynikal ( 513328 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @10:53PM (#8558496) Homepage
    i'll agree with everyone here about mhz not really meaning a whole lot by itself..

    whenever i had to consult people about their pc purchases, i found the best way that they understood was basically the 3 parts of the cpu.. mhz, bus speed, and cache memory..

    your cpu is a vehicle.. the mhz is the speed the vehicle can carry stuff from one place to another (this is what you are buying this ehicle to do - moving stuff) the bus speed is how fast you can load your stuff onto your vehicle.. and the cache memory is the amount of stuff the vehicle can carry...

    then i go to explain how whats the point in having vehicle A that can go 1.5 times faster than vehicle B, but vehicle B can carry twice as much stuff each trip.. in the end Vehicle B is the one that gets more done.. until you get into things like it doesnt matter how fast vehicle A can go, if vehicle B can be loaded and on its way and back in the same time that A is still being loaded (bus speed)

    its probly not the most refined explaination, but its the way i've talked many people into getting athelons instead of celerons, and in the end getting a better computer (dunno about the states but up here i can get an XP2200 for about the same price as a celeron 2ghz -give or take $5- and we're talking HUGE difference in performance)
  • by Wolfier ( 94144 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @11:33PM (#8559115)
    CPU rollout roadmap:

    Q3 2004: Pentium Fast
    Q2 2005: Pentium Really Fast
    Q4 2005: Pentium Reeeeeeeaaally Fast
    Q2 2006: Pentium Flies
    Q4 2006: Pentium 0wnz
  • by $calar ( 590356 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @01:11AM (#8559497) Journal
    . . . don't trust benchmarks. This naming scheme is just going to create yet another benchmark which will probably be biased by those marketing it. Again, stick to Tom's Hardware and don't even look at what they call it.
  • by AvantLegion ( 595806 ) on Sunday March 14, 2004 @02:58AM (#8559856) Journal
    When I saw the subject line, I thought, "the Sextium, finally!"

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