Is INTEL the BOSE of the PC processor industry?

Jacob_St

Second Unit
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Jan 15, 2000
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259
I own a Pentium 4 processor and am wondering if I made a stupid choice. It's too late for me to return my computer but my curiousity is peaked. According to places like Arstech.com and other computer forums I've visited the P4 seems to be considered a joke. Signatures like "Intel inside idiot outside" aren't hard to spot. Are the AMD Athlon and XP processors really superiour in speed and performance? I don't understand how they can be since the P4 has the faster RDRAM and 400 mhz side bus. Is Intel like Bose and charging far more for far less?
 

CRyan

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Feb 9, 1999
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I would not go as far to say that they are the Bose of PC components. However, AMD does prove to outperform Intel in most benchmark tests. Actually, a given AMD chip will usually outperform a "faster" Intel chip. Hence, the new naming system AMD has begun using with their new XP CPU's. The new AMD 1600 XP is a 1.4Ghz chip. The 1600 is supposed to perform like or better than an Intel 1.6Ghz processor.
Most people considered the jump from P3 to P4 a marketing gimmick - nothing more.
Considering the above facts and the usually huge price difference between Intel and AMD, choosing AMD becomes a no brainer for many.
I just built a 900Mhz AMD PC for my parents with case, 12x CD burner, sound card, 128MB memory, video card, ethernet, MB, etc. for $340. You just cannot beat the value with AMD.
Intel is just fine but overpriced IMO. However, all store purchaed PC's are overpriced AFAIAC.
C. Ryan
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http://www.elitestoragedesigns.com/RyanOAR.bmp
 

Jacob_St

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Jan 15, 2000
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Where did you shop to buy the parts? I priced parts at tcwo.com a couple months ago and when including the operating system I didn't get much in savings.
 

Rob Gillespie

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No, the Bose comparison doesn't work for me. Intel has the reputation it has through years of work, research and products that work in mission-critical situations. Plus you have to remember that AMD is cheaper for desktop processors, but they offer no server CPUs like the Intel Xeon range. That is where the real money is spent and where reliability and track-record is the deciding factor.
 

Shayne Lebrun

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The only reason AMD is beating P4 benchmarks is that applications aren't written to take advantage of the P4. It's the same as the Pentium to Pentium Pro jump; everybody thought the PPro was crap, because everything was written to the Pentium.
Or, another way, PlayStation2; dreamcast still spanks PS2 because they still haven't figured out how to write for the whacky PS2 architecture.
Similarly, people mock the RDRAM as being 'high latency.' This is because they're used to having high latency, but low bandwidth, and low amounts of, regular RAM; so lots and lots of small reads. RDRAM, on the otherhand, is FAST(!) but each individual transaction takes longer. But once they figure out to take out 1000 pennies, instead of taking out a penny 1000 times, watch it go.
 

Kelley_B

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Rob is right, the real money is made in the Server market. Have you seen the prices Intel charges for a Xeon...or how about for a Itanium(which is a complete waste of money BTW). Its nice that AMD is making gains on Intel in the Desktop CPU market, but unless they do something about the server market, then they are going to have a hard time ever gaining a resonable market share with Intel.
I personally run an AMD Athlon Thunderbird and its a screamer.
 

AaronNWilson

Second Unit
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Jan 28, 2001
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451
Actually I think intel is a great company.
It really bugs me the way that AMD thinks that it is ok to call the 1.53 ghz chip the AMD 1800+. That is just totally dishonest marketing and it reminds me of their old K6-3 tactics.
In fact in games like quake 3 arena the p4 is still the leader.
I have had an intel cpu go bad on me before, so I called the RMA service and intel had a new cpu at my door 2 days later. Now that is what I call service.
Aaron
 

Richard Cooper

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Mar 21, 2001
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132
Whilst I have only ever owned non-Intel processors (Rockwell, Cyrix (ugh!) and AMD); I still view Intel as being the 'Rolls Royce' of CPU's. I have never used a more stable platform as an Intel powered unit. Basically, all-out speed = AMD. Stability (and speed too, they ain't slow
) Intel. Simple as that.
When I find the funds to build a dedicated HTPC, it will be an Intel based unit. Currently, I have a very fast, but occasionally (very rarely) wobbly AMD powered computer. When I watch a DVD I want it to run without a hitch. I would personally look to Intel to power that.
It may be possible to build a fully stable AMD system, but I think you would have to disable a few features which are quite important to me, a gamer.
 

Steve Kramzer

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Sep 2, 2001
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Heh, people calling AMD dishonest for the way they are marketing. THe only reason they are doing this is because Intel basically does the same thing in stressing ghz in their commericials when that is not the only thing that contributes to the speed of the chip. And Richard, I'm just wondering what OS you're running that you claim to have a unstable AMD system. I've had my Athlon for a couple months running 2k and I love it, no stability problems what so ever. In the end, its peoples choice to go with whoever they feel better with, I just think Intel is serioulsy ripping people off with over priced chips.
 

Jacob_St

Second Unit
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Jan 15, 2000
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259
Shayne, are saying that the P4 is ahead of it's time? That it is a more advanced chip then the AMD but suffers because current applications aren't sophisticated enough to handle it? If that is the case then I don't feel so bad for having bought one.
 

CRyan

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Feb 9, 1999
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Jacob, I have been using Newegg.com now for a few months and they are great. you can get a 900mhz Athlon TB for about $50 and a great MB to support it for $63. Intel just does not compete pricewise. A comparable Intel chip is around $180. That is a pretty big savings in chip alone.
I believe Intel is a great company and CPU developer. However, I do not agree that Intel systems are more stable or less buggy. Usually problems arise with motherboard selection and not the processor itself. Intel has had its share of problems in this department.
C. Ryan
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Gary King

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Apr 13, 1999
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479
First, I think it needs to be said that the Athlon is a rock-solid processor, occassionally hampered by some unstable motherboard chipsets (or piss-poor drivers for add-in hardware, such as the Radeon 8500 or SB Live). Athlons can be just as stable as anything Intel makes -- the only real argument against AMD's reliability was the K5 chip (which was a real POS).
The P4 is very well designed for marketing. Intel realized that MHZ (not BogoMIPS) sell processors, and designed the P4 with that in mind.
P4/PC architecture in general:
The goal of any PC is to take instructions (such as arithmetic operations, read/write operations, etc.) and operands (sections of memory, specific locations on the CPU, etc.) and process them. Current processors do this by dividing processing into a long assembly line style process ('pipelining'). Rather than only having 1 instruction executing at a time, a processor has 1 instruction in each of its assembly (pipeline) stages, so that 1 full instruction is completed every cycle (that's an over-simplification, but it'll do). Also like an assembly line, if you add new extra stages, every stage can do less work (if you had 10 stages, each stage would only have to do 1/2 as much work as if you had 5), which allows the processor to run faster (more MHz). Unfortunately, if one section of the pipeline stalls, it means more computation power is wasted than if you had fewer stages.
The P4 has over twice as many pipeline stages as the Athlon. This means (theoretically), that Intel should be able to get the P4's clock rate up to astronomical levels (demo processors have run at 3.5GHz); however, real-life applications are hardly ideal, so the P4's stall penalty cuts into its theoretical performance quite a bit. But, even though the Athlon can do more in 1 cycle than the P4, *and* has less of a stall penalty (which is why a 1.53GHz AthlonXP outperforms a 2GHz P4), AMD has a much, much more difficult time increasing clock speed than Intel, and eventually their performance lead will disapper just due to brute force (AMD is behind schedule for where they want to be, and a 2.5GHz Athlon will pale in comparison to a 3.5GHz P4).
These days, it's hard to argue with the price/performance of an AMD machine, unless you are buying from an OEM. The P4 doesn't really offer many features that the AthlonXP doesn't (AthlonXP has SSE, and SSE2 doesn't offer many advantages over a system with a fast FPU). But the future isn't all roses for AMD - they've got some real work ahead if they want to maintain the performance crown.
 

brentl

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Shayne Lebrun; Are you saying that Software MFGers are writing for AMD after YEARS of writing for Intel code??
I'd say they write for P3 code NOT AMD.
My opinion.
You will never catch me with an Intel based system!! AMD offer way to much bang for the buck.
Brent L
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Shayne Lebrun

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I'd say they write for P3 code NOT AMD.

And what is the current AMD chip, if not AMD's version of the Pentium 3? It's like the SNES vs the Genesis; they took what Intel did with the P3, figured out what they could do that was better, and made their own version.
Great chip. BUT...if the world moves on to P4 style programming, they'll be left out.
If I recall correctly, and it's been a while, the cyrix 5x86 chips were souped up 486s, which spanked the early pentiums. Until people started writing to the pentium archictecture.
 

Gary King

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Apr 13, 1999
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Great chip. BUT...if the world moves on to P4 style programming, they'll be left out.
Not really. Vectorizing code is very difficult in most cases (for vector arithmetic and matrix multiplication it's pretty straight-forward, but how do you vectorize a word processor?), and even Intel's vectorizing compiler only buys about a 10-20% performance boost for the P4 under good conditions. It's enough for the P4 to outperform the Athlon in some cases, but it's not earth-shattering.
And now that the AthlonXP supports SSE, the most commonly used vector format (4*32-bit floating point) is supported by both. MMX is already supported by both (4*16-bit integer), and SSE2 has limited utility (4*32-bit integer, 2*64-bit floating point).
Programming for both processors is pretty similar these days. The P4 is *not* a revolution in PC programming methodology.
 

Richard Cooper

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Mar 21, 2001
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Steve, I'm running a 1.4 266 Athlon on a Gigabyte GA7-DXR mobo with 512mb Crucial DDR ram. Hanging off that is a radeon 64ddr vivo; Netgear FA311 NIC; SB Live pLatinum; Hauppauge WinTV-PCI tuner card; 2x IBM 30.7gb 75gxp deskstar HDD's and a creative 12x DVD drive. The OS is WinME.
The occasional (and I stress again occasional i.e. 1 in 30-40 boots) problems I've had are that windows does not load fully, rather it changes to the desktop background, and halts. A ctrl-alt-del restarts, triggering a scandisk, which takes ages because of firewall, virus checker etc. interuppting it, but eventually finishes booting.
Note there's quite a few goodies in there that can potentially cause problems.
However, at work I use a Intel P3 500 with 256mb ram on an unknown mobo. It has scsi drives, and I primarily use it for running autocad2000i (At some point I'm supposed to be going over to MDT5 but it's buggy as hell at the mo). This is on NT4 SP6. Can't remember the last time I had a crash. At least 2 months ago.
Basically, I'd say this: Mission critical applications use Intel, any other use, use AMD unless cost is not really an important consideration.
 

Shayne Lebrun

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Programming for both processors is pretty similar these days. The P4 is *not* a revolution in PC programming methodology.

Don't forget the other neat thingies on it, like SMP-on-a-chip. It's the first step in the revolution. It's like if there's two paradigms; A and B. A P3 does paradigm A. A P4 does something between A and B. The P5 will do B.
As I said before, it's just like the pentium to the pentium pro. Everybody regarded the pentium pro as a failure, a stupid chip. But what it led to was pretty groovy.
 

Gary King

Second Unit
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Apr 13, 1999
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A P3 does paradigm A. A P4 does something between A and B. The P5 will do B.
No... Itanium is a new paradigm. SMT isn't really a new paradigm, and 128-bit double precision SIMD is hardly a quantum improvement over 128-bit floating point SIMD.
 

Richard Cooper

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Mar 21, 2001
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And if you check out the post about needing a heatsink/fan, you'll see another reason why I prefer Intel. Mind you, a PIII 1.13GHz is currently about £255; and a Athlon 1.13GH is currently about £83. That's one PIII for every three Athlons. In other words, I could have a catastrophic heatsink failure THREE times before it would have been the same price as a Pentium. A rough comparison I know, but hopefully you see my point. I think the way to describe Intel would be 'refined'.
 

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