Intel Pentium 4 vs. AMD Athlon – a First Look

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Summary

So what do we see after looking at the different test results? Well, as tested above the Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz using the i845 chipset and SDRAM is no match for the Athlon MP 1.2 Palomino, and the P4 2.0Ghz when using the i850 chipset and RDRAM does show a slight advantage over the Athlon MP 1.2.

Notice I said “as tested above“. That is very important to remember, because although the Athlon MP does have the new Palomino core, it is running at a slower speed than the desktop units will be when they hit the market next month. A fair comparison would be to use a 1.5GHz Palomino – AMD’s soon to be fastest – against Intel’s current fastest.

And then there is the chipset issue. As noted, a revised KT266A chipset is due out soon and it is expected to show slightly better performance (I’m guessing in the 3~6% range in most applications).

So add up the gain from going to 1.5GHz and the new VIA KT266A (or nForce), and what will you have? My guess is an Athlon 1.5GHz platform that will out perform a P4 2.0GHz in most applications.

So is Intel sitting still? No, they will have a version of the P4 out with a larger L2 cache in the next couple of months, and who knows what that will do with the overall system performance. And then there is the DDR SDRAM version of the i845 due out early next year. And what about the VIA DDR P4 chipset, not only in speed but how will it fare in the legal battles between VIA and Intel?

This could be an interesting next few months in the CPU and chipset market place, and it looks like we’ll be busy evaluating a number of different mainboard, chipset, memory and CPU combinations.


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