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A brief about AMD & Intel.

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June 12, 2006 3:00:15 PM

AMD has been the talk of the town since Cyrix and AMD went head-to-head with Intel and the 4x86 market. Intel quickly took the lead with Pentium line of processors, eventually pushing high-end rival Alpha out of the market entirely.

AMD took the typical route small companies do when going against a 300 lb gorilla: they follow the gorilla and pick up the scraps it leaves behind. AMD was ambitious, but they took their product to the mainstream by targeting the price-concious consumer. AMD's early processors were (arguably) less reliable than Intel's. In those days, however, a stable home computer wasn't the primary concern. Those were the days of the win 9x shell, and Pentium or otherwise, the official windows colors became blue and white.

It didn't help that AMD was associated with the Cryix lineup under the 'economy' processor market. The fall of Cyrix was probably one of the best things that could happen to AMD. The Cyrix processor was (arguably) one of the worst processors to ever hit the mainstream, and for the Cyrix to exist in the same market share as AMD, it didn't reflect well on inexpensive processors as a whole.

Enter windows 2000. The IT field became spoiled with system stability on everyday workstations. Intel was well established in the mainstream and the server market, with 'Wintel' machines nibbling away at market share from IBM and Sun. This is a time where AMD's architecture is mature and evolved, and AMD had seen great successs with its K6 series of processors when poised against the new MMX lineup. Many felt that the Pentium 2 was superior to the K6 architecture still, however the lower price-point of the K6 gave AMD the revenue it needed to futher its product development.

Fast-forward past the PIII and the blue-man group to the P4, a.k.a Intel's folly. Intel's vision since the PIII was astronomical clock speeds, and it was thier hope that the P4 would carry the processor line to 5GHz and beyond. Increased clock speeds had been a great force behind keeping Intel's performance 2 steps ahead of the competition, and with die sizes shrinking, it seemed the sky was the limit. But Intel hit a wall, and that wall was a hot one. Not to mention that Intel's answer to AMD: the celeron, was doing little to subdue the thorn in Intels' side.

The biggest misconception behind the Intel/P4 is that Intel underestimated and mistakenly released a product that could not perform as expected. I believe this to be untrue. You can't be a multi-billion dollar industry and make that kind of an oversight with your bread-and-butter product line. The mistake was not a disillusioned product, but how Intel reacted to the clock speed limitation.

Anyone following the processor wars closely over the years can attest to the fact that Intel has never really considered AMD a serious competitor, until recently. This is the mistake they made. Intel has the R&D capability, and they had the time, to begin a re-architecture for a new product line not unlike conroe, before they released the prescott. Intel knew during the time of Northwood that they hit a wall with clock speed. Intel had dell in their pockets, and the lion's share of the market. Intel invested in better fabrication rather than architecture. Pound for pound, SOI was a better fabrication process.

Intel has excelled in its fabrication process as a result, but underestimated AMD's ambitions, especially in the server market. Their focus on decreasing costs and increasing clock speed as a result of better fabrication allowed AMD to scoop up valuable market share. Was this a mistake? Some say yes, some say no. Read on.

AMD's Athlon series processors became widely successful, despite their marginal (yet consistent) performance gain on Intel. People tend to root for the underdog, especially the enthusiest 'underground' that enjoy Mozilla, Linux, and Source-Forge. These IT gurus are the consultants (and often the decision makers) for Intel's customers, and are often a driving force behind market direction.

Intel did expect to lose performance to AMD, but they did not expect the market to react the way it did. But their investments to-date seem to be paying off as a result of their decisions. Intel now has a better core architecture (no pun intended) using a better fabrication process.

Currently, Intel's lineup will stand toe-to-toe with AMD when one considers the overclock-ability of the new presler cores. Off-the-shelf, AMD's still appeal more the the consumer. Intel's core architecture is slated to deliver raw power at an amazingly affordable price, with better prices than any of us have seen from Intel for years. On the other hand, it is now AMD that is taking the strategic route over raw horsepower by utilizing the HyperTransport bus. With the enthusiest market growing, and computer 'peripherals' growing ever-demanding, AMD may still hold the crown by providing versatility beyond that which Intel can provide.

If the physics movement continues, then AMD will be in a much better position to improve gaming performance with a simple physics chip hooked right to the processor via HT. With some crafty GDDR bus enhancements, it's possible to have 2 GPUs, a CPU, and a physics processor all speaking directly over HT with blazing speeds. Intel is investing in the Dells and Compaqs of the world by providing a better product to the mainstream, and appealing to the enthusiest with phenominal overclocking ability.

So who will win? Is it ultra-fast peripherals and system versatility, or is it as simple as the faster system core? Perhaps it will be marketing or better strategic relationships? Neither company at this time is the clear winner, but now that they are taking different paths, we'll likely see one of the two come out on top in the next 2-3 years.

More about : amd intel

June 13, 2006 7:23:00 PM

Quote:
Currently, Intel's lineup will stand toe-to-toe with AMD when one considers the overclock-ability of the new presler cores.


Only enthusaists care about overclocking. I've said this before, I'm glad the Woodcrest is arriving ASAP - it's going to be a great CPU. The P4 Xeons are horrible, horrible, horrible (and nobody overclocks these beasts). The Opterons have "owned" for the past year but have only received recognition in the past 6 months.

Intel is now listening to its vendors/customers and ditching the Netburst architecture. Woodcrest is saving Intel from a mass-exodus from their server products. Somebody at INTC (I own their stock) read the tea leaves and hit the panic button just in time.
June 13, 2006 7:49:46 PM

Very well put and very interesting. Due to my age I didn't really get into computers until around the 2ghz days, when I built my first system using an Athlon XP 3200+ @ 2083 mhz.

AMD was not always on top (in terms of product offerings) like it is today, and may not remain there much longer.

Thanks for putting this together, Whiz. Some people may not be interested because it has too many words and doesn't involve flaming people in the name of AM2/Conroe.
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June 13, 2006 8:03:00 PM

Great Post!!

I must say I have owned both AMD and Intel chips and still to this day will always depend on Intel chips. Although i am not a gamer, I think that the intel chips take care of the everyday workload better then the AMD chips. They run APP's much more smoothly then AMD. I have not used a AMD chip since the Athlon's but I dont think I will ever purchase one again.
June 13, 2006 8:26:17 PM

Thanks for the good feedback :) 

I agree with you Voxel: I didn't really cover the server segment. AMD's opterons really give the XEON a good pounding, and the only reasons AMD hasn't seen more penetration in that segment is because (1) Server prices and lifetimes are higher/longer, so there's less server "circulation", (2) Server farms tend to keep server variances to a minimum. i.e. if it's all running intel, keeping it intel reduces maintenance and (3) Large corporations often follow the "If it's not broken, don't fix it" policy.

Change implies risk.


Beer and Candy: I unserstand what you're saying, but you're missing a few facts. GPU and CPU architectures are very different. GPU's tend to be more parallel using multiple SIMD engines, where CPUs have only 1 or 2 cores that crunch instructions serially.

Physics calculations weigh down on the CPU, and if the CPU is bogged down, then your framerate will suffer. This is often the case with physics-intensive games such as F.E.A.R. The point of offloading physics to the GPU is that a lot of people have multiple GPU's (SLI/Crossfire). Not only does the GPU handle the Physics calculations better than the CPU, but it allows the user to balance some of the workload (to some extent) between the CPU and GPU.

Although complex engines only exist in a few select games, Physics will only become more complex in future games and will start appearing in more titles. The CPU just can't cut it as well as custom hardware. The Physics engine is diverging into its own market the same way the GPU differentiated itself from the CPU years ago.
June 13, 2006 8:40:03 PM

I REALLY enjoyed that read as well. I've been around through all that but to sum it up really crystalized the history in my head.

I've owned both as well, but never was a big AMD fan. I had some stability issues which I blamed on the CPU and ya know, once burned it takes a while to touch it again.

But great writing! It will be interesting to see how the next chapter unfolds.
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a b À AMD
June 13, 2006 9:33:16 PM

Quote:
everyone keeps saying the new physics stuff is going to increase game performance. this is wrong. the physics stuff is going to make frame rates lower because it is going to force the GPU to have to do all the physics. the GPU is slower than the cpu. right now the cpu does the calculations. if we have the cpu stop doing the calculations and give them to the GPU how is this going to increase game performance? Does anyone else understand what i am saying?

With GPU's getting faster as often as they do...i dont think it will be a problem for long :) 

@ Whizzard9992 - Good post!

@ All - I will buy whatever does what i need it to.....Intel and AMD it don't matter they are all obsolete in a year (more like 2 months :)  )

Either way at the speed of todays CPU's the 20% difference is not as noticeable...after all if u run with V-Sync (60,75,85) then you are frame capped anyway....so do i need the 500 FPS in a game as opposed to the 300 fps i get now(don't come after me about a real 20% its just numbers i pulled of of my .....)? Once V-Sync hits it all 75(for me).

I just want CPU's to multi task better...i think more cores will be good. And may be the future...
June 13, 2006 9:37:49 PM

You just like to hear yourself talk, don't you?
June 13, 2006 9:47:08 PM

While it is true that physics does slow the system speed, the GPU doesn't have to do physics calcs. A coprocessor can do it better, or the CPU can do it (although not as well). The forcing the GPU to do it isn't the fault of your graphics card, its the programming.
June 13, 2006 9:51:11 PM

Quote:
You just like to hear yourself talk, don't you?


Yeah. I like the sound of my own voice. That's why I POST ONLINE. :roll:


Thanks everyone for keeping this post civil and providing quality comments.

I've found that most dyed-in-the-wool Intel fans are those that were around in the days of the K5, and still don't quite trust AMD. I personally like Intel because I've never once had a problem with their products, and I'm not looking to jump ship because of a nominal margin in performance. I also like how their chipsets work seamlessely with their processors. Every Intel I've ever had still works to this day (though I generally don't overclock). I was sold on the chipsets after Intel released the BX and TX series chipsets, and after I got burned by an SiS mobo. The i440BX really changed the landscape.

AMD is a good company with solid products and very intelligent people: both in engineering and marketing. They're a great competitor to Intel, and comeptition is always good for the consumer.

Between the ATI/nVidia rivalry and AMD/Intel, it's a good time to be an enthusiest.
June 13, 2006 10:02:34 PM

A brief what? Talk about a biased load of crap, full of inaccurate ramble.

Note:
From the time of K6 until Athlon 64 and Opteron, AMD bled red ink to the point that the company now only produces flash memory and x86 CPUs. That's it.

Quote:
Fast-forward past the PIII and the blue-man group to the P4, a.k.a Intel's folly. Intel's vision since the PIII was astronomical clock speeds, and it was thier hope that the P4 would carry the processor line to 5GHz and beyond.


AMD and Intel started the GHz race together. Remember the rush to 1 GHZ. AMD paper released the Athlon 1000 the day before Intel released theirs. At the time, a P3 Coppermine 1GHz dusted an Athlon 1GHz. When Intel switched to Netburst, thats when the 2 companies diverged. Intel could not get the manufacturing right for a 1.13 GHz P3 and thats when Willamette was born. P3 on that process had reached its thermal limit.

AMD continued the GHz race until the Athlon 1400 started melting steel, then AMD implemented the "efficient" processor slogan. They were equally guilty of making HOT processors. In fact the A1400 was one of the hottest processors ever. (Until the late model Prescotts.) AMD simply chose (was forced to choose) a more efficient design.
June 13, 2006 10:26:10 PM

Quote:
AMD has been the talk of the town since Cyrix and AMD went head-to-head with Intel and the 4x86 market


Do you not remember the 386 market?

I had a lovely AMD 386DX 40 and it ran as stable as Intel's 486's.
Those were the Win 3.xx days!

Always used AMD at home (cheaper) but always used Intel at work (others make those decisions!). Never had any problem with using either AMD or Intel except for the celeron, way too slow for my liking.
As for who is better or faster, who cares. If you lose 1 who will push the other!
June 13, 2006 10:26:55 PM

Quote:
A brief what? Talk about a biased load of crap, full of inaccurate ramble.

Note:
From the time of K6 until Athlon 64 and Opteron, AMD bled red ink to the point that the company now only produces flash memory and x86 CPUs. That's it.

Fast-forward past the PIII and the blue-man group to the P4, a.k.a Intel's folly. Intel's vision since the PIII was astronomical clock speeds, and it was thier hope that the P4 would carry the processor line to 5GHz and beyond.


AMD and Intel started the GHz race together. Remember the rush to 1 GHZ. AMD paper released the Athlon 1000 the day before Intel released theirs. At the time, a P3 Coppermine 1GHz dusted an Athlon 1GHz. When Intel switched to Netburst, thats when the 2 companies diverged. Intel could not get the manufacturing right for a 1.13 GHz P3 and thats when Willamette was born. P3 on that process had reached its thermal limit.

AMD continued the GHz race until the Athlon 1400 started melting steel, then AMD implemented the "efficient" processor slogan. They were equally guilty of making HOT processors. In fact the A1400 was one of the hottest processors ever. (Until the late model Prescotts.) AMD simply chose (was forced to choose) a more efficient design.

I fail to see where you corrected me.

The point of the article was to do a breif review of the processor battle between AMD and Intel, and wasn't meant to be plucked apart, dissected, and critisized line-by-line.

If something I posted was wrong, correct me. If you're just looking to add to the information, feel free. One could write a book detailing the processor war between the two companies, but that wasn't my intention.
June 13, 2006 10:57:36 PM

Hey, fatty! Here's an idea: Post under your real account next time and don't hide behind one that you created just to respond to something you see as biased. You lack the courage of your convictions.

Nice post, Whiz.
June 14, 2006 12:16:41 AM

Quote:
AMD continued the GHz race until the Athlon 1400 started melting steel. In fact the A1400 was one of the hottest processors ever.

Are you sure about that? I remember the days you speak of quite well because that was when I built my first computer. After poking around through some reviews here and on various gaming forums, I decided on an Athlon Thunderbird 1333, which I then overclocked to 1400. Never had any stability issues, and using a 60mm aluminum CPU cooler with cheap white thermal paste my temperature was steady at about 110F (fluctuation between idle and full load in games was marginal, 110 is more like an average). I ran the system that way for about two years until I upgraded to an Athlon XP 2800+ Barton core. That system, on the other hand, puts out some heat. My core temp is usually between 130F and 140F, and I'm running an 80mm all aluminum heatsink with Arctic Silver, the Thermaltake ducting mod, and far more case ventillation (5 80mm case fans) than my Tbird system had. With my references of comparison noted here, I can firmly now state that I really do not consider the Tbird 1400 to be a hot processor, nor did I at the time when I used one.

Side note...my Tbird system is still alive and has not become a figment of the past. Since it's a cool and reliable system, I use it as a dedicated game server at college, and just this past November I built a custom Lexan case to house it. The size is exactly 1cm larger in each dimension than a Shuttle SFF PC, yet it houses a full ATX motherboard with six expansion slots, a CD drive, and 1 hard drive (although I could fit one more). I'd post pics, but it's really not pertinent to this thread, so I'll just state that you can keep a look out for a new thread with pics some time in the next few days (most likely titled "My Custom Clear SFF ATX Computer Case").
EDIT: Correction, I just discovered that I have pictures already resized and uploaded to my school netspace, so I'll post up a thread of the clear case and my main gaming rig later this evening for anyone who is interested to see them.

Back on topic...good post Whizzard, interesting to read.

As I've said in this post already, I've been an AMD guy so far, as I'm pushing 2.5 years on my second AMD system. Unfortunately for AMD and luckily for intel, I bypassed the whole P4 space heater fiasco. I tend to buy what is fast and well priced, which so far for me has been AMD. Based upon intel's timing of launch and favorable benchmarks, however, it seems that I will have a Core 2 Duo system to take up to school with me this semester. I will most likely get an E6600, and I have talked my dad into an E6300 (he's still running an XP2000+). The only thing yet to be seen is how Cornrow (much better name than Conroe) does in strenuous multitasking and 64bit benchmarks compared to AMD's new lineup. I have seen all the benchmarks that have been linked in this forum, but my mind isn't made up until I've seen more. I'm not going to lie, I don't really trust intel, but once I've seen substantial proof through third party benchmarks that Core 2 Duo lives up to the hype, then I'll buy one.

Also, after reading about ATi's RD600 chipset, I really can't wait to buy a new system. I had been really hoping that ATi would come out with a kickass chipset for this next generation of products, and that seems to have come true. So, my next system is looking like (but not definitely) an E6700, an MSI motherboard (I'm a big MSI fan after owning 3 very nice motherboard from them) with Radeon XPress 3200 CrossFire chipset, 2GB DDR2-1066, Built-By-ATi X1900XT graphics, dual WD 500GB SATA2, Sound Blaster X-Fi, and so on. Yeah, I'm planning on making this system last 2.5 years just like my Athlon XP did :D 
June 14, 2006 12:28:32 AM

bump, good post
June 14, 2006 1:03:41 AM

Ok. Nice job.

Allow me some advice: Next time, try to use less adjectivation (sometimes, unwillingly, it shows biasing...). :wink:



Cheers!
June 14, 2006 1:28:05 AM

Wish there would be more posts like thin than the constant fanboy bitching.
I am a AMD guy mostly,,,, owned intels till Plll,,, still have a p lll & 8 AMD's.
I think both companies will continue to do well & not dominate the market like inted did for a long time again. I also hope other new players come into the market despite the difficulties they may face.
June 14, 2006 2:44:49 AM

Excellent writeup Wizzard! I too remember the 8088 days (actually my first was an MC6802). Intel was the only game in town after the 8088 then the blazing 6MHz 80286! My first AMD was a 25MHz 386SX and was it ever fast! My last Intel on a home built was a 486 DX2-66 and for a while a Dell XPS-P133. It's been AMD ever since with one Cyrix that was interesting but that's all. I missed the dreaded K5 but was thoroughly impressed with the K6-III, which relegated the L2 cache on the motherboard to L3 cache instead, similar to the older Pentium Pro. I've been thoroughly pleased with AMDs prices and performance. It took the Athlon to enable AMD's long hard climb through years of red ink until recently to become effectively profitable. That is now potentially threatened by Conroe yet remains to be seen (July 26th!).

Competition has been a good thing for the entire industry. It has led to countless advancements, kept prices in check and placed incredibly powerful computing devices in the hands of the average consumer. It has indeed been a very bumpy though exciting ride thus far. I hope it continues, much like it has, for many generations to come.
June 14, 2006 4:44:26 AM

Quote:
Yeah. I like the sound of my own voice. That's why I POST ONLINE.


It was a figure of speech.

And there's about 800 identical posts to yours. I think it's great that you wasted ur time writing something that's just going to fall off the map, but we don't really need another AMD & Intel history lesson.

That's what Wikipedia is for.

But carry on sir... ur not hurting anyone and these forums are open to everyone's opinions.
June 14, 2006 5:43:08 AM

Quote:
Allow me some advice: Next time, try to use less adjectivation (sometimes, unwillingly, it shows biasing...). :wink:


Very good point. Thanks :) 


Thanks for all the great replies. I tried not to misconstrue anything through abstraction (I didn't want to make the post too long.)

One thing I'll never forget is the joy of the new Computer Shopper Bible, erm, encyclopedia, erm, magazine :)  I'd flip through that thing cover-to-cover every month. I still have one laying around with "233 MHz!" on the cover :) 
!