AMD processors are better for number crunching (statistics and science stuff) than P4, at least within the context of lower-priced laptops, which is what I want. I've been told P4's were designed more for 3-D graphics, multimedia, etc, (which I never will need) and Athlons more for floating-point number calculations which is what my statistical and GIS software are doing.
Basically, I need the cheapest reliable laptop that can take lots of RAM and will run my software with big data sets. Pentium or Athlon, not Celeron. No graphics, no animation, no games, no networking. Willing to sacrifice light weight and long battery time for cost. Prefer 5400 rpm hard drive if possible. Last week in this forum I was considering Dell but if Athlon is same or better than P4 I will go with Compaq since it is much much cheaper - maybe $400 (!)
Although I am a Dell 'supporter', the Athlon is simply much better at number crunching -or floating point operations. It is really just the design, The athlon has 3 parallel Floating Point Units just as an example: In my tests I have found that it takes a Pentium 4-m 1.7GHz 130seconds to render a 20MB Jpeg Image with a Spherical filter, whereas it takes an Athlon THUNDERBIRD 1.4GHz 64sec and a AthlonXP 2000+ 50sec to render the exact same image. This is just number crunching.
Similarly in PCMark2002's Number Crunching "Blit Test" the P4-m 1.7GHz, AthlonXP 2000+ (1667MHz) Mobile score:
Who's General Failure and why's he reading my disk?