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December 17, 2003 5:36:44 AM

The 64-Bit Question
AMD has built the world's fastest PC. Should you buy one?
By Paul Boutin
Posted Friday, Oct. 24, 2003, at 7:49 AM PT


For status-conscious PC owners, it's time to toss the Pentium. A new 64-bit Athlon CPU from AMD was dubbed the "fastest ever" last month by PC World magazine. Racing a few AMD-equipped computers against Intel's latest Pentium 4 models, the magazine deemed the Athlon 64s a good 10 percent faster overall.

AMD, long a distant second to Intel in the microprocessor business, is gunning for more than the pure speed crown. The company claims its 64-bit chip will launch a new era of "cinematic computing," the term used by makers of graphics cards to suggest computer animation so rich it looks like video. But boilerplate hyperbole doesn't answer the basic questions: What exactly is a 64-bit CPU? More important, should you buy one?

First, the 64-bit question. A CPU is the computer's central processing unit (you probably knew that), where most of the computing gets done. Sixty-four bits is the measure of the chip's word length, the maximum number of bits (the basic 1's and 0's of digital data) that will fit into each of the chip's internal registers. (Registers are where programming instructions and incoming data are placed in order to perform calculations with them.)


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Current CPUs for PCs have eight registers that hold 32 bits each, which imposes two limits on them. First, they can't access more than 4 gigabytes of RAM. That's because each byte (a byte is eight bits, treated as one chunk of data) of RAM has a unique address number that needs to fit into one register. Since each bit has at most two possible values—0 or 1—a 32-bit PC can handle 232 addresses, which multiplies out to 4 gigabytes of RAM. Upgrading to 64-bit registers lets the chip access 264 bytes—that's 18 billion gigabytes, more RAM than exists on the entire planet.

Second, on a 32-bit machine, numbers that run longer than 32 bits (for example, fussy values of pi) require lots of juggling in order to perform calculations. That slows down computer-aided engineering and animation, corporate data mining, and other number-crunching applications. It adds bugs, too, as these overlong numbers are shuffled among registers. Upping the register size to 64 bits is like widening the freeway, which is why high-end servers and professional graphics workstations moved to 64-bit processors years ago.

On our desktops, though, most of us haven't had a pressing need for the upgrade. A 64-bit CPU won't make Microsoft Office run any faster, and it doesn't speed up e-mail or Web surfing. It won't help anyone this side of Warren Buffett with the family spreadsheets. That's why Intel decided not to develop a 64-bit Pentium, putting its efforts instead into a 64-bit chip called Itanium meant to run specialized applications in corporate backrooms rather than consumer software on home PCs.

AMD is pushing the 64-bit label in hopes that, like Microsoft shrugging off the Internet fad a decade ago, Intel has woefully misjudged the demands of its customers. There's also the hope that computer buyers will treat 64-bit computers like they do computers with more gigahertz—they don't know what it is, but they assume that more is better.

But right now, there are only two obvious uses for a 64-bit PC at home: games and video. For video, doubling the CPU's word size means the billions of bits in a movie can be encoded and decoded more efficiently, enabling higher resolutions and faster editing.

Games work differently. A separate graphics chip renders the videolike images, while the CPU usually calculates the behavior, position, and motion of each object in the game—whether it's the physics of a bouncing ball or the sneaky moves of a robot adversary. Game programmers say the problem with Pentiums isn't that they have 32-bit registers, but that they have only eight of them. The new Athlon tackles that, too, sporting 16 double-wide registers. Rebuilt 64-bit editions of games will be able to use those extra registers to calculate more realistic motion and faster-thinking opponents.

So, the buyer's guide is easy. If you absolutely must get a new PC now and want the fastest available, AMD has the season's hot chip. Keep in mind, however, that its raw speed has nothing to do with the fact that its word length is 64 bits. The era of "cinematic computing" won't kick in until there's software written for the chip's 64-bit capabilities and its extra set of registers. If you have to buy a PC now, you might as well buy a 64-bit one, so you're not disappointed when Microsoft (which owns Slate) puts out its 64-bit Windows XP sometime next year, or when the game-makers flood next year's holiday shopping season with 64-bit titles.

But if you can wait, there's no rush. Save your money for Christmas 2004. By then, not only will there be software that shows off your computer's eye-popping capacity, but also—and just as important—your $3,000 will buy a much more powerful Athlon.


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More about : amd

December 17, 2003 5:49:33 AM

Way to cut and paste...now if only a 64-bit Windows would come out already, then I'd buy one (well, actually two Opterons).

Intel's x86-64 processor is supposedly 'right around the corner' (Q4 '04 or Q1 '05, in reality), which is when I'd expect 64-bit Windows (well, late Q3 '04 for this) and drivers for 64-bit (probably won't be complete enough until Q2 '05, if I had to guess) to be released, so we'll see then. But, if I had to get a computer now, I would definitely get said Opteron system (provided the funds were available).

BTW, where did you cut and paste this from? AMD's website?!

Oh yeah, this still doesn't count for truthful posts, IMO, because you didn't write a single bit of it!!

Damn Rambus.
December 17, 2003 6:50:52 AM

I got the article right from MSN....You know Microsoft.

http://slate.msn.com/id/2090247/

People have preferences but the AMD64's to date seem to be kicking lots of Bit's and bite's around and yes there is little in the way of software available for them to CRUNCH numbers on.

But we have been hearing some real horror stories about Intel's Hyper Threading technology and even the guys posting here at Tom's have sluffed most of the problems the Hyper Threading is having on the software not being compatible or written yet that can properly support this new technology.
Ok that could be a valid issue....AMD does not use Hyper Threading BUT!! Why are the new AMD CPU's not having any problems.

We can also imagine that Intel will bring out their 64 Bit CPU but hey don't you think AMD is thinking the same thing ? Buy the time Intel has a new 64 Bit CPU out AMD will have another generation ready.

It's like this if 1 Submarine has 4 torpedo tubes and one has 8 tubes and both get into a under sea fight the Sub with 8 tubes will win. Why is because if the first sub fires 4 torpedoes at the other sub the other sub fires 4 torpedoes to intercept the 4 incoming torpedoes and that leaves the first sub with EMPTY torpedo tubes...At this point the Sub that has 4 more torpedoes ready to fire launches them at the primary target the other submarine.

So now the first Sub shot its load of 4 torpedoes and the targeted second sub has fired 4 torpedoes back as counter measures but at the same time they still have 4 ready that they now fire and kill the first submarine because they had empty tubes.

Got that from a good book I am reading but it shows a perfect example of how INTEL for years has had an edge on AMD but some times the little guy gets the upper hand and now AMD is OWNING Intel in so many ways especially in the time line to market.

So as Intel has a few bad torpedoes (Hyper Threading) that has kept them in DRY DOCK for the last year AMD has gotten ahead with the AMD 64's and now have a real lead on Intel.


Intel is facing problems on 2 fronts bad Hyper Threading problems in the currently released CPU's and the problem of completing a new 64 design and getting it released.

Lets just say Intel is taking on water under very high pressure and they are facing a CRUSH DEPTH situation.

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December 17, 2003 3:10:38 PM

The Intel Submarine...Intel has so many torpedoes after them they are keeping their head down and running fast and deep they are out of the gases that keep them afloat and it would seem they are going to hit CRUSH DEPTH very soon.

Intel's 90-nm process ramping, readies Prescott chip


By Mark LaPedus

EE Times
December 15, 2003 (10:10 a.m. ET)


SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Looking to beat its rivals to the punch, Intel Corp. is currently ramping up its new 90-nm process technology, with product shipments due by year end, as previously planned, according to officials from the microprocessor giant.
Intel is somewhat ahead of rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in the 90-nm, x86-based processor race, according to analysts. AMD has shown prototypes of its 90-nm processors, but the company is not expected to ramp up production until the second half of 2004 after encountering some process technology delays.
Intel, which claims its own process is on schedule, initially plans to ship a 90-nm version of its Pentium 4 microprocessor, code-named Prescott. This 32-bit processor is expected to be one of the fastest ramping products in the company's history, said Brian Fravel, Intel's director of desktop marketing.

"The 90-nm technology is up and running," Fravel said. "We have parts coming out of the fab right now. We're going to have revenue shipments this quarter," he said in an interview with Silicon Strategies.
Intel has big plans with Prescott, which is aimed for both the consumer and business markets, he said. "We are going to ship extraordinary large quantities of the part next year," he said.
Still, there are some issues lingering with the chip. There are reports that Intel's Prescott processor is experiencing thermal problems and is running at a whopping 103 watts. Reports have also surfaced that Intel has delayed its next-generation mobile processor, dubbed Dothan, although the company has denied those rumors. Dothan is a 90-nm version of Intel's current mobile processor, called Centrino.
"Thermal is an engineering challenge," Fravel said in the addressing the reports. "We are pretty confident that we have a solution to address the thermal issues."
Some believe the issues will be resolved later than sooner. "Prescott, the 90-nm successor to P4, and Dothan, has been sharply clock rate reduced, from 2.8-plus-GHz, to 2.2 to 2.4 GHz, both signs of lingering thermal issues," said analyst Rick Whittington of American Technology Research Inc., in a recent report.
"While we fully expect Intel to steadily ease its heat dissipation/power consumption issues on its 90-nm process, its principal cost reductions look to come from a rapid 300-mm full transition in the near term with clock rate enhanced 90-nm production more in 2H '04 and 2005," Whittington said in the report.

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December 17, 2003 7:03:46 PM

I hate you. For one, you are amazingly ignorant...I think Shadus and others are onto something: you are another one of Poopy's accounts. Anyway, that's here nor there, onto showing how stupid you are.

Quote:
But we have been hearing some real horror stories about Intel's Hyper Threading technology and even the guys posting here at Tom's have sluffed most of the problems the Hyper Threading is having on the software not being compatible or written yet that can properly support this new technology.
Ok that could be a valid issue....AMD does not use Hyper Threading BUT!! Why are the new AMD CPU's not having any problems.

First of all, do you have ANY clue what the [-peep-] you are talking about?! I'm starting to believe that you think AMD's HyperTransport technology was meant to compete with Intel's Hyper Threading! Just because they have the initials HT does NOT mean that they are at all related. AMD's HyperTrasport is simply the bus interface for components and parallel processing. Intel's Hyper Threading is dual processor emulation!

Intel's HT has bugs, undeniably so. HOWEVER, those bugs are not related to the technology (which I find to be a tremendous help and started making me think about two actual processors for future computers), but rather to the software. If a piece of code has errors and is run in a standard single CPU setting, those errors may not arise. But when that piece of code (with errors) is run on a multithreaded (which hyperthreading does) system, the errors often show their ugly faces. Also, some programs are simply not written for multithreading, which doesn't necessarily cause bugs, but just means that HT will not be utilized while using that program.

Most new technologies, especially radical ones, have problems at first. Just as new software needs to be written for x86-64, some software needs to be cleaned up to run on MT systems to run properly.

Quote:
We can also imagine that Intel will bring out their 64 Bit CPU but hey don't you think AMD is thinking the same thing ? Buy the time Intel has a new 64 Bit CPU out AMD will have another generation ready.

It's not like Intel is going to release a 64-bit 3.06GHz P4B in '05 and hope for it to be competitive...they aren't dumb. That would be like saying AMD would release (rather than the current Hammers) Thoroughbred As with 64-bit extensions. I fully anticipate that Intel has something significant up their sleeves with Yamhill, maybe one based off of Scotty, maybe a processor based off of Tejas: neither of us know. I also fully expect San Diego (AMD's next gen) to be nothing short of amazing, in fact, I look forward to potentially purchasing a pair of them--I'm not an all out Intelliot, I just make sure that your ignorance to the fact that Intel is a massive, rich, powerful and heavy-in-R&D company does not go unnoticed.

Quote:
It's like this if 1 Submarine has 4 torpedo tubes and one has 8 tubes and both get into a under sea fight the Sub with 8 tubes will win. Why is because if the first sub fires 4 torpedoes at the other sub the other sub fires 4 torpedoes to intercept the 4 incoming torpedoes and that leaves the first sub with EMPTY torpedo tubes...At this point the Sub that has 4 more torpedoes ready to fire launches them at the primary target the other submarine.

You must really think Intel is dumb. Would they ever release a processor that simply didn't make the cut? I frankly imagine this battle to be 1000 vs. 1002 torpedos, and not all from each side are going to get intercepted...two from one of the companies (I don't plan on predicting which) will push them to the top for that battle, however.

Quote:
Got that from a good book I am reading but it shows a perfect example of how INTEL for years has had an edge on AMD but some times the little guy gets the upper hand and now AMD is OWNING Intel in so many ways especially in the time line to market.

Look at market share... AMD doesn't own Intel! Also, wait a few months, Scotty looks like he can take on Hammer pretty well...comparing P4C to A64 just ain't right (I'm not saying that because A64 is winning, but rather because P4C is old-tech while A64 is new-tech [I think EE vs. FX isn't fair either, and there is no clear performance winner there {FX would get my vote because of price, however}]). I don't even think AXP to P4C is fair, P4C is in a class all of it's own, meant to kill the same AXPs that killed the P4Bs. In fact, I would like to change my comparision remarks, I think it IS fair! Let me just put it this way: A64>P4C<b>></b>AXP>P4B. Each company takes their turn, getting as much market share as possible, which is great for us consumers.

Quote:
Intel is facing problems on 2 fronts bad Hyper Threading problems in the currently released CPU's and the problem of completing a new 64 design and getting it released.

Back to my previous point: you don't know what you are talking about! HT is great, ever used it?! I would get an FX if it encorporated HT (or any other type of multithreading), disregarding my highly anticipated dualie San Diego. Also, what is the rush into the 64-bit market, nothing can use it!?! Frankly, I don't even see a big push forward in 64-bit development (in terms of software and drivers) until Intel puts their foot in the door and makes their presence felt.

Quote:
Lets just say Intel is taking on water under very high pressure and they are facing a CRUSH DEPTH situation.

Not exactly, see above.



Damn Rambus.
December 17, 2003 8:22:02 PM

Well Vapor hates me I guess for copy pasting information written by other authors who's names I included in the posts.

I guess what he really means is he hates the truth those authors are telling him.

Besides hate is such a strong word to use and I can't ever remembering calling him names lol. I think Vapor hates to much perhaps we should make him work with the homeless over the holiday season.

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December 17, 2003 8:26:08 PM

What 'truth' would that be?

<font color=red> If you design software that is fool-proof, only a fool will want to use it. </font color=red>
December 17, 2003 8:37:07 PM

Quote:
Well Vapor hates me I guess for copy pasting information written by other authors who's names I included in the posts.

Yup, I hate you... Anyway, give us clickies from now on. I didn't even consider taking you up on plagarism, but rather you being annoying posting pre-made trolling. You don't even have to think, just Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, click, Ctrl+V.

Quote:
I guess what he really means is he hates the truth those authors are telling him.

Not really, I fully expect both companies to come out strong in this competition, I will buy whichever performs better. I just hate how you manipulate it to seem that one company has been sitting on their asses drinking light beer for the past year...

Quote:
Besides hate is such a strong word to use and I can't ever remembering calling him names lol. I think Vapor hates to much perhaps we should make him work with the homeless over the holiday season.

I haven't called you names either...just played with the idea that you maybe somebody else. Oh yeah, I already donate a lot of time and money to shelters and to organizations for under-privileged children.

Damn Rambus.
December 17, 2003 8:53:54 PM

"What 'truth' would that be?"

To understand his truth, you must convert to AMDism. In AMDism, AMD is likened unto God, and holds the fourth position in the holy quadrinity.

Intel, on the otherhand, is the right hand of lucifer, and is in fact, the anti-christ. The battle right now between AMD and Intel is a holy war. The TRUTH is that AMD is superior in every way shape and form, and that Intel is inferior in every way shape and form.

But it's time for humanity to pick a side. Those who stand with AMD will enter into everlasting 64bit computing. Those who stand with Intel will be cast into the lake of 32bit computing, prepared for Intel and its adherents from before the begining of computing.

Those faithful to AMD will be raptured up to meet AMD in the air, to wage war against Intel and the whole world who followed them into 32bit darkness. They will fight for the holy city(Silicon Valley), and in the end, AMD shall overcome, and bring 64bit computing to the whole world. And there will be no more weeping(at slow 32bit computing) and gnahsing of teeth(waiting for 32bit computers to finish their jobs).

I hate fanboys.

<i>The wrath of penguins shall be felt. No windows shall be left unbroken.</i>
December 17, 2003 9:20:42 PM

Fact is though, that while it maybe a big wow on the epenis stakes, a 64Bit cpu on the desktop is not much good without 64 bit software. Until that happens AMD and Intel are still going to be pushing a brute force approach to get performance..eg..more MHz, more Cache, faster FSB and RAM. Ok, it works, but I'm a Java developer and I can't help but feel that such an approach is inelegant.
December 17, 2003 10:38:55 PM

I know you Scott Stevens I fixed your computer one day you had it in my shop as I recall I replaced a ribbon cable for you.
Can you remember who I am ? I also sold you a new (Used) Floppy drive.

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December 17, 2003 10:42:09 PM

Please don't Cry Vapor Light beer is all you got in America,
Another true fact!!

If you want a real beer come to Canada and OH if you want a real CPU go AMD ;) 

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December 18, 2003 4:26:37 AM

AMD is like that trendy underground band that everyone really likes.. but everyone tends to act as if they are the only ones who know about it.

Intel is that overplayed radio band that you wish they would just shut the [-peep-] up, but they just play it more and more.

Basically if you aren't the inbetweener who just benefits from the competition.. you're just stuck being a fanboy who becomes disgruntled.
And just becuase an author writes something or it's just something you read off the internet doesn't make it true.
I could tell you that America is under rule by a Tyrant and we supported Al Queda all day long.. and nobody here will believe me.

Nothing against anybody on these forums.. just another one of my random inputs.

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December 18, 2003 4:30:38 AM

Heh.. just thought i'd say i enjoyed your post.

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December 18, 2003 6:28:29 AM

I am not going to say I believe you that the US is under a tyrant I think Bush for all his faults including executing innocent men as they found out later.

Not all his fault you know he had advisers and judges in the supreme courts telling him as Governor that those men were guilty. There is not a night that goes by he does not think about those men and I bet you he prays for them in his own way and for his self as well.

There are many people out to deface America and I am not one of them it is a great country and Canada should join the US and make North America the strongest Country in the world but as we all can understand that already happened we just keep the boarder-up so we can cross boarder shop ;) 

Some people have said openly that the US in secret plans are really the ones responsible for having the trades knocked down. They trained every one of those terrorists in back ally flight schools and let them get into the planes so they could do the job.

When people get up in the morning aside from Saddam they don't think of doing things that absurd. There is no way even to make a reason for attacking Iraq to get the Oil that the US would commit such genocide on its self in fact the men that make the real decisions in the US are all Frat Boys they are all part of a clan or order that goes back since the founding of the US they have sworn oaths together when they were in select university dorms.
Not a single one of those men is above reproach the others would have him killed for trying an 8 ball deal like that.

Congress and the presidency are all protected within themselves and if you believe in conspiracy theories JFK was assassinated for no other reason then the Kennedy boys used the Munro Woman then drugged and killed her. They walked outside the line and the frat boys had them taken out for it.

I said it before religions that are abused by terrorists on this planet to commit terrorism and abuse peoples rights are out of date. Those societies have had the same amount of time since the last ICE-AGE to wake-up and smell the coffee, mankind cannot live on this planet unless it is ruled by a governing power or powers that can distribute the planets resources for the betterment of mankind not its destruction.

Book I was reading told me that there were hundreds of tactical submarines roaming around the Pacific and Atlantic oceans during the cold war each attack sub could hold up to 60 torpedoes and each of those torpedoes could have a tactical nuke equal to 1 to 50 kilotons.

Imagine a war where simply the attack sub could boil the ocean off the planet in a dog fight never mind the Missile subs that carried the continental nukes..........

God the world had to change some one had to back down and you can thank Russia for doing it they realized that Communism was not going to work in the face of a cold war and they were losing control of the resources they had, so they stopped the cold war tore down the wall put the subs in dry dock tore them apart.

They gave the US an opportunity to make the world a better place and that is exactly what the American Government is doing.
Not Bush, Bush has to make the call stand in front of the people but its the ones behind him that make the reality calls.

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December 18, 2003 7:47:58 AM

" it is a great country and Canada should join the US and make North America the strongest Country in the world"

First off, the US doesn't need Canada to be the strongest country in the world. There are some impressive things about Canada, and it's military might is not one of them.

Second, if we did join, where in the hell would I be able to run to when the draft starts again? Mexico? I think not.

We need Canada seperate. It's got cheaper prescription drugs, it harbors draft dodgers, and its beer, though vastly inferior to American beers, isn't half bad. I mean, it's almost as good as bud light, but nowhere near as good as the ones our micro breweries put out.

I know, some may take issue with this. Bud Light compared with the typical canadian beer is practically a stout, but I'm trying to be nice.

<i>The wrath of penguins shall be felt. No windows shall be left unbroken.</i>
December 18, 2003 1:26:02 PM

Can you tell me what the hell submarines, international politics, and beer have to do with CPUs? If not, take it to the 'Other' forum.

<font color=red> If you design software that is fool-proof, only a fool will want to use it. </font color=red>
December 18, 2003 3:09:35 PM

Scott Stevens is a pretty common name...there's a hockey player named Scott Stevens and two in the white pages here.

As for the fact that you deceived a customer, that's illegal (well maybe not in Canada, but here in the U.S. it is).

Damn Rambus.
December 18, 2003 3:13:06 PM

That is so true...not that I would know at my age or anything :redface: .

Damn Rambus.
December 18, 2003 3:26:25 PM

Canadian beer is REALLY bad, not that America's is much better. Go to Europe if you want good beer, I'll go with whatever is the best processor come upgrade time.

Damn Rambus.
December 18, 2003 3:31:39 PM

ROFLMAO!!!!

Damn Rambus.
!