A new look at P4 vs Athlon

Many people are arguing about which is better, the P4 or Athlon. I myself was gonna buy an AMD DDR system when they become available. However, with these new benchmarks being released I had to sit and think about which one I should actually get. I came up with a conclusion that I believe is pretty valid, although there is still not enough information to back it up, and I myself question it, but it is nonetheless interesting.

Both the Athlon and P4 are very fast when running current applications of any kind, getting one processor instead of the other does not determine if the program will work or not, but only small performance differences like a few fps, which is not noticable. Therefore performance on current applications is irrelevant really.

Now, one must look into the future. Assuming people start to support SSE2, which I think they will, the P4 will have a much longer lifespan, because its performance will improve significantly.

If this sounds confusing, sorry, i'm not a writer. But to sum it all up, when system requirements on applications grow closer to 1 GHZ and up, thats when the performance will really matter. Since, by that time SSE2 will probably be part of most applications, the P4 enjoys a significant benefit that Athlon users will not.

Post your opinions on my thoughts. Cause this is seriously starting to make me think of just going and buying a P4 instead of the Athlon DDR i originally intended.

-Jason "MilkDud" Falk
27 answers Last reply
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  1. And about the time SSE2 optimized software starts coming out athlon will have it on board so the delima gets even more confusing! But as long as the competition keeps up prices will fall and the choice will become easier.Well maybe harder like a kid in a candy store who can only have 1 but wants it all.Things will only get better and faster.

    If the fat lady's singing at least shes losing weight.<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Zyphoid on 11/25/00 11:11 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
  2. Of course AMD will have SSE2 on board by then, but if you are buying a processor NOW!, they don't! Thefore, you would not have the usefulness of SSE2 until you buy a new system really... Thats the point I am trying to make.

    -Jason "MilkDud" Falk
  3. OK I was confused because I thought you were pointing out the benefits of sse2 in the future and the hardware it will run on.
    "Since, by that time SSE2 will probably be part of most applications, the P4 enjoys a significant benefit that Athlon users will not".
    Which means that some athlon users will wait for SSE2 optimized athlons .

    If the fat lady's singing at least shes losing weight.
  4. "getting one processor instead of the other does not determine if the program will work or not, but only small performance differences like a few fps, which is not noticable. Therefore performance on current applications is irrelevant really."
    by FPS you mean 3D Games? I think the reason why the difference is only a few FPS is because of the graphics card. nVidia's NV20 with Athlon 900Mhz should be kicking a P4 + GF2 Ultra real bad here at high quality + high resolution situation...

    "one must look into the future. Assuming people start to support SSE2, which I think they will, the P4 will have a much longer lifespan,.."
    that is, if you ignore the significant price premium of a P4 system and make sure you don't run CAD program or do 3D animation where the P4 performance might drop all the way to Celeron level...:(
    if your current system is not so shabby, why not just add a bit more ram to it or upgrade the graphics card to give it a bit more "life span" since next year's giga hertz race is just going to get much much hotter. You could pick up a 2Ghz P4 with all bugs sorted out probably at the same price of the current P4 :)
  5. nope, I don't think Athlon will ever get SSE2 support, and even if it really does, it'd be no better than it could run under 3DNow! optimised situation.
    Hammer series should have SSE2 support alright...how good? we will see...
  6. One thing you're forgetting is that you can't just buy a P4 system and expect to experience the miracle of SSE2 optimziations that day. It's going to take time for new versions of applications to come out that support SSE2, even just simple recompiles. By the time this happens the picture may have changed as well. The average major App takes about 12-18 months to develop, major ones may patch sooner for SSE2 support. But if you're talking up to 12 month waits, then not only will AMD also have SSE2 support you'll be looking to upgrade again anyway to 3ghz or whatever.

    My point is, buy the cpu that runs what you use now, and let the future work itself out. I can't get the SSE2 FlaskMPEG (though I wish I could), and 200fps over 150fps in 640x480 Q3 does not impress me in the least anymore. I don't think I'd even take the P4 at the same price, let alone a higher one right now. In a year? We'll see.
  7. muhahahahha
    typical amd bargin bin bitch back where you've always been.
    price performace/ration who gives a [-peep-] its all about performace.
    amd locks
    intel rocks
  8. Intell has already come out and said this p4 is only a "transitional CPU" six moths down the road they are going to all but abandon it, so upgrading your system if you opt for the p4 will not be even a proposition. Quite honestly, I own both an athlon and a p3, don't consider myself biased in either direction. Post's like the above does intel more of a disservice by making there user's look more like idiots than informed knowledgeable customers. All you need to do is to look at todays current trends, buying a CPU today, for tommorrow is a risky proposition at best. Buy a CPU for today so you can use it today, be it intel or AMD. Also bear in mind that with intel's re-compilation of FlasK Mpeg the Athalon itself also reaped nice perfrmance gains as well and it is not SSE2 ( makes you wonder what a 3dnow re-comp would do). So many times have I read of Tom's alledged bias, but to use a bench test exspecially re-compiled by intel seems more to be bending over backwards to see the p4 in a positve light does it not? If intel truly had there customers best interest at heart they would have given you both a nice fpu for today and SSE2 for tomorrow. And to be fair, If AMD had there customers best interest at heart they would give you CPU's with thermal protection.

    A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing!
  9. "by that time SSE2 will probably be part of most applications, the P4 enjoys a significant benefit".

    By that time we will have much faster processors (AMD or Intel).

  10. Buying a P4 with SSE2 is like buying a motherboard with an AMR slot. Nothing uses it yet.

    What's the point of paying 600 more dollars for SSE2, then waiting for stuff to actually <i>support</i> SSE2? By the time applications actually use SSE2, the ClawHammer and SludgeHammer by AMD will be out and will kick anything Intel has.

    Intel is just trying to make futile attemps to attract back customers, and it isn't working.

    To the person that started this thread, don't forget the P4 needs RDRAM memory which sucks and is 2x or more money than SDRAM or DDR SDRAM.
  11. What are you talking about?! Price/performance is good and all, but athlon still over all outperforms and is at a better price. And besides that wasn't the key point of this discussion anyway. And what's with all these "(-peep-)" things people keep writing. Seriously- if you have to cuss, then do it. As if swearing doesn't make your argument look uneducated and pointless to read on its own, throw a "peep" in there and it really looks like useless banter from and uninformed unarticulate source.
  12. Oh yeah! It's all about Performance? Maybe if you're a 16 year old kid living with parents who make 100k+ a year and don't have to worry about "simple" things like paying rent or buying food. Why in god's name would the average American pay $500 more for a product that offers little or no performance gain in the software they use? This is forgetting the whole fact the product is incompatible with their current computer, and I'm not talking about obvious things like the mainboard. You need a new power supply and most likely a new case(unless you like drilling). Then there is the fact that the next planned revision for their product will be incompatible with the previous one, and the whole product line is planned to be phased out in a year and a half. And about the whole thing with SSE2 optimizations, AMD's Athlon Tbirds have 3Dnow!+ extensions, but they don't bitch and moan about how much better their product would be when optimized for. Agreed it is true that the SSE2 optimizations are far more likely to happen, but that's a credit to the superiority of Intel's Marketing Division and its Market Dominance, not to its product's inherent superiority
  13. Well, we all get into these dilemas don't we.

    18 months ago a friend of mine wanted me to build him a new system: but which way to go. At the end of the day, we all want biggest bang for the $ so I suggested, given his needs, socket7 AMD K6-500. He took alternative advive and ended up going Intel [well its the industry standars isn't it] and spending a lot more money. Ok Intel, slot 1 for long-tem upgradability. Now he wants to upgrade - slot1 is virtually obsolete. Meanwhile, My cheap socket 7 AMD 500 is still faster than his Intel celeron, and it was cheaper!

    At the end of the day, you pay your money & take your chance - when I upgrade it will likewise have to be a new motherboard 'cos there isn't much further to go on socket7. But given this saga, unless i have some special need which demands a particular CPU/setup specification, I'll go for the cheapest, and that will probably be AMD. But at the end of the day, they are both rich multimationals ripping us all off: Both of them turn out products which generally deliver [unlike Microsoft]. What is it with these 'intel-v-AMD' champions. Cheap is best, if it works, and quite often it works longer. If it works for you & you can afford it, OK, but I don't want an Athlon 1000 or a Pentium 4 for mainly word processing tasks - it's what you need that determins your choice.
  14. JG, you proved my point.
  15. I'm in a similar predicament... I'm in the process of putting together a new system. I've made the decision to go with the AMD. Why? One, the apps I use now work well with it. Two, the price is right.

    I've found that, on average, I replace my somputer every two years. I usually invest around $2,000. I have different needs than the majority of the people who use this board (Audio). However, the fact remains that I can get good performance at a reasonable price with the AMD. In 2002... We'll see how things have gone. The future of the industry will effect my choices in the future. The industry right now will effect my choices NOW.

    The prospects of future developments reminds me of the argument I used to use when I was a kid... "But Mom! Why should I make my bed? I'm just gonna mess it up again when I go to bed tonight!"

  16. > by that time SSE2 will probably be part of most applications

    Very few programs will use much SSE2, just as very few programs today use FP (or MMX or 3DNOW or SIMD). Calculating numbers is a tiny part of what 99% of computers in use do, so just a little integer calculation in a program is sufficient, nothing that any optimization such as SSE2 would improve on the running time. If you are a 3D gamer, your needs will be different. Ironicaly while the CPUs have implemented special instructions to facilitate 3D, the video chip makers have implemented the functions on the video chip in an even faster and more efficient manner. If I have read the GeForce reviews correctly, the frame rates at low resolutions are phenomenal, while those at high resolutions are held back by the video chip, and nothing the CPU can do helps much. It seems that all the 3D stuff is being moved to the video chip. Physics and strategy remain in CPU territory, but physics may be moved to the video chip too.

    Realistically, buying anything faster than a Duron 700 gets you very, very little, and this is likely to remain true for at least a couple of years. I personally do not know anyone slightly interested in encoding MPEG4, although I'm sure there are several thousand in the on-line Internet community. This may all change in a few years. But I'm not willing to put up an extra $500 to do so, IAC. In a year or two, if MPEG4 becomes the rage, I may spend an extra $50 for a CPU that is a bit better than what probably the entry level CPUs will do at that time.
    Both Intel and AMD are trying to sell average people CPUs they have very little use for. Intel- because that is what has alway kept them the market leader in the past, and has withered the competition by driving the CPU price for other makers too low to make a profit. AMD- because they need the same media hype that Intel receives to move their CPU price into profit-making territory. AMD has no choice but to match, and exceed by a little, and they will certainly do so, or die trying. The odd thing is that Intel left AMD just a little breathing room as they focused on the Itanium.
  17. Hi amdsuxcock,

    >typical amd bargin bin bitch back where you've always been.
    price performace/ration

    Up to this point I thought I had found a forum with a high level of discourse.

    > who gives a [-peep-] its all about performace.

    Just about everyone with a brain. Sorry! That's something you wouldn't know about. Again, I apologize. I didn't mean to mention the word "brain" in your presence.

    Happy fellatio, Mr. amdsuxcock.
  18. AMD IS the price/performance choice you nitwit! What are you using? An original socket 7? Get with it already. If you can't get an AMD based system to work, you need to choose a different hobby. Maybe knitting? Sorry, that might be a little complicated for you. I will continue letting my Duron based system beat your price/performance argument into the ground.
  19. I think most of us agree that a P4 will see a performance boost when new software is realeased in about a year or so. Why should we care about how a CPU will run future applications? The "lifetime" of the system really depends on it, right?

    I don't think so...

    Personally, I tend to upgrade about once a year. This has pretty much always been to a new CPU and motherboard and oftern the video card, with smaller upgrades scattered around the rest of the time. I could care less how the chip I buy today will run next year's stuff, because I probably won't be using it anymore!

    OK, so many people don't upgrade often. At work I use a P1-166, and I'm one of the lucky people! How does it run today's software? I dunno... We still use Win95, Word/Excel97, and the like. I think most people who keep old hardware also keep old software.

    So why should anyone care how well the chip will run future software? Beats me! :) I bought a T-Bird 900 this year, to replace my old Celeron 366. The Celeron fit the job and the tight budget last year, but doesn't cut it today. If the P4 has the software, real performance and value, and AMD is falling short next year, I'd buy a P4 then. But I see no reason for anyone to buy one right now.
  20. SSE2 will be introduced on AMD hammer proiducts = very long wait =)

    SSE2 applications are being developed as we speak, Ill post a link to our finished SSE2 optimized demos when available.

    Anyone who is doing modeling or 3D rendering will be pleasently supprised with current projects near completion.
  21. Excactly. SSE2 has been long anticipated and people have been waiting and waiting to add it. Everyone with half a brain developing 3D applications will jump on SSE2 so fast that you'll see a dust cloud for years to come.

    RDRAM sucks isn't even a valid statement anymore. It did. Or more correctly, it sucks in most x86 systems. But in the P4, which is practically designed around the memory, RDRAM kicks butt. And on top of that Intel is doing it's best to make buying RDRAM systems easier on the pocket. Plus, RDRAM production is going to improve, making it cheaper. This means that in the future, RDRAM will probably be only slightly more expensive than DDR SDRAM.

    The P4 isn't so hot at running old software, true. But if you're planning for the future, then future software will be using SSE2. And this is not two years in the future. It'll be more like 3 months in the future, because everyone has been waiting for SSE2 to come out so that they can add it to their software.

    I myself buy a computer about once every five years. If anyone else is the same, the looking for an SSE2 CPU in a computer now will be invaluable a couple of years down the road. If you're wanting a computer now that will still be useful a couple of years from now, the P4 sounds like a good machine to drop some money into.

    - Anything can be fixed with duct tape, a swiss army knife, and WD-40. :)
  22. "Now, one must look into the future. Assuming people start to support SSE2, which I think they will, the P4 will have a much longer lifespan, because its performance will improve significantly. "
    -If you consider that Intel is dumping the current P4 design in like 2 months, I disagree that its lifespan will be longer. You would be stuck with no way to upgrade, but to buy another overpriced intel board and CPU. Maybe that is the way to go if you are loaded like "amdsuxcock" seems to be. I'd rather buy an AMD than spend 4 times as much for less performance. P.S. "amdsuxcock" is SO creative by the way. Did anyone understand his babbling?

    "Water-Cooled CPU Runner"
  23. SSE2 is a thread within itself. AMD has admited in my opinion that Intel has made a superior advance in FPU performance. So long x87. It makes me wonder if SSE2 is so easy to implement, why is it that it hasn't been done already? Everyone knew of the P4 for months now. If it was so easy and quick, why is it more SSE2 patches or new SSE2 versions of software aren't already on the shelves? It's obvious that SSE2 is superior in FPU performance than x87. So why not implement it. I say to start demanding that the software companies implement SSE2, and 3DNow! so we can have true optimizations for the CPU's we've spent our hard earned money on. I simply don't understand why this is so hard. Is it trully cost? Why don't I think so especially if reps. from Intel can do it overnight to one application and 3 reps. from AMDZone can do it in a few days. Anyone wanna come up with the next excuse?
  24. I was also thinking of upgrading my PC in the near future, probably after new year. I've heard a lot of valid arguments for both the P4's future and AMD's power.

    After reading everything that everyone's said, I can't help feeling that NOW would be a paticularly bad time to upgrade. There is so much change in the pipeline that should become much clearer in 6 months or so (SSE2 optimisation, Palamino, socket changes etc.) that it would seem to me the best thing to do is hang on for a bit and see which way the wind blows.

    I know that the next great thing is always just around the corner and that you'd never upgrade if you waited for the next new super gizmo, but it seems that we are at a particularly significant crossroads and future proofing at this point would be a matter of tossing a coin.

    Here speaks a man who originally bought a Betamax Video because the technology was better......

  25. He is still trying to get his cd rom to work on his t-bird pc lol.

  26. I have to agree with LTJLover, To say that p4 is a good system to "drop money into" right now is bogus. Especially since EVERYONE knows that the current p4 design line will be very short lived. If silver pheonix only buys a computer every 5 years he will be quite dissapointed when this one runs out of upgrade options in less than 1 year. If anything, if you have a permanant hard on for Intel, at least wait until the next version of the p4 comes out with the new chipset etc.
  27. hi all!
    well, amd wil definitely have sse2 onboard in future, but what about the current techs its concentrating on???? will 3D Now!, MMX extentions (AMD and Cyrix specifics) be obsolete and are these of any use even now? How many sw devs support 3D Now! (other than some games of course, besides MMX has already become a standard)?

    I have a other idea... why and where are these instructions used? all of these sets are used in SOME specific apps, and all are branded as multimedia and/or scientific apps. so why not create a set of libraries for specific sets of tasks using each of these technologies having a common sw interface (bingo! thatsa DLL) and let the apps use these libraries. apps ahould run no matter what cpu they are on.
    its something like installing a driver for the CPU!

    anybody interested in such development (i am a sw dev) pls drop me a mail.

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