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Conclusion: 3.6 GHz P4 Outclasses The X86 World - Waiting For The AMD Hammer

Hot Contraband: P4 With 3.6 GHz

The test comparisons show the performance values of the P4 processors that won't officially be available until the middle of 2003. The top model (the 3.6 GHz Pentium 4) will probably make its début in June of next year. At that time, the P4 will be competing against the Claw Hammer-based AMD Athlon 3xxx+. By then, the P4 models with 3.06 GHz and 3.33 GHz will have been introduced. In any case, it has already been decided that the 3.06 GHz version will be available in November of this year. There'll soon be company for the speed monster when AMD introduces the Athlon XP 2800+. More details can be gleaned from the roadmap.

At this point, here is an important announcements on the future top model P4/3600: there is a 29% increase in clock speed over the current top model with 2.8 GHz. The primary concern was how the increase in speed was reflected in the performance values. The result we got was that in all benchmarks, the CPU landed in first place by a long shot. The increase over the P4/2800 is between 7% and 29%, depending on the application. The biggest performance leap is with rendering applications, such as Cinema 4D XL, Lightwave 7.5 and 3D Studio Max 4.2. This means that performance increases linearly with clock speed gain - now that's perfect scaling! Smaller growth can be witnessed in MPEG-encoding tests, such as MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4. The lowest rise in terms of percent was with the 3D games (DirectX7 and DirectX8); here, the increase was between 7% (3D Mark 2001) and 15% (Comanche 4). It should be mentioned that these test results don't depend on CPU performance alone. In any case, the 3.6 GHz P4 scored the absolute best marks - at Quake 3, for example, with 416 fps, or in the Sysmark test, with 328 points.

All the same, the benchmark results only tell half the truth. On the one hand, the P4/3600 benefits from its high clock speed in conjunction with the rapid RDRAM memory (533 MHz, PC1066). At the same time, though, it should be noted that applications are strongly adjusted to the code extensions SSE and SSE2, which make the Pentium 4 in particular look better. The current AMD Athlon XP is unable to take advantage of the SSE2 optimizations for applications. This feature will be offered only by the Athlon successor "Claw Hammer."

Since we can only evaluate the performance scale of P4 CPUs of the next ten months, there is no direct comparison with the Athlon Hammer at present. THG's view is that the introduction of a potent, if not overpowering, "hammer" is more than desirable. It will bring a breath of fresh air into the market, and the ambitious user will profit from the 64 bit option in the bargain. Intel needs more pressure once again! But first, the hurdles that lie ahead in the coming months will have to be cleared, yet again. For all that, the 3.6 GHz P4 has set the bar pretty high. But it's early yet, and Intel's 2.8 GHz P4 is on the market.

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