The Mother of All CPU Charts Part 1

From 1995 To 2005, Continued

For example, while the clock speed is almost 40 times what it was - from 100 MHz in 1995 to 3800 MHz today - (based on Intel processors) and caches have speeded up, bandwidth has increased from 110 MB/s in the AMD K6-III/450 (1997) to 6000 MB/s in the Athlon64. A look at the different benchmarks shows that, in 3D games, the frame repeat rate rose from 17.1 FPS based on an AMD Duron 650 to a legendary 171.7 FPS in the AMD Athlon 64. That is 1000% increase - which ignores many features of detail and display. Even more striking is the difference in the MPEG 2 encoding of a 1 GB DV file: while an Intel Pentium 4 with 3.8 GHz takes care of this task in two and a half minutes, an ancient Intel Pentium 233 MMX from 1997 needs almost an hour. The largest increase can be seen in Divx encoding (MPEG 4): transcoding of a short scene takes almost 2 hours on the Pentium 233 MMX, while the current P4 with 3.8 GHz completes this task in less than two minutes. The bottom line is that the P4 3.8 is 65 times as fast as the CPU from 1997. The subject of MP3 encoding in 1995 was a question of computing power: A Pentium 100 needs about 77 minutes for the 17 minute audio sequence; a modern AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 does the job within one and a half minutes.

Even more interesting is the number of transistors that make up the basic modules of any processor. In 1994 the Pentium 100 consisted of 3.3 million transistors, whereas today's top model, the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, works with 178 million transistors. Almost 54 transistors now fit into the place where a single one fit just under 11 years ago. But even power consumption and heat loss have undergone drastic change. The current Intel Pentium 570 (with 3.8 GHz), also known as the mini heating and power station needs as much energy at full capacity as nine Intel Pentium 100 CPUs! This is that much more striking and at the same time amazing because during the same time period, transistors have gotten six times smaller in surface. The consequences are well-known: monstrously heavy coolers with the surface area of space heaters and gigantic power supplies above 400 watts ensure system stability. And there is no end in sight. Meanwhile, on the motherboard, currents of up to 100 amperes are firmly established in the specifications. The fight for even higher power densities goes on.

Our AMD story begins with the AMD K6-III/450, which was released in 1996 and is based on Socket 7. Since then, the AMD Athlon 64 FX-55, which works at a speed of 2600 MHz, represents the company's latest and greatest.

Compared to Intel, AMD currently has the matter of heat loss better under control: Thanks to Cool-and-Quiet at a "clocked-down" 800 MHz, Athlon 64 only uses a quarter of the performance as an AMD K5 processor with 100 MHz - despite operating at full capacity.

But not everything works anymore on the aged platforms: Running the popular FSP Doom 3 - with not very clear content - was no longer possible on our Socket 7 platform. A Duron 650 barely managed 14.9 frames, where a current Athlon 64 works with more than 90 Frames - and, it must be noted, the same graphics card was used for both devices, which was a recent NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT.

Tom's Hardware News Team

Tom's Hardware's dedicated news crew consists of both freelancers and staff with decades of experience reporting on the latest developments in CPUs, GPUs, super computing, Raspberry Pis and more.

  • Rare Intel Pentium P5 wafer with chips: