The Eternal Race: P4 Vs. Athlon XP, Continued
In the case of these top favorites, the "AMD vs. Intel" battle has encountered various twists and turns in this power play. Up till recently, for instance, AMD was still ahead of the game with its Athlon XP 1900+. Here, the 1.6 GHz of the Athlon XP was up against the 2 GHz of the 'old' Pentium 4 with 'Willamette'-core.
Meanwhile, today's introduction of the new "Northwood" Pentium 4 core has changed the game somewhat, because Intel not only increased the clock speed, but also doubled the L2-Cache of Pentium 4. To express this in terms of numbers: there is a 533 MHz difference between the clock speeds of the Pentium 4/2200 and the Athlon XP 2000+ - this amounts to a 32% core clock lead of P4 "twenty-two-hundred". In addition, the L2-Cache of the Pentium 4 has grown from 256 kB (Willamette-Core) to 512 kB (Northwood Core).
Furthermore, there are substantial differences in the process technology: while Intel facilitates the new 0.13 µm process for the P4 Northwood core in order to pave its way towards 3 GHz and higher, AMD still continues to use its 0.18 µm copper process for the Palomino core of the latest Athlon XP 2000+. It is already a well-known fact that the 0.18 µm process sets some sharp limitations to AthlonXP's top clock speed. However, the manufacturer is working under considerable pressure to produce a 0.13 micron version of the Palomino core, which will probably make its debut as the "Thoroughbred" Core at this year's CeBIT.
Nevertheless, in the performance tests, the results of both competitors were neck-on-neck, and in order to capture the nuances of the individual performances, we used a large set of different benchmark tests. In spite of Intel's 533 MHz advantage in clock speed we saw a rather close outcome.
Pentium 4 - Slow Start Followed By Supply Problems
Since its release in November 2000, Pentium 4 first had to fight an uphill battle, doomed by its expensive platform and memory requirements as well as its rather bad 'IPC' ratio, the amount of 'work' it is able to do per clock cycle, which is significantly less than its competitor from AMD. The situation finally changed last summer, when Intel finally gave the masses what they wanted - an inexpensive P4-platform in form of the mediocre performing i845 chipset. Now i845 might be like a bad dream for technology savvy people, but it sure made Pentium 4 overnight sell like sliced bread. By Fall 2001 Intel started to have delivery problems. That moment marked the comeback of AMD's Athlon.