Conclusion: The New Pentium 4 Has A Slight Lead Over Athlon XP
A comparison of the two top products from AMD and Intel reveals the astonishing: although the processors are as different from one another as apples and oranges, the difference is much less obvious in the benchmark results, when taken from an absolute standpoint.
In any case, one thing is visible: in the majority of performance tests, the new Pentium 4/2200 is ahead. After all, the top AMD processor has to make do with 1666 MHz, while its archenemy steps in with 2200 MHz. A closer look at the comprehensive benchmarks reveals that in Office performance as well as Linux Kernel compiling, the Athlon XP still takes the lead, despite its 32% clock speed disadvantage!
In principle, the technical concepts of AMD and Intel can only be compared in the practical tests. As always, it can be said that the Palomino core of the AMD Athlon XP is able to process more commands at the same time, while Intel's Pentium 4 design concentrates primarily on high clock speed. From a critical point of view, however, while AMD has already used the 0.18 micron process to its fullest and is now turning its efforts to 0.13 micron, this step has already been completed by Intel. In addition, Intel has increased the L2-Cache from 256 kB (Willamette core) to 512 kB (Northwood core).
The chip giant is equipped for the future: the new wafer production process, based on 300 mm disks, plus the smaller size of the die, now shrunk to 0.13 micron, increases the yield of the processor up to 30%. At the same time, it almost cuts the production costs for a P4 die in half. This is the step that AMD still has to make, but for the moment, the scepter is once again in the hands of Intel. Goliath can take a few breaths until David will take its own step towards a higher clock speeds.
Some final thoughts on investment safety: in a few months, Intel will introduce the P4 with 133 MHz FSB. In addition, there will be 533 MHz Rambus memory. It is impossible to upgrade a current system that is built on the Pentium 4 Northwood with 133 MHz. Current motherboards only support 100 MHz FSB, even though the BIOS might indicate the contrary. Furthermore, 533 MHz RDRAM modules are expected to be twice the price of conventional PC800 modules. In this case, it might well be better to wait a while, or to choose a P4-chipset with DDR SDRAM support in the first place.