Overclocking - Some Thoughts
Well, so far I've only talked about Intel CPUs. These CPUs are in the majority, but there are also CPUs from Cyrix, IBM and AMD. What about overclocking these?
Because Cyrix, IBM, and AMD have always lagged behind Intel and its Pentium CPUs in terms of performance, they have had to release their CPUs at the highest possible specifications. When Intel produces a Pentium silicon chip, they are not as concerned if it can run at 166 or 200 MHz. Because of its design and the high production rate, there will be enough chips which run at both 166 and 200 MHz. Also Intel was the first mainstream CPU manufacturer for PCs that released a CPU with the performance of the P200. There was no rush for Intel to release the P200 any earlier, since there weren't any competitors.
Cyrix, IBM and AMD have always been one step behind Intel's latest CPU release and therefore they all have reasons to produce chips which run at the highest possible performance level. They also have to be competitive, resulting in a lower price, which is yet another reason to produce high performance CPUs rather than even cheaper slow ones.
This is, in my eyes, the reason why the official clock speeds of Cyrix, IBM and AMD CPUs are fairly close to their maximum clock speed. All these CPUs run very hot, much hotter than Pentiums. It is tough enough to cool the CPU properly at its original clock speed, much less than at overclocked speed.
Although there are now new and 'cooler' 6x86 and K5 chips on the horizon, I claim the following:
Cyrix, IBM and AMD CPUs are already 'overclocked' at their original clock speeds. The CPU reliability demands of Intel for specifying the original clock speed are much much higher than those of Cyrix, IBM or AMD. Hence, we should even thank Intel for its tough CPU testing procedure because it makes Intel CPUs the easiest chips to overclock available. You already paid a lower price for your AMD, Cyrix, or IBM CPU than you would have for a comparable Pentium, so you shouldn't expect even more performance out of a less expensive chip. This is also the reason why Intel can live quite well with my website - they would still prefer you buy an Intel CPU and overclock it, instead of buying a Cyrix, IBM, or AMD CPU.
It's just like tuning engines, there is still a lot of performance to get out of a big Mercedes or BMW engine, but you can't gain performance by tuning the already maxed out engine of a 750er Ninja (Kawasaki ZX-7R)?