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Painting a New Picture of Pentium 4: Tweaked MPEG4 Encoding

Reactions To The Recent P4-Update Article

The Pentium 4 update article published on Wednesday, which I revised about 15 hours later to make it sound more politically correct, produced a huge amount of responses. While the Intel-followers amongst my readers complained that I was being unfairly harsh with Pentium 4 and AMD-supporters applauded me for the new tough criticism of Pentium 4, several software engineers felt compelled to write me their opinion about our MPEG4-encoding benchmark with FlasK MPEG and Pentium 4's bad performance. Those responses were extremely interesting and eye opening, which is why I feel compelled to share them with those of you, who want to know a bit more about the background of video encoding and the development of software for it.

I am amazed about the efforts those three and many other developers put into the mails and messages they sent me. It shows how qualified as well as dedicated the readership of Tom's Hardware Guide is. I want to thank each contributor for his invaluable insights.

Reading each of those three messages carefully brings us to the following conclusions:

  • Video encoding software is often programmed to tightly fit a special group of processors, because it is so time critical. Pentium 4 is a brand new design and therefore at possible disadvantage unless Intel would have made sure that Pentium III routines run just as good on Pentium 4, which is obviously not the case.
  • The IEEE iDCT of FlasK MPEG might not be that useful after all, because the quality of the MMX-iDCT should be adequate in the first place. It seemingly isn't however, which raises questions about the quality of the MMX-implementation.
  • The re-programming or possibly only a re-compiling of the open source code of FlasK could possibly show Pentium 4 in much better light.

At the moment we might only be talking about video encoding, but the current situation seems to be exemplary for the majority of software that is available right now. Due to the fact that Pentium 4 goes very different ways than Pentium III or AMD's Athlon, it happens to be at major disadvantage with today's software. This was Intel's decision. It is up to us to decide if this makes Pentium 4 a bad product.