Pentium 4/2200 vs. Athlon XP 2000+

The Eternal Race: P4 vs. Athlon XP

Introduction

It has just turned 2002 and we are already going into the next round of the endless battle between Intel and AMD. Today, Intel finally releases its first Pentium 4 2.2 GHz that is based on the advanced 'Northwood' core, while AMD presents AthlonXP 2000+, clocked at 1.67 GHz.

The Eternal Race: P4 vs. Athlon XP
David and Goliath: the new Intel Pentium 4/2200 on the left and AMD Athlon XP 2000+ on the right.


The Eternal Race: P4 vs. Athlon XP
Socket 462 for AMD Athlon XP (left) und Socket 478 for Intel Pentium 4 (right). Socket 478 is based on a much smaller structure than Socket 462.

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.

Athlon XP - The Model Numbers Are A Success!

AMD's Athlon-series of processors has been an excellent product since its first release in August 1999. However, as good as the K7-design might be, AMD started to suffer from the clock speed advantage of Intel's Pentium 4 processor. The majority of technologically less educated buyers wouldn't care for the fact that Athlon is able to do more work than Pentium 4 per clock cycle. Core clock was all that mattered to them, and while Intel sold Pentium 4 at 1.8 GHz, AMD had nothing 'faster' than its Athlon 1.4 GHz.

Finally, AMD made a rather desperate move and introduced Athlon XP along with a new 'model rating', which gives the processor a 'model number' that is supposed to reflect its performance in comparison to Intel's Pentium 4. The press received this idea with very mixed feelings and many journalists feared that this new rating system would rather damage than help AMD's Athlon XP-sales.

Today, a couple of months later, I'd say that AMD's plan actually worked. Even I am catching myself often enough thinking that AthlonXP1900+ is actually running at 1.9 GHz instead of the actual 1.6 GHz. Once AMD has caught up with Intel in terms of process technology and introduces the 0.13 µm 'Thoroughbred' core, AMD will have the die size advantage back in its court. The 80 mm² of 'Thoroughbred' will be significantly less than the 146 mm2 of 'Northwood'.

Northwood - Late, But Not Too Late

The first time we reported on Intel's upcoming P4-core 'Northwood', the expected replacement of 'Willamette', was in late 2000. Back then we had to tell the sad story that Willamette's platform (Socket423) would only be very short-lived, because 'Northwood' would facilitate a new Socket478. Back then, Intel's roadmap expected 'Northwood' to be introduced in late Q3/2001, alongside with 'Brookdale', the i845 chipset.

Problems with the new 0.13 µm process, a better than expected yield of Willamette as well as a slow market delayed the release of 'Northwood' into the first days of 2002. This delay had only one bad side effect for Intel. Due to the rather huge die size of Willamette (217 mm²) Intel wasn't able to produce as many Pentium 4 processors as the market wanted in Q4 2001. Besides that, 'Northwood' is still right on the money and right on time.

A Detailed Comparison: Pentium 4/2200 vs. Athlon XP 2000+

Manufacturer Intel Intel AMD
Processor Pentium 4 w/Northwood Core Pentium 4 w/Willamette Core Athlon XP w/Palomino Core
Introduction January 7, 2002 November 20, 2000 October 9, 2001
Clock Frequencies 2 GHz, 2.2 GHz 1.3 - 2.0 GHz 1.2 - 1.66 GHz
Manufacturing Process 0,13 µm 0,18 µm 0,18 µm
Die size 146 mm² 217 mm² 128 mm²
Number of Gates 55 Million 42 Million 37,5 Million
Platform Socket478 Socket 423, Socket478 Socket462
CPU Bus Clock (Front Side Bus) 100 MHz / 400 MHz QDR 100 MHz / 400 MHz QDR 133 MHz / 266 MHz DDR
L1 Execution Cache Size 12.000 µ-Ops (Trace Cache) 12.000 µ-Ops (Trace Cache) 64 KB
Execution Pre Decode? yes yes no
L1 Data Cache Size 8 KB (unconfirmed) 8 KB 64 KB
Hardware Data Prefetch yes yes yes
L1 Cache Clock core clock core clock core clock
L1 Data Cache Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 64-bit
L2 Cache Size 512 KB 256 KB 256 KB
L2 Cache Clock core clock core clock core clock
L2 Cache Addressable Range 64 GB 64 GB 64 GB
Processor Data Bus Width 64-bit 64-bit 64-bit
Platform Support
Chipsets Intel 845 (D)
Intel 850
VIA P4X266
VIA P4X266A
SiS 645
Intel 845
Intel 850
VIA P4X266
VIA KT133 to KT266A
SiS 735
ALi Magik 1
Nvidia nForce
AMD 750 und 760
Type of Memory SDRAM, DDR-SDRAM, RDRAM SDRAM, DDR-SDRAM, RDRAM SDRAM, DDR-SDRAM
Memory Clock 100/133/200/266/333/400 MHz 100/133/200/266/333/400 MHz 100/133/200/266 MHz
Instruction Extensions
MMX yes yes yes
Enhanced 3DNow! no no yes
3DNow! Professional no no yes
SSE yes yes yes
SSE2 yes yes no
Electrical Specifications
SMP-Support no no no ('not officially endorsed or supported')
Core Voltage 1,5 Volt 1,7 Volt 1,75 Volt
Thermal Protection (Thermal Diode) yes yes yes
Integrated Thermal Protection Logic yes yes no, requires logic on motherboard

Pentium 4/2200: Intel's Technological Lead

Pentium 4/2200: Intel's Technological Lead
Pentium 4 processors compared: P4/2000 with the Willamette core (left), P4/2000 with the Northwood core (middle) and P4/2200 also with the Northwood core (right).


Pentium 4/2200: Intel's Technological Lead
A view of the back of the same processors, in the same order as the previous image.

Pentium 4/2200: Intel's Technological Lead
Size comparison: the new Pentium 4 is factory-equipped with a huge CPU cooler.

With the introduction of the Northwood, Intel switched over to a 0.13 micron production process. In addition, the manufacturer uses wafer disks with a larger diameter. While the previous silicon disks were 200 mm wide, the new ones are now 300 mm. Through this increase in diameter alone, the wafer gains more than double the amount of surface space, and the result is that more than twice the number of CPU dies can be produced per wafer. At the same time, because Intel also moved the manufacturing process from 0.18 µm down to 0.13 µm, a single wafer can yield approximately triple the amount of processors. To make this calculation clearer, we have provided some equations:

Wafer surface: π * d² / 4

Surface (200 mm wafer) = 31417 mm²
Surface (300 mm wafer) = 70688 mm²

CPU die (P4, Willamette) = 217 mm²
CPU die (P4, Northwood) = 146 mm²

The absolute yield is derived from the quotient of the wafer and die surfaces. While the previous wafer and the Wilamette core provided a maximum of 144 processors (theoretical, without waste), the bigger wafer and the new CPU core yield a maximum of 484 processors.

Pentium 4/2200: Intel's Technological Lead
This image shows the two dies side by side. You can see the larger second level cache of Northwood when you compare the lower right quadrants of the two. All in all, Northwood is significantly smaller than Willamette, but still not exactly tiny.

Chipsets/Boards for Pentium 4 and Athlon XP

Chipsets/Boards for Pentium 4 and Athlon XP
A well-known board for the AMD Athlon XP: the Epox EP-8KHA+ with Socket 462.


Chipsets/Boards for Pentium 4 and Athlon XP
A popular board for Pentium 4: the Asus P4T-E with Socket 478.

The following tables show an overview of all chipsets and the respective features of the two platforms from AMD Athlon XP and Intel Pentium 4.

AMD

Chipset VIA Apollo KT266A VIA Apollo KT266 SiS 735 Nvidia nForce AMD 760
Launch September 2001 April 2001 May 2001 September 2001 February 2001
Processor Platform Socket 462 Socket 462 Socket 462 Socket 462 Socket 462
CPUs supported AMD Duron/Athlon/XP AMD Duron/Athlon/XP AMD Duron/Athlon/XP AMD Duron/Athlon/XP AMD Duron/Athlon/XP
Multiprocessor Support no no no no no
Chipset Northbridge VIA KT266A VIA VT8366 SiS 735 Nvidia IGP 128 AMD 761
Chipset Southbridge VIA VT8233 VIA VT8233 - Nvidia MCP-D AMD 765
Front Side Bus Clock 100/133 MHz DDR 100/133 MHz DDR 66/100/133 MHz DDR 100/133 MHz DDR 100/133 MHz DDR
Memory Clock 100/133 MHz DDR 100/133 MHz DDR 66/100/133 MHz DDR 100/133 MHz DDR 100/133 MHz DDR
Asynchronous Memory Clock yes yes yes yes yes
FSB Overclocking* up to 200 MHz up to 200 MHz up to 150 MHz up to 150 MHz up to 150 MHz
max. # DIMM or RIMM Slots 4 4 3 3 4
max. Memory 3072 MB 3072 MB 1536 MB 4096 MB 2048 MB
SDRAM Support yes yes yes no no
DDR SDRAM Support yes yes yes yes yes
Dual-Channel DDR-Support no no no yes no
RIMM Support (Rambus) no no no no no
Ultra-DMA/33/66/100 yes/yes/yes yes/yes/yes yes/yes/yes yes/yes/yes yes/yes/yes
Max. # USB Ports 6 6 6 6 4
max. # PCI Slots 6 6 6 6 6
Integrated Graphics Core no no 6 yes no
Integrated Sound yes yes yes yes yes
AGP 1x / 2x / 4x yes / yes / yes yes / yes / yes yes / yes / yes yes / yes / yes yes / yes / yes
ACPI Features yes yes yes yes yes

* depends on clock generator

Intel

Chipset VIA P4X266A Intel 850 Intel 845D
Introduction December 2001 January 2001 December 2001
Processor Plattform Socket 478 Socket 423/478 Socket 478
Supported CPU Intel Pentium 4 Intel Pentium 4 Intel Pentium 4
Multiprocessor Support no yes no
Chipset Northbridge VIA P4X266A Intel KC82850 Intel 82845
Chipset Southbridge VIA VT8233CE Intel 82801 BA Intel 82801 BA
Front Side Bus Clock 66/100/133 MHz 100/133 MHz 66/100/133 MHz
Memory Clock 100/133 MHz DDR-SDRAM 400 MHz 100/133 MHz DDR-SDRAM
Asynchronous Memory Clock yes yes yes
FSB-Overclocking* up to 180 MHz up to 133 MHz up to 166 MHz
max. # DIMM-Slots 3 4 3
max. Memory 3072 MB 2048 MB 2048 MB
SDRAM Support no no no
DDR SDRAM Support yes no yes
VC SDRAM Support no no no
RIMM Support (Rambus) no yes no
Dual RIMM Support (Rambus) no yes no
Ultra-DMA/33/66/100 yes/yes/yes yes/yes/yes yes/yes/yes
Ultra-DMA/133 yes no no
Max. # USB 6 4 4
USB 2.0 yes no no
Max.# PCI Slots 6 6 6
Integrated Graphics no no no
AGP 1x / 2x / 4x yes / yes / yes yes / yes / yes yes / yes / yes
ACPI Features yes yes yes

Chipset Intel 845 VIA P4X266 SiS 645
Introduction July 2001 August 2001 November 2001
Processor Plattform Socket 423/478 Socket 423/478 Socket 478
Supported CPU Intel Pentium 4 Intel Pentium 4 Intel Pentium 4
Multiprocessor Support no no no
Chipset Northbridge Intel 82845 VIA VT8753 SiS 645
Chipset Southbridge Intel 82801 BA VIA VT8233 SiS 961
Front Side Bus Clock 66/100/133 MHz 100 MHz 100/133 MHz
Memory Clock 100/133 MHz SDRAM 100/133 MHz SDR/DDR 100/133/166 MHz DDR-SDRAM
Asynchronous Memory Clock yes yes yes
FSB-Overclocking* up to 180 MHz up to 200 MHz up to 180 MHz
max. # DIMM-Slots 4 4 3
max. Memory 2048 MB 4096 MB 3072 MB
SDRAM Support yes yes yes
DDR SDRAM Support no yes yes
VC SDRAM Support no yes no
RIMM Support (Rambus) no no no
Dual RIMM Support (Rambus) no no no
Ultra-DMA/33/66/100 yes/yes/yes yes/yes/yes yes/yes/yes
Ultra-DMA/133 no no no
Max. # USB 6 6 6
2.0 yes no yes
Max.# PCI Slots 6 5 6
Integrated Graphics no no no
AGP 1x / 2x / 4x yes / yes / yes yes / yes / yes yes / yes / yes
ACPI Features yes yes yes

* depending on clock generator

Overclocking: AMD Athlon with 1850 MHz

Overclocking: AMD Athlon with 1850 MHz
Pentium 4/2200 in detail.


Overclocking: AMD Athlon with 1850 MHz
The "old" Pentium 4/2000 with the Willamette core.

The days of easy overclocking are long gone, at least with Intel. With the introduction of a fixed multiplier (burned into special SRAM registries of the CPU), the manufacturer has put the clamps on ever since PIII 'Coppermine'. So the only possibility left for overclocking the Pentium 4/2200 is to overclock the FSB. Still, this makes little sense, because the chipset usually increases the clock speeds of PCI-ports and the AGP as well, putting them out of spec. This frequently results in the system sporadically showing signs of instable behavior with the operating system. For this reason, we did not overclock the Pentium 4/2200. It's a different story with the AMD Athlon XP 2000+, whose clock multiplier can be unlocked by making a few modifications to the CPU. Still, most cases are beset by strict limitations. With the use of a water-cooling system, we were able to increase the CPU clock to 1850 MHz, simply by raising the FSB clock from 133 MHz to 147 MHz. This clock speed would correspond an Athlon XP 2300+.

Overclocking: AMD Athlon with 1850 MHz
An Athlon XP 2000+ overclocked to 1850 MHz.

Average Sales Price: High Prices, Also At AMD

Processor Price per 1000*
Intel Pentium 4/2200A US$ 562
Intel Pentium 4/2000A US$ 364
Intel Pentium 4/2000 US$ 342
AMD Athlon XP 2000+ US$ 340
AMD Athlon XP 1900+ US$ 234
AMD Athlon XP 1800+ US$ 174

* Official prices from Intel and AMD (January 7, 2002)

There has been a surprising development in the past weeks, and apparently nobody really noticed. Ever since the introduction of the Athlon XP, AMD has barely dropped the prices. So, the days when users could get one of the fastest CPUs for relatively little money are a thing of the past. By contrast, within the same period of time, Intel sank the prices of its CPUs all the more. In any case, AMD's current top-of-the line model (Athlon XP 2000+) costs $340. Intel's top product (Pentium 4/2200 with a Northwood core) costs quite a bit more, with the street price running up to $562.

Investment Safety: Intel vs. AMD

An important criterion in evaluating processor platforms is how safe the investment is. This is especially important with regard to complete systems whose components can be updated after purchase in order keep it up to the newest technological standards. In addition to the processor, this has primarily to do with the chipset that corresponds to the motherboard. So, when we look at the Pentium 4 platform, we could say that it wouldn't be to the best interests of end users, because the majority of the motherboards for Pentium 4 (with Intel 845, Intel 845D, and Intel 850 chipsets) equipped with Socket 478 are only designed to accept a Front Side Bus clocked at 100 MHz (400 MHz QDR). In the next few months, however, Intel is planning to introduce the Pentium 4 with 133 MHz (533 MHz QDR) FSB and faster memory clocked at 533 MHz. And here, the user has to start the annoying game once again: in order to enjoy the benefits of such high performance, you need a motherboard with 133/533 MHz FSB and possibly 533 MHz RDRAM. According to memory manufacturers, this PC1066 RDRAM RIMM will cost twice the price of a normal PC-800 module for 400 MHz clock. From this point of view, DDR-chipsets for Pentium 4 are the best solution, because they work (asynchronously) with DDR SDRAM.

AMD's development cycle for CPU platforms takes a bit longer, which is an advantage for the user. The current Socket 462 is supposed to remain up-to-date throughout the entirety of 2002. The FSB clock speed has already been changed to 133 MHz (266 MHz DDR), and only an increase to 166 MHz (333 MHz DDR) can be expected in this wide market.

Test Setup

Intel Hardware
Socket 478
Processor Intel Pentium 4/2200A MHz (400 MHz QDR FSB)
Intel Pentium 4/2000A MHz (400 MHz QDR FSB)
Intel Pentium 4/2000 MHz (400 MHz QDR FSB)
Intel Pentium 4/1900 MHz (400 MHz QDR FSB)
Intel Pentium 4/1800 MHz (400 MHz QDR FSB)
Intel Pentium 4/1700 MHz (400 MHz QDR FSB)
Intel Pentium 4/1600 MHz (400 MHz QDR FSB)
Intel Pentium 4/1500 MHz (400 MHz QDR FSB)
Intel Pentium 4/1400 MHz (400 MHz QDR FSB)
Motherboard ASUS P4T-E (I850) Revision: 1.00
Memory 2 x 128 MB, RDRAM, 400 MHz, Viking
AMD Hardware
Socket 462
Processor AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1666/266 MHz DDR)
AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1600/266 MHz DDR)
AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1533/266 MHz DDR)
AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1467/266 MHz DDR)
AMD Athlon XP 1600+ (1400/266 MHz DDR)
AMD Athlon XP 1500+ (1333/266 MHz DDR)
AMD Athlon 1400 MHz (1400/266 MHz DDR)
Motherboard EPOX EP-8KHA+ (VIA KT266A) Revision: 2.0.
Memory 256 MB DDR-SDRAM, CL2, PC2100, Micron
General Hardware
Graphics Card GeForce 3
Memory: 64 MB DDR-SDRAM
Memory Clock: 400 MHz
Chip Clock: 250 MHz
Hard Drive 40 GB, 5T040H4, Maxtor
UDMA100, 7200 rpm, 2 MB Cache
Drivers & Software
Graphics Driver Detonator 4 Serie V21.88
DirectX Version 8.1
DIE Driver Intel Application Accelerator (IAA, only for P4)
OS Windows XP, Build 2600 (English)
Benchmarks & Settings
Quake III Arena Retail Version 1.16
command line = +set cd_nocd 1 +set s_initsound 0
Graphics detail set to 'Normal'
Benchmark using 'Q3DEMO1'
3DMark2000 Version 1.1 Build 340 - default Benchmark
3DMark2001 Build 200 - default Benchmark
SiSoft Sandra 2001 Professional Version 2001.3.7.50
Newtek Lightwave Rendering Bench SKULL_HEAD_NEWEST.LWS
mpeg4 encoding Xmpeg 4.2a
DivX 4.11
Compression: 100
Data Rate: 1500 Kbit
Format: 720x576 Pixel@25 fps
150 MB VOB-Datei, no Audio
Studio 7 Version 7.02.7 (MPEG 2)
Sysmark 2001 Patch 3
Lame Lame 3.89 MMX, SSE, SSE 2, 3DNow
WinACE 2.04, 178 MB Wave-Datei, Best Compression,
Dictonary 4096 KB
Cinema 4D XL R6 CineBench 6.103
Suse Linux 7.3 Kernel 2.4.13 Compiling

Benchmarks Under Windows XP: Pentium 4 vs. Athlon XP

OpenGL Performance Quake 3 Arena "Demo 1" and "NV15 Demo"
Direct3D Performance 3D Mark 2000 and 3D Mark 2001
3D Rendering Cinema 4D XL R6
3D Rendering SPECviewperf "Lightscape"
3D Rendering Lightwave 7
Audio Encoding MP3 Lame MP3 Encoder
Video Encoding MPEG-2 Pinnacle Studio 7
Video Encoding MPEG-4 XMpeg 4.2a and Divx 4.2
Office Performance Sysmark 2001
Archiving WinACE 2.04
Linux Kernel Compiling Suse Linux 7.3 (Kernel 2.4.13)
SiSoft Sandra 2001 CPU and Multimedia Bench

We used a total of 19 different benchmark tests in order to obtain a well-rounded and balanced picture of the two competitors. A quick glance at the benchmark results gives you an overview of the latest processors from Intel and AMD, 16 in total. At the forefront are top models from AMD and Intel, namely the Athlon XP 2000+ and the Pentium 4/2000.

The OpenGL performances are measured through various Quake 3 tests - the Direct3D performance from the DirectX package is measured with 3D Mark 2000 (based on DirectX7) and 3D Mark 2001 (based on DirectX 8).

A comprehensive test scenario is created by a variety of benchmarks for MPEG encoding: with the help of the Lame MP3 Encoder, a 178 MB WAV file is converted to the MPEG-1 Layer 3 format. One of the established standards is our MPEG-4 test, in which data from a commercial DVD-ROM is converted into MPEG-4 via Xmpeg and the Divx codec. In addition, an MPEG-2 file is created with the video editing software Pinnacle Studio 7.

For a while, we have been using the professional Lightwave package version 7b from Newtek to evaluate rendering performance. Archiving is also important for practical applications. We use WinACE. Compiling the newest Linux Kernel 2.4.13 has long been part of our standard repertoire. In order to test office performance, the Sysmark 2001 benchmark is used.

OpenGL Performance: Quake 3 Arena

Quake 3 Arena

Quake 3 Arena

Quake 3 Arena

Quake 3 Arena

In both of the Quake 3 Arena time-demo runs, the Pentium 4/2200 is ahead of the AMD Athlon XP 2000+. The NV15 demos show a similar picture: Pentium 4 leads in the charts. With the introduction of the Northwood core, the distance between the P4 and the Athlon XP has increased, especially in lower resolutions that put a greater load on the CPU.

Direct3D Performance - DirectX 7: 3D Mark 2000

DirectX 7: 3D Mark 2000

3D Mark 2000 shows the Direct3D performance from DirectX 7 under Windows XP. Because of it's SSE-support (3DNow! Professional), the AMD Athlon XP is able to dominate the scene and take the lead.

Direct3D Performance - DirectX 8: 3D Mark 2001

DirectX 8: 3D Mark 2001

3D Mark 2001 reveals the Direct3D performance from DirectX 8 under Windows XP. In this benchmark, the Pentium 4/2200 overtakes the lead by a nose, positioned ahead of the Athlon XP 2000+, which might well be due to SSE2-optimizations in Grx-drivers as well as game engines.

MP3 Audio-Encoding: Lame MP3

Lame MP3

With the Lame MP3 Encoder, a 178 MB sound file in WAV format is converted to MPEG-1 Layer 3 format under Windows XP. The chart above clearly shows that the new Pentium 4/2200 has a 5-second lead over AMD Athlon XP 2000+.

Video-Encoding MPEG-4: Flask Mpeg and Divx

Flask Mpeg and Divx

SiSoft Sandra Benchmarks: CPU and Multimedia

SiSoft Sandra Benchmarks: CPU and Multimedia

SiSoft Sandra Benchmarks: CPU and Multimedia

SiSoft Sandra Benchmarks: CPU and Multimedia

With the SiSoft Sandra Benchmark 2001, AMD Athlon XP 2000+ gets top scores in two different tests. The Pentium 4/2200 is ahead in the memory benchmark. Nevertheless, all of these should be taken with a grain of salt, since this suite of benchmarks is only appropriate for friends of overclocking who want to prove the relative performance increase with specific CPUs.

3D Rendering: Newtek Lightwave 7b

3D Rendering: Newtek Lightwave 7b

In the Lightwave benchmark, the lead of the Pentium 4/2200 over the Athlon XP 2000+ becomes all the more evident: while the P4/2200 takes 230 seconds for the rendering task, the Athlon XP 2000+ requires 360 seconds for the same task.

Office Performance: Sysmark 2001

Office Performance: Sysmark 2001

The strengths of the AMD Athlon XP 2000+ are revealed in Office performance: with 203 points in Sysmark 2001, the Athlon XP soars over the higher-clocked Pentium 4/2200

As always, we omit the 'Content Creation Test', because besides its well-known flaws, we don't see its significance either. Once 'invented' by ZDBOp to create something new (and unnecessary), the idea was later 'reproduced' by BAPCo. Still, only a very small minority of people is actually using content creation software, while almost every PC-owner is running office applications such as Word and Excel. AMD shouldn't even care about the Windows Media Player 7.x issue. Content Creation benchmarks are a cheat in itself.

Compiling Linux: Suse Linux 7.3 / Kernel 2.4.13

Compiling Linux: Suse Linux 7.3 / Kernel 2.4.13

In compiling the newest Linux kernel, the weaknesses of the new Pentium 4/2200 become evident: it takes the Pentium 4 229 seconds, while the AMD Athlon XP 2000+ finishes the same task in only 202 seconds.

Archiving: WinACE 2.04

Archiving: WinACE 2.04

Archiving is a very practical application. With the help of WinACE 2.04 under Windows XP, a 178 MB WAV file is packed, showing the time to complete the task. Here, the Pentium 4/2200 is clearly ahead of the AMD Athlon XP 2000+.

3D Rendering Performance: SPECviewperf "Lightscape"

SPECviewperf

In the Lightscape benchmark, the Intel Pentium 4/2200 lies ahead of the AMD Athlon XP 2000+.

Video Encoding MPEG-2: Pinnacle Studio 7

Video Encoding MPEG-2: Pinnacle Studio 7

In encoding an MPEG-2 film with Pinnacle Studio 7, the Intel Pentium 4/2200 is clearly faster than the AMD Athlon XP 2000+. With this benchmark, Intel profits from the increased clock speed of the P4 as well as the larger L2-Cache.

3D-Rendering Performance: Cinema 4D XL R6

3D-Rendering Performance: Cinema 4D XL R6

3D-Rendering Performance: Cinema 4D XL R6

In 3D rendering with Cinema 4D, AMD and Intel exchange the leading position with one another.

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.

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