Fastest AMD processor challenges Intel Pentiums

Struggling to remain a viable competitor with Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, CA), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA; www.amd.com) has unveiled its Athlon processor, available in speed grades of 650, 600, 550, and 500 MHz at prices of $849, $615, $449, and $249, respectively, in 1000-unit quantities. The 650-MHz version, according to AMD, is the world?s fastest x86 processor because it has beaten previous-generation processors, such as the Intel Pentium III product family, in several be

Sep 1st, 1999

Fastest AMD processor challenges Intel Pentiums

George Kotelly

Executive Editor

georgek@pennwell.com

Struggling to remain a viable competitor with Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, CA), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA; www.amd.com) has unveiled its Athlon processor, available in speed grades of 650, 600, 550, and 500 MHz at prices of $849, $615, $449, and $249, respectively, in 1000-unit quantities. The 650-MHz version, according to AMD, is the world?s fastest x86 processor because it has beaten previous-generation processors, such as the Intel Pentium III product family, in several benchmark tests. An even faster speed of 1 GHz and copper interconnects are expected when AMD moves from 0.25- to 0.18-?m technology by year?s end. Says W. J. Sanders III, AMD chairman and chief executive officer, OWith the debut of our 650-MHz product, AMD is setting the pace in the megahertz race, as well as setting the performance standard to which all x86 processors will be compared.O

The Athlon processor?s x86-compatible, seventh-generation microarchitecture; pipelined, superscalar, floating-point engine; DSP communications; and 200-MHz-system-interface bus delivered superior floating-point performance to comparably configured Pentium III and Pentium III Xeon systems, according to tests made to SPECfp_base95 and Ziff-Davis 3D WinBench 99 FPU WinMark benchmarks. After the SPECfp_base95 benchmark, for example, AMD claims that the 550-MHz Athlon processor scored 35% higher performance then either a 550-MHz Pentium III or a Pentium III Xeon processor.

Similarly, insists AMD, the Athlon outclassed two comparably configured Pentium III types for a variety of integer benchmarks, including SPECint-base95 and Ziff-Davis Business Winstone 99, running on Windows 98/NT-4.0. Likewise, reports AMD, the Athlon surpassed the comparably configured Pentium III types during such 3-D benchmarks as the Ziff-Davis 3D WinBench 99 v1.2 (Null Driver and Transform and Lighting versions) and the FutureMark 3Dmark 99MAX (3DMarks and CPU 3DMarks).

Related results were also obtained, according to AMD, when the Athlon processor was run with off-the-shelf computational-intensive software such as Adobe PhotoShop 5.0 and PhotoDeluxe 3.0, AutoDesk AutoCAD 2000 and 3D studio MAX, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder, Ligos LSX-MPEG Encoder, LizardTech MrSID publisher for image compression, and Geometrix 3Scan 3D. Leading 3-D graphics-accelerator suppliers, such as nVidia, Matrox, and ATI Technologies, are already delivering optimized versions of their graphics drivers to support the Athlon processor. Computer manufacturers Compaq Computer Corp. and IBM Corp. are also offering Athlon-based high-performance desktop computers.

Says Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64 (Saratoga, CA), OThe AMD Athlon processor represents the first credible challenge to Intel?s position at the high end of the personal-computer market. Until now, performance-oriented users had many choices with regard to systems vendors but all these boxes contained identical Intel processors. The Athlon gives suppliers and users more choices, and makes the industry more competitive.O

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