Amd or Intel?


Ok, for once and for all, what is the difference between Intel and AMD? Why can AMD have such lower clock speeds but still perform roughly the same as the Intels? Is it because the AMD chips do run at a higher voltage than the Intels? Pricing and all that aside, I just want to know the differences that seperate the two chips, and what makes them so different, but able to perform next to each other at comperable speeds. Thanks!


This question was answered on April 19, 2004. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The basic difference is in the architecture of the chips.

Intel and AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) are the two major manufacturers of processors for PCs Intel makes the Pentium and Celeron processors; AMD makes the K6 and Athlon processors.

So what's the difference? Well, historically, Pentium processors have had the best overall performance However, the new AMD processors are faster than their Pentium counterparts in some tests In general, you'll pay the most for an Intel processor, which means the AMD processors typically have a better price-performance ratio.

Here's more information if you need:

The newest speed grade of the Pentium 4 generally outpaces the Athlon XP's on newer applications, but the Athlon XP's don't trail by much On older applications, or those not tuned for the Pentium 4, the Athlon XP is often the winner

You've no doubt noticed that the Pentium 4 2.0A running on the 845 DDR platform often placed last in many benchmarks Does that mean that the Pentium 4 doesn't run well on DDR?

Performance in real-world applications are the result of a combination of factors-- the CPU, the memory subsystem, graphics and so on If the benchmarks scale reasonably well with clock rate, then the advantage of RDRAM in those tests is relatively small Let's take a look at several benchmarks

The difference in clock rate between the 2.0A and the 2.4GHz Northwood is 20% (00MHz) Let's look at a couple of game tests In Jedi Knight II, the difference in frame rate between the 2.0A and the 2.4GHz Northwood is around 16.5%--not far off the 20% dfference in clock rate A good part of the performance difference can be attributed to the difference in clock rate, though the memory subsystem may be a factor as well

This is reinforced by the difference in the Commanche 4 score The difference between the 2.0A and 2.4GHz scores is roughly 14.5%--hich still tracks reasonably well with clock rate There are similar differences in non-gaming tests For example, the Lightwave test shows a 17% dfference in benchmark scores This tracks even better with CPU clock rate

Intel's speed grade bumps are larger, in both raw MHz and percentage terms, than AMD This makes buying decisions somewhat more difficult The differences in performance between an Athlon XP 2000 and a 2100 are relatively slight The performance difference between the P4 2.0A and 2.2 is more noticeable The good news is that DDR memory may not have the raw bandwidth that RDRAM offers, but it doesn't seem to adversely affect performance substantially

There's only a 67MHz difference between the Athlon XP 2000 and the 2100 Thus the differences in performance results are smaller, too On the other hand, the Athlons generally fared pretty well, though the fastest Pentium 4's outpace the AMD CPU in most of tests.

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Posted by Nyree of Katharine Gibbs School - New York on April 19, 2004