Moore’s Law as interpreted by AMD
The regular annual EnterEX 2002 exhibition was held in Kiev from February 19 to 23. Within the framework of this exhibition, Euroindex and the publishing house My Computer held the conference Production of Personal Computers 2002. Representatives of leading world companies (AMD, VIA, Maxtor), specialists of Ukrainian companies were invited as speakers. Three seminars were conducted by EPOS specialists, including two reports made by the authors.
Many listeners expressed a desire to post our presentations on the Internet. Unfortunately, the presentations prepared by the authors for the report are focused only on the report, and not on independent familiarization. Therefore, the authors outlined the essence of their reports in an article that we bring to your attention.
A little over a year has passed since the AMD processors crossed the 1 GHz line. At EnterEX 2002, EPOS presented a non-linear editing station with an Athlon XP 2000+ processor, a powerful graphics station with two Athlon MPX 1900+ processors, home and office computers with Duron 1200 and 1300 processors. It would seem that Moore’s law (processor performance doubles per year) performed. But still there is some kind of sediment. It’s not entirely clear: 2000+ today is a lot or a little?
At the last exhibition, EnterEX emphasized that Athlon processors “took the bar” at 1 GHz, and earlier than Intel processors did. At the exhibition this year, Athlon XP 2000+ is almost an ordinary phenomenon. But there is a lot of noise about Pentium 4 processors with a core clock frequency of 2.2 GHz. Moreover, the designation of the Athlon XP processors indicates a figure larger than the clock speed of the core of this processor. Many suspected this was a terrible catch. In a panic, some domestic firms even rushed to declare that now they only release computers with Intel processors. So really, is it a lot or a little, 2000+?
PR or Model Number?
For Athlon XP 2000+ processors, the number in the designation is, according to AMD official statements, the so-called “Model Number” is simply the serial number of a specific processor in the AMD processor line. By design, the number should indicate the clock frequency of a hypothetical processor with a Thunderbird core, which has the same performance as a specific Athlon XP processor. And not even a hint of any comparison with Intel processors. Nevertheless, in the press and on the Internet, many people stubbornly believe that this figure means the infamous “PR” – either the “Pentium Rating” or the “Performance Rating”. In short, it indicates which Pentium processor model roughly matches the processor labeled with this “PR”. Naturally, in practice, processors with PR = 200, for example, were significantly inferior to the Pentium 200MMX processor.
But that was in the last century. Now the situation has changed radically. AMD processors have a very powerful floating point unit. Significantly more powerful (at the same clock frequency, of course) than a similar unit of Pentium III processors, and even more so Pentium 4 processors. Probably, no one doubts this thesis now. But what to do with the fact that the clock speed of the “top” Pentium 4 models is higher than that of the “top” Athlon models? And with the fact that the clock frequency of the Athlon XP processor core is really less than the figure in its designation:
Model Number Core Clock, GHz
Athlon XP 2100+ 1.73
Athlon XP 2000+ 1.67
Athlon XP 1900+ 1.6
Athlon XP 1800+ 1.53
Athlon XP 1700+ 1.47
Athlon XP 1600+ 1.4
Athlon XP 1500+ 1.33
Nothing to do with these facts. They must be treated as objective reality. And even more so, it is not necessary to give them a deeper meaning than it actually is. The marking was changed only due to the fact that by the time the first Athlon XP processor (1500+, 1333 MHz core frequency) was released, the Athlon 1400 processor of the previous modification (with the Thunderbird core) already existed on the market. This processor, on the one hand, is older, but on the other, had a core clock frequency of 1.4 GHz. How can a customer explain that an Athlon XP 1.33 GHz core clock is better than an Athlon 1400 processor? Or maybe he is not better? To find out the truth, the EPOS research department immediately after the publication of the Athlon XP 1500+ processor compares the performance of several types of processors with approximately equal clock speeds. Partially, these results have already been covered on our website (“Athlon XP: not by number, but by reduction!”). Today we will talk about this issue more seriously. There is probably no point in citing all the tests we performed. Believe me, the vast majority of tests showed the superiority of the Athlon XP processor over its older counterpart. For different tasks, the superiority is different. For example, in Photoshop, different filters require different times to overlay them.