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  Daily Column, July 18th 
  Jul 18, 2001, 06:00pm EDT 
By: Sander Sassen

Intelís financial results, thatís about the most exiting news Iíve heard sofar, so we touched upon that and the updated Intel Roadmap for their microprocessor product lines in todayís editorial. Not much to tell really, weíll probably see plus-2GHz Pentium 4s by the end of the year, so Intel IS pushing for the clockspeed and performance lead. Iím actually a little puzzled by AMDís recent announcement that they wonít be ramping up clockspeed all too much in the next two quarters, so we probably wonít see any Athlons officially running over 1.6GHz clockspeed.

To me that looks like AMD will be loosing their performance edge as a 1.6GHz Athlon wonít be able to outpace a plus-2GHz Pentium 4, especially since the Pentium 4 scales better with clockspeed than the Athlon does. Iím guessing that AMD might be counting on the new features found in the Palomino core, such as SSE and hardware prefetch, to even the odds a little. But then again, just like with Intelís Pentium 4, SSE and other optimizations rely heavily on software support, if its not supported you wonít gain anything. Clockspeed for that matter will always buy you more performance regardless of whether a feature is used or not, so Iím confident that Intel is putting all their money on 0.13-micron and a quick ramp-up of clockspeed.

As I already mentioned in the editorial, the fastest Pentium 4s we're likely going to see with Intelís current 0.18-micron process is 2GHz maybe 2.1GHz, the plus-2GHz range will therefore be out of reach and restricted to 0.13-micron. Thus for Intel to succeed with their accelerated roadmap theyíre betting on both the 0.13-micron Pentium 4s being ready and in production on time and the i845, either with SDRAM or DDR, catching on and providing a viable alternative to Pentium 4 with RDRAM or AMDís Athlon. So the next few months weíll likely see some stiff competition between AMDís Athlon/Athlon 4 with either the AMD 760 or Via KT266 Pro chipset, or, if nVidia can pull it off, thereís a third competitor for the performance crown, the nForce chipset.

Sander Sassen


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