Intel vs AMD - some light reading

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Thread Starter
Oct 26, 2001
I got this from renderosity forum but if your not a member you can't get to most of the site so am posting it here.
Really like what Twisted_Symmetry had to say and the thing I never heard said before.



1. Intel vs AMD - some light reading by Twisted_Symmetry on 10/5/03 09:38

Attached Link:

After seeing a few posts about people wanting to know what kind of system they should get to run poser5 inevitably leads to an intel/amd question. i dont want to generate any debate, i just thought it was good reading so i thought i would share. the original post can be found at the link above.

“What does 2.4 [email protected] mean? The ones that I have been looking at are 2400 or 2500 Athlons. How do they compare with your system?”

July 29, 2003
There are the two major processor manufacturers today – AMD and Intel. Intel has been making processors since day 1 of home computing, and is my preference. Intel products are all tested thoroughly and adhere to a strict validation process, and quite frankly, the things never die! I’ve been working with computers for near 10 years now and I’ve only seen two or three dead Intel CPU’s in my life. AMD’s, on the other hand, don’t quite have the same history. Today’s AMD products, however, are very capable and are a great alternative to Intel in some cases. Though they don’t have the same reliability as Intel CPU’s, they perform better in some areas (usually gaming) and usually cost less. A few years back it was easy to compare the two types of CPU’s – megahertz to megahertz. Recently, though, as both companies progressed they took different approaches to CPU design. Intel was able to make CPU’s with a higher megahertz rating easier than AMD was. AMD’s CPU’s, however, were capable of getting more done per megahertz than Intel was. Unfortunately to the end consumer, it was very hard to see past just megahertz, and AMD soon found their 1.2 GHz processor was selling less than Intel’s 1.4 GHz, even though they offered near the same performance. Thus, the AMD rating system was born, starting with 1500+ and 1600+ CPU’s. The rating system was originally design to reflect how these CPU’s would perform when compared to their Intel counterparts, however it was shown that the ratings are sometimes not “correct,” and without looking at a plethora of benchmarks it can be hard for a consumer to choose the fastest solution. Today, the XP1700+ CPU has an actual clock speed of 1.466 GHz and the 2200+ CPU’s clock speed is 1.8 GHz. The 2200+ is much better performing than the Pentium 4 1.8 GHz CPU however.

Getting back to your question, the XP2400+ and XP2500+ CPU’s can perform, on average, somewhere near the Intel 2.6 GHz CPU’s at 533MHz. That, however, is pure processor performance. There are several other important details, the most important being the bus speed of the system, or the clock rate that the motherboard and the CPU have in common. This number (in megahertz) designates the rate at which the CPU can communicate with the system memory (RAM) and other components on the motherboard like the chipset. Most common motherboards run at 133 MHz. Intel Pentium 4 processors have a quad-pipe architecture, which effectively multiplies the bus speed by 4 to give you a bus of 533 MHz with the CPU. AMD CPU’s multiply it by 2, so their bus speed is usually 266 or MHz. Lately however, there have been advances on both sides. The newest Intel based systems have a bus speed of 200 MHz times 4, or 800 MHz. The newest AMD based systems have a bus speed of 200 MHz times 2, or 400 MHz. You can see where this is going – the Intel based systems have a much higher bus speed with translates into higher bandwidth with the rest of the system, most importantly RAM. Intel 533 MHz processors have a “B” after their model numbers, and the 800 MHz processors have a “C”. AMD isn’t so helpful, and you actually have to ask for specification on whether it’s a Thoroughbred (266 or 333) or Barton (333 or 400) from whoever you’re buying from. It makes quite a difference in overall system performance! The Bartons, though still new and expensive, offer exceptional performance (but they don’t compare to the new 800 MHz Intel CPU’s!).

“DDR ram and SDRam are not compatible are they, and what is the difference?”

July 29, 2003
No, things have a tendency of starting on fire if you plug the wrong RAM into the wrong slot. SDRAM runs at 100 or 133 MHz. DDR RAM takes the clock speed of the motherboard and multiplies it by two (double data rate). So the first sticks of DDR RAM were rated at 100MHz, and ran at 200MHz. The 133 MHz stuff actually ran at 266 MHz (PC2100), and so on. The RAM I quoted you is DDR333 (PC2700) and is near the fastest stuff commonplace today. There is faster, but the price grows exponentially. Here’s where the fun begins. Above, I explained motherboard bus speeds. Let’s assume you get a new Barton CPU (AMD XP2800+, let’s say). It has a bus speed of 166 MHz (times two is 333 MHz), and so the entire bus on the motherboard is 166 MHz. Ideally you’d use DDR333 (PC2700) RAM to keep the speeds all the same. An AMD XP2400+, however, runs on the motherboard bus speed of 133 MHz so to match the RAM, you’d only be using PC2100 (DDR266). Some motherboards can run a CPU at 133 MHz and run the RAM at 166 MHz, so it’s not TOO important, but it sometimes is better to make sure the clock speeds are all the same across the system. The new 800 MHz Intel CPU’s have an awesome advantage over today’s AMD CPU’s – memory bandwidth. With a motherboard running at 200MHz, you can use DDR400 (PC3200) RAM which also runs at 200MHz, and since everything is in sync across the system you get super performance.

That’s just the TIP of the iceberg! The newest motherboards have another new feature – dual-channel memory support. The concept is simple – twice the sticks of ram, twice the performance. In a dual-channel configuration, you use an even number of memory modules in your computer. For example, the system I use at home has 512MB of RAM, but I’m using 2 x 256MB modules, to utilize the performance gain of the dual-channel configuration. This is an area where Intel CPUs absolutely blow away anything AMD can offer. In fairness to AMD, the Athlon XP wouldn’t know what to do with all that memory bandwidth anyways. That’s another side effect of the different ways AMD and Intel build their CPUs. For a P4, however, the more memory bandwidth, the happier it is. What does faster memory bandwidth mean for you? RAM speed affects overall system performance – everything just magically gets faster. IN ADDITION, Pentium 4 “C” processors have a technology you’ve probably heard about called hyper-threading. This enables the CPU to do multiple tasks at once, and greatly boosts performance in Windows XP when you start running music in the background, scanning for viruses, and chatting on the internet all at the same time. With today’s latest advances in technology, the only remaining performance bottleneck are the computers’ hard drives. You’re ALWAYS going to be waiting for your computer to load files off of your hard drive. Unfortunately, there currently are no solutions to this problem that are worth the money (I can fix THIS problem, but it’ll add another $400 to the bill!).

“How does AMD’s Rating System Work?”

July 29, 2003
Back in the days of the PIII and the original Athlon, it was easy to compare the two types of CPU’s – megahertz to megahertz. A Pentium III 800 MHz was slower than an Athlon 900 MHz, which was slower than a Pentium III 1000 MHz. When the P4 was released, however, everything changed. Intel designed a CPU that could easily reach much faster speeds, while AMD designed one which did more work per megahertz. In the long run, each design ended up being about equally fast, but it left AMD with a problem. Their 1600 MHz chip was as fast as a P4 running at 2000MHz, but people were walking into stores and simply thinking “2000 is bigger than 1600, that one must be faster”. To try and stop this, AMD has been giving a performance rating to their chips. In fact, to find the actual clock speed an AMD CPU runs at, you have to read the fine print on the packaging.

Recently, things have become more complicated. As explained above, memory speed has a large impact on your system speed. AMD has started factoring that into their rating system, giving a “bonus” to chips running on a 166 MHz bus instead of the older 133 MHz bus. To make matters worse, there currently are two types of Athlon XP chips! The newer Barton cores have twice the amount L2 cache (very fast memory on the CPU itself) that the older Thoroughbreds have, which AMD’s rating also associates a “bonus” for. As an example, an XP2200+ runs at 1800 MHz, while an XP2500+ runs at 1833 MHz. The difference is that the 2200+ is a 133 MHz bus speed Thoroughbred, the 2500+ is a 166 MHz Barton. Unfortunately, this leads to some very odd situations. In raw MHz, the fastest AMD CPU was actually the 2800+, a 166 MHz bus Thoroughbred which ran at 2250 MHz. Even the new 3200+ only runs at 2200 MHz, but it is a Barton with a 200 MHz bus. Consumers really have two choices. You can do your research and choose the CPU with the highest true MHz, or you can trust AMD when they say that the extra features really do make a chip faster.

2. Re: Intel vs AMD - some light reading by Dave-So on 10/5/03 10:11

great stuff here...thanks very much :)
I've been looking at compnents lately, build my own..and have been thinking more and more of getting intel for the above reasons....Have been using AMD , however, as they perform as well as the Intels, at least from the XP line up to XP3000 Barton..but with the 800mhz Intel line, the parity is they have now the dual channel memory which AMD based systems had previously vs the Rdram stuff...

However, AMD is now releasing their 64bt processor...and the bus is 1600mhz !!!
so what will that hold for us ???

3. Re: Intel vs AMD - some light reading by sturkwurk on 10/5/03 12:02

oh oh oh, and what about Prescott?

If you were buying a new 3d machine in the next 6 months, would you just wait until late next year to see if Intel really has this monster on their bunsen burners?


4. Re: Intel vs AMD - some light reading by Cybermonk on 10/5/03 12:56

Wow! very informative thread. 2 two questions.

1) you were talking about hard drive speed... what about raid configurations? How well do these work and or they worth it.

2) Also I was fooling around on the alienware site (make computers for gamers) and they have a AMD with a 64 bit sytem and an an impressive sounding list of features
Processor AMD® Athlon™ 64 FX-51
Frequency 2.2GHz
Bus Speed 1600MHz
On-Chip Level 1 Cache 128 KB
On-Chip Level 2 Cache 1 MB Advanced Transfer
Special Features AMD64 Technology
HyperTransport Technology
Integrated Memory Controller

what all does this translate to. Is this as awesome as it sounds?

5. Re: Intel vs AMD - some light reading by Twisted_Symmetry on 10/5/03 13:11

RAID, short for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks, is a method whereby information is spread across several disks, using techniques such as disk striping (RAID Level 0) and disk mirroring (RAID level 1) to achieve redundancy, lower latency and/or higher bandwidth for reading and/or writing, and recoverability from hard-disk crashes. Over six different types of RAID configurations have been defined.

RAID Level 0 is not redundant, hence does not truly fit the "RAID" acronym. In level 0, data is split across drives, resulting in higher data throughput. Since no redundant information is stored, performance is very good, but the failure of any disk in the array results in data loss. This level is commonly referred to as striping.

RAID Level 1 provides redundancy by writing all data to two or more drives. The performance of a level 1 array tends to be faster on reads and slower on writes compared to a single drive, but if either drive fails, no data is lost. This is a good entry-level redundant system, since only two drives are required; however, since one drive is used to store a duplicate of the data, the cost per megabyte is high. This level is commonly referred to as mirroring.

RAID Level 2, which uses Hamming error correction codes, is intended for use with drives which do not have built-in error detection. All SCSI drives support built-in error detection, so this level is of little use when using SCSI drives.

RAID Level 3 stripes data at a byte level across several drives, with parity stored on one drive. It is otherwise similar to level 4. Byte-level striping requires hardware support for efficient use.

RAID Level 4 stripes data at a block level across several drives, with parity stored on one drive. The parity information allows recovery from the failure of any single drive. The performance of a level 4 array is very good for reads (the same as level 0). Writes, however, require that parity data be updated each time. This slows small random writes, in particular, though large writes or sequential writes are fairly fast. Because only one drive in the array stores redundant data, the cost per megabyte of a level 4 array can be fairly low.

RAID Level 5 is similar to level 4, but distributes parity among the drives. This can speed small writes in multiprocessing systems, since the parity disk does not become a bottleneck. Because parity data must be skipped on each drive during reads, however, the performance for reads tends to be considerably lower than a level 4 array. The cost per megabyte is the same as for level 4.


RAID-0 is the fastest and most efficient array type but offers no fault-tolerance.

RAID-1 is the array of choice for performance-critical, fault-tolerant environments. In addition, RAID-1 is the only choice for fault-tolerance if no more than two drives are desired.

RAID-2 is seldom used today since ECC is embedded in almost all modern disk drives.

RAID-3 can be used in data intensive or single-user environments which access long sequential records to speed up data transfer. However, RAID-3 does not allow multiple I/O operations to be overlapped and requires synchronized-spindle drives in order to avoid performance degradation with short records.

RAID-4 offers no advantages over RAID-5 and does not support multiple simultaneous write operations.

RAID-5 is the best choice in multi-user environments which are not write performance sensitive. However, at least three, and more typically five drives are required for RAID-5 arrays.

So the question is, are you right for RAID? lol And can your mobo support RAID.

That AMD® sounds pretty impressive. I'm not familiar with recent advances myself, I built my p4 last year and I figure I won't need to upgrade for at least another 4 years so I'll jump back into geek'dome then. :)

6. Re: Intel vs AMD - some light reading by Cybermonk on 10/5/03 13:24

lol Thanks for the info. :)

7. Re: Intel vs AMD - some light reading by Norbert on 10/5/03 15:44

Right now, the AMD 64 bit CPUs aren't the way to go, yet. 'Tom's hardware' site did benchmarks on them, and even some of AMD's previous 32 bit chips out performed them. It was well down the list below the best that Intel has right now.

There's also almost NO software that utilizes that 64 bit architecture. It's probably going to be slow in coming, too. 32 bit software is still going to only run at 32 bit on the 64 bit chip.

With BOTH Intel and AMD, their first version(s) of a new CPU are disappointing, and/or unstabe and/or unreliable. Save your money by not buying these right now, unless you're a geek that wants to impress your geek friends, by paying out hundreds of extra dollars for nothing better than bragging rights.

8. Re: Intel vs AMD - some light reading by sturkwurk on 10/5/03 16:20

Norbert, what would you recommend getting around Christmas time then?


9. Re: Intel vs AMD - some light reading by Cybermonk on 10/5/03 16:27

I figured that the 64 bit stuff would be awhile in coming but I wasn't sure if it would out perform the current 32 bit machines. Thanks for the heads up.

I aspire to geekdom. lol

10. Re: Intel vs AMD - some light reading by Dave-So on 10/5/03 17:24

I'm looking seriously at the Intel 3.0c , but for price , the p4 2.8 is not too bad
Intel Pentium 4 / 2.8CGHz 512k socket 478 Hyper Threading Technology 800 MHz FSB - RETAIL $264

Intel Pentium 4 / 3.0CGHz 512k socket 478 Hyper Threading Technology 800 MHz FSB - RETAIL $389

Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz 512k 800MHz FSB | socket 478 w/ Hyper Threading Technology - RETAIL $617

coupled with a good MB...and fast ram, 1gig worth, you can be in the fast lane for less than $600

However , the 64bit 3200+ (2.0ghz), AMD with that blazing 1600mhz bus is only $459....and the 2.2ghz version FX-51 is only $ my cash right now is pointing at Intel....

All prices from Newegg..Retail versions

11. Re: Intel vs AMD - some light reading by lupus on 10/7/03 12:50

Cybermonk, I've been using a 3-channel raid (raid 0) for more than an year now (used a 2-channel before that) and will never go back to "one-disk systems. The one thing to not forget is, you'll need to use SCSI!

12. Re: Intel vs AMD - some light reading by Cybermonk on 10/7/03 14:27


Fast is it? Well when I get another one I'll definately consider raid. Besides being a 3d addict I'm a gamer and faster is better.
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