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NewsForge: Review: AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

Oct 09, 2001, 16:05 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jeff Field)

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"A few years ago, Cyrix, now part of VIA, released a line of CPUs called the 6x86. Cyrix claimed that these CPUs were equivalent to Intel CPUs of a higher clock, and labeled them as such with "performance ratings," PR ratings for short. Cyrix was criticized for this, because the CPUs didn't really outperform higher clocked Intel CPUs. We have been without PR ratings from the major CPU makers for the last few years, but now again we find them in use, with the new Athlon XP line of CPUs.

The first time PR ratings were used, by Cyrix, they were somewhat fair -- the CPUs beat or equaled Intel CPUs some of the time, and were in other ways slower. However, since the release of the Pentium IV, AMD has had a problem. AMD's CPUs easily matched or beat Pentium IV CPUs at higher clock speeds. However, Intel had the upper hand in marketing. You see, the average consumer doesn't understand latency, pipelines, and other things that determine the speed of a CPU. For the most part, most consumers cling to a principle that just doesn't work anymore -- higher clock speed is faster and better. If one chip runs at 1530MHz, and another runs at 1800MHz, most of them will pick the higher clocked CPU. This put AMD at a disadvantage in the minds of consumers.

In order to fix this problem, AMD has chosen to make the move back to PR ratings for its CPUs. This latest AMD CPU, the Athlon XP 1800+, runs at 1.53GHz, yet it performs much faster than a Pentium 4 at 1.7GHz. So its fair game to label it an 1800+, because it really does perform that well, and is in fact a bonus to consumers, rather than burden -- because by purchasing an AMD processor they can, in most cases, save money, and get better, or at least equivalent, performance."

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