1GHz Processor Explosion

Launching within days of each other, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Intel have both released 1GHz processors. Although AMD was first to market with its 1GHz Athlon, Intel's 1GHz Pentium III tests slightly faster in the lab. However, Pentium IIIs are in short supply. PC World conducted the first public AMD vs. Intel benchmarks using an IBM Aptiva S Series GZ for the Pentium III and a Gateway Select 1000 for the Athlon. The tests used WorldBench 2000 and clocked the Intel chip about 5 percent faster than the Athlon chip. Several industry observers point to the L2 cache as the probably source of the difference. L2 is a fast memory cache for storing frequently accessed information. Intel's L2 cache runs at the same speed as the processor; AMD's L2 cache, however, runs at one-third the processor's speed and has a smaller pipe connecting the two. AnandTech, a respected independent benchmarker, was another early tester. AnandTech gave Intel 7 of 10 points and AMD 8 of 10 for their respective 1GHz chips. Tester Anand Al Shimpi notes, "Under content creation and gaming applications, the 1GHz Pentium III performs quite well, even outperforming the 1GHz Athlon in some cases. Unfortunately, the CPU loses points because it doesn't perform nearly as well as the Athlon in the NT - OpenGL tests." Shimpi also says that "the price-to-performance ratio of the 1GHz Intel Pentium III is less than that of the 1GHz AMD Athlon because the Athlon is, clock for clock, noticeably cheaper than the Pentium III." Intel is shipping the Pentium III via select vendors at first—largely Dell, HP, and IBM. Large quantities of Pentium III machines will hit retail stores about the third quarter of 2000. AMD's roadmap will put 1GHz machines into the customer's hands a little sooner. Gateway is selling a 1GHz AMD Athlon machine now for $3000, and the Compaq Presario line has a 1GHz AMD Athlon system starting at $2500. Critics are accusing Intel of having a paper launch again; computers with 1GHz Pentium III processors are notably harder to find than those with Athlon chips. Dell is selling a 1GHz Intel system for $4000 with a big "supplies are limited" sticker on the Web site. Hewlett-Packard's (HP's) 1GHz Pentium III Pavilion, priced at $3500, is currently out of stock. IBM has 1GHz Aptivas for sale starting at $2999.

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