Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz - The Real Slim Shadyby Anand Lal Shimpi on June 23, 2003 11:23 PM EST
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Around a month ago AMD released their Athlon XP 3200+ based on the Barton core. While only outpacing the 3000+ by a meager 34MHz, the new processor carried a much higher model number courtesy of AMD's move to a 400MHz FSB. The review community unanimously agreed that the processor was not deserving of its 3200+ rating, but none were as infuriated by AMD's model number than the folks at Intel.
Ever since the introduction of AMD's model numbering system, Intel has been pulling their hair out - trying to get the rest of the market to see things as they do. In the early days of the Athlon XP, the model numbers were quite conservative as you may recall. Although AMD always insisted that the model numbers were used to compare the Athlon XP to the old Thunderbird core, no one really bought that - the model numbers were architected to draw parallels between the Athlon XPs and higher clocked Pentium 4s. Back in the early days, the Pentium 4 wasn't nearly as competitive as it is today and AMD's model numbers seemed to be a bargain - an Athlon XP 1800+ would outperform a 2.0GHz Pentium 4 most of the time - thus questioning AMD's ratings seemed silly.
Fast forward to today and the picture has changed considerably; Intel's Northwood core has been quite successful and is now paired with features such as an 800MHz FSB and Hyper Threading. The end result is that while AMD was once very conservative with their model numbers, these days they seem much more liberal. So what's the big deal? The benchmarks speak for themselves and everyone will easily find out if a 3200+ can compete with a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 soon enough, so why all the fuss?
Although folks in this community tend to glaze over marketing silliness, the millions that we cater to are only a percentage of the total number of computer users out there. What Intel fears the most is that your average Joe is walking into a computer store and now sees a cheaper, "equal performing" Athlon XP 3200+ next to a Pentium 4 3.2 and makes the obvious choice. Thus Intel's crusade against AMD's model numbers has continued on, to some avail - after countless attempts, reviewers are starting to evaluate the Athlon XP not only on its relative performance to the Pentium 4 but also on the merits of AMD's model numbers.
We chastised AMD when they first introduced the marketing plan for the Athlon XP, but since then have remained relatively quiet on the topic. As far as we're concerned, you all are smart enough to determine what to purchase and what to recommend to the less inclined. If you spend your time reading through, understanding and learning from our reviews then you can come to your own conclusions just fine. Yes, AMD needs to update their benchmarking suite, Yes the Pentium 4 has continued to dominate in performance and as you will see by the end of this review, Yes the 3.2GHz Pentium 4 is noticeably faster than the Athlon XP 3200+.
With that out of the way, let's talk tech, shall we?