More than anything else, Computex 2003 has been about fierce competition. The main competitive focuses at this year’s Computex were the launches of high-end desktop processors from AMD and Intel; AMD’s Athlon 64 FX and Intel’s Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. You’ve no doubt seen dozens of CPU reviews across the Internet comparing and contrasting these two high-end microprocessors in an attempt to help readers make informed decisions for their computing needs. Hardware review web sites eat up anything Intel and AMD nowadays, and so this type of wide coverage is not at all uncommon.

A little background on the current CPU wars takes us back to 1999, when AMD launched their K7 (Athlon) architecture that sparked this “arms race” of sorts. Since then, both AMD and Intel have had more or less equal shares of the performance lead, with Intel taking the lead at the high-end the last 10 months or so, and AMD securing the low and middle-end channels during that time. A couple days ago, we saw AMD take back that performance lead from Intel. Now, the only question that remains is whether AMD can supply enough CPUs to channels and OEMs to meet demand. Given the large die size and relatively low yields of current Athlon 64 iterations over at Fab 30 in Dresden, Germany, AMD will no doubt have their hands full. Various manufacturers tell us that AMD is confident that they can produce 400,000 Athlon 64 processors by the end of this year. While certainly a step in the right direction, this quantity is barely enough to feed high-end customers and enthusiasts, and no where near enough to supply the mainstream markets.

The competition in the desktop video card world is equally fierce, as ATI and NVIDIA have been biting and gnawing at each other for years now. This graphics competition really started to brew when ATI introduced the Radeon 8500 in the fall of 2001. After the GeForce4 came along just a few months later, however, NVIDIA pretty much held a dominant lead in every segment of the add-in video card desktop market up until September 2002, when ATI’s Radeon 9700 Pro become readily available. ATI was easily the high-end desktop GPU leader after that, and right up until GeForce FX 5900 Ultras became available in late June of this year. It was a dead heat between NVIDIA and ATI after the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra introduction, but that ended a few weeks ago when the world learned of NVIDIA’s serious DX9 shortcomings in titles such as Half Life 2. This seemed to signal the beginning of the end of NVIDIA’s steady market share lead over the last year. However, just a few days ago it was announced by Valve that Half Life 2 was going to miss the September 30th target. In a way, ATI faces the exact opposite scenario that AMD is in; ATI can supply enough DX9 (9600 and 9800) video cards to market, but may not see an upsurge in those sales (mostly in the retail channel) in the near future because of Half Life 2’s delayed introduction. Of course, there are other legitimate DX9 titles coming soon that will spurn sales of ATI’s DX9 cards, and there even may be a great deal of users that figure they can simply buy ATI cards now and wait for Half Life 2 (which we suggest you do if you’re buying now). Either way, competition is a great boon for any industry, and we certainly hope it never stops.

Anyway, read on as we discuss the latest happenings in our Day 4 coverage of Computex….

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  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 27, 2003 - link

    #9 My point is: Where are the Benchmarks?

    The only place where I can compare the Itanium2's is (

    SPEC int 2000
    Itanium 2 1500Mhz, 6Mb L3 cache 12Gb RAM
    base 1322 peak 1322

    Itanium 2 1400Mhz, 4Mb L3 cache 8Gb RAM
    base 926 peak 926

    I know that clock speed is not the same but is the closest i can get. The clock speed of 1400Mhz itanium2 is 93% of the 1500 itanium2. It has less cache. SPEC result of 1400 itanium2 is 70%
    of 1500Mhz itanium2. I wonder how a 1400Mhz, 1,5Mb L3 cache itanium2 would do in SPEC.

    The article talks about "cheap itaniums", and by cheap they mean $744 for 1.0Ghz and $1,172 for 1.4Ghz.

    For about the same price you could buy an Athlon FX-51.
    Before you talk about the 1400 itanium2 had less RAM look at these SPEC results, with 1Gb RAM

    Athlon FX-51 2200Mhz, 1Gb RAM
    base 1376 peak 1447
  • Andrew Ku - Saturday, September 27, 2003 - link

    #7 Typo, we fixed it. Thanks for being patient.
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 27, 2003 - link

    #8, it's not a difficult concept to comprehend. If you really think that the extra 4.5MB of L3 are going to make a huge difference in widely used 64-bit applications, you have a lot to learn about modern MPUs.
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 27, 2003 - link

    'quote' "I2’s 32-bit performance is no where near as fast as Opteron series processors, but depending on the 64-bit application, I2 is much faster, and could be much faster in the future when more applications are developed specifically for IA-64." '/quote'

    This is nonsense. Where are the performance numbers of an Itanium running at 1.0Ghz and 1.4Ghz with only 1.5Mb L3 cache? the only numbers I'am aware of are the 1.5Ghz with 6Mb L3 cache and they should not be the same.
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 27, 2003 - link

    umm...what happened to Computex Day #4? it went from day 1, 2,3,5 ?

    didnt anything happen of the 4th day??
  • Anonymous User - Friday, September 26, 2003 - link

    I'm also looking forward to the XGI cards... Wasn't there a blurb on AT a few days ago about how the Volari 8 offered 6000+ 3dMarks?
    Of course, I'm not one of those extreme money-wasters who'd sink $500 on a single component (maybe the CPU, and the RAM), so I'd be looking more at the performance of their mid-range card (the V5?). Considering nVidia's weak overall performance in DX9, XGI only really has to compete with the 9500/9600 from ATI in the mid-range, and if its high end can compete with ATI's high end pretty easily (using beta drivers, no less), I don't see why the V5 couldn't penetrate the market and become a contender in the mid-range market. Here's hoping it doesn't turn into a Phantom or any of the other many attempts to break into graphics cards and failing miserably...
  • Xelloss - Friday, September 26, 2003 - link

    A desktop Itanium2 would be pretty damn useless at this point anyhow. Yeah, you could run linux on it, but I'd imagine you'd have some trouble compiling a lot of software for it. I don't think Itanium is currently a high priority target architecture for desktop software.

    You could probably run apache, etc., but then why buy a desktop machine?
  • AgaBooga - Friday, September 26, 2003 - link

    Yeah, don't expect Itanium 2 for desktop anytime soon.
  • Anonymous User - Friday, September 26, 2003 - link

    Until they replace some of those Xeons with the I2 line, I doubt you'll be seeing it at all in desktops.
  • jliechty - Friday, September 26, 2003 - link

    Well, now we have some half-reasonably-priced Itanium 2s. The big question is if the "Average Joe" will ever be able to purchase one from Newegg.

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