AMD's Athlon XP: Great performance, poor marketingby Anand Lal Shimpi on October 9, 2001 7:00 AM EST
- Posted in
Internet Content Creation & Office Productivity Performance
Let's start off by doing a Model Number to clock speed comparison, shall we? AMD's Athlon XP running at 1.33GHz boasts a 1500+ model number, indicating that it should perform like a Pentium 4 1.5GHz, if not a bit faster. Considering that the 1.33GHz part performs somewhere in between a 1.7GHz and 1.8GHz Pentium 4, we'll just assume that the Athlon XP has a habit of being modest.
This modesty continues as the model 1600+ part (clocked at 1.40GHz) comes in as being 9% faster than the Pentium 4 1.6GHz; and the trend continues. You can also see the positive effects of SSE and the other Palomino core enhancements as the Athlon XP clocked at 1.40GHz is just over 21% faster than the regular Athlon-C running at the same frequency; most of that performance increase is due to SSE since it is used so heavily in Windows Media Encoder, a large portion of this benchmark.
With SSE enabled, the Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+) CPU is just as fast as Intel's Pentium 4 2.0GHz part. In another month however we expect to see a 2.2GHz CPU from Intel that will shift standings yet again.
Even before the introduction of the Palomino core the Athlon did extremely well in the Office Productivity portion of SYSMark 2001. You'll notice that the improvements of the Palomino core have no positive (or negative) effect in this benchmark as the Athlon XP is just as fast as the Athlon on a clock for clock basis. This isn't necessarily a bad thing since the Athlon already lead in this benchmark at 1.4GHz. With the boost up to 1.53GHz, the Athlon XP is able to continue to offer class leading performance. The 7% performance advantage over the 2GHz Pentium 4 isn't too noticeable but it's approaching that 10% figure where performance numbers actually gain meaning.
Again we see that the model numbers are meaningless as they don't convey the true performance potential of the Athlon XP CPUs.
Remember that strong performance under this test is actually very important to many AnandTech readers; don't let the title fool you, there's much more to Office Productivity SYSMark 2001 than just running Word and Excel. The benchmark is very multitasking intensive combining tasks such as voice recognition and real time virus scanning with common email and document manipulation tasks. If you're anything like the majority of the AnandTech staff, you always have an Outlook (or other email program) window open, a few web browsers, a copy of MS Word and maybe Excel with your virus scanner running in the background. This type of usage model is exemplified by these tests.
The overall performance picture boils down to this; the Athlon XP 1.53 and 1.47GHz processors (1800+ and 1700+ respectively) both offer performance equal to that of the Pentium 4 2.0GHz (their 3% lead is within the margin of error for this benchmark). Also, because of SSE dependencies in the ICC tests, the Athlon XP running at 1.33GHz is able to offer an 8% lead over the Athlon 1.4GHz processor. In cases where there are no SSE optimized applications, the two would be much closer in performance with the scale being tilted in favor of the older 1.4GHz chip.