AMD's Athlon XP 2000+ vs Intel's 0.13-micron Northwoodby Anand Lal Shimpi on January 7, 2002 4:16 AM EST
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Although we aren't thought of in this way, some of the most power users depend on performance in office productivity applications more than anything else. As I write this article I've got the following open: Macromedia Dreamweaver, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook (along with 15 email windows), Microsoft Internet Explorer (along with 10 windows), Microsoft Excel along with my one compulsory content creation application - Adobe Photoshop. At the same time there are a number of background tasks running, including a real time virus scanner. If this is much like how you use your computer, then Office Productivity SYSMark 2001 is an index that you need to pay attention to.
The Athlon has historically done quite well in this benchmark simply because the nature of most office productivity code that is out there currently does not lend itself to perform better on the Pentium 4. Most of the time you're dealing with integer operations which are generally not as predictable as most floating point tasks not to mention that the bulk of this code was written for the P6 core which is quite similar to the Athlon in most respects.
In spite of this the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 is able to slightly edge out the Athlon XP by a 2.5% lead which no user would be able to notice. In fact, most users would not be able to tell the difference between the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 and the AMD Athlon XP 1700+ as the performance spread is less than 10%.
In any case, the Pentium 4 is helped out noticeably by the addition of the larger L2 cache which again gives it a 7.5% improvement over the older Willamette core. The processor is definitely much more competitive.
The overall performance picture is none too surprising as it is pretty much an average of the previous two SYSMark 2001 suites. By a slight margin, the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 emerges ahead of the Athlon XP 2000+. Overall we see that the additional L2 cache resulted in a 6.25% improvement in performance for the Pentium 4 and the boost in clock speed helped it gain a competitive edge.
The Athlon XP continues to offer the better value as the 2000+ model offers performance that is very similar to the 2.2GHz Northwood at a lower cost.