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The most recent spar between the new Intel Pentium 4 and AMD Athlon 64 did not reveal a clear leader, however, there are more clashes of the titans coming later this year, when Santa Clara, California- and Sunnyvale, California-based chipmakers releases their faster central processing units.

The next big competition between arch-rivals Intel and AMD is likely to happen this April, when Intel Pentium 4 3.60GHz and AMD Athlon 64 2.40GHz microprocessors are released. In addition to new chips, both firms will offer new platforms with new sockets for CPUs as well as PCI Express bus for next-generation add-in cards.

AMD’s faster Athlon 64 3700+ and FX-53 processors will transpire in the very late first quarter – on the 29th of March to support the company’s new Socket 939 infrastructure. The firm will also unveil Athlon 64 3700+ for Socket 754 platform in May as well as the Athlon 64 FX-53 for Socket 940 mainboards on the 29th of March. The result of new introductions will be a very competitive position against Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor 3.40GHz as well as against LGA775 Pentium 4 3.60GHz that is set to come in the second quarter.

Later during the year Intel will release its Pentium 4 3.80GHz chip in Q3 as well as Pentium 4 4.00GHz in Q4. AMD will not answer Pentium 4 3.80GHz with any new offerings, but will continue to market Athlon 64 FX-53 (2.40GHz) as well as Athlon 64 3700+ (2.40GHz) in the third; in the Q4 expect AMD to bring its first 90nm chips, dubbed Athlon 64 4000+ (2.60GHz) along with Athlon 64 FX-55 (2.60GHz), to fight the Pentium 4 “Prescott” processor at 4.00GHz clock-speed.

In contrast to last year, this year AMD will be able to offer truly high-performance and valuable processors. Nevertheless, the company’s high-end CPUs will hardly win all the benchmarks around, like AMD Athlon processors did in the year 2000, but will fall behind the Pentium 4 in numerous tasks, for example, those related to video encoding. This all means that there will hardly be a clear winner of CPU battles this year, especially considering all the problems Intel and AMD currently have.

Last week Intel’s President Paul Otellini confirmed there had been issues with yields of Pentium 4 “Prescott” and Pentium M “Dothan” processors both made using 90nm strained silicon fabrication technologies. The Santa Clara, California-based company had to redesign Dothan, but could not afford pushing the new Pentium 4 chip at a later date. Though, the firm will deliver the 3.40GHz Prescott processor in March, a month after the formal launch. The later-than-expected availability of 3.40GHz processor may also negatively impact the launch dates for faster chips, as Intel’s 90nm products not only may have problems with yields, but also consume and dissipate too much power.

On the other hand, AMD is using its time-proven 130nm (0.13 micron) process for its current and some future processors. Even though it means that the company is not going to run into serious process-related problems with yields and costs, it also implies that there is no huge clock-frequency headroom for AMD with its current manufacturing technology. Given that 2.40GHz is likely to be the last speed bin for 130nm SOI process, AMD will have to utilize 90nm nodes for 2.60GHz and faster chips. AMD’s transfer to 130nm process was not an easy one, just like AMD’s first experiments with 130nm SOI technology. Therefore, there are quite a lot of concerns in regards AMD’s ability to successfully ramp up mass production using 90nm SOI technology in the firm’s Fab 30 in Dresden, Germany, later this year.

Discussion

Comments currently: 7
Discussion started: 02/05/04 10:18:43 AM
Latest comment: 03/25/04 09:55:10 PM

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1. 
You do realise, Graham, that Intel will have 64bit as well. (Called CT)...In which companies like DELL will accept. (They won't, more like never, accept AMD's 64bit technology).

I fear the performance issue will flip again once Intel uses its "influence" on developers to adopt Intel's 64bit implementation (CT) over AMD64.

Numbers don't interest me...Its the technology and application that gets me going...As well as the politics behind it. ie: The decision to make a compromise and implement CT into both the P4 and Xeon, and risk hurting Itanium 2 sales.

Never under-estimate Intel's ability to bounce back with their "band aid" add-ons to their CPUs. Their SSE2 implementation is a clear example of an effective band aid to AMD's Athlons. It provides the necessary counter when software is optimised for it.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/05/04 10:49:56 AM]
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2. 
Well you speak as though Intel's implementation of 64bit cpus will not be compatible with AMDs.... Wrong. Microsoft has already stated that they will develop 1 64 bit extended version of XP. Not two. It is well known that Windows 64 will support AMD cpus. So if Intel wants OS support for their 64 bit cpus they will have to use AMDs version of x86-64.
0 0 [Posted by:  | Date: 02/05/04 03:44:42 PM]
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