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Athlon XP vs. Pentium 4 : The Ultimate 32-bit CPU Showdown
By CPU-zilla
Category : CPU
Published by Jimmy Tang on Sunday, 14th September, 2003


The Time Is Now

OK, folks, we know what you're thinking right now. Some of you are probably wondering why we are cooking up yet another storm with this Pentium 4 vs. Athlon XP article. We can tell you it's not on purpose as we've wanted to do this some time back. However, circumstances and time has prevented us from doing so and this is why we've held back until now.

Even though AMD is preparing to launch the Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX in just more than a week's time, we thought it would be the best time to take a tiny step back and look at what today's processors have to offer before some of you start to bid farewell to the 32-bit computing world. While a minority of users would be the first few daring martyrs who does not mind sacrificing their hard earned cash to purchase a sparkling new 64-bit CPU, most other users would still prefer to hang on, or invest in what's common today. These users would likely be the ones that would hang dearly to their trusted 32-bit software for the next couple of years.

Indeed, the 64-bit computing world is an exciting one but it's also filled with lots of uncertainties. Operating system software, drivers and even optimized applications have yet to surface, thus, it's extremely difficult for anyone to even begin computing in 64-bits. However, as with all new technologies, time is the essence in which a particular technology will grow into maturity and acceptance.

Well, this article is not about 64-bit computing, but rather, it mainly explores the performance of these two processors. Much has changed in the computing landscape since we last reviewed a CPU. On the Athlon XP front, AMD has boosted their processors with a faster 400MHz front side bus (FSB) while Intel has also moved ahead to support 800MHz FSB. Both these processors actually run on a system bus clocked at 200MHz and the memory banks are normally clocked synchronously with this bus. If you recalled, AMD uses a double-pumped bus (EV6) which effectively increases its data bus bandwith to 400MHz. On the other hand, Intel's quad-pumped bus boosts the bandwidth further to 800MHz.

Technical Specifications of the Pentium 4 and Athlon XP
Processor Model AMD Athlon XP Intel Pentium 4
Codename Barton Northwood
Manufacturing Technology 0.13µm 0.13µm
No. of Transistors 54.3 million 55 million
Die Size 101 mm² 146 mm²
Front Side Bus 400MHz 800MHz
L2 Cache 512KB full-speed 512KB full-speed
Clock Multiplier 10.5 - 11x 12 - 16x
Clock Frequency 2.1GHz - 2.2GHz 2.4GHz - 3.2GHz
Core Voltage 1.65V 1.475V - 1.550V
Current (Icc) - Max 41.4A - 46.5A 52.4A - 67.4A
Thermal Design Power (Max) 68.3W - 76.8W 66.2W - 82.0W
Form Factor Socket-462 Socket-478

Looking at the specifications above, one cannot help but wonder why a 2GHz 0.13┬Ám part from AMD needs as much as 1.65V to operate. Even Intel's highly clocked Pentium 4 3.2GHz processor is available at 1.475V. However, current drawn by the Pentium 4 is higher and so that resulted in a processor with much higher power consumption. Even then, its Thermal Design Power is only about 5W more than the Athlon XP 3200+.

We shall not bore any of you with technical specifications as this will be a pretty lengthy article. Let's get to the results right away.

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