Tech Nerdery

Ben = Intel Fanboy?

Yes, that is right ladies and gentleman, after many years of Intel bashing, and hating them because they are the microsoft of the hardware world, I am going to jump camps unless AMD pulls something amazing out of their ass.

I need to timeline a little just to help explain how much I hated intel.

Somewhere in 99 to 2000ish Intel and AMD were in the P3 vs Athlon race to 1GHz. I was a freshman in college taking ECE 110 or some such thing. Both camps used the same memory, and the only archictecural difference between the processors that made any mark in anything was the prescence of SSE in the intel stuff.

Then, Intel introduces that stupid RD RAM crap…I think they even made a P3 chipset for it. It was expensive, proprietary, and those Rambus bastards always struck me as either smug or whiny. In the meantime AMD is mopping the floor with intel in the benchmarks that don’t use SSE, VIA is the king of AMD chipsets.
2000 – 2001 I help dirk build his (at the time) kick ass computer. AMD Athlon 850mhz (best bang for the buck at the time) with the VIA KT133A chipset…king of the PC133 chipsets. I take ECE 290 and learn about pipelining, then go home for a break…I think it was thanksgiving. Intel releases the engineering monstrosity driven purely by crap-tastical retards in the marketing department known as the Pentium 4. The dark black spot in my heart gets seared with the name “Intel” (which has now been replaced with “3 Doors Down”, but that is for another blog). The Pentium 4 is released at speeds of 1.6, 1.7, and 1.8GHz (The 1.4 was the fastest P3, or original Athlon ever made), but the performance of each of these chips is less than the faster Pentium 3’s due to it’s incredibly long integer pipeline. Marketing people scramble in both camps, and AMD decides that their next revision of the Athlon will not carry it’s speed anymore as it’s name for distinguishing purposes, but a marketing number meant to compare it to the performace of the P4, hence the name of my processor in my desktop is “Athlon XP 1800+”, but it is actually a 1.53 GHz processor.

Spring, I take ECE 291 and learn more about instruction sets and how to program for the deep dark parts of the computer…this is the class that means you get to graduate from the Hogwartz school of Dark Computer Magic. I hate intel less, because MMX is cool, but hate them more because 3DNOW was a great idea, and it died because intel came out with SSE. The pentium 4 started to push 2.0 GHz sometime around here.

2001ish-2002, no more compE classes left to take for the lowely EE, so I just go on hating intel because it seems like the right thing to do. AMD comes out with DDR memory based chipsets, Intel notices but tries to ignore it and says RD RAM is the way to go….they are stupid, lawsuits with Rambus complicate Intel’s position.

DDR based chipsets start whiping the floor with Intel again…they look really stupid for sticking with RD RAM and making a 20-some stage pipeline.

I go on a co-op job, I get cash, I build a sweet computer based on DDR Ram with an Athlon XP (now with SSE support freshly licesnsed from Intel). My computer rocks the socks off most things intel at that point.

2002-2003, AMD gets lazy, starts to loose performance to Intel, mostly based on Intels massive amounts of money they can sink into refining their process of making silicon wafers. It is realized that the Athlon XP needs a revamp….and the “Hammer”, AMD’s 64-bit parts, are delayed. Intel comes out with Hyperthreading…which was somewhat visionary although ultimately not very useful in most common applications. Hyperthreading allows two “threads” or two programs to run through the processor at the same time.

2004 AMD unveils the Athlon 64 in the fall, which starts to handlily WHOMP intel again with its onboard memory controller. Brilliant move by AMD, but now the waiting game beings because Microsoft is draggin their feet in getting an OS out that takes advantage of the 64 bit-ness. Intel promptly recants their earlier statements that 64 bit is silly for the consumer right now, and starts to announce their upcoming 64bit processor. I think, once again, that they are thinking with their marketing team, not their engineers….which I say is the equivalent to a man thinking with his little head and not his big one, it always seems like a good idea at the time, in immediate payoffs, but down the road it just burns your dick when you get screwed by making stupid mistakes.

Turns out Intel does something smart this year, and comes out with the Pentium M (the processor for Intel’s Centrino Technology). I begin to wonder if all the smart people working for intel are in Isreal (where the Pentium M was developed), because it is a kick-ass processor. Expensive, but still, it rocks. Good battery performance, good speed, and it is based on the old P3 architecture.

2005, Intel continues to be stupid by releasing the “Prescott” core for the Pentium 4. This ups the pipeline to a whopping 31 stages, and allows for speeds up to 3.6 GHz. Intel has now completely lost it’s performance crown, no one even thinks about buying these chips who have read articles. Even the Intel bonner sucking Tom’s Hardware had to admit that AMD is badass. You can fry eggs on intel heatsinks now, because they are rediculously hotter than AMD. AMD no longer carries much stigma for processors overheating thanks to their “Cool ‘n’ Quiet” technology, and in general just better engineering than Intel, and than they have had in the past.

Pentium M is still sweet, AMD tries to come out with the AMD Turion processor which no one notices because: “AMD makes chips for laptops?!?” AMD needs to stop being smart and start using better advertising, because their chips are really good, but ultimately not much better than that Pentium M so they aren’t going to sell themselves. Intel also makes the deal sweet for people like me at work by giving system builders kick-backs for building systems with Intel Chipsets, processors, and wi-fi cards as a package. Standard marketing thing…microsoft does it too, and so does AMD except they are cheap about it. (all i got from them was a window sticker, at least intel gave me a hat).

2006, Intel unveils the Core Duo, which is a great ramp-up from the pentium-M. I would tell you to buy this processor if you are getting a laptop this year….but it turns out they had another announcement to make this week.

This week, they debuted processors to replace the Pentium 4, Xeon (server chips), and an upgrade to the Core Duo, which are totally freaking AWESOME!!!!

They completely overhauled the entire processor line, and provided a 20% performace increase vs. the fastest, most badass, dual-core Athlon 64 FX 60. Basically they take every single performance comparison by an average of 20%, and these chips will be available for purchase in the second half of the year.

They are well designed, they are susposedly way cooler. The mobile parts take the same battery life as the current core duo chips, but provide a 20% performance increase and are pin-compatible with the Core-Duo, which means that when these chips become available it is an easy switch for manufacturers. These are really made with the consumer in mind, not the marketing executive in mind like the P4. AMD will come out with something to match it, or compete, but it looks like a tough challenge because they are having a hard time getting their memory controller to perform well with the switch to DDR2 memory (something I repeatedly questioned the AMD people about when they made campus visits).

So, now I like intel again, and I basically realized that I can like either company as long as they aren’t trying to screw the consumer like Intel did with the P4 and their strong-arm monopolistic buisness practices in the 90’s.

It is going to be a fun year for the processor wars, just like 1999 and 2000.