July 19th, 2002, 12:43 AM
AMD vs. Intel
Hey all, this is a paper I had to write for one of my computer classes. Preep had asked me to post so here it is. Lemme know what you think, if I should add or subtract anything, and if its actually completly correct. Also let me know if there are any errors in it. Cheers
NOTE: all the margins have been thrown off by word.
AMD vs. Intel
In all my years of computer knowledge, this has to been one of the most argued debates in the computer industry. Intel and AMD have been in constant battle to produce the fastest and most reliable processors on the market, and the battle is constantly being won and lost. In todayís market, it seems that Pentium has a step ahead of AMD with their new Pentium 4 Northwood processor line, although AMD has its new Clawhammer chip series right around the corner, which is sure to turn heads at Intel. First let us take a brief look into each companyís history.
Intel is currently celebrating their 30th anniversary in the computer processor industry. The beginnings of Intel were more based on luck than anything else. Their original plan was to make memory modules using semi-conducting material practical for everyday applications. The company was founded on July 18, 1968 and had a very unique challenge ahead of them. Their very first client to the new technology was the Japanese manufacturer Busicom, which asked Intel to design a series of chips for their high-performance programmable calculators. At the time Busicom developed several different chips for several different calculators, and had asked Intel to do the same. Although Intel decided to create one single chip that would be able to be used for varying purposes, and that is just what they did. This new single chip they had created not only met Busicomís needs, but also was easily adapted to be used in other electronics at the time, without needing to be redesigned. Although, Intel had made a grave mistake with their contract with Busicom, in which Busicom was now the sole owner of the chip and the technology within it. Realizing this Intel made an offer to Busicom, which was in money troubles, to return Busicomís investment of $60,000 in exchange for the rights to the chip. It was here where Intelís luck shined on them, as Busicom agreed.
Intel decided to take its new chip, dubbed microcomputer at the time, and begin to work on accelerating its potential. Intel introduced its 4004 microcomputer at the end of 1971, which at the time was a major breakthrough. The 4004 was smaller than a thumbnail, had 2300 transistors, and executed 60,000 operations per second. Its predecessor was the ENIAC computer, which used 18,000 vacuum tubes and took up a 3,000 cubic feet area. With this innovation, Intel took over the processor market and had cornered the chip market.
AMD started on May 1, 1969 about the same time as Intel, although AMD concentrated its business on the memory aspect, and didnít enter into the processor industry until much later in the companyís history. During the company's first years, the vast majority of its products were alternate-source devices, products obtained from other companies that were then redesigned for greater speed and efficiency. Although the main reason behind AMDís success was a stringent guarantees that they boasted. They guaranteed that every chip they remanufactured would meet stringent MIL-STD-883 standards, no matter who it was for, and at no extra cost. By the end of AMDís fifth year they had over 1,500 employees, making over 200 different products, many of which were proprietary.
AMD continued this trend for 15 years, had become a multimillion-dollar corporation, and had production facilities all around the globe, but times were changing.
The memory based semi-conductor market was beginning to slow tremendously, based mostly on the new technology that Intel had introduced. It was time for AMD to expand its market to the processor industry. In March of 1991, AMD had produced its first AM386 microprocessor family, and had broken Intelís monopoly. Only seven months later, AMD ships out its one millionth Am386 processor, establishing its foot holds in the processor industry. With the help of NextGen, in 1995 the two companies discussed how to create a family of new processors to compete with Intelís processor family. AMD ended up acquiring NextGen, and the AMD-K6 processor was developed. The K6 processor was basically an attempt by AMD to enter the market, and to build a bridge that would be the foundation for their line of next generation processors called the AMD Athlon. The AMD Atlon processor line ultimately signaled their official transcendence into the processor market as a leading competitor, and signaled the beginning of the speed race between AMD and Intel.
The speed race between Intel and AMD has been a constant battle, which seems will never end. It would be futile to try and say who leads whom at any particular time, because honestly both chipmakers are constantly going back and forth with the lead. The lead literally will change about once every fiscal quarter. The speed of a processor is based on megahertz, or clock speed. Webopedia.com, a leading technical dictionary describes Mhz, the processors speed, in this way:
It is the Mhz that most, if not all, of the general public looks at to determine which processor is faster, although in the computer savvy arena, we realize that this is not necessarily true. For systems today, CPU speeds simply don't tell the whole performance story. A CPU acts as a system's brain, but backbone components like main memory, the system bus, and the graphics card do a lot of heavy lifting. These components can noticeably speed up or slow down a PC. More than ever, it's important to take into account the differences inside these boxes--and not just the MHz ratings outside. It is for this reason that many argue that even though AMDís Mhz speeds are slower, they still may outperform many of Intelís higher Mhz processors. Intels current processor, the Nortwood core Pentium 4, is based on a .13 micron architecture and boasts speeds of up to 2533 Mhz, whereas the AMDís latest chip, the Thoroughbred core AthlonXP 2200+, based also on the .13 micron architecture, shows speeds of only 1800 Mhz. Although the AtlonXP seems sluggishly slow compared to Intels Pentium 4, the actual working speeds show that the AthlonXP is only slightly behind Intelís speeds. The reason for this is due to the fact that AMDís chips do much more work per cycle than Intelís chips. It would seem to the lay person that doing more work per cycle would be a great benefit, although it is not completely without problems. One of the problems with past AMD AtlonXP chips is that doing more work per cycle will produce much more heat, and possibly cause a melt down of the proccesor. This has been brought to AMDís attention, and with the advent of the latest Thoroughbred chips, AMD has brought about increased security against a melt down of the chip. This protection lies in a thermal diode that ensures the power is turned off in a timely manner before damage is caused. AMD has taken steps to ensure that any new motherboards with the Thoroughbred chipset must pass stringent certifications before being certified to carry the new chips.
Abbreviation for megahertz. One MHz represents one million cycles per second. The speed of microprocessors, called the clock speed, is measured in megahertz. For example, a microprocessor that runs at 200 MHz executes 200 million cycles per second. Each computer instruction requires a fixed number of cycles, so the clock speed determines how many instructions per second the microprocessor can execute. To a large degree, this controls how powerful the microprocessor is. Another chief factor in determining a microprocessor's power is its data width (that is, how many bits it can manipulate at one time).
AMD and Intel have a constant and ever changing battle ahead of them. It seems with every step that Intel takes, AMD is right behind them stepping on their heels. What does this mean for consumers? As most have noticed, processor prices have dropped significantly due to the competition, and the technology is increasing drastically with each step. So which chip is better? Ultimately it is up to the consumer to educate themselves on the latest technologies, the pros and cons of each, and make an informed answer based upon the facts. As for me, I have switched my following many times in the past, and will continue to switch with each new release, although eventually I will have to break down and make a choice, of which I still havnít.
So, what do ya think? Who is the king of the processors right now and who do you follow? Lets keep it respectful as this tends to be a heated argument at times.