Page Two

By eweek  |  Posted 2002-09-02 Print this article Print

Despite the debate about processor speeds, some enterprise users contend its the chip makers reputation, not processor performance, thats important to them.

"We dont look for performance per se for PC clients; were looking mostly at reputation," said Michael Hodges, systems manager at the University of Hawaii, in Monoa, which uses Intel-based PCs. "If they promise a certain level of performance, thats fine. But its reputation thats driving the [buying] decisions currently."

Industry analysts agreed that CPU clock speed has been overrated.

"Megahertz for a long time was used as a proxy for processor performance," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst for Insight 64, in Saratoga, Calif. "But even at its best, it was imperfect." In its place, Brookwood said, the industry should adopt an open-source benchmark.

But performance benchmarks often are controversial as well. Currently, AMD is denouncing changes made this year to the widely used Sysmark benchmark that AMD contends were done to bolster the performance of the Pentium 4 relative to the Athlon XP. In a report it presented to businesses and reporters, AMD identified 14 changes that had been made to Sysmark 2001 to boost scores for Pentium 4-based PCs.

Such benchmark tests have taken on greater importance for AMD since it introduced the Athlon XP last year. AMD contends the Athlon XP 2000+, which runs at 1.67GHz, performs as well as, or better than, a 2GHz Pentium.

Because AMD sees Sysmark 2002 "as a broken benchmark," company spokesman Damon Muzny said AMD will continue to use the earlier versions to calculate its product labeling.

In a bid to revise the benchmark, AMD, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., this summer joined the nonprofit industry group that oversees the Sysmark test suite, Business Applications Performance Corp., known as BAPCo.

"Any benchmark that is too dominantly controlled by one company will reflect the bias of that one company," said Kevin Krewell, an analyst with In-Stat/MDR, also in Sunnyvale, which publishes The Microprocessor Report. "BAPCo was ... biased and influenced by Intel." BAPCo Operations Manager John Peterson, also in Santa Clara, declined to detail why the benchmark was revised, saying, "The discussions between members are confidential."

An Intel spokesman dismissed suggestions the chip maker forced benchmark changes. "A Pentium 4 processor at 2.8GHz is the worlds fastest desktop processor, and it is the fastest on numerous benchmarks, not just BAPCos," said spokesman George Alfs.

Related stories:
  • AMD, Intel Release Faster Chips, Cut Prices
  • Intels 2GHz Mobile Chip Has Big Price Tag


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