Chips We Really Need
The Power4's design reflects not mere pursuit of benchmark numbers but throughput for next-generation tasks.Youve seen the TV auto ads that warn, "Professional driver, closed course. Do not attempt." They remind me of microprocessor companies dueling over which has the fastest chip. The benchmarks they cite recall the empty city streets, deserted mountain roads and other venues beloved of ad directors but rarely encountered in day-to-day driving. Perhaps "do not attempt" was the warning that should have been given to Hewlett-Packard recently before it tried to corner on two wheels by announcing its HP Workstation xw4100 with an Intel 3GHz Pentium 4 CPU and an 875P chip set. Later on the day of the announcement, Intel admitted that this combination had shown "anomalies" in behavior (that have since been resolved).
One had to wonder which users had been impatiently awaiting this desktop dragster; even on the most intensive applications, HP predicts less than a one-fourth reduction in task times, with only "up to 5 percent" improvement in mainstream applications. To put these figures in automotive terms, the 0-to-60 time could fall from 7 seconds to 5.5, but the 15-minute drive to the store would lose only 45 seconds.