Intel ‘to adopt performance ratings’

Leaf from AMD's book

Intel appears to have conceded at last that a processor's clock frequency isn't the be-all and end-all of chip performance. It is to begin adding performance ratings to its processors, the better to distinguish one model from another.

The sound you hear in the background is AMD's workforce dancing for joy. Having been forced to adopt what are essentially AMD's 64-bit extensions to the 32-bit x86 ISA, Intel is now borrowing AMD's scheme for naming chips - or at least something along similar lines.

The chip giant hasn't confirmed the move or denied it, preferring not to comment. But CNET, picking up on rumours circulating on the Net late last week, cites a source "familiar" with Intel's plans as admitting that it has performance ratings in its sights.

Next quarter's launch of Dothan, the 90nm version of the Pentium M, will see the new scheme debut. Dothan has 2MB of L2 cache, but is unlikely to offer radically higher clock speeds than the current line of 130nm Pentium Ms. Performance ratings would allow Intel to demonstrate the effect of the extra 1MB of cache rather than show a small jump in clock frequency. However, Intel will still tout clock speeds.

The move will also help push Prescott, the 90nm Pentium 4. Prescott has proved something of a disappointment, shipping at clock speeds no different from older, 130nm versions of the chip. Again, performance ratings would allow Intel marketeers to stress the advantage of the part's larger cache, updated architecture and frontside bus speed. According to the CNET source, Intel will put the scheme in place this summer.

Curiously, the performance metric will be used to compare chips in the same family, not across the board, presumably to leave clear blue water between, say, Xeon and Pentium 4 processors. AMD does the same thing with its Opteron and Athlon 64 processors.

Of most use to consumers would be a consistent cross-vendor metric. The result: processors could all be rated using a measure as standard as clock frequency but more relevant to today's superscalar, multi-threading CPUs. Finally, the 'megahertz myth' could be laid to rest.

But AMD's attempt to build an industry consensus behind such a metric was quietly dropped last year. The company simply could not find enough chip vendors to back the move. ®

Related story

AMD quietly drops universal chip speed metric plan

Other stories you might like

  • Heart FM's borkfast show – a fine way to start your day

    Jamie and Amanda have a new co-presenter to contend with

    There can be few things worse than Microsoft Windows elbowing itself into a presenting partnership, as seen in this digital signage for the Heart breakfast show.

    For those unfamiliar with the station, Heart is a UK national broadcaster with Global as its parent. It currently consists of a dozen or so regional stations with a number of shows broadcast nationally. Including a perky breakfast show featuring former Live and Kicking presenter Jamie Theakston and Britain's Got Talent judge, Amanda Holden.

    Continue reading
  • Think your phone is snooping on you? Hold my beer, says basic physics

    Information wants to be free, and it's making its escape

    Opinion Forget the Singularity. That modern myth where AI learns to improve itself in an exponential feedback loop towards evil godhood ain't gonna happen. Spacetime itself sets hard limits on how fast information can be gathered and processed, no matter how clever you are.

    What we should expect in its place is the robot panopticon, a relatively dumb system with near-divine powers of perception. That's something the same laws of physics that prevent the Godbot practically guarantee. The latest foreshadowing of mankind's fate? The Ethernet cable.

    By itself, last week's story of a researcher picking up and decoding the unintended wireless emissions of an Ethernet cable is mildly interesting. It was the most labby of lab-based demos, with every possible tweak applied to maximise the chances of it working. It's not even as if it's a new discovery. The effect and its security implications have been known since the Second World War, when Bell Labs demonstrated to the US Army that a wired teleprinter encoder called SIGTOT was vulnerable. It could be monitored at a distance and the unencrypted messages extracted by the radio pulses it gave off in operation.

    Continue reading
  • What do you mean you gave the boss THAT version of the report? Oh, ****ing ****balls

    Say what you mean

    NSFW Who, Me? Ever written that angry email and accidentally hit send instead of delete? Take a trip back to the 1990s equivalent with a slightly NSFW Who, Me?

    Our story, from "Matt", flings us back the best part of 30 years to an era when mobile telephones were the preserve of the young, upwardly mobile professionals and fixed lines ruled the roost for more than just your senior relatives.

    Back then, Matt was working for a UK-based fixed-line telephone operator. He was dealing with a telephone exchange which served a relatively large town. "I ran a reasonably ordinary, read-only command to interrogate a specific setting," he told us.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021