AMD v/s Intel ... And The Argument Continues

by Julia Fernandes    Oct 28, 2004

The popular adage, ‘Strike when the iron is hot’, could very well become AMD’s next marketing philosophy. Barely five after days after Intel got down on it’s knees and accepted defeat by abandoning its ambitious 4 GHz chip, AMD timed the release of not one, but two processors to steal the glory — Athlon 64 FX-55 and Athlon 64 4000+, touted as the fastest chips in the world.

CXOtoday puts the two competitors to test — Sanjeev Keskar, country manager, AMD and GB Kumar, director- channel & OEM sales, South Asia, Intel. Below are some excerpts from the interview:

CXOtoday: Though clock speed has traditionally been the measure of a chip’s performance, there are also other ways of increasing a PC’s speed like adding more memory. In this context, how significant is AMDÂs claim of the fastest chip in the world?

Keskar, AMD: CPU Performance = Clock Speed * IPC (Instruction per clock cycle). When we launched Athlon XP in Oct.2001 we announced ‘Quantispeed Architecture’ which performs 9 instructions/clock cycle whereas our competitors can manage only 6 instruction/clock cycle. So even at lower clock speeds our architecture outperforms competition.

When we launched Athlon 64 it was not only a 64-bit x86 architecture launch but it had additional features like HyperTransport, an integrated DDR memory controller, etc. So, the claim of Athlon 64- FX- 55 is due to overall architecture advantage of the x86 64-bit architecture and the best measurement to prove the same is benchmarks.

Kumar, Intel: Microprocessor performance is a function of various aspects of which clock speed is one of them. Intel has enhanced performance of microprocessors by adding new, optimized instructions, and technologies such as hyper threading, L2 and L1 cache memories, etc.

What really matters to the end-customer is the PC-system level performance and experience, which could be significantly enhanced by focusing on platform level innovations.

Intel’s Grantsdale platform is a good example where there are numerous platform level innovations such as hi-definition video, Dolby 6.1 audio, PCI-Express I/O, AGP 4X Graphics, DDR 400 memory support, SATA Disk support, and RAID 0 at platform level.

CXOtoday: In your personal opinion, is chip evolution heading towards saturation in terms of clock speed?

Keskar, AMD: We are a technology company focusing R&D efforts towards ‘Customer centric Innovation’. We are committed to manufacturing products that end customer need and not to PUSH new breakthroughs for technology sake.

Kumar, Intel: Microprocessors continue to evolve in terms of performance, clock speed, and other technological aspects. We do not see saturation in the foreseeable future. In fact, at one of the developer forums, Intel’s CEO demonstrated a 10GHz microprocessor!

Do you think Moore’s law still holds true today considering the rate of microprocessor development?

Keskar, AMD: In terms of processor technology we will be migrating from 130 nanometer to 90 nanometer wafer technology soon and later to 65 nanometers. I think this rate of technology innovation will continue to satisfy future computing needs.

Kumar, Intel: Yes. Moore’s law still holds true in microprocessor development and we see this holding true for the near future too. Our microprocessors are continuing to deliver performance enhancements and size reductions in accordance with Moore’s law or better.