Meghurtz™ wars hotting up, literally

Blimey, here we go again

It is a truth universally acknowledged that chipmongers form the last bastion of the old 'mine's bigger than yours' school, egged on by hardware geeks around the world.

No sooner has Chimpzilla got its shiny new 1.2GHz Athlon out of the door than do we hear rumours of the impending arrival of a 1.33GHz part shipping in December (Story: 1.33GHz Athlon on streets by December?).

AMD denies any such launch is scheduled but that cuts no ice with the geeks slavering over how much better the 1.2GHz Athlon is than anything Intel can offer. Intel is the company chip geeks love to hate and whenever AMD does something better (or is even rumoured to be about to do it), the bulletin boards are awash with illiterate rants along the lines of how AMD is really creaming Intel, hahaha, isn't it great?

And it is indeed true that for the last few months, AMD has indeed had - and shipped - faster desktop CPUs than Intel. Chipzilla tried to play catch up and suffered the ignominy of recalling its flagchip 1.13GHz part because it, erm, didn't actually work.

But at the end of next month, the Pentium 4 will launch at 1.4 and 1.5GHz with faster speeds coming early in Q1 2001. The chip behemoth has stated that the ramp for P4 will be the most aggressive in its history (story: Fastest ever rollout? Intel bets jobs, ranch on Pentium 4). So aggressive in fact that it doesn't really care about getting a revised, working 1.13GHz PIII out of the door until sometime next year. P4 will have the magic 1.5GHz label that means so much to so many.

So in a month's time, Intel will have regained the clock speed lead and should be able to keep it for the foreseeable future. AMD has just revamped its thermal guidelines for Athlons and the temperatures and power consumption figures make pretty scary reading unless you're a heatsink manufacturer.

The Socket A 1.1GHz Athlon is now rated at 60.3W, up from 55.1W. The 1.2GHz part goes up from 59.4W to 65.7W and runs at a die temperature just five degrees C below boiling point. When the 1.3GHz part finally arrives it will push out almost 71W of heat, and the 1.4GHz version will warm the cockles of your heart with a stonking heat output of 76.1W. Projected die temperatures remain a secret but you just know they're gonna be hot, hot, hot.

By anyone's standards, this is an awful lot of heat to get rid of and AMD systems already have a reputation of being considerably noisier than the Intel equivalents due to the additional cooling required. Until Chimpzilla can move to a smaller process for Athlon and Duron, that heat problem can only get worse. ®

Related stories

Fastest ever rollout? Intel bets jobs, ranch on Pentium 4
This Megahertz madness must end
Megahurtz, memory wars exercise in futility
1.33GHz Athlon on streets by December?
1.33GHz Athlon 'for sale' - in Sweden
Intel to hype P4 over 1.13GHz PIII, and barely ship either?
1.4GHz P4 price slashed

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