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Intel adopts PR rating/ part number shock?

Taking the A train of thought

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Clock speed is the bane of AMD's life, especially when it comes to marketing processors to retail customers.

It has Athlons performing better than higher-clock rated P4s, so what is it to do? It introduces part numbers to imply equivalence with Intel PCs. So the Athlon 2100 desktop CPU, launched today, clocks in at 1733MHz and not the 2.1GHz which such a number would indicate if it were an Intel part. And it has something called the True Performance Initiative, to promote a more meaningful measurement of - er - performance - which retailers can market, and which customers feel comfortable with.

Intel thinks different: in the consumer space, Intel adopts the clock speed is everything stance, and is bolstered by its products which chew through more megahertz more quickly than anyone else's.

Other measurements muddy the waters, it argues. So what then is the difference between the 2GHz P4 and the 2.0AGHz P4? They both clock in at 2GHz but in Sysmark 2001 benchmark tests published on Intel's own web site, the 2GHz records a score of 190, while the 2AGHz notches up 204. Intel has introduced the "A" nomenclature to indicate 2GHz chips built with a Northwood core. Same clock speed, different performance. And why not? Without differentiation, the results would be an untrue performance initiative.

But since when did a letter indicate speed? This looks like a part number to us, just like the PR ratings deployed by AMD with the Athlon XP. Which brings us to Banias, Intel's next-gen mobile processor. We understand that this will have a lower clock speed than P4 mobiles, yet deliver better performance. Will there be more PR ratings on the cards?

Maybe not, but Intel's choice of one little letter represents a small, very small, victory, we think, for AMD in the Megahertz Madness war. ®

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