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AMD reportedly revising CPU performance ratings

New numbering scheme for 'star' processors?

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Is AMD about to ditch or radically revise its relative-performance related processor number schemes? That's what some sources cited by a Far Eastern website claim, stating the chip maker will move to an alternative approach when it ships its 65nm quad-core chips mid-2007.

As yet there's nothing whatsoever to corroborate the Chinese-language HKEPC story which doesn't offer any details as to how AMD may alter its numbering scheme.

Certainly some changes will eventually be necessary. Where does it go after releasing the Athlon 9999+, for instance? Up to 10,000 or on some other, unrelated number? But whatever it does, we have say there's a certain attractive simplicity about a 'the higher the number, the more powerful the processor' approach that would be a shame to lose.

Intel eventually followed AMD's lead and took a similar approach, but neither chip maker has adopted the scheme as logically as they might. Both have muddied the waters by introducing parallel numbering schemes for different processor families, for example. Neither companies' naming schemes are consistent across notebook, desktop and server lines, or between high-end, mainstream and budget desktop chips, for instance.

Contrary to HKEPC's argument, the numbering scheme can be multi-core friendly, as AMD's Opteron 1/2/8xxx nomenclature, where the second digit is the number of cores, shows. But we'd argue that that's irrelevant. One, two, four, eight or more cores, the CPU is a box that delivers performance. How it delivers that performance is irrelevant so long as compatibility is maintained. By all means brand processors according to their core complement, but also provide a metric that allows ordinary consumers a simple way to gauge relative performance.

In an ideal world, there would a universal numbering scheme, ideally with an energy consumption rating included, but the pulls of rivalry and competitiveness will ensure chip companies will probably never come together and agree to such a scheme.

That leaves us looking forward to what AMD may or may not come up with when 'Antares', 'Arcturus', 'Spica', 'Kuma' and co. ship. ®

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