Intel and AMD ramp up desktop processors with 1GHz chips

1000 MHz of processing power could be wasted on many business users

1000 MHz of processing power could be wasted on many business users

Last week both AMD and Intel passed the 1000MHz milestone with their latest desktop processors. But analysts remain sceptical over how useful the development will be to business, writes Lindsay Clark.

The announcements show that AMD is now at least a technology equal to Intel. Thus Intel should really no longer be seen as the de facto choice for high-performance desktops, said Keith Diefendorff, senior analyst with MicroDesign Resources.

Users will certainly notice the step up in PC performance when comparing the new AMD Athlon 1GHz processor with its 850MHz predecessor, but it is more difficult to compare it with Intel's chip of the same speed. "The early benchmarks suggest that the Pentium III will outperform the AMD 1GHz processor, but benchmarks do not always relate to PC system performance," he said.

However, despite the breast-beating of the two largest PC processor companies in the world, it is difficult to put together a strong argument to move to the fastest processor right now.

"The dilemma for Intel and AMD is that there are few compelling PC applications today that need a GHz processor," Diefendorff said. "Everybody copes just fine with a 600MHz machine - people are voting with their pockets and buying lower spec machines in large numbers."

Only applications such as intelligent word processing, integrated speech recognition, image processing and video processing need GHz power levels, he said. "They all need computing power of 1 GHz and beyond to make them fast and easy to use. But the fact of the matter is there is not high demand for these applications in business."

Only if users are implementing PCs on an extended life cycle, anticipating many new applications, should users consider opting for the GHz processor, according to Diefendorff. If users plan to upgrade again in two years, it may be best to wait for the applications to catch up.

This was last published in March 2000

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