AMD said it is spearheading an industry-wide initiative to develop a new measure of computer performance that end-users can trust.
Linda Kohout, brand manager for AMD's Duron processor, said users that rely on megahertz as an indicator of performance are "victims of missed expectations". "The only measure of performance that really matters is the amount of time it takes to execute a given application," she said.
The new Athlon XP processors feature model numbers that represent their relative performance when factoring in overall system performance. The new Athlon XP 1500+ chip equates to a 1.33GHz processor. The 1600+ equates to a 1.4GHz chip, the 1700+ equates to a 1.47GHz chip, and the 1800+ equates to a 1.53GHz chip.
According to Kohout, Intel's Pentium 4 chips may be hitting the 2GHz mark internally, but overall system performance is actually dropping. "With the Pentium 4, the amount of work went down for the first time by as much as 20%," she said. "Even though the P4 [megahertz] goes up, work for clock cycle actually goes down."
Andy Brown, an analyst at IDC, said the performance of the Athlon XP is generally better than the Pentium 4, but he believes that AMD's new marketing strategy is unlikely to work.
"AMD is largely relying on the fact that it can re-educate the end-user," he said. "This will prove difficult - there has already been some confusion among PC manufacturers with companies suggesting the number referred to megahertz rather than performance."