Thursday, March 30

Geek

Low-Hanging Froot

Speaking of furore in geekland, there was a certain amount of consternation when benchmarks of Intel's new* Conroe processor showed it handily outperforming AMD's top-of-the-line FX-60 for games, traditionally** the Athlon's strong point.

Some people criticised the benchmarks, but they have been redone independently, and while not especially painstaking or comprehensive, they do seem to be showing a real and very significant performance jump.

So how has Intel managed to suddenly leapfrog AMD with what is, basically, a souped-up Pentium Pro?

Easy.

For some time, both Intel and AMD have supported 128-bit short-vector instructions, performing two 64-bit or four 32-bit floating point operations at once. Except that neither one actually had a 128-bit FPU; both required two passes through a 64-bit unit.

So Intel fixed that, and as a result they are ahead of AMD. For as long as it takes AMD to double the width of their FPU, something that they were already working on anyway.

Lots of geeky details here.

* New as in not available for another six months.
** Traditionally as in for the past two or three years.

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