Pentium 4's strong SPEC score explained

— 1:32 AM on November 18, 2000

The recent review of the Intel Pentium 4 by Daniel Rutter of Dans Data which was posted on Australian IT has generated a tremendous amount of buzz due to the P4's unexpectedly high FPU scores. While the original article has been taken down, the benchmark results have been reposted over at Insane Hardware. What explains the high SPEC scores? An Anonymous Gerbil (#7) has commented that the SPEC benchmark is more of a memory test than a measure of floating point strength. This becomes a major hint as tnaw_xtennis sheds some more light on the subject in an article entitled "Intel flaunts FPU strength." Take it away.

Intel on Monday will introduce its Pentium 4 processor at 1.4GHz and 1.5GHz clock speeds at $644 and $819. An introductory offer of CPU, D850GB mobo and two 64Mb PC800 Rambus RIMMs is provided. The largest surprise that Pentium 4 benchmarking results will bring to us should be the Pentium 4 having the highest SPEC CFP2000 performance of any PC processor that's out there. "And, in fact, Pentium 4 compare very favorably to a lot of RISC microprocessors which for so long have been resident in things like workstations." Paul Otellini, executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group, said.

In our point of view, the most important factor that makes Pentium 4 shine in CFP2000 is the 400MHz FSB (Front Side Bus) it applied. Since most of the tests in CFP2000 deal with large date sets which stress system and memory bus bandwidth performance than the computational tests that stress the FPU performance of the processor. In the applications such as 3DStudio Max rendering that are very floating point intensive and not very stressful on the system and memory bus, Athlon Thunderbird will still have a very competitive performance in rivaling with Pentium 4.

This is so topical that it borders on the metaphysical. No shovels. They make a compelling case.
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