Linked by Nicholas Blachford on Wed 9th Jul 2003 16:43 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y This article started life when I was asked to write a comparison of x86 and PowerPC CPUs for work. We produce PowerPC based systems and are often asked why we use PowerPC CPUs instead of x86 so a comparison is rather useful. While I have had an interest in CPUs for quite some time but I have never explored this issue in any detail so writing the document proved an interesting exercise. I thought my conclusions would be of interest to OSNews readers so I've done more research and written this new, rather more detailed article. This article is concerned with the technical differences between the families not the market differences.
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RE: Didn't like it
by Roy on Thu 10th Jul 2003 15:36 UTC

Actually, the general x86 FPU (referred to as the x87 because it used to be a separate coprocessor) pretty much sucks. The programming interface to the FPU is a REAL problem. This issue is largely fixed by SSE(2). With the P4, Intel designers pretty much decided to abandon the x87 FPU. It still works, but is REALLY slow (significantly slower than an Athlon). This is one reason that the P4 specifically is VERY dependent on SSE(2) usage.

Oh, and the C3 is able to be low power, but it sacrifices a LOT of performance to do this. I agree with your point about it being possible. The PentiumM is really the best example of this that I know of.

The instruction set DOES have an impact on the design of a processor, but that impact has been reduced through tricks suck as out-of-order execution and register renaming. Also, other factors such as memory bandwidth multiprocessor scalability have become more relevant over the years (these are more dependent on system rather than processor architecture). Designing a fast x86 processor is "harder" than designing a fast PowerPC processor. Intel has largely been able to stay ahead of Apple in the last few years because their fabrication and design capabilies were so far ahead of Motorolla. They still have an advantage in fabrication over IBM due to volume (higher volume = lower per unit cost), but technology wise, IBM is MUCH more competetive than Motorolla.

And again, yes, the ArsTechnica article rocks. THAT writer really knows what he is talking about.