Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Post Megahertz

The fact that most users don't need a faster processor surfaced around the days of the Pentium III. Before that upgrading to a faster processor yielded a noticeable increase in performance and allowed you to use more sophisticated applications and digital media. But for the most part any Pentium III/Athlon/G4 runs current desktop software well.

I've been surprised that the computer industry has been able to keep people upgrading in these post megahertz days. Of course some people will always need the fastest systems. Gamers form the largest part of this user base but there are also professionals, artists, and scientists. But for the rest of us upgrading just improves the "feel" of our systems. You would have a hard time even measuring the difference.

Apple was one of the first to introduce the idea of the megahertz myth. Then AMD came up with a new naming system using a PR or performance rating. Stating that their chips ran as fast as the equivalent Intel chip even though the clockspeed was much less. Intel has now acknowledged this by abandoning clockspeed in the naming of their processors.

The Mac mini makes perfect sense in this post megahertz world. More important now are factors such as cost, size, and heat. Apple has been the first major manufacturer to take advantage of this. I expect Sony and Dell will follow suite and introduce small cheap desktops using mobile Intel and AMD processors. But if history holds true they will just be a bad photocopy of the mini.

I first heard the term post megahertz today at Jon Fortt's blog Technofile.


At 1/22/2005 07:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The GHZ war was more about hype than providing a real power boost. Intel engineered the P4 to be an inefficient design that could clocked incredibly fast. AMD was able to match intel's pace at a much lower clock speed. Their more effecient processor also used a faster bus technology they purchased from DEC to help them gain measurable performance improvements. In the end it has put Intel into a position where they had to abandon the watt sucking P4 core and build upon a the PIII mobile core that had be giving much more performance per MHZ than the P4 design.

Focusing on the CPU MHz without addressing the subsystems is impairing macs in the G4 line. Hungry g5's get 900 mhz busses while the G4 sits on a 133 mhz bus. That G4 probably wastes a good portion of its own clock-cycles on that slow system bus. A small boost to the system bus would make the Mini a bit more future proof without forcing a move to a G5.

No mater how fast your hardware seems to be, someone will always find a way to fill it. The next version of windows has some staggering RAM, CPU and GPU requirements (designed to max out hardware that does not even exist yet) to do some of the same UI composting tricks OSX can do on far less powerful hardware. Well written efficient code is like a hardware upgrade in itself.

I do agree with you that the Mini is within the magic performance sweet spot that meets the needs most people. Efficient and easy to use iLife apps will give it plenty of real world performance that wont be easily matched with pc equivalents.

At 11/04/2005 09:01:00 AM, Anonymous amd athlon xp 2500 cpu motherboard combo said...

Jason Sares...It is nice seeing someone else interested in cpu motherboard amd enough to also make a blog on the subject. Your topic...Post Megahertz is exactly what I am spending my time investigating. Thanks.

At 12/21/2005 05:11:00 PM, Anonymous mortgage broker said...

thought-provoking, mootable pv. just my thoughts, well anyways gl & be chipper is what i say


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