Smokin! 800 MHz Athlon leaves Pentium III behind

While vendors are starting to ship systems using Intel Corp.'s 800 MHz Pentium

III processor, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has announced shipment of its

new pacesetter, the 850 MHz Athlon and the imminent release of a 1 GHz processor.

As soon as the FCW Test Center can get its hands on the 800 MHz Pentium

III and the 850 MHz Athlon chips in comparable systems, we'll run a comparison.

In the meantime, we've just finished putting AMD's 800 MHz Athlon through

its paces, and the processor set a new performance record on our benchmarks.

The previous record-holder in our testing using the Business Applications

Performance Corp.'s SYSmark/98 suite of real-world benchmarks was the 600

MHz AMD Athlon, which last August turned in an overall score of 294. The

800 MHz Athlon leaves the 600 MHz choking on its smoke, with an overall

score of 331. It is the kind of performance that attracts the attention

of agencies with number-crunching and scientific-computing applications.

The unit we tested came with 128M of SDRAM, a Guillemot Corp. Maxi Gamer

Xentor 32 graphics adapter with 32M of RAM and an IBM Corp. 20.5G Deskstar

DPTA-372050 ATA66 EIDE hard drive.

We ran unofficial tests on a Pentium III 800 MHz chip in a vendor's

box that offered twice the system memory as the machine on which we tested

the Athlon 800. The Pentium III 800 turned in a respectable — but lagging — score of 315.

The original equipment manufacturer price for the Athlon 800 is $599.

The processor is available in computers from Compaq Computer Corp., Gateway

Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM and other original equipment manufacturers.

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