Saturday, April 15, 2006

2. Everything You Need To Know About Processors

from NotebookReview

by Lowlymarine

How do you decide what processor core is right for you? It mostly depends on how much you decide to spend and what you intend to use it for. Here's a quick guide:

Intel makes generally more expensive, less efficient processors. Newer innovations such as Hyperthreading have gone a long ways in the race to top AMD, but currently only the Pentium-M can best its AMD equivalent in most respects.

Celeron-M: Similar architecture to a Pentium-M, but with slower clock and bus speeds and smaller caches. The lack of speedstepping also lends itself to exceptionally poor battery life. Only really useful if you're budget-strapped and don't plan to play games.

Pentium 4HT: It's just a desktop processor in a laptop, P4HTs run extremely hot and yield almost no battery life. They also make for very heavy computers. Rarely if ever a wise decision, unless you never want to move your laptop.

Mobile Pentium 4: A cooler running, more optimized version of the P4HT, yielding slightly imrproved battery life with a slight decrease in pereformance. Again, the primary use of this chip is "power on a budget when I can't find an AMD."

Pentium-M: The premier 32-bit notebook processor, the highly efficient Pentium-M yields exceptional performance clock-per-cloeck while maintaining low power usage and a cool temperature. Battery life is excellent (up to 5 hours on a standard battery in some computers) and weight can be as little as 3 pounds.

Core Solo/Core Duo: Intel's latest notebook chip, previously referred to as "Pentium-M Yonah." These chips use a new GM945 chipset, with a 667MHz DDR2 memory bus and Intel's GMA950 provdiding the graphics. The "Solo" models have one processor core, making them essentially Pentium-Ms with faster FSBs. The Duo model is where this new chipset shines, however. As you may have guessed from the name, Core Duos are dual-core processors, along with all of the multi-tasking performance gains that entails. Intel reports increases as high as 80-150% over Pentium-Ms performance-wise, although more conservative (eg, realistic) benchmarks place this difference around 25-40% for typical usage and gaming. It should be noted that Yonah is not, as once predicted, 64-bit; the next generation, code-named "Merom", will be, but not until Q4 2006.

AMD Processors are more efficient clock-per-clock than any Intel (excepting the P-M) and as such tend to be much more cost effective. No AMD can match the portability and battery life of the Pentium-M, though. AMD is currently also the only source of 64-bit processors.

Athlon XP-M: The Athlon XP-M is an older notebook processor still used in some models, notably the AVERATEC C3500. The Athlon XP-M is cool running and efficient, but tends to be slower than most newer processors.

Mobile Sempron: The Mobile Sempron is AMD's new budget mobile processor. The Sempron is failry cool-running and uses less power than Celeron-Ms or Athlon 64s, but overall yields mediochre battery life and power.

Athlon 64 DTR: Basically a desktop processor, Athlon 64 DTRs run warm and use a lot of power. They also have a less efficient architecture than Mobile Athlon 64s, but tend to be cheaper. Still a better option than a Pentium 4.

Mobile Athlon 64: The Mobile version of the Athlon 64 is slightly more efficient, with longer battery life and cooler core temperatures. It is also perhaps the best combination of power and cost, especially for the budget-minded gamer. More powerful than equivalent DTR models due to a larger L2 cache, the Mobile A64 also has the advantage of being one of the three 64-bit notebook processors, all from AMD.

Turion 64: AMD's newest notebook chip, intended to combine the power of 64-bit chips with the mobility and battery life of the Pentium-M. It succeeds on power and mobility but still can't quite meet the battery life of the Pentium-M. The tradeoff is that, like all AMD chips, the Turion 64 is much less expensive than equivalent P-Ms. AMD wants DDR2 memory compatability and dual-core on the Turion by mid 2006.

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