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Macs vs Windows: Is the 'Megahertz Myth'... Actually A Myth Itself? - A Dual Processor Shoot Out With G4 And Wintel Chips As The Protagonists
| Macintosh vs Windows Index |

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

First, don't panic over the results below. This is only one set of benchmarks and is aimed at dual processor configurations. Also this test does not utilize the 'Velocity Engine' of the G4. It does show that in certain functions, because of their higher clock speeds, Xeon and Athlon chips can far out shine the current high-end G4s.

These RayTracing tests, from the benchmark program CineBench 2000, were gathered from various soures. The Macintosh scores were done by us. Some of the Pentium 3 results and the K7 result were sent in by Adrian Thomas (thanks), and some were obtained here. The rest of the scores, for the Xeon chip were expropriated from an extensive article about the performance of the AMD Athlon processor and the Intel Xeon. The Xeon is Intel's high-end processor. The Athlon 1200 is, as its name would imply, a 1.2 GHz processor.

So, given these results,is the Megahertz Myth dead and buried? No, not by a long shot. Indeed these limited results show that it is alive and well. For example, the Athlon 1.2 GHz single chip turns in a score just a little under the faster 1.7 GHz Xeon chip ... this is a 42% clock speed advantage that yields only a 1% performance improvement.. The Ace's Hardware article is very interesting. I encourage you to read it. They did extensive testing of these Wintel processors, using a great variety of benchmarks. The results? The higher speed Xeon processors generally sucked. This was true even in dual processor configurations. Indeed, the RayTracing test was one of the only tests in which the Xeon could keep up with the slower clocked Athlons ... The Megahertz Myth in action.

So what does this mean for the Macintosh? It's a mixed bag. This is only one test and the G4 is not really utilized to its fullest. However clock-speed does matter, and there are chips out there that are faster than the current fastest G4 in completing certain functions that call for raw processing power.

We would like to see more cross-platform testing done. For example, it would be interesting to see a QuickTime movie encode done on various platforms. QuickTime takes great advantage of the G4 processor (about double the performance of a similarly clocked G3), and under OS X, according to Apple, it should be dual processor savvy. Kind of puts things in perspective.

Please add your questions, comments or perspectives on the information in this article.

Your comments on these results

Internal Links

External Links

  • PowerPC - source data for the benchmarks above
  • Intel - source data for the benchmarks above