Tech Industry

Older Pentiums outdo Pentium II, site says

Will Intel's next-generation Pentium II actually be any faster? A Web site claims its tests say no, not much.

A preproduction version of Intel's (INTC) next-generation Pentium II processor doesn't run faster in some instances than current Intel processors, according to a Web site that claims to have tested the chips, as well as two German trade publications.

The site also claims that Advanced Micro Devices' (AMD) upcoming K6 processor is faster than the preproduction Pentium II.

The Web site Tom's Hardware Guide has published the results of benchmark tests the site's owner says he's run on the not-yet-announced Pentium II, a chip due to ship to PC vendors in May or June.

The results say the preproduction version of the chip is slower for some applications than Intel's current MMX-enabled Pentium and its Pentium Pro processor. The tests used a 233-MHz Pentium II, a 225-MHz MMX Pentium, and a 233-MHz Pentium Pro.

The site also claims the chip runs slower than AMD's K6. "The performance of the K6 is higher than the performance of the Pentium II at the same clock speed," the site's report states.

The Web site claims it ran the benchmarks in cooperation with a the German publication, called c't. The German computer publication PC Professionell also published similar data.

The publications claim that Intel threatened to pull its advertising because of the negative results of the tests.

"Some of our people went [to the German publications] and left them with the impression that future advertisement decisions could work against them," said an Intel spokesperson. The spokesperson maintains, however, that "this will not affect our [advertising] decision."

The Web site also claims it was pressured by Intel not to publish the material on its site, though the site is saying now that Intel has backed off.

In tests run by the site, the Pentium II ran slower than the MMX Pentium and Pentium Pro on certain DOS game software. For Windows 95 and NT applications, there is little appreciable performance improvement with the Pentium II, the tests claim.

Intel cautions that the tests are far from fair because the Pentium II chips are preproduction versions and therefore don't have the functionality and speed of production versions.

Some analysts agree with Intel. "It's interesting but I wouldn't put a lot of faith [in the benchmarks]. I will reserve judgment," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at market researcher Dataquest.

Brookwood also questions the validity of the benchmarks.

Still, the tests give the impression that Intel may have a harder time than usual in maintaining its strategy of producing new generations of processors that make the previous generation obsolete in terms of performance.

(Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.)