Hardware CPU Guide Part II: Differences Between Intel and AMD CPU

This is the second part of the Hardware CPU Guide series. If you have missed the first part, you still can read the article factors that affect a CPU’s performance.

intel-amd-mainWhen it comes to CPU, there are only two main players in the market: Intel and AMD. You may have seen reports saying that Intel is better, and on the next day, another report saying AMD is better.

You are confused…which one is better? AMD or Intel?

Both AMD and Intel CPUs are built on different circuitry and for that, it is impossible to compare apple to apple. If you were to ask me which one is better, I can only say that both are equally good and whether you choose an Intel or AMD CPU depends entirely on your needs and preferences.

Below we will discuss the unique features of each CPU brand.

Core Frequency

If you have noticed, Intel’s speed always seems to be higher than AMD. Be careful, this does not imply that the Intel CPU is better.

The higher clocker speed simply means that there are more work cycles per second, not the amount of work done per second. Intel CPU has the tendency to divide its task into many small parts for easy processing. As such, the amount of work done per cycle is relatively small. On the contrast, AMD has lesser work cycle, but it processes more data per cycle. Thus, when it adds up, the amount of work done can be quite significant.

Unless we do benchmarking to determine the performance of each AMD and Intel CPU, it is definitely not a good idea to say that a particular Intel model is better than another AMD model just because it has a higher clock speed.

Socket Type

intel-amd-socketThe main reason why you can’t use an AMD and Intel CPU on the same motherboard is because they don’t have the same pin configuration. Because of the different in circuitry, the number of connection pins for both brands of CPU is also different. Even within the same brand, a specific model might use different pin configuration from another model.

The newer generation of AMD chip has 938 pins and uses the AM3 socket. Intel chip (the newer generation) has 1366 pins and uses the LGA1366 socket on the motherboard. Thus, when choosing the CPU, it is important to bear in mind the socket type used by your motherboard.

Price

When comparing an Intel and AMD CPU of about the same specification, AMD processors always come out cheaper (probably because Intel uses more L2/L3 cache in their CPUs). If you are looking to save money without affecting the performance, get an AMD processor.

Performance

As soon as AMD acquired ATI, they started to integrate the graphical processing capability to the CPU core and that effort has paid off. If you are using an AMD chip for gaming, you will generally get a better graphical performance than an equivalent Intel chip (assuming you are using an ATI graphics card).

When it comes to multi-tasking, Intel have an edge over AMD with its HyperTreading technology. However, that advantage is only valid if the software/application supports multi-tasking (the ability to split its tasks into smaller pieces).

Summary

In general, for equivalent models, Intel will give a (slightly) better performance than AMD, but at a higher price range. For gaming purpose, if you are using the AMD-ATI cpu graphics card combination, it could yield a better performance than an equivalent Intel cpu.

In the next and last article of the Hardware CPU guide, we will show you how to choose a CPU that suits your needs and won’t break your bank.

Keep in tunes.

Image credit: Wikimedia