G4 vs Athlon?
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Dear CPU Scorekeeper

I was wondering if the new G4 500 is really faster than the Athlon Processor? Specifically the 700-800 MHz Athlons.

I have read where the G4 is a 128-bit processor instead of 32 or 64 like Intel and AMD. Based on true speed MHz for MHz, which rates faster? And by how much of a percent over the other? And what machine layouts were used to test for speed?

- - Randy, January 2000

See the questionCPU Scorekeeper Responds

Direct cross-platform tests pitting a G4-500MHz against an Athlon-800MHz are difficult to find at this time, given the newness of both these processors. However, some useful results showing the differences between various G4's and some G3's, Pentiums, and Athlons--along with the test system configurations--can be found at MacSpeedZone as linked to our Benchmarks page. The G4 scores listed at our CPU Comparator are based, in part, on these tests.

The CPU Comparator shows that, in general, the G4-500 performs similarly to an Athlon-700. At 800MHz, AMD's Athlon is roughly 10% faster.

Regarding the 32-/64-/128-bit question, technically the G4 uses all three data sizes. Integer calculations are conducted in 32-bit "words", floating-point operations use 64-bit registers, and the AltiVec (Velocity Engine) multimedia component eats 128-bit data chunks. A good discussion of this issue can be found at the MacKiDo site.

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