Benchmarking Pentium 4 against Athlon is a controversial thing. The right choice of applications can either make the one or the other look better or worse. Intel's new Pentium 4 at 2 GHz however is beating AMD's fastest Athlon in the majority of frequently used applications and deserves therefore the title 'fastest PC processor'. Intel won the 2 GHz race and it also retook the crown of the maker of the fastest CPU. I am hesitant, but in a way we have to respect those facts and congratulate Intel.
What remains the same however, is the fact that Pentium 4 is still significantly more expensive than a comparable Athlon processor. AMD's brand new price cuts make even the cheapest Pentium 4 look overly expensive. The price difference between Athlon 1 GHz and Athlon 1.4 GHz has become so small that almost everyone interested in a high-end system should go for an Athlon 1400. Buying a Pentium 4 would give you only marginally more performance, but for a much higher price.
Two things make it very hard for me to praise Intel any further though.
The battle against VIA and its P4X266 chipset is something that I simply don't appreciate, because for us consumers, P4X266 is certainly a good thing. Basically, if Intel's managers would be real guys, they wouldn't fight with VIA in the courtroom, but release i845 with DDR-SDRAM support early and battle against P4X266 on a technology, performance and reliability level. The delay of DDR-i845 plus the threats against Taiwanese motherboard makers show that Intel is utterly unable to play it straight.
I really wonder who is responsible for this attitude, since the most Intel people I know (except for a few really unpleasant ones) are honest, straightforward and hard-working guys that deserve everybody's respect. They also deserve to be represented by a management that sticks to rules of ethics and fairness to the benefit of its customers.
There's another reason why Intel's Pentium 4 2 GHz release might not be important after all. So Intel is back making the fastest processor. So Intel has won the 2 GHz race. Who really cares? The majority of people don't give a rat's behind about a 2 GHz processor! Who can blame them? Which application would justify the purchase of a 2 GHz monster for more than a tiny minority of people?
Intel may have regained some prestige it lost to AMD a while ago. However, the current economical problems, the low NASDAQ and the recession in the PC-business will certainly NOT be solved with Intel's Pentium 4 2 GHz processor. What a shame!