Thoughts on the Pentium 4 launch. No big surprises: a massively complex new processor design, limited availability, and systems from all the usual suspects, at high prices of course. And, as widely reported previously, disappointing performance.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. The Pentium Pro was a pretty lackluster performer too–it ran 32-bit software great, but Win9x was still the dominant OS at the time and it still has a lot of 16-bit code in it. So a 200 MHz Pentium Pro cost considerably more than a 200 MHz Pentium and for most of the people buying it, was significantly slower. History repeats itself…
Intel revised the Pentium Pro to create the Pentium II, with tweaks to improve 16-bit performance, but of course massive clock speed ramps made that largely irrelevant. Goose the architecture to 600 MHz and you’re going to blow away a 200 MHz previous-generation chip.
That’s what you’re going to see here. Intel fully intends to scale this chip beyond 2 GHz next year, and that’s when you’ll see this chip come into its own. Not before. And by then Intel will probably have changed their socket, (they intend to change it sometime next year) so buying a P4 today gives you no future-proofing anyway.
It never makes sense to be the first on the block with Intel’s newest chip. Never. Ever. Well, if you’re the only one on the block with a computer, then it’s OK. The P4 has issues. The P3 had issues (remember the serial number?) and was really just a warmed-over P2 anyway. The P2 was a warmed-over Pentium Pro. The Pentium Pro had serious performance issues. The Pentium had serious heat problems and it couldn’t do simple arithmetic (“Don’t divide, Intel inside!”). The last new Intel CPU whose only issue was high price was the 486, and that was in April 1989.
Unless you’re doing one of the few things the P4 really excels at (like encoding MP4 movies or high-end CAD), you’re much better off sticking with a P3 or an Athlon and sinking the extra money into more RAM or a faster hard drive. But chances are you already knew that.
Time to let the cat out of the bag. The top-secret project was to try to dual-boot WinME and Win98 (or some other earlier version) without special tools. But Win98’s DOS won’t run WinME, and WinME’s DOS seems to break Win98 (it loads, but Explorer GPFs on boot).
The best method I can come up with is to use the GPL boot manager XOSL. It just seems like more of an achievement to do it without third-party tools, but at least it’s a free third-party tool. You could also do it with LILO or with OS/2’s Boot Manager, but few people will have Boot Manager and LILO will require some serious hocus-pocus. Plus I imagine a lot of people will like XOSL’s eye candy and other gee-whiz features, though I really couldn’t care less, seeing as it’s a screen you look at for only a few seconds at boot time.