All hail the mighty 120Mhz Pentium

For a short time today I was excited to be the owner of a 120Mhz Pentium. This went beyond my standard run-of-the-mill exuberance because I thought, for a little while anyway, that I was using a machine with one of the best clock-to-power ratios on record.

Or I did, anyway. Now I’m not so sure. If I understand that chart correctly (and it’s always possible that I don’t), my lowly CPU draws around 12 watts, and cranks out CPU speed at a factor of roughly 10 times that number.

It looked good, but then I noticed that most of the rest of the page uses an inversion of that ratio to show its calculations — watts to Mhz or watts to Ghz, as opposed to the opposite. Since I’m not so much a hardware geek as to trust my ability to calculate for myself, I am either excited to own a Pentium … or now on the lookout for a 233Mhz Klamath Pentium II, since it apparently weighs in at the other end of the scale. And so I remain somewhat confused, but no less proud of my P1.

Not that it matters much, since a Pentium is still a Pentium, and knowing its power draw-to-clock frequency ratio doesn’t make it any faster. But in a day and age when people demand four, six or even 10 hours of battery life from a laptop, it’s interesting to consider where mine stands.

Now I just need to get out a calculator, and think these things through logically. …


7 thoughts on “All hail the mighty 120Mhz Pentium

  1. Mads

    “… MHz/W values are not useful for comparing processors…”

    I’ll let that speak for itself 🙂


  2. Mads

    Actually, now that I read it, it’s much more sinister than that:
    From PowerPC to Pentium MMX the number is “Clock Speed to Power Ratio (MHz/W)” while from the Pentium II it’s “Clock Speed to Power Ratio (W/GHz)”

    That’s just confusing people 😦

    1. Nugnuts

      Yeah, why the inconsistency?

      For those may be confused by the different metrics:

      You’d want a high MHz/W and a low W/GHz. The former is like clock cycles per watt (à la miles-per-gallon, for instance), and the latter is just a normalized wattage rating, trying to describe the wattage draw required by the processor to pump through 1 GHz.

      I guess the W/GHz might make more sense with a light bulb analogy. We’re generally familiar with identifying light bulbs by wattage, when really lumens are what are important (in terms of lighting). Processor performance doesn’t actually have a viable single metric, but we’ve historically used the clock speed as the lumens. W/GHz would essentially be W/lm.

      We of course know that a 60-watt incandescent bulb is much less efficient than a 13-watt compact fluorescent with comparable lumens. Similarly, we can see that a lower W/GHz is preferable by looking at the Pentium III-M ULV series on that page, for instance. Here we have a bunch of processors drawing the same wattage with ever increasing clock speeds, and the ratio of course decreases.

      1. K.Mandla Post author

        Thanks for that; that might be the explanation I needed. I guess I can cancel my appearance on the late-night talk show circuit. 😦

        On the other hand, if there are any wikignomes in the audience, it might be clever suggestion to point out that the statistics on that page are somewhat confusing, considering that the ratios are inverted in different parts. Who knows though, maybe that’s how the chipmakers publish their information. … 😐

  3. Josh Miller

    So are all Pentium IIs at that clock speed the same?

    My current “slowest machine” is a P2 233mhz. It’s a laptop my wife uses to type on and play solitaire.

    Anyway, it’s an old Fujitsu Lifebook.

  4. steve

    All praise the old hardware. I had a fujitsu lifebook that died only recently. My web page is hosted on a laptop from 1998…a Toshiba Satellite Pro4200. How many people with their fancy quadcores actually *need* that for what they do? I have a friend who has such a beast, yet he buys separate hardware for a server and a media centre etc etc when his quad core could do all those jobs with resources to spare for probably the next 100 years.

    IMO many metrics are designed to confuse people…

    1. ksennin

      I have a white-box pentium 133 with 32mb ram that I used for structural engineering calculations up until three years ago. Excellent workhorse machine. Still works, but it has win98 on it… It hasn’t gone online since 1999, though, as it used an external motorola modem that connected via parallel port.
      (It pains me to use my current pentium-D 3.0ghz desktop power-guzzler when doing such simple tasks as cheking mail. I am currently shifting all normal daily tasks to a refurbished pentium3-512mb ram dell gx110 instead, which works excellent with xubuntu 7.10 and a nLited WinXP on dual boot, leaving the P-D for video editing or such intensive tasks.)
      I envy kmandla’s skill and patience (and willingness to go CLI). I wish I could use the pentium 133 for email and downloads and save the watt waste, but my attempts to install DSL or any other distro were unsuccessful and I had little skill and patience. Which streamlined distro could run deluge reliably?


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