Note: The title of this article has two meanings: one, in that Intel has done things that people don’t understand, but make sense (they seem contradictory, but aren’t); and two, for those things that Intel has done which people don’t understand, and don’t make sense (those things which are contradictory).
In the consumer PC market, MHz has been king. This is why Cyrix, AMD, Centaur, and RISE have, at one point or another, used the PR rating, because they didn’t have the raw clock speed to keep up with Intel. It is why VIA technologies is now making their Cyrix III chips with much higher clock rates, despite their abysmal performance. Now Intel has reentered the clock speed race, and on that basis, done well, but has still gotten a lot of flack for it. The people’s eye on clock rate is more scrutinizing now than ever before, because more and more people are realizing that clock speed is not the only thing that matters. Part of this credit must be given to Steve Jobs of Apple and all his zealot following (it’s a true statement, but Jobs, shall we say, has a tendency to exaggerate). While the Pentium 4 and all its innovations are winning the MHz race, it is not winning the wallets and pocketbooks of many consumers.
Because of the Pentium 4’s lackluster performance on today’s applications as well as many legacy ones, in the eyes of the average consumer who’ve “done their research,” anything new and innovative about this new architecture is seen as being counterproductive. From the “Netburst architecture” to the “Trace Cache,” if a consumer doesn’t see an immediate benefit from a new feature, it is often considered wasteful, or inefficient. At first glance, the double pumped ALU’s, Trace Cache, and SSE2 look more like a waste of time, due to the lack of an immediate benefit, i.e. better performance than is already available from these innovations.
While Intel claims that the iSSE instructions boost the Internet (hence the ‘i’ in iSSE), nearly any knowledgeable user would rather have a nice fat connection than some fancy new instructions that haven’t done squat for the average user. There are many aspects of the Pentium 4, the Itanium, advertising, and the Celeron which, at least at first, seem contradictory.