Athlon vs Pentium III

Jared Hodge jared_hodge at
Wed Feb 21 08:15:33 PST 2001

Eric Hoyt wrote:
> Hi,
> I'm in the initial phase of putting together a 24 node cluster.  The
> specifics of what it will be used for aren't fully developed (ie what
> applications will be run), but its main purpose will be optical
> simulations.  One issue I am faced with is the choice in CPU.  I know the
> response to "What hardware should I choose?" is always application
> specific, so I'm just looking for general pointers and any issues people
> may have encountered that they would be willing to share.
> Anyway, here is what it has been narrowed down to: I can put together a
> cluster of 24 Thunderbird 850s, or 12 dual PIIIs at 1GHz (24 total
> CPUs) for around the same amount.  Both setups have 256MB of memory per
> CPU.  What do you consider when making a decision like this? What
> scenarios favor Athlons, and what scenarios favor PIIIs?  Also, I have
> heard advice to go with classic Athlons instead of Thunderbirds, due to
> 512k off die vs 256k on die cache issues.  Again, what would make you lean
> one way or the other?
> Again, I know that the ultimate decision will depend on what we'll be
> running, but any general tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.
> Thanks,
> Eric Hoyt
> _______________________________________________
> Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at
> To change your subscription (digest mode or unsubscribe) visit

A good article I read on the subject of Pentiums vs. Athlon is at:
This is actually comparing P4 and Athlons, but it has a great graph with
a good explanation on the 5th page (direct link):
Which explains the memory performance of PIII and Athlon.  They do give
the Athlon quite a hefty Mhz lead, so the graph is a little skewed, but
it is an informative read anyway.  Also, I was going to go on and on
about the network bandwidth issues with having two processors per node
(since we've been considering this), but I guess I'll just say ditto on
what Dr. Brown said earlier.  Hope the links are useful though.
Jared Hodge
Institute for Advanced Technology
The University of Texas at Austin
3925 W. Braker Lane, Suite 400
Austin, Texas 78759

Phone: 512-232-4460
FAX: 512-471-9096
Email: Jared_Hodge at

More information about the Beowulf mailing list