Worst CPUs ever, now with poll!

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What's the worst CPU ever? Please explain your choice.

  • Intel iAPX 432

  • Intel Itanium (Merced)

  • Intel 80286

  • IBM PowerPC 970

  • IBM/Motorola PowerPC 60x

  • AMD K5

  • AMD family 15h

  • AMD family 10h


Results are only viewable after voting.
Mar 24, 2017
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The Pentium4 hate is unwarranted. The Pentium4 3.06ghz with HT(first consumer chip with HT) was an amazing processor. It easily overclocked to 3.5ghz and the HT made the system extremely smooth. I ran that thing up until the legendary core2 chips came out.
 

Charlie22911

Senior member
Mar 19, 2005
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The Pentium4 hate is unwarranted. The Pentium4 3.06ghz with HT(first consumer chip with HT) was an amazing processor. It easily overclocked to 3.5ghz and the HT made the system extremely smooth. I ran that thing up until the legendary core2 chips came out.
I voted for itanium, but Willamette would be a close second. P4 as a whole wasn’t bad, Northwood derivatives were fine, with Gallatin arguably being pretty great.
 
Apr 27, 2000
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The Pentium4 hate is unwarranted. The Pentium4 3.06ghz with HT(first consumer chip with HT) was an amazing processor. It easily overclocked to 3.5ghz and the HT made the system extremely smooth. I ran that thing up until the legendary core2 chips came out.
Every implementation of of Netburst outside of Northwood-B and Northwood-C were lamentably bad. Prescott was an enormous disappointment, and Cedarmill/Presler did little to alleviate the problem.
 

scannall

Golden Member
Jan 1, 2012
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Pfft, all they had to do was just buy out Digital Research, which would be the modern Google way of doing it. Instead they wanted to be bitchy because Gary's wife wouldn't sign an NDA or some such horse manure. Anyway that whole negotiation seems unprofessional in retrospect.
Agreed. IBM didn't really want in that space, but felt kinda pushed into it. So they were going fast and cheap.
 

whm1974

Diamond Member
Jul 24, 2016
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Agreed. IBM didn't really want in that space, but felt kinda pushed into it. So they were going fast and cheap.
Yeah IBM didn't want to put a whole lot of money into it since they pretty much thought that the "Personal Computer" was just a passing fad.

Personally I would have chosen the 68000 CPU instead of the 8088 as that was a more capable processor.
 

ArizonaSteve

Senior member
Dec 20, 2003
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Bulldozer. Had AMD produced a competitive architecture we would all be on 16 cores and +100% single threaded performance today.
 

Yotsugi

Senior member
Oct 16, 2017
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Bulldozer. Had AMD produced a competitive architecture we would all be on 16 cores and +100% single threaded performance today.
That's now how it works. We're already sitting at the limit of Si.
 
Apr 20, 2008
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There's no way Bulldozer is close to the "worst." The first iteration was still a powerful workstation that could be found for a competitive price. That continued with Piledriver, where shortly after launch was price competitive with low-tier i3's while being up there with i5 and i7 CPUs in workstation performance. I only paid $125 for mine three years ago and certain places had it down to $99 shortly after.
 

SPBHM

Diamond Member
Sep 12, 2012
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There's no way Bulldozer is close to the "worst." The first iteration was still a powerful workstation that could be found for a competitive price. That continued with Piledriver, where shortly after launch was price competitive with low-tier i3's while being up there with i5 and i7 CPUs in workstation performance. I only paid $125 for mine three years ago and certain places had it down to $99 shortly after.
the fully enabled bigger part being down to that price should be an indicative,
I think AMD was aiming higher with 4m/8t Bulldozer than that, if you look at the overall fastest CPU at the time they were pretty far, even when you look at Willamette, it was expensive and a fail, but, it was overall the fastest CPU in some applications

realistically the worst CPU is certainly not something Intel or AMD produced, but things like Bulldozer and Willamette were very disappointing
 

epsilon84

Senior member
Aug 29, 2010
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Every implementation of of Netburst outside of Northwood-B and Northwood-C were lamentably bad. Prescott was an enormous disappointment, and Cedarmill/Presler did little to alleviate the problem.
Northwood A wasn't bad either, I remember the 1.6A overclocking to 2.4GHz and it was matching the top end P4s and Athlon XPs of the time.

Prescott was a disappointment due to its thermals and subsequent inability to scale to 4GHz and beyond. At the time 90W was considered a monstrosity whereas today we don't even blink at 90W TDPs.

Media encoding and rendering performance was actually pretty strong on Prescott and HT gave it better multitasking performance than the Athlon 64. Of course gaming was weaker but it was 'good enough' to borrow a line from more modern times ;)

Actually, apart from high power consumption, that sounds rather like Ryzen. Good productivity performance, good multitasking performance but average gaming performance. Then even share the same 4GHz 'wall'. Of course Ryzen doesn't suffer from dismal IPC due to a very long pipeline...
 
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BigDaveX

Senior member
Jun 12, 2014
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I think AMD was aiming higher with 4m/8t Bulldozer than that
Yeah, considering how they had positioned Thuban before it, my guess is that they intended for the 4M/8T chips to be a price-performance match for the hex-core i7s, the 3M/6T chips the quad-core i7s, and the 2M/4T chips the i5. However, between the lower than expected clockspeeds and the module concept not working as well as they had hoped, they instead ended up in a situation whereby the top-end FX was somewhat competitive with the 2600K in multi-thread performance, but got blown away in single-thread.
 

Campy

Senior member
Jun 25, 2010
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How about the pentium 4 willamette. The other Pentium 4s weren't so bad, but the willamette was beyond a disaster, Northwood was decent, Prescott and Cedar Mill were ok.
Prescott was a hot pile of shite. Emphasis on hot.
 

Topweasel

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2000
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It could be argued that Intel made way more money back then they spent on developing Itantium by all of the x86-64 Xeons they sold to companies that were using SPARCs, Alphas, MIPS, etc previously. Intel just didn't count on AMD extending the x86 ISA to 64-bits, and Microsoft supporting it.
No not really. I mean you don't spend that much money on a product, not sell any of it, and lose Billions and turn it into a Win. A lot of those markets either expired (they were built on ideals that were dying anyways) and moved over to other architectures like GPU's. It has only been a recent move (last 4 years or so) that that the core count and vector processing options overcame the things that IA64 was supposed for computing. In the end Intel got the purchases they always were going to get lost a lot to AMD during the 6-12c Server CPU phase, and lost Billions on IA64. It is by far the most costly failure in CPU's.
 

TheGiant

Senior member
Jun 12, 2017
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For me definitely Willamette Celeron. It was hot, power hungry and slow.
At 2GHz it had computing power of p2-350 MHz, no joke tested with xls and fortran based code. Counter strike min fps went down to low 20s.... comparing to rock steady 100FPS with Athlon xp..
They bought it because it has frequency of 2GHz, it must be faster than Athlon XP with lower frequency....
 

Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
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Prescott was a disappointment due to its thermals and subsequent inability to scale to 4GHz and beyond. At the time 90W was considered a monstrosity whereas today we don't even blink at 90W TDPs.
Far as I remember, certain Prescotts were rated 115W TDPs. Some Pentium Ds (i.e. dual Presc(h)ott) even had 130W(!) TDPs.
 
Apr 27, 2000
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Northwood A wasn't bad either, I remember the 1.6A overclocking to 2.4GHz and it was matching the top end P4s and Athlon XPs of the time.
It was . . . okay, but NorthwoodA didn't have the same l2 punch as Northwood B and C, so it struggled in some areas.

Prescott was a disappointment due to its thermals and subsequent inability to scale to 4GHz and beyond. At the time 90W was considered a monstrosity whereas today we don't even blink at 90W TDPs.
The real problem was that Prescott was slower clock per clock than Northwood C, while using more power. Intel's 90nm was a disaster.

HT gave it better multitasking performance than the Athlon 64.
And then the x2 showed up and it was all over.

Actually, apart from high power consumption, that sounds rather like Ryzen.
Utter nonsense. Ryzen isn't slower than its previous generation, and it is quite efficient, which is something neither Prescott nor Smithfield ever managed.

Far as I remember, certain Prescotts were rated 115W TDPs. Some Pentium Ds (i.e. dual Presc(h)ott) even had 130W(!) TDPs.
Remember Tom's watercooled Pentium 820D article? I think that thing was pushing into FX-9590 TDP territory fully OCed.
 

BigDaveX

Senior member
Jun 12, 2014
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It was . . . okay, but NorthwoodA didn't have the same l2 punch as Northwood B and C, so it struggled in some areas.
All Northwoods had the same amount of L2 cache: 512KB. FSB speeds were the main differentiating factor, with Northwood-A starting out with the same 400MHz FSB as its Willamette forerunner, Northwood-B raising it to 533MHz and then Northwood-C bumping it up all the way to 800MHz (and adding Hyper-Threading). A Northwood-A with its FSB pushed to 533MHz (or beyond) was quite a potent offering for the price.

That said, one could argue that the early-mid Northwoods got a little lucky, as the Athlon XP floundered around at sub-2GHz speeds for quite a while due to AMD's original, non-SOI 130nm process being underwhelming, while Intel pushed up towards the 3GHz area with Northwood-B (though Northwood-C would probably have been too much for the Athlon XP to overcome regardless).
 
Apr 27, 2000
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All Northwoods had the same amount of L2 cache: 512KB. FSB speeds were the main differentiating factor, with Northwood-A starting out with the same 400MHz FSB as its Willamette forerunner, Northwood-B raising it to 533MHz and then Northwood-C bumping it up all the way to 800MHz (and adding Hyper-Threading). A Northwood-A with its FSB pushed to 533MHz (or beyond) was quite a potent offering for the price.
Hmm, I seem to remember Northwood A only having 256k l2, but it looks like my memory is wrong in that department.
 

swilli89

Golden Member
Mar 23, 2010
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How is the Pentium 4 not on the list? Given its resources and lead at the time, possibly the biggest fail ever in CPU.
 
Apr 20, 2008
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How is the Pentium 4 not on the list? Given its resources and lead at the time, possibly the biggest fail ever in CPU.
Pentium 4 Northwood (~3Ghz) was a competitive product. When I upgraded from the P4 Northwood 2.8Ghz w/HT to the A64 Venice 3500+ I couldn't game and listen to MP3s simultaneously anymore without it being choppy for one or both of the two tasks. The HT implementation was usable then as it is now. I upgraded to the X2 4200+ (two 3500+, one chip) for that reason.

Really though, compare a P4 w/ HT to an equivalent single core A64 by running a couple chrome tabs. You will throw out the A64 much faster. P4 aged better.
 

epsilon84

Senior member
Aug 29, 2010
931
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It was . . . okay, but NorthwoodA didn't have the same l2 punch as Northwood B and C, so it struggled in some areas.

The real problem was that Prescott was slower clock per clock than Northwood C, while using more power. Intel's 90nm was a disaster.

And then the x2 showed up and it was all over.

Utter nonsense. Ryzen isn't slower than its previous generation, and it is quite efficient, which is something neither Prescott nor Smithfield ever managed.
As mentioned, the difference between the Northwoods was the FSB. Each FSB bump increased performance slightly, but since you could overclock via FSB back then, overclocking essentially meant getting a FSB upgrade as well. The Northwood As were the first P4s to draw parity with Athlon XPs, if my memory serves correctly. They certainly weren't bad chips.

Prescott was a bit slower per clock, but it also scaled to higher clockspeeds than Northwood, though not nearly as high as Intel had hoped for, due to its power consumption.

I was comparing Prescott to Athlon 64 because thats what it was competing against in 2014 when it launched, and in productivity apps it actually didn't fare too badly, it was behind in gaming however. Which is why I drew comparisons with Ryzen, with regards to the chips relative strengths (productivity/multitasking) and weaknesses (gaming) compared to the competition.
 

sxr7171

Diamond Member
Jun 21, 2002
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How about the pentium 4 willamette. The other Pentium 4s weren't so bad, but the willamette was beyond a disaster, Northwood was decent, Prescott and Cedar Mill were ok.

I had the 1.7GHz specimen. Terrible. It ran hot and was noisy. Worst computer purchase I ever made. The RDRAM hype was massive.
 

BigDaveX

Senior member
Jun 12, 2014
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Prescott was a bit slower per clock, but it also scaled to higher clockspeeds than Northwood, though not nearly as high as Intel had hoped for, due to its power consumption.
It only went 400MHz higher than Northwood (and 340MHz higher than Gallatin), which really wasn't a worthwhile trade-off considering that a slower Northwood could still be noticeably faster than a Prescott.

If Intel had jumped directly from Northwood-B to Prescott, then odds are people would have been a little more forgiving, as performance-per-clock would have been largely equivalent and you'd have gained HT and SSE3 support, with the only trade-off being higher heat (well, that and not competing well with Athlon 64, but I don't think even a directly shrunken Northwood/Gallatin would have made up much ground there). Northwood-C, as great of a chip as it was, unwittingly sabotaged its successor, as there wasn't any real advantage to buying a Prescott.
 

lamedude

Golden Member
Jan 14, 2011
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It was ill gotten but P4 made a ton of . Hard to call it the worst when money pits like the Itanic exist.
 

LightningZ71

Senior member
Mar 10, 2017
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The only really interesting Prescott was the rarest, the dual die chip extreme edition on the top end bus. It was HT enabled, so it was 4 threads and, if you could manage to dissipate the incredible (for the time) heat output, it could clock very high. It was just so freaking expensive!
 


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