Hello, I'm currently enrolled in a Masters in Landscape Architecture
program, and the program requires heavy use of CAD and other
performance-intensive utilities. I received a list of minimum and
recommended specifications for a notebook computer required to take
classes. The point of this discussion is the chip specification. The
list of specs says I need a pentium 4 chip with at least 3 GHz.
Checking the typical notebook providors (IBM, Sony, Dell, etc), none of
them are still making notebooks with Pentium 4 chips. Instead, all of
them are outfitted with Pentium M chips, the fastest of which is 1.8
I have heard (wikipedia's article on pentium chips) that Pentium M
chips, although spinning at a slower GHz, can out-perform Pentium 4
chips. If this is true, is there a reliable conversion factor between
Pentium 4 performance and Pentium M performance? More specifically, how
many GHz would be needed in a Pentium M chip to get the same
performance in CAD as a 3.0 GHz Pentium 4 chip?
Thank you for your time and hard-earned knowledge,
Thanks for your response. I guess what I'm still worried about is that
my department says that 2.8 GHz is required, and 3.0 is recommended. If
I'm understanding correctly, you're saying that 1.8 GHz Pentium M is no
different from a Pentium 4 1.8 GHz. Thus, it wouldn't meet the
specifications from my college. Are they placing unnecessarily high
requirements? Or is there some kind of conversion factor that I need to
take into account?
My son is in college and recently had to purchase a laptop/notebook
computer. He did the research and informed me that the Pentium M out
performs the Pentium 4 in a notebook computer by a factor of better than 1.5
to 1. Or, an 1.8 GHz M is approximately equal to 2.7+ GHz P4. His choice was
a Dell with Pentium M 1.86GHz & 1 GB ram which is doing a good job running
The "mobile technology" processors are required at many colleges now because
campus wide wireless networks are provided. Additionally, most of these
networks only work with XP Pro.
It is a shame your Landscape Architecture department hasn't kept abreast of
the changing laptop processor technology. If they are keeping up, they
aren't getting the information to the students.
Whichever way you go, take CW's recommendation and cram it with ram.
I am running a P4, 3GHz, 480MB ram for both AutoCAD 2006 and ADT 2006. They
both run pretty well with this spec.
Mina bona wena
mina bona lo mombi yena lo shatini
Skat lo Boss yena fika, nika yena iwhisky
No The 1.8Ghz Pentium M (Dothan) is a totally different kettle of fish to the
P4, it has shorter pipelines and dose more operations per clock cycle. A 1.8
with 100mhz FSB will run about as fast as a 3Ghz P4 but they are slower on
memory access (this shows up when doing things like video work where you are
moving lots of data too and from RAM). The big benefits are that they run a lot
cooler and uses a lot less power but they do cost a little more. If I were in
your place I'd go for a Pentium M based unit.
| Hello, I'm currently enrolled in a Masters in Landscape Architecture
| program, and the program requires heavy use of CAD and other
| performance-intensive utilities. I received a list of minimum and
| recommended specifications for a notebook computer required to take
| classes. The point of this discussion is the chip specification. The
| list of specs says I need a pentium 4 chip with at least 3 GHz.
| Checking the typical notebook providors (IBM, Sony, Dell, etc), none of
| them are still making notebooks with Pentium 4 chips. Instead, all of
| them are outfitted with Pentium M chips, the fastest of which is 1.8
| I have heard (wikipedia's article on pentium chips) that Pentium M
| chips, although spinning at a slower GHz, can out-perform Pentium 4
| chips. If this is true, is there a reliable conversion factor between
| Pentium 4 performance and Pentium M performance? More specifically, how
| many GHz would be needed in a Pentium M chip to get the same
| performance in CAD as a 3.0 GHz Pentium 4 chip?
| Thank you for your time and hard-earned knowledge,
Here's what just recently was written by Bruce Shearer in the Solid Edge Misc
newsgroup (for customers only I'm afraid) :
"Just noticed something interesting about the load speed of large Solid Edge
Our new run of the mill Dell D600 laptops will load large SE files more than
as fast as any of our 650/670 workstations over the network. Any idea why that
may be? They dont rotate as well, but things like switching between windows and
calculating visible edges in draft is working faster than the 3.6 Xeon with
video cards. What the? I'm lost as to how that could be???
Here is what I have tested trying to narrow down the difference, but none
in any change at all:
- swapped network connections (complete including cat cables)
- checked that they are both running Gb network cards to GB switches on full
- reinstalled SE on workstation - wiped registry settings out
- set video card settings in SE the same (put them both to backing store-the
was set to advanced and the laptop to backing store originally - no difference
load speed, but there is in rotating big time)
- compared file transfer speeds in explorer - both transfer at the same speed in
- removed virus scanner from workstation
- when working off a local drive, they come up within a few percent of each
speed wise, not much difference then.
Any ideas what could be going on - these little laptops absolutely cook compared
to what we are used to in terms of loading over the network in V16. We need
performance on the workstations so I want to find out what is happening. I am
our IT department to look at network settings next. Also trying out an HP
and it is considerably slower than the D600 in that area as well."
I was adverse and switching to laptop as I was concerned about loss o
performance and size of screen, however I have recently purchase
Toshiba Satellite Pentium 4 3.2 G, 17"screen, 1 g ram, 64m graphic
card, wireless network card. I am running WindowsXP with ADT 2006.
have run benchmark tests and compared it to my desktop (similar spec
except for graphics) and the Toshiba outperforms in all tests excep
for 3d rendering and animation. This I would expect as th
workstation has 256 graphics card. I now use the notebook for most o
my drafting including 3D and use the desktop for any seriou
Never believe Wiki-made-upia - check out Intel.com for all the info
In general: Pentium-M stands for Mobile - chips optomized for LOW and
EXTREME-LOW power not for SPEED or PERFORMANCE - the idea is if you have a
laptop, you are jotting things, communicating, presenting, not doing your
ultimate hard-core work most of the time.
Pentium-Ds are double-core chips without hyperthreading (why, I don't know)
If I were building a single-program CAD machine I'd go for a Pentium D/64-bit
flat address chip
If I were building a Windows machine that ran CAD and other applications though,
I'd choose a Pentium-4<?> with Hyperthreading and 64-bit flat-addressing at as
fast a speed as I could get it, with either the 945/955 chipset on a motherboard
allowing MORE THAN 4 GB of RAM - you may have to waith a few more weeks.
If I were building the ULTIMATE version of that machine and had $1K for the CPU,
I'd go for the current P4-Extreme Ed with hyperthreading/dual core/64 bit flat
address mode and the current Intel D955 chipset, powered by a PC Power&Cooling
550W PS (total cost for just those components is $1,200 + video, which can be
SLI if you need speed, but you are more likely going to need something optomized
- I don't think, though any of the versions of the NVidia Quadros are worth the
bucks unless you need multiple screens and super-CAD support - especially when
weighing the cost. Just a single NVidia or ATI 1-down-from-the-top card with 256
MB on board should do it for you! ($1,350 + memory (start w/4meg of the slower
DDR2 variety - $500 or so to $4000 depending on your shopping skills) Find a
strong case, 3 400- or 500-GB SATA-2 disks, preferably Seagates, two run in
built-in fast-mode 0 striping and a third for manual backup, a good DVD
reader-writer, (scavange a reader off something) And You Have... the Ultimate
Pentium-4 CAD machine minus the Quadro video system, which will add at least
$500 to the price.
The beauty of the system is that it will run your cad programs at full-tilt, up
to 4 streams of data at a time, retiring up to 6-8 instructions per clock cycle,
plus allow you a general Windows machine for other coursework and entertainment.
(I can think of popping open a window for a check on trees and shade plants
growing in temp zone 4 while you are designing the landscaping in another window
- why I have dual 21" CRTs and will go to dual- or quad- 23" LCDs when I write
If you want the Ultimate CAD ONLY system though, skip the P4s and their <imho>
disadvantaged cousins made by the Other Guy, and go to a CAD-ONLY XEON system.
Now, you'll be stuck in classic workstation-optimized for one task-at-a-time
mode, but if that's what you want......
Again, go to Intel's web site for the details.
But this Pentium M craze is nonsense if you live with an outlet. The Centrino
(old name for it) system is closer to the Celeron than the P4 core and, as I
said, is maximized for a particular minimum - power and optimized for wireless
communications, which no one should resort to unless, well, mobile.
Wherever I go lately, city or suburbia, has become a decent "hot spot" because
someone has a loosly-guarded wi-fi connection open. They are about as secret as
postcards and as usable to "me" as an analog, high-power cellphone running one
frequency would be (until the bill for the 4-hr call to my friend in northern
China comes in)
Look, you need advice - call Intel or AMD and ask them to make a recommendation
based on what you want to run. Stay away from any "encyclopedia" where anyone
may write an article.
(another lost $65 for 1 hour's advice - I'll never get those monitors)<g>
Check the benchmarks on many sites the 1.8Ghz Dothan performs on a par with 3ghz
Northwood and Prescott chips, they are considered by many to be good enough for
there desktop systems despite the fact that a Dothan based desktop will cost
more than a Prescott or AMD system.
Lost Circuits had this to say:
"After looking at the benchmarks, there is not much room for interpretation
left. The Pentium M, even on a somewhat outdated platform like the i855 chipset
has swept the benchmarks like hardly any other processor before and done so
despite some obvious handicaps in the area of memory bandwidth and SATA
interface, where admittedly, we avoided the latter by excluding certain
benchmarks. AGP4X hardly qualifies as state of the art anymore and that is
especially true when it comes to video editing. Likewise, the entire chipset
make-up with its Hub-Interface 1.5, supporting only 266 MB/sec total bandwidth
between the GMCH and the I/O controller looks like something from the last
millennium. Yet, for most applications, it suffices. "
Now on a laptop SATA isn't an issue and most laptops have memory bandwidth below
that of a desktop equivalent and AGP4X isn't going to be an issue on a CAD
And of most relevance:
"Interestingly, even though we used an nVidia Quadro FX3000 for SPEC ViewPERF,
the scores did not change between the different CPU frequency settings which
made the entire exercise a moot point, we were simply graphics adapter limited.
More interestingly, the scores we obtained were very close to those shown on
AnandTech for a dual Opteron system. Since we know that this type of application
is amongst the few where the AGP transfer rate makes a difference, the
limitation to AGPX4 could have also played a role in the results hitting a
brickwall. Otherwise, we could argue that even a 1.6 GHz Dothan suffices for
even the most demanding professional CAD applications. "
" Anybody who is into gaming or photo editing or just looking for the best bang
for the money cannot ignore the Pentium M platform which even in raw numbers
performs superior to any P4 platform we have tested."
From Tom's Hardware Guide:
"In all of the application benchmarks, the Pentium M really shows what it's made
of. Even without an integrated memory controller, the Pentium III's heir is as
fast as an Athlon 64 on a clock-for-clock basis - and eats the in-house
competition for lunch. "
Indeed the next gen of dual-core 65nm desktop chips are based on the Dothan
rather than the Pentium 4.
As the OP is after a laptop memory bandwidth is always going to be below desktop
systems and swap speed will be limited more by the slower drives (5400rpm is
still quite normal as 7200 are more power hungry).
While Depression's wrong about quite a number of things....
(No: the chip is optimized for hyperthreading, programs do not have to be - the
read&execute probable next is 100% automatic. Optimizing a program for dual-core
can help, but, again, the second core will be used automatically, taking the
instructiuons out of L1/2 cache and executing them whether the program is
written to spread the wealth or not - especially in a system like CAD, where,
most of the times, the next instruction (compute the same operation on the next
location on the grid) is fairly "obvious".
I'd say a dual-processor, hyperthreaded rig could multiply throughput by
more than 100% over a single-track, single core rig, theoretically that should
be 150%+, twice the speed for the second core and about an extra 50%+, maybe
100% for the hyperthreading into a total of four tracks but there are some cases
where things are moving fast enough through the channel that there are no wasted
cycles to hyperthread and a dual core (or second CPU) is only about a 75%
advantage, due to overhead. Yes, a 24-CPU Xeon system runs Windows- or
Linux-based code a LOT faster than a single-cpu machine, but not 24 times as
fast. 20 would be more like it, but that *is* a lot of raw speed for CAD.
more on Depression's posts later......
BUT a faster drive spindle on a drive built otherwise to the same specs, cache
or not, WILL improve performance. More important would be a move from ATA to
SATA2 (300MHz throughput vs 100 or 150 tops) drives which will clear out the
whole 8Meg cache pretty quickly if the disk itself isn't running fast enough.
7,200 RPM is about stock speed on drives good and bad these days, so is a few
meg of cache.
One should always look at the source of potential bottleneck, and if even SATA2s
are the bottleneck point, there's always SCSI, optical line and the incoming
SSCSI. SCSI drives are usually about 10X the price of the S/ATA drives due to
customer expectations and higher performance.
Back to Depression:
Good idea to check manufacturer's bench marks, but, again:
Programs *are* coming on line NOW that look for flat-64 and use it if the bit is
turned on. If running multiple programs under a 64-bit OS, then clearing other
programs out of the way down the wider pipe leaves more time for the CAD app.
Again, though, unless you want to winn an EnergyStar seal for your computer, why
use the old, old tech of the Pentium M, which, again, according to Intel's
internal benchmarks (see intel.com's CPU selector) is optimized strictly for the
best lightest laptops and (the slower versions) for cheap consumer systems, for
As for memory usage: A modern CAD program, which does not recognize 64-bit
addressing can still run 4GB of real address space and 50 GB of virtual address
space, leaving the need to swap large amounts of data on and off the disk if
that's all the memory that is available.
Right now with only 1 gig in the system, running a single hyperthreaded
P4, I'm down to 416 MB available real memory, but 1.9GB of available virtual
memory. If I start running more than just a browser, a couple of mail apps, and
2-3 doz background aps, I'll still have another 1.9 GB of virtual memory after
my swapping file expands.
What happens if I have 64-bit flat addressing and 10 GB of memory and
I'm running a CAD program that is familliar with the concept of only 4 GB? Well,
when it goes to swap, the OS swaps it to RAM rather than a disk, if there's
When we talk swapping to RAM, we're talking nano- and micro-seconds.
When we swap to disk we're talking about milliseconds. Fewer with a faster disk,
but always milliseconds. And by definition, each millisecond is 1000
The Top-of-the-line P4 is the best available, and the 64-bit flat
system, thanks to AMD and the software vendors want, is what we're getting,
rather than a switch to the new instruction set of Itanium - an instruction set
laid down in the 1970s.
VHS beats Beta again, despite the inherant superiority of the
less-popular product. Software availability did in the Alpha, the I432 and other
projexcts too far ahead of their times too. The required backward compatability
requirements that COBOL legasy programs *still* run is slowing the speed of
IBM's Big Metal, and led to the design of the VAX as a stretched PDP-11 rather
than a new machine.
But the votes have been made, and an investment in the top chip/955
chipset combinstion will NOT go "obsolete" for the next 4 Moore Cycles if
there's enough room for more memory on the PCB (1 Moore Cycle months, Intel's
founder's prediction of the time it takes to double the number of transistors on
Yes, the newer the product, the faster it "seems" to get old, But a year
after I installed it, my Second Hottest Intel Chipset has only slipped to Third
(the 945 is a loser for low-cost 64-bit gaming machines)
Yeh, check the manufacturer's recommendations, but some of D's other
ideas about machine design are just incorrect.
OK JACK - back to the beginning:
1) You cannot get a Pentium M except in a laptop, that's what they were made
for, and some peculiar off-branded boards.
2) Our Cad-Cam guy doesn't WANT a laptop! He wants a Jesus H. Christ That's Fast
Cad machine, perhaps with multitasking.
3) NOBODY has any benchmarks showing Pentium-M/Centrino is faster than Prescott
and Northwood running CAD apps! Hell, when the batteries drop low, the Pentium-M
automatically cuts speed in HALF just to keep things alive - M stands for MOBILE
and I love my little 1.5GHz P4-M in my IBM Thinkpad. It does JUST what I want a
laptop to do! But:
4) reread, carefully, our original request on how-to-build an Over the Top
Cad-Cam system (mostly 2-d, w/some 3d) for landscape engineering! NOT a laptop.
Suggest upping your dose for your handle-condition, might help.
Here's something I clipped from the original post:
" I received a list of minimum and
recommended specifications for a notebook computer required to take
What were you reading/smoking when you read that?
If he wants the fastest way to do landscape engrg he shouldn't be
using Autocad anyway - he should be using Terramodel. Try building a
terrain model with several thousand elevation points in acad and watch
Happy Trails To You
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