The Top 5 Worst CPUs of All Time @ [H]

J3RK

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Is that what the victor 9000 had ? It had this funky floppy drive that had much higher capacity than the ibm at the time.
Not sure on that, but mine were Seagate ST225s (I had a pair of them) half-height 5.25" HDDs.

Do you mean a Bernouli Drive? Those were about 5.25" "floppy" looking discs (mylar in plastic cartridges). I had a 40MB version of that at one point. :D
 

WhoBeDaPlaya

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That's what Amigas were for until around the 386 DX-40 era or so. Then they started losing steam in comparison. (not that even at that point x86 was any better really, it was just too widely adopted at that point) 680x0 were nice enough. I think further iterations of the MIPS R3000+ processors could have been cool too if they had progressed further than they did. All that said, I had an Amiga and a 286 with VGA and a Soundblaster 1.0 sitting side by side, and having both was really nice at the time. (late '89 I should think)
Man, SB 2.0, ProAudio Spectrum, Gravis, Adlib, Roland SoundCanvas, Tseng Labs, Orchid, Hercules, etc.
I miss those days :(
 

J3RK

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Man, SB 2.0, ProAudio Spectrum, Gravis, Adlib, Roland SoundCanvas, Tseng Labs, Orchid, etc.
I miss those days :(
Indeed! I had a Tseng W32P PCI for my first Pentium system on PCIE. It was ridiculously fast. Before that was a VLB Orchid Fahrenheit 1280. Don't forget a spot of Matrox here and there. That was cool for the time too. I never had a Pro Audio Spectrum card, but along with all the SB, AWE, etc. Creative cards, I had a Gravis Ultrasound with 1MB, various Roland devices (MT-32, SC-something-something, etc.) As much as a pain in the ass things could be back then, it was a lot of fun. Overcoming those pains was also fun in itself. Including "welding" slide connectors to your case when you left the PSU plugged in and wired up your AT power switch :D
 

you2

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My mistake. I looked it up. It had a multi-speed floppy that stored 1.2MB (compard to IBM original 360KB). Basically the drive shifted speed as you went to inner tracks to keep the density constant but it had a unique sound of its own. Sadly the video RAM was optimized around CPM and while it worked with DOS there were minor issues (the days when absolute addresses mattered). Technically it was far superior to the IBM 8088 (which isn't saying much compared to modern systems) but in the end it failed though I think you can still buy them.

Not sure on that, but mine were Seagate ST225s (I had a pair of them) half-height 5.25" HDDs.

Do you mean a Bernouli Drive? Those were about 5.25" "floppy" looking discs (mylar in plastic cartridges). I had a 40MB version of that at one point. :D
 

dexvx

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No Via was NEVER the best option for AMD cpus ... none of their K5/6 chips worked well on the via boards, and the athlon boards were plagued with issues (which software tried to fix)
Yea, there's so much wrong with that statement I'm not even going to bother refuting it.
 

Unabomber

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I'm a bit late to this thread, but I can remember my days working at my friend's computer shop.

One of the sales guys thought that it would be a great idea to order a Rise MP6 CPU, allegedly rated at 266.

None of the motherboards that we carried in stock would support it, since most of our sales at the time was based on "regular" Socket 7, Super 7, Slot 1, or Socket 370 CPU's.

After a lot of looking around, I found a SiS-based board that would actually support the MP6, but the customer for whom we built the system around that CPU really hated its performance, and wanted a different CPU / MB combo, which we provided.

Eventually, the University (hey, I was a grad student at the time) needed a new computer to run its Hitachi UV-VIS spectrophotometer (the old 286 that had controlled it died), I was able to make this system work, running Windows 98 SE, an old 340 megabyte (yes, that's megabyte) hard drive, and a 32 megabyte DIMM. It was a nice way to earn gratitude from my friend who owned the computer store, the idiot salesman who had ordered the CPU in the first place, the professor who owned the UV-VIS spectrophotometer (he got another 9 years of service out of it), and the grad students who had to use the system, since the outdated 12 MHz 286 no longer kept crashing and taking forever.

I guess it was a way to make the best lemonade when handed lemons...
 

Factum

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Yea, there's so much wrong with that statement I'm not even going to bother refuting it.
The only memories I have of VIA chipsets and AMD CPU are the horrors of Via4in1 drivers...since those days I have been Intel chipset + CPU.

Do a quick google...I think your memory betrays you.
 

dexvx

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The only memories I have of VIA chipsets and AMD CPU are the horrors of Via4in1 drivers...since those days I have been Intel chipset + CPU.

Do a quick google...I think your memory betrays you.
So what chipset did you use in your Athlon systems besides Via?

You had the AMD 750/760 chipsets, but they were eclipsed pretty fast by the KX133, KT133, KT266.

Then you had that nForce2, but they had a gamut of problems as well. Furthermore, KT800 was better.

Then there was the nForce3, but KT880 was arguably better.

By the time nForce4 rolled around, via was pretty much dead.
 
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Keljian

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So what chipset did you use in your Athlon systems besides Via?

You had the AMD 750/760 chipsets, but they were eclipsed pretty fast by the KX133, KT133, KT266.

Then you had that nForce2, but they had a gamut of problems as well. Furthermore, KT800 was better.

Then there was the nForce3, but KT880 was arguably better.

By the time nForce4 rolled around, via was pretty much dead.
Ok so I had a 750/760 irongate which worked brilliantly. I moved to a 761 (dual) which also worked brilliantly... Then I had an nforce 2 (pro?) which also worked brilliantly. Maybe I was lucky?
 
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As for my past experience, Cyrix processors were the worst ones. I've been using them from my early childhood and all of them, I literally mean it, were worst.
 

Red Falcon

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AMD Am5x86 - You thought the K5 was bad? Cute... AMD tried to pass this off as a Pentium competitor, it was no coincidence that it used a 486 chipset and socket. We had one of these that ran at 133mhz, AMD was honest-ish by giving it a PR score BELOW its actual MHz speed! The 133mhz part was rated at "PR75". In reality it was about half the speed of a P75 for any floating point, which more and more programs had started to use. Also, since it was 486 based almost all compatible motherboards were limited to ISA (no PCI)
The reason a 133MHz CPU on a 486-based system was rated at P75 (and did less in the FPU department as you stated) is because the 80486 only has a 32-bit data bus, where as Pentium-based systems had a 64-bit data bus, thus it halved the data-throughput per MHz.
While both the 80486 and the original Pentium were indeed 32-bit CPUs, the Pentium had twice the data bus that the 80486 had.

There were Pentium Overdrive CPUs available for 80486-based systems and sockets at the time as well, which were indeed true Pentium CPUs, but with only a 32-bit data bus instead of the native 64-bit data bus, thus halving the performance per MHz (making a 66MHz CPU perform like a 33MHz CPU equivalent).
AMD CPUs at that time period also suffered heavily in the FPU department, but were much better about integer performance.

So you definitely are correct about everything, just thought I would point out why the performance suffered so much for that CPU. :)

This video shows how the Am5x86-P75 @ 133MHz performs in general against a 80486SX @ 33MHz (SX does not have a FPU):

This video shows a direct comparison between the two CPUs:
 
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Dan_D

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Missing CPUs that *I* think belong on this list:
  • Intel P4 Willamette - Very hot, power hungry, slower than PIII, socket 423 was replaced after barely a year (no upgrade path!), Initially required crazy expensive and effectively slow RAMBUS, support for old PC133 added later while AMD was already on DDR.
  • AMD Am5x86 - You thought the K5 was bad? Cute... AMD tried to pass this off as a Pentium competitor, it was no coincidence that it used a 486 chipset and socket. We had one of these that ran at 133mhz, AMD was honest-ish by giving it a PR score BELOW its actual MHz speed! The 133mhz part was rated at "PR75". In reality it was about half the speed of a P75 for any floating point, which more and more programs had started to use. Also, since it was 486 based almost all compatible motherboards were limited to ISA (no PCI).
  • Transmeta Crusoe - most people have never even heard of these, they were ultra-low power CPUs used in a handful of laptops (like the tiny Sony VAIO PCG series. Unfortunately they were also ultra-low performance. It wasn't an actual x86 CPU, but instead used "code morphing software" to translate x86 instructions to it's own VLIW architecture. The designers intended to be able to "upgrade" the CPU by updating the firmware (aka code morphing software) but this never came to be. It was great in theory, but it just couldn't keep up with even the lowest end AMD and Intel CPUs of the time.
  • Anything VIA (applies to their CPUs, chipsets, "graphics" adapters, ...really anything they touch) - Do you hate stability? performance? compatibility? driver updates? future OS support? sanity?! VIA is there to help!!!
  • Cyrix MediaGX - To the guy that said the Geode was bad, the Geode was an EVOLUTION of this piece of garbage! Another fake "Pentium", this chip was actually a 486 in drag. To make things worse, everything was integrated into the core (graphics, sound, memory controller and PCI controller). Sure it was low power, but the performance was astonishingly bad, partially thanks to having no L2 cache. Since everything was integrated on the CPU, the only option was embedded.
CPU that I think didn't belong on the list:
  • AMD Bulldozer - Was it great? No. Was it good? ...well, no, not really, but was it decent for the price it was sold at? absolutely! This chip allowed for some very decent gaming systems for dirt cheap.
  • Your criticisms of the Willamette Pentium 4's are valid. However, the RAMBUS wasn't that bad. It was far worse when you crippled one of those systems with PC133 memory. The CPU wasn't the best performer, but it was stable and it worked very well.
  • The AMD 5x86 was NOT a Pentium competitor. The K5 was. Your statement is inaccurate to say the least. The 5x86 133's from AMD were in the same boat as an Overdrive CPU from Intel. It was designed to provide an additional upgrade path for 486 owners who didn't want to buy a new system. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • Nice bringing up the Transmeta. To be perfectly honest, I had forgotten about those. At the time I was working as a service technician and rarely ever saw one. People generally stuck with Intel in those days because it was a name they knew.
  • Yes, VIA stuff is crap. No doubt about it.
  • Incorrect. The MediaGX was closer to a Cyrix 5x86 133 than a 486. Internally, this CPU had much more in common with the 6x86 than a 486 despite being saddled with the external bus of the latter and having some of its 5th generation features disabled. The MediaGX was bad of course, but I think the biggest problem was being stuck with the terrible integrated hardware.
The thing is, the Pentium IV Willamette chips were a stepping stone with a short market life span. It was widely known that it was a stop gap product. Anyone making an informed decision didn't buy it and despite that, they sold well enough. Despite their less than stellar performance, they brought some new features to market (such as thermal throttling) and worked well. They were as stable and solid as anything else provided you didn't saddle them with SDRAM. The K5 was late to market and it was billed as being truly Pentium class and it wasn't. No one expected Transmeta's offering or the MediaGX to be anything more than they truly were. The same goes for VIA's shit. Bulldozer was hyped and disappointed people because it was misrepresented early on. The only reason it was good for the money is because AMD had no choice but to slash prices to move inventory. It wasn't like the MediaGX which was designed as a budget offering from the start.

I get where you are coming from on that. Toyota supposedly designed the 2007-Present Tundra trucks to compete with the F-250 and GM Silverado/Sierra 2500HD trucks and it fell well short of that. It was decent'ish as a half ton but woefully inadequate to compete in the arena it was intended for. Bulldozer is sort of the same deal in that it was designed to compete on a higher level and was incapable of doing so. It was then relegated to the budget arena and if it had performed in that segment, then it would have been something of a success. Unfortunately, it was getting its ass handed to it by Core i3's and I5's with half as many cores in just about everything. Its platform wasn't great either and it was already behind Intel's platform when Bulldozer launched.

AMD made a gamble like Intel did with Netburst. Like Intel, it lost. AMD had stated at the time that it felt that within Bulldozer's life cycle that desktop applications would start to be built more like server and workstation applications and AMD was even right about this to some degree. The problem was that it didn't happen as early as AMD needed it to for Bulldozer to have worked out. I think the reality is that AMD built a server CPU and figured they could do what Intel does and scale the chip back for desktop use. The problem was that once Intel went with an IMC that its biggest advantage was lost. Bulldozer's bargain bin levels of IPC just couldn't cut it even at insanely high clocks.

My feeling on the list I created was that the products on that list were monumental failures from companies that knew better or failed to anticipate the direction of the market and suffered for it. Cyrix, VIA and Transmeta on the other hand get somewhat of a pass because those products you mentioned weren't ever intended to compete on the level of Intel. Sure, The products like the AMD K5 and Cyrix MII made the list for being too late to market and being disappointing even if they had launched on time.
 

johnnysd

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Surprised that the Pentium II with the "we can no longer produce socketed processors" Slot 1 card edge thing is not mentioned. In the Industrial PC space it was a nightmare
 

Dan_D

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Surprised that the Pentium II with the "we can no longer produce socketed processors" Slot 1 card edge thing is not mentioned. In the Industrial PC space it was a nightmare
The form factor sucked but the CPU itself was great.
 

johnnysd

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The form factor sucked but the CPU itself was great.
True. I have been in the industrial and embedded PC marketplace for 20 years and the Pentium II days were the toughest because of that form factor. We still sold a good amount of them.
 

Dan_D

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True. I have been in the industrial and embedded PC marketplace for 20 years and the Pentium II days were the toughest because of that form factor. We still sold a good amount of them.
It was huge and the form factor was stupid. The Slot 2 Xeons were even worse.
 
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