MMX or Multi-Media-Extention is the latest technology from Intel for their computer processor
chips and is now becoming available in some high quality, mid-priced computer systems. In this essay, I
will discuss the technology and what it offers to the user, as well as, compare three high quality system
packages from three of industries leading manufacturers. The systems discussed here are the Gateway
2000 P55C-200 FPC, the Packard Bell NEC Platinum 2240, and the Compaq Presario 4784; all of which
contain the new Intel Pentium 200 MHz-MMX processor. MMX technology is more than an industry buzz
word and is currently available in some well rounded, mid-priced system packages that are obtainable for
most home users to take advantage of.
MMX technology is Intel's most recent processor enhancement, but what is it? How does it work?
What does it mean as far as performance improvements? MMX technology is the first new chip
architecture from Intel in ten years. From a technological standpoint, there are significant changes: MMX
defines a set of 57 new computer instructions that extend the x86 instruction set of approximately 80; it has
32 KB of on-chip cache, verses the non-MMX on-chip cache of 16 KB, which enhances performance of
even non-MMX applications, and it makes use of Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) for more
efficient data processing. The 57 new and powerful instructions are specifically designed to process and
manipulate audio, video, and graphical data much more effectively. Intel, having doubled its on-chip cache
size from 16 KB on non-MMX processor chips to 32 KB on MMX enhanced chips, now allows more
instructions and data to be stored on the chip reducing the number of times the proces!
sor must access slower, off-chip memory areas for information. The multimedia and communication
applications of today often use repetitive loops that account for 90 percent of the execution time, even
though they only account for 10 percent or less of the overall application code. A process called Single
Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) enables one instruction to perform the same function on multiple pieces
of data at once. This allows the chip to reduce compute-intensive loops common to audio, video, graphics,
and animation. As an analogy, consider a quarterback telling all of the offensive team a play a one time,
rather than telling each player the play individually. The bottom line is that the Pentium Processor with
MMX technology includes all of the features of the standard Pentium Processor, and then some. Due to the
improvements, the media experience is fuller, smoother, and much more realistic, while maintaining
complete compatibility with Intel-based PCs, existing!
operating systems, and application software.
All three of the complete package systems evaluated in this essay received high recommendation
scores in a recent review from Family PC magazine. Even though their review scores were nearly
identical, their are differences in features among the three manufacturers' packages. These different
features, as well as, the similar ones will be listed on their own merits. Also, some commentary about each
systems service-and-reliability scores will be included in the explanation of each system in this comparison.
The P55C-200 FPC from Gateway 2000 Inc. is a 200 MHz-MMX PC system that comes with an
array of high quality peripherals, such as a plug-and-play Crystal Scan monitor featuring Toshiba filtering
technology and a new digital control wheel that makes fine-tuning your display as easy as tuning a radio
dial, as well as, some fine components blending to make an excellent, well rounded computer system.
According to PC Magazine, using components such as 512 KB of pipeline-burst L2 cache, 32 MB of
synchronous DRAM, and a 3.8 GB Quantum hard disk drive, the P55C-200 FPC led the home PC pack on
most of the test performed. This system posted an astronomical score on their Graphics WinMark 97 test
suite that was 51 percent higher than the next closest competitor. The systems other peripherals include a
33.6/14.4 Kbs Telepath fax modem, a PC ProPad 4 game pad, and an Ensoniq Soundscape VIVO sound
card with a set of Altec Lansing ACS-410 speakers to supply the sound. The P55C-200 FPC re!
ceived much better than average results for Service-and-Reliability, according to PC Magazine. Gateway
2000's P55C-200 FPC, with its high-flying performance and excellent multimedia hardware along with
great family software