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Best processor for multimedia?



I'm thinking of building a new, quite fast system for multimedia,
notably displaying MPEGs.  I'm currently using mplayer on an Athlon
1700, and from time to time there are hiccoughs.  Processors are cheap
now, and it would be trivial to get a "3000" rating processor
relatively cheaply.

The question is, which one?  The current choices seem to be:

- P4
- Celeron
- Athlon
- Sempron
- Athlon 64

From previous mail on this list, it seems that Athlon 64 is probably
not the best choice for reasons of compatibility.  Obviously the
fastest Athlon (32) will be faster than a correspondingly rated
Sempron, and similarly a P4 will be faster than a corresponding
Celeron.  But by how much?  Ignoring things like Xeons and P4
Extremes, I find roughly the following pricing (here in Australia, pre
tax):

Intel Celeron D 335 - 2.8GHz  	CPCELD335  	$134.00
AMD Sempron 3100+ Box Soc754 	CPAS3100 	$157.00
AMD Athlon XP 3000+ BOX BARTON  CPAXPB3000  	$184.00
Intel P4 3.40GHz PRESCOTT 1MB 	CPP43.40HT-PS 	$409.00
Intel P4-660 (3.6GHz)LGA775pin  CPP4-660  	$841.00

That's a pretty big price range.  What's important for multimedia?  My
understanding is that software MPEG processing needs a lot of CPU, and
the processors here are roughly comparable (OK, the P4s may be
somewhat faster).  But what about the other differences?  How
important is cache?  If I take the AMD offerings, am I better off with
the (cheaper) Sempron with a slightly faster clock, or with the Athlon
XP with more cache?  How does the Celeron compare with either?  Also,
is it worth paying the significantly higher prices for the P4?

Greg
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