With the recent review of the K6-2 400, much controversy has been brought to the attention of AnandTech as well as readers all over the hardware world as to what makes the K6-2 such a poor performer in comparison to the Pentium II, especially in in Ziff Davis' most recently released benchmarking utility, Winstone 99.  While it is often easier to say that the benchmark in question, in this case Winstone 99, is biased towards Intel processors, there is a much more accurate explanation for why.

In defense of ZDBOp, I must say that Winstone 99 is a much better benchmark than Winstone 98, simply because it is more true to real-world usage. How many of you can sit there and honestly say that you only use one application at a time? Often times, we're browsing the web, typing up a report, and doing much more than just running a single application. Winstone 99 tests just that. For example, instead of running Microsoft Word 97 and benchmarking a system's performance in that particular task like Winstone 98 used to do, Winstone 99 will open up Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, and PowerPoint as well as Netscape Navigator, and run tests in all of the applications together.  If that seems a little extreme, it also does the same for Corel WordPerfect running alongside Corel Quattro Pro, once again with Netscape open and browsing the web.  The software switches between the open applications and tests the system's performance in multitasking environments, which is much more realistic than measuring performance in one area alone such as word processors (if all you are using your computer for is word processing, then you shouldn't really be concerned with a K6-2 400, a simple Cyrix or a regular K6 will do).  

Now it is quite obvious, by the first scores published from the benchmark, that processors with slower L2 caches perform much worse under Winstone 99 than they did under Winstone 98.  Where the difference between a K6-2 running at 400MHz and a Pentium II running at 400MHz under Winstone 98 was 5 tenths of a point, the difference is a full 1.5 points under Winstone 99.  If you compare Winstone 97 to Winstone 98 for example, you'll notice that Intel processors seem to score much higher on Winstone 98 in comparison to non-Intel (i.e. AMD) processors...the same trend follows with Winstone 99, however there is an explanation for it under Winstone 99. The P2/CeleronA runs its cache at a speed much greater than 100MHz, and with every clock increase the K6-2 goes through in comparison to every equivalent clock increase the Pentium II or Celeron A will go through, the latter two processors will benefit the most.  Why?  Let's take a look at the following table to find out:

Table 1: Cache Clock Speed Increase vs Processor Speed Increase
Clock Speed in MHz
@ 300MHz
Clock Speed in MHz
@ 450MHz
% Clock Speed Increase
L1 Cache L2 Cache L1 Cache L2 Cache L1 Cache L2 Cache
AMD K6-2 300 100 450 100 + 50% + 0%
iCeleronA 300 300 450 450 + 50% + 50%
iPentium II 300 150 450 225 + 50% + 50%
Cashing in on Cache

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