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Intel Pentium 4 Prescott Review

Intel has finally unveiled their first 90nm desktop processor based on the Prescott core topping at 3.2Ghz clock speed today. Intel has not changed the official name for Prescott but will continue using the Pentium 4 family name instead. On Intel’s launch list today are a total of 7 new processors; P4 2.80A, 2.80E, 3E, 3.20E, 3.4E based on Prescott core and a P4 3.4Ghz based on Northwood core including a P4 Extreme Edition 3.4GHz based on the Xeon MP “Gallatin” core.


Intel has finally unveiled their first 90nm
desktop processor based on the Prescott core topping at 3.4Ghz clock speed
today. Intel has not changed the official name for Prescott but will continue
using the Pentium 4 family name instead. On Intel’s launch list today are a total of
7 new
processors; Pentium 4 2.80A, 2.80E, 3E, 3.20E based on Prescott core and a
Pentium 4 3.4Ghz based on Northwood core including another two processors to be
available soon; P4 3.40E based on the Prescott core
and a
Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.4GHz based on the Xeon MP "Gallatin" core.

Due to Intel’s strong R&D, it has allowed them to develop 90nm process technology a
step head of its competitors and thus be able to pack more enhancements to the
core. As such, Prescott as a third generation NetBurst CPU has
enhancements to the NetBurst microarchitecture over the existing Northwood core,
packed with larger L1 and L2 cache of 16KB and 1MB respectively, 13 new
instructions (SSE3) and improved HT technology. Definitely, there could be other
cool features on Prescott such as LaGrande security
technology and even CT codenamed Yamhill that provides 64-bit extension which
aren’t due for announcements yet.

Prescott will come in two forms; 478 pins and LGA
775. Prescott 478 is based on on the 800MHz system bus and is compatible with
current Intel 875P and 865PE/P/G chipsets. However, not all 875P and 865PE/P/G
chipsets based boards out there are fully compatible with Prescott. While most
boards just require a BIOS update to recognize or work, some boards might
require a change in power circuitry. Users would have to look out for "Prescott
Ready" motherboards to ensure full compatibility.
LGA 775 Prescott
will appear in the next quarter which is just a few months down the road and
there will be new chipsets supporting it. Intel 925X Alderwood, the successor of
875P Canterwood and Intel 915 series codename Grantsdale, the successor of 865
Springdale will be able to support the LGA 775 Prescott, PCI Express I/O
architecture and DDR-II memory architecture.

In this article, we will be looking in details on
the enhancements found on Prescott, the thermal solutions, its overclockability
and its performance against the current P4 Northwood 3.2Ghz, P4 Extreme Edition
3.2Ghz as well as AMD Athlon 64 3200+. We will be testing out the P4 3.2EGhz in
several aspects; Synthetic CPU & Memory, Scientific Computing, CPU Rendering,
Gaming, Video, Business & Content Creation.





Feb 2nd


P4 3.4 EE

2MB $ 999
P4 3.2 EE 2MB $ 925

P4 3.4E

1MB $ 417
P4 3.4 512KB $ 417
P4 3.2E 1MB $ 278
P4 3.0E 1MB $ 218
P4 2.8E 1MB $ 178
P4 2.8A 533/1MB $ 169

It is most pleasing to know that Prescott processors
will be priced the same as the Northwoods at the same speed despite its larger
cache. Intel is able to keep costs down by ramping rapidly to the 90nm process
technology, usage of 300mm wafers and improving yields.


Roadmaps Comparison

Q1 2004

Q2 2004

Q3 2004

Q4 2004

Pentium 4
Extreme Edition
Gallatin 478
(0.13, 2MB L3)
Gallatin 775
(0.13, 2MB L3)
(0.09, 4MB L3?)
> 4Ghz
Pentium 4 Prescott 478
(0.09, 1MB L2)
2.8 – 3.4Ghz

3.8Ghz 4Ghz Prescott 775

Tejas 775
(0.09, 1MB L2)
4 – 4.2Ghz

Athlon 64 FX   SledgeHammer
(0.13, 1MB L2)
FX-53 (2.4Ghz)

SledgeHammer 939
(0.13, 1MB L2)
FX-53 (2.4Ghz)

  San Diego
(0.09, 1MB L2)
FX-55 (2.6Ghz)
Toledo :
Athlon 64 ClawHammer 754
(0.13, 1MB L2)
3000+ (2Ghz, 512KB)
3200+ (2Ghz)
3400+ (2.2Ghz)
Newcastle 939
(0.13, 512KB L2)
3700+ (2.4Ghz)
3400+ (2.2Ghz)

ClawHammer 754
(0.13, 1MB L2)
3700+ (2.4Ghz)

(0.09, 512KB L2)
4000+ (2.6Ghz)
3700+ (2.4Ghz)

For this quarter, the launch of new Pentium 4 Prescott processors are in direct competition
with AMD Athlon 64 "ClawHammer" series. The P4 Prescott 3.4Ghz
will be competing with AMD highest speed to date, the Athlon 64 3400+ at 2.2Ghz
and both are packed with 1MB of L2 cache. The next quarter
will be an interesting one as Intel will have LGA 775 Prescott out with new 925X
and 915 chipsets that will further boost performance and AMD will have a new
core out as soon as late March known as "Newcastle" that comes with a reduced in
cache to 512KB and increased in pin-out to 939 pins. The move by AMD is to boost
performance by upgrading the core to support Dual Channel memory architecture as
well as lowering costs by reducing the L2 cache. The boost from having a dual
channel memory controller should offset the loss in performance by cutting the
L2 cache by half since AMD has decided to take this move.

According to the
roadmap, AMD’s transition to 90nm process technology can only take place at the
end of this year which is about three quarters behind Intel and will come out
with a new core called the "Winchester" for Athlon 64 and "San Diego" for Athlon
64 FX series. Prescott will be scalable to 4Ghz by end of this year but it is
not as fast scaling as it is expected from a 90nm chip. P4 Extreme Edition
roadmap is still unclear to many but Intel is preparing to launch a LGA 775
version of the P4 EE in the next quarter while AMD is launching a FX-53 at
2.4Ghz in late March. It is also unclear that if Intel is even releasing a
Prescott Extreme Edition or Intel would choose to wait till next year for 90nm
"Potomac" Extreme Edition or even bring forward for release at end of this year
to remove the threat from 90nm "San Diego" FX-55. Tejas is slated for release in
H2 2004 and would be Intel’s fourth generation NetBurst CPUs clocked at 4Ghz or
more. Tejas has further enhancements to the HT Technology and contains
8 Tejas New Instructions (TNI) : New high-performance
audio standard supporting Dolby digital, multi-streaming and improved speech
recognition. LaGrande and CT are expected to be fully functional and ready.

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