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Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.2GHz

Of course, Intel couldn’t disregard the launch of new AMD processors. No wonder, actually. Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX are positioned in such a way that the high-end market segment covered with Athlon 64 FX appeared open on Intel’s side. Look here:

Even though this picture has been composed by AMD’s marketing department, it displays pretty accurate situation. Athlon 64 FX-51 priced crazily high and aimed at the gaming enthusiasts market didn’t have an opponent from Intel to compete with. That is why Intel had to invent a solution to cover this market sector. I don’t think that Intel was I in a rush to make this decision. They seem more likely to have worked on that for a while concealing all these preparations really carefully, so that the launch of the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor could be a total surprise for Intel’s competitor and the public and could make a worthy effect.

So, a few days ago Intel announced this new processor family at the IDF in San Jose. Like Athlon 64 FX, this new family from Intel will include non-mass products targeted for the most demanding users. The first try in this direction is the new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.2GHz, which we managed to get for review.

So, what does this CPU look like? In fact, there is nothing totally unexpected about its architecture. While Intel is still working on the Prescott core, and the current Northwood core has exhausted the clock frequency potential provided by the 0.13micron production technology, there appeared only one way left: to repeat the company experience with Xeon processors for dual-CPU systems. Namely, the today’s fastest Pentium 4 3.2GHz acquired an L3 cache.

This is an on-die cache, 2MB big, which works at the full core frequency. This way, Pentium 4 Extreme Edition appeared a sort of a Xeon MP on Gallatin core in a different package and with a different target. Of course, Intel’s engineers do not confirm this fact directly, saying that Gallatin core had to be modified for Pentium 4 Extreme Edition family so that it could support 800MHz bus. However, the L3 cache of the contemporary Pentium 4 Extreme Edition features absolutely the same structure as L3 cache of the already mentioned Xeon MP CPU. In other words, it is an exclusive, 8-way associative cache using 64bit bus.

Here is the info the CPUZ utility provides about this processor:

As you see, this is a real Northwood cores with additional L3 cache-memory. Note that M0 core stepping, which we see in there, is also used in the new Xeon DP with 1MB L3 cache. So, it is more or less clear where the actual idea comes from. Note that the launch of the new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.2GHz processor is not a one-time measure aimed at saving Intel’s reputation until Prescott processors come out. Pentium 4 Extreme Edition is a new full-fledges processor family, which will be continued later on, even when they move to the new Prescott core.

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