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Intel Introduces “Processor Number”

Keeping in mind that unlike their Socket 478 predecessors, LGA775 processors will be marked with a new processor rating, I decided to devote a separate chapter to this interesting matter. Intel claims that the major goal of this change is to make it easier for the unsophisticated users to read the processor marking. It is true that Intel is currently offering a few processor families with radically different features. However, the traditional way of marking the CPUs with their working frequency, which is so logical for the professionals, sometimes misleads the unsophisticated users.

So, today Intel is offering four different processor families for desktops:

  • Intel Pentium 4 XE (Extreme Edition). These are the CPUs based on 0.13micron Gallatin core and equipped with 2MB of L3 cache memory like mainstream and high-end server processors. These CPUs support the maximum possible working frequencies for the current level of technology: 3.2GHz and 3.4GHz, feature fast system bus with 800MHz frequency and support Hyper-Threading technology. In fact, Pentium 4 XE family accumulated all the best features of Intel desktop processors, and acquired L3 cache memory in addition to those. These CPUs are the fastest Intel desktop solutions today and are positioned as extreme gaming products. Although their price point is also quite impressive and is still staying around $1000.
  • Intel Pentium 4. There is the whole lot of all sorts of modifications selling now under Pentium 4 brand name. These CPUs can be based on 130nm Northwood core with 512KB L2 cache memory or on the new 90nm Prescott core with 1024KB L2 cache memory. The top processor models support 800MHz system bus and Hyper-Threading technology. Better value solutions support slightly slower 533MHz bus and do not boast Hyper-Threading support. Pentium 4 CPUs are positioned as mainstream desktop solutions.
  • Intel Celeron. This is the brand name for simplified Pentium 4 processor modifications intended for low-cost systems. Although Celeron CPUs are made from the same semiconductor dies as Pentium 4 Northwood, they boast much weaker specifications. Firstly, L2 cache of the Celeron processors is only 128KB big. Secondly, they do not support Hyper-Threading technology at all. Thirdly, the Celeron bus works at 400MHz. As a result, even despite 2.8GHz clock frequency, these processors appear much slower than the youngest Pentium 4 models working at 2.4GHz, for instance.
  • Intel Celeron D. this is a slightly more advanced Celeron modification based on the “worsened” Prescott core. These CPUs have just started selling recently. They support 533MHz bus and feature 256KB L2 cache. Other than that their specification is similar to that of the regular Celeron: they do not support Hyper-Threading and are targeted primarily for budget systems.

Of course, since there are several processor models working at the same clock frequencies, which is highlighted by many system builders as the major feature of their products nowadays, most users get really puzzled and lost. Especially, since you can often come across several modifications of one and the same CPU working at the same clock rate, but featuring different specs.

For instance, there are 6 Intel CPUs working at 2.8GHz in the today’s market. They are: Pentium 4 2.8 Northwood with 533MHz bus, Pentium 4 2.8A on Prescott core with 533MHz bus, Pentium 4 2.8C on Northwood core with 800MHz bus and Hyper-Threading support, Pentium 4 2.8E on Prescott core with 800MHz bus and Hyper-Threading support, Celeron 2.8GHz with 400MHz bus and 128KB L2 cache, and Celeron D 2.8 with 533MHz bus and 256KB L2 cache. It is very easy to get lost in this variety of processors, especially taking into account that the processors of the same family working at the same frequency differ only by one single letter after the frequency number.

This is exactly the reason why Intel Company decided to change the marking for its processors from now on in order to make it simple for ordinary users. As a result, all Intel CPUs will be marked differently: with a three-digit number, which will indicate the die architecture, the clock frequency, the FSB frequency, cache sizes and the support of additional technologies. However, this marking will be very simple and intuitive and will be easy to read even for unsophisticated users, thus revealing the CPU actual positioning in the market. You should understand that Intel’s new marking has absolutely nothing to do with the AMD’s performance rating. If the AMD’s rating is a certain reflection of the CPU performance and a few CPUs with different processor architecture can actually have the same performance rating, then Intel’s new marking scheme makes this absolutely impossible: if the CPUs differ from one another in some parameters, they will undoubtedly have different marking. However, note that this “processor number” is no technical characteristic. Also, Intel’s “processor number” has nothing to do with the CPU performance and serves to reflect purely marketing facts.

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