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Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition Processors

Intel is going to offer two types of desktop processors based on Smithfield core: mainstream Pentium D and high-end Pentium Extreme Edition.

Dual-core Pentium D processors, which should hit the store shelves this quarter already will be designed in LGA775 form-factor and support 800MHz bus. However, far not all the mainboards will be compatible with these new processors. Pentium D will require mainboards based on new chipsets supporting dual-core architectures, such as NVIDIA nForce4 SLI Intel Edition or Intel 955X. Intel processors will not work in old mainboards at all.

Pentium D CPU family will consist of three models: 2.8GHz, 3.0GHz and 3.2GHz. These solutions will go under the numbers 820, 830 and 840 respectively. The curious thing is that Pentium D will support 64-bit EMT64 extensions, Execute Disable Bit security technology and the entire set of Demand Based Switching functions, but at the same time will have Hyper-Threading technology disabled. So, the operating system will see the new Pentium D as two processors, just like the regular Pentium 4 CPUs.

Note that the first three models of the Pentium D processor family are just a pilot run on the way towards mass transition to dual-core architectures. Even though Intel is intending to raise the share of dual-core desktop solutions to 70% by the end of next year, the major effort in achieving this goal will be applied next year. Pentium D processors on Smithfield core will be manufactured in limited quantities, which is in the first place connected with the production difficulties of a big die like that.

Pentium Extreme Edition processor is a logical continuation of the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor family targeted for wealthy hardware enthusiasts. The name has been changed because the new “extreme” processors, which are already shipping to the leading system builders, are based not on the traditional Pentium 4 architecture, but on dual-core Smithfield architecture.

The first and so far the only Pentium Extreme Edition model marked as 840 is quite similar to Pentium D 840. Pentium Extreme Edition 840 is also a dual-core Smithfield working at 3.2GHz core clock. The only difference between this CPU and the similar Pentium D is the enabled Hyper-Threading technology. In other words, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 is recognized by the operating system as four logical processors.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that unlike Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 supports 800MHz bus. The 1067MHz bus has evidently been saved for future dual-core CPU modifications. Note that since the two cores of the dual-core architecture communicate via the system bus it could have been a good idea to boost up its speed as well. However, in the meanwhile Intel didn’t resort to this measure.

So, the dual-core desktop processor family from Intel will include the following for models at first (and this period of time has every chance to last until early 2006):

 

Clock frequency

Bus frequency

L2 cache size

Hyper-Threading

Demand Based Switching

Price

Pentium Extreme Edition 840

3.2GHz

800MHz

2 MB
(1MB for each core)

Yes

Yes

$999

Pentium D 840

3.2GHz

800MHz

2 MB
(1MB for each core)

None

Yes

$530

Pentium D 830

3.0GHz

800MHz

2 MB
(1MB for each core)

None

Yes

$316

Pentium D 820

2.8GHz

800MHz

2 MB
(1MB for each core)

None

None

$241

We included the expected dual-core processor pricing on purpose here. As you can see, Intel is not going to price Pentium D processors too high, so that this product category would move into the high-end segment. On the contrary, Pentium D processors, especially the slower models, will be offered at pretty democratic prices, so that they would be affordable for high-end as well as mainstream systems. This is actually one of the major peculiarities of Intel’s price policy. For example, AMD set the prices of its dual-core Athlon 64 X2 solutions higher than the prices of its single-core ones. The dual-core processors from Intel will be targeted not only for the high-end market segment, but also for the mainstream users.

So, the users shopping for LGA775 platforms will face an uneasy choice between the single-core CPUs with high clock rates and dual-core CPUs working at considerably lower frequencies.

 
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