Not so long ago we tested the first dual-core processors from Intel. The micro-processor giant implied that the CPUs with dual-core architecture will little by little oust the single-core solutions from the main market into the inexpensive product segment. However, as our test session results showed, it is a way too early to speak about competitive consumer potential of the dual-core solutions compared with the predecessors (for details please check out our article called Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 840 Dual-Core CPU Review). The dual-core CPUs failed to reveal their actual performance potential in most applications, because these applications should first of all support multi-threading in order for dual-core technology to really show its advantages. Unfortunately, there are still very few applications with multi-threading support, which makes the advantages of dual-core architectures in the desktop fields quite doubtful.
But, do not get upset too quickly. It is still too early to say farewell to single-core solutions. They will continue their peaceful coexistence with the dual-core rivals for quite a while. In particular, if you were not excited about the Smithfield based processors, Intel is proud to offer you another announcement. Today, on May 26, 2005, they are rolling out Pentium 4 670 CPU based on the Prescott-2M core.
However, the announcement of this CPU shouldn’t provide you with any false illusions regarding the future of single-core Intel solutions. This CPU with 2MB L2 cache memory and 3.8GHz clock frequency is destined to become practically the last model in the Pentium 4 family. The developer has no faster Pentium 4 solutions in mind. So, Intel definitely kept its word about the working frequencies of the CPUs with NetBurst architecture: they will never get over the 4GHz barrier. At the same time it would be incorrect to consider the launch of Pentium 4 670 as a final stage of the NetBurst architecture evolution. This architecture will continue living in the dual-core Pentium D processors. Besides, Pentium 4 processor family will soon undergo a few changes, which will have nothing to do with the core clock frequency increase.
Getting a little bit ahead of our story here I would like to say that the work on improving the currently existing Prescott-2M based processors is still in progress. This should result into the upcoming Intel’s announcement of the new Prescott-2M core stepping with Vanderpool virtualization technology support. Intel is planning to offer two processors based on this updated core stepping: models with 3.6GHz and 3.8GHz clock rates, which will be rated as 662 and 672 respectively. These processors with Vanderpool support will come to replace the top Pentium 4 processor models. In other words, it means that the single-core desktop processors will still get enhanced functionality.
Besides, you shouldn’t also forget that Intel is not giving up the idea of transferring the Pentium 4 processor family to a more advanced technological process: 65nm production technology. The NetBurst based core redesigned for this finer production technology is currently known as Cedarmill. The CPUs based on this core will features 2MB L2 cache, and support all technologies implemented in Prescott-2M, such as EM64T, EIST, etc. the CPUs on Cedarmill core are scheduled to arrive in Q1 2006.
However the upcoming 65nm Pentium 4 processors are positioned in such a way that we will never see them hit the 3.8GHz frequency point. The major goal of the new core is to ensure lower heat dissipation of the processors based on it and to guarantee lower production costs. Therefore, the maximum core frequency for the processors based on it will be3.6GHz, and the solutions will be targeted for the Value and Mainstream markets.
So, the Pentium 4 670 processor announced today will remain the fastest single-core solution from Intel. The launch of this processor may be good news for those Intel CPUs fans, who are still uncertain about the advantages of Intel’s dual-core initiative and prefer to stick with the solutions that stood the test of time. It may be good news, but will it actually be? Our tests are about to show it.