Last year already Intel was talking about the upcoming change of the priorities referring to the CPU development. Since the company faced some problems with increasing the clock frequencies of its Pentium 4 processors, they decided to focus their efforts on increasing the CPU performance instead of enlarging their functionality. Within the next year they made first steps in that direction. For instance, they started marking the CPUs with the so-called processor number, while the clock frequency remained secondary. However, the real steps aimed at providing the CPUs with the brand new functions were still planned for this year 2005. That is why we were so excited about the first processor announcements to come this year.
And finally it happened. Today Intel announced new processors in its Pentium 4 family based on the new core also known as Prescott 2M. Although Intel’s vital desire to bring dual-core architectures to desktop solutions hasn’t yet affected the new products, Pentium 4 processors with 6XX ratings boast a number of exciting features and functions. That is exactly why Pentium 4 processors on Prescott 2M core are so interesting for us: we get larger L2 cache memory and Enhanced Memory 64 technology and Enhanced Intel SpeedStep support, which are new for the desktop computer market.
Together with Intel Pentium 4 6XX processor family, the company is launching a new solution for hardware enthusiasts. This processor belongs to the Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition family and is expected to raise the Intel’s performance bar and to become the company’s fastest processor in the market. Therefore, Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, which doesn’t have all the functionality typical of the new Pentium 6XX, works at higher core clock rates and supports higher bus frequency.
However, we could actually approach Intel products from the other side, too. Against the indisputable success of their major competitor, AMD, Pentium 4 processors didn’t look like the best choice out there until today. The top Athlon 64 models outperformed similar Intel solutions and offered broader functionality. Now Intel is evidently undertaking a new attempt to catch up with the competitor. Larger L2 cache memory of the new Prescott 2M processor should speed up their performance. And the introduction of the new Enhanced Memory 64 Technology and Enhanced Intel SpeedStep in the new Pentium 4 6XX CPUs can be regarded as Intel’s response to AMD64 and Cool’n’Quiet implemented in Athlon 64.
In this article we are going to take a closer look at new Intel solutions. We will study in detail all new features provided by the technologies implemented in Intel Pentium 4 processors based on Prescott 2M core, the performance gain obtained by the Pentium 4 6XX and Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, and their ability to successfully compete with the top AMD Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX solutions. However, as usual we would like to go a little bit into theoretical details before passing over to the performance test.