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Within this review we introduced to you a new processor family from Intel based on the Prescott 2M core. Although at first glance the major advantage of this core is a larger 2MB L2 cache, the CPUs based on Prescott 2M hide much more exciting features in themselves. Pentium 4 6XX processor family feature not just larger cache-memory than their predecessors. They also boast a few additional features enriching significantly their functionality.

In the first place I have to point out that Pentium 4 6XX CPUs appeared the first Intel processors for desktop systems supporting 64-bit extensions of x86 architecture. Since 64-bit user operating systems, such as Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, are expected to appear in the market quite soon, Intel decided to supports AMD’s initiative about the introduction and spreading of the x86-64 architecture and provided its new CPUs with the corresponding extensions. This way, the support of x86-64 is no longer a unique feature of AMD Athlon 64 processors: competing solutions from Intel, new Pentium 4 6XX processors, now can also work with 64-bit applications and support over 4GB of RAM.

Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processors also acquired similar 64-bit extensions of the x86 architecture. The new model in this CPU family, Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz, based on the new Prescott 2M core also supports x86-64.

I can’t leave out the fact that new Pentium 4 6XX processors also got the support of Demand Based Switching technologies aimed at reducing the heat dissipation and power consumption of these processors when they do not have to work “at the upmost of their power”. Pentium 4 6XX CPUs support C1E, TM2 and EIST technologies and hence work at 2.8GHz and with reduced Vcore most of the time, speeding up to their nominal core clock frequency only when the system should run at its maximum speed.

This particular features set of the new Pentium 4 6XX processor allowed Intel to set a pretty high price for them compared with the price of their predecessors, Pentium 4 5XX on the regular Prescott core. Here is a quote from the official company price list) the prices are given for 1,000 units):

  • Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73 GHz (3.73 GHz, 1066 MHz FSB, 2 MB L2) - $999;
  • Intel Pentium 4 660 (3.60 GHz, 800 MHz FSB, 2 MB L2) - $605;
  • Intel Pentium 4 650 (3.40 GHz, 800 MHz FSB, 2 MB L2) - $401;
  • Intel Pentium 4 640 (3.20 GHz, 800 MHz FSB, 2 MB L2) - $273;
  • Intel Pentium 4 630 (3.00 GHz, 800 MHz FSB, 2 MB L2) - $224.

As for the effect the new processor launch had on the CPU market from the performance point of view, I cannot say that the release of the 6XX affected the situation in the processor market. Right now the clock frequency of these processors is lower than that of the top Pentium 4 5XX models, and larger L2 cache can hardly speed them up that much. On the graph below we are offering you the relative performance index for the new Pentium 4 660 processor compared with the performance of the Pentium 4 560 working at the same clock frequency but based on the regular Prescott core and featuring 1MB L2 cache.

As we see, in most cases the twice as large L2 cache memory doesn’t allow improving the processor performance by more than 5%. That is why Pentium 4  570 working at 3.8GHz core frequency and featuring 1MB L2 cache should be regarded as a higher performance model than the new Pentium 4 660 working at 3.6GHz and featuring 2MB L2 cache. The strengths of the newcomer, however, are EM64T support and the new Demand based Switching technologies: C1E, TM2 and EIST.

As far as the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.37GHz is concerned, it comes to replace Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.46GHz based on Gallatin core. The new processor core, the 2MB of memory moved from the L3 cache to L2 and a significant increase in the core frequency did their job and the new Extreme Edition processor did turn out noticeably faster.

But this picture can be observed not at all times. Moreover, in gaming applications where the new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition is targeted for, the new 3.73GHz solution doesn’t outperform its predecessor. 130nm derivative of the good old Northwood core aka Gallatin the old Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.46GHz is based on still proves more efficient in games than Prescott.

However, we shouldn’t forget that an indisputable advantage of Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz is the support of 64-bit EM64T extensions.

As for the general situation between AMD and Intel in the today’s processor market, we can now state that in terms of supported features Prescott 2M based CPUs have finally leveled out with the Athlon 64 processor family. Instead of 64-bit AMD64 extensions of Athlon 64 processors, Pentium 4 6XX support EM64T extensions. An analogue to AMD’s Cool’n’Quiet technology is the EIST from Intel. Moreover, Intel processors acquired NX-bit support (XD-bit, as Intel calls it).

The performance of the top Intel CPUs is still somewhat lower than that of the top Athlon 64 solutions. Although Pentium 4 processors retain leadership in their traditionally strong fields such as video data encoding or final rendering, they still yield to AMD CPUs in most applications including contemporary games.

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