It is now perfectly clear that Intel’s NetBurst architecture didn’t turn out to be as successful as intended. Although Intel’s engineers aimed at frequencies up to 10 gigahertz as they were designing the Pentium 4 processor series, the practical implementation of these plans proved to be impossible. They just couldn’t keep the processor’s heat dissipation acceptably low at such high clock rates. As a consequence, Intel officially dumped its NetBurst products with frequencies above 4GHz. It’s good for Intel that desktop processors then took a different way of development. Instead of intensively increasing the clock rate, the CPU manufacturers chose the extensive approach by increasing the number of computation cores. If things remained unchanged, the Pentium 4 would lose its competitiveness against the rival products, but even now the senior processor models from AMD beat Pentiums 4 in a majority of tests.
Anyway, the suddenly exposed deficiencies of the NetBurst architecture, namely high heat dissipation and power consumption of processors based on it, don’t mean Intel has no good CPUs in its product range. Climbing ever higher operational frequencies, Intel didn’t abandon the development and production of processors of the previous, Pentium III architecture. Even though Pentium III processors had been withdrawn from the desktop market, another suitable niche was soon found for them. CPUs that are architecturally similar to the Pentium III came to mobile computers. A perfected tech process and additional improvements for less heat and more performance rejuvenated the Pentium III which was reborn as Pentium M.
Pentium M series processors have had a great appeal for PC enthusiasts since their arrival. Besides low heat dissipation these processors boast a very good performance thanks to which Pentium M-based notebooks have won universal recognition. Unfortunately, it was impossible to use this highly promising CPU in desktop computers until recently due to the lack of appropriate chipsets. Some time ago a few mainboard makers overcame Intel’s opposition and released several platforms that permitted to install a Pentium M in a desktop computer. These platforms were somewhat ill-targeted, however: based on the same chipsets for notebooks, they were not quite appropriate for desktops due to their limited functionality and performance. For example, take their single-channel memory controller – only the cheapest desktop computer systems of today offer single-channel memory access.
Fortunately, another opportunity for crossing the Pentium M series with desktop computers was found. Despite its close relation to the Pentium III, the Pentium M uses the Quad Pumped Bus, and the engineers from ASUS developed a special adapter that allows installing mobile CPUs of the Pentium M class into ordinary mainboards for Pentium 4 processors. We’re going to check this prodigious gadget in this review and see what performance the Pentium M can offer to you if used in a desktop PC. We will start with a short description of the Pentium M architecture.