After a period of relative calm, the processor market woke up for another “hot” season. Last fall AMD made a significant jump forward and introduced their new Athlon 64 processor architecture. The launching of Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX stimulated a new round of cut-throat competition in the desktop CPU market. Of course, unlike its predecessors, Athlon XP CPUs, the newcomers performed much faster than the top Intel Pentium 4 models available at that time. Even the release of a Pentium 4 Extreme Edition equipped with L3 cache memory didn’t save the situation for Intel: the sky-high pricing and absence of the actual processors in the market spoilt the whole thing. The tension grew. Some analysts started drawing parallels with the year 1999 when the launching of the first AMD Athlon processors caught Intel evidently unawares. However, the situation today was still very much different from what we had in the far away 1999. Intel boasted a storing trump: new processor core aka Prescott. Although the launching schedule for this core has been slightly changed, the delay was not long enough for Athlon 64 architecture to strengthen its positions in the market really seriously.
Today Intel officially announces the first processors based on the new Prescott core. This way we witness another round of the processor arms race, namely the beginning of a deadly competition between two new micro-architectures: Athlon 64 from AMD and Prescott from Intel. However, we shouldn’t forget that AMD also has a few trumps in the pockets. In particular, Athlon 64 processors support x86-64 technology, which has not yet been used by contemporary software and applications. As for 64bit extensions in Prescott, it doesn’t have any (or Intel doesn’t think it necessary to disclose them to public). However, it is mostly a philosophical question whether today’s desktop processors should support 64bit or not, and it is going to remain a philosophical question at least until 64bit Windows XP versions appear. Today, AMD and Intel will again compete in a 32bit field.
In our today’s article we are going to discuss in detail the major architectural peculiarities of the new Prescott processor core and its differences from the predecessors, since there is quite a lot to talk about here. But before we pass over to the actual hero of our today’s story, I would like to make it absolutely clear what Intel actually announced today.
So, today, on February 2, 2004 Intel Corporation announced and started selling new processors formerly known as Prescott. These processors based on a new 90nm core will continue the Pentium 4 family at least for another year little by little ousting the previous 130nm Northwood core. The Pentium 4 processors on Prescott core announced today are clocked from 2.8GHz to 3.4GHz and are designed for Socket 478 mainboards with 800MHz bus and Hyper-Threading technology. Now let’s got down to details.