Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 840 Dual-Core CPU Review

The second article of the series devoted to the dual-core processors from the leading x86 CPU manufacturers will tell about Intel Smithfield based solution which is none other but a combination of two Prescott processor dies on single semi-conductor silicon. Will the dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition become a worthy competitor to AMD Athlon 64 X2?

by Ilya Gavrichenkov
05/17/2005 | 09:19 PM

The leading x86 processor manufacturers continue putting a lot of effort into introduction and promotion of dual-core architectures. Although both, Intel and AMD, have already carried out paper launched for their solutions with two computational cores, the actual dual-core boom is expected to happen in the fall, when the dual-core desktop processors will become widely available in retail. Nevertheless, you’d better start preparing for the dual-core CPUs in advance. That is why we are not waiting for the mass invasion of dual-core CPUs and are proud to offer you a detailed study of their features and performance now already. Last week, we introduced to you AMD Athlon 64 X2, and today we would like to tell you all the details about the dual-core Intel processors based on Smithfield core.

 

Before we pass over to the technical details, I would like to specifically mention the reasons that pushed the CPU developers to move their primary focus to dual-core solutions (multi-core in the general case). The thing is that the introduction of dual-core architecture is another pretty evident way of increasing the CPU performance. Because the processor performance in the general case is the CPU working frequency multiplied by the number of operations the processor can complete within a single clock cycle, the dual-core architecture can theoretically double this number, because the second core added to the CPU doubles the number of execution units. However, it is important to point out that these execution units should be used efficiently in both cores, only then the maximum performance can be achieved. And this is the task for software developers rather than for processor designers.

Since at the today’s technological level it has become pretty difficult lately to continue increasing the processor performance in a more traditional way by simply raising its working frequency, there are hardly a lot of options to choose from. Of course, a perfect illustration of the current “stagnation” is the fact that AMD has only managed to increase the working frequencies of its CPUs by 200MHz since last year, while Intel sped up its processors by only 400MHz. So, the development of dual-core architectures is the only possible booster for the current processor market, which could ensure that CPUs will continue reaching new performance heights.

When we discussed the dual-core AMD processors in our article called AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Dual-Core Processor Review, we saw clearly that the performance of Athlon 64 X2 was a way higher than that of single-core CPUs in many applications supporting multi-threading. In other words, this processor does prove up to the expectations we pinned upon it. The dual-core processors from Intel based on Smithfield core are slightly different from the competitor’s solutions. While Athlon 64 X2 processors work at the frequencies close to those the single-core solutions can reach today, Intel had to reduce the clock frequency of the dual-core processors significantly below the top rates its single-core CPUs can work at today. This way, AMD engineers increased the processor performance by simply adding the second core. Intel did a different thing: they decided to make us face the choice between real multi-threading and high working frequencies. This issue is actually the major intrigue of our today’s investigation. In case of AMD Athlon 64 X2 we could simply estimate the performance gain we get from the second physical core, while today we will have to sort out those applications that suit better for multi-core architectures and those that run faster on CPUs with high working clock frequencies.

Smithfield Processor Core

If we analyze the potential of Intel’s today’s processor cores the picture will not look very optimistic. Right now Intel has very limited opportunities for further performance increase by raising the clock frequencies. And even though the company sticks to the official position claiming that the users do not need any further performance growth and care more about processor functionality, you will hardly be satisfied with just this functionality. Especially since Intel’s main competitor, AMD, managed to get significantly ahead of Intel at least in terms of gaming performance of its top processors, and the games are known to be among the major “consumers” of hardware resources.

Unfortunately, the Prescott and Prescott-2M processor cores Intel has at its disposal today, cannot boast any significant frequency potential limited by the 4GHz rate. Right now Intel has almost completely exhausted this reserve.

So, Intel engineers simply have to resort to some alternative measures in order to improve their processors performance, such as release of CPUs with dual-core architecture.

In fact, Intel’s plans concerning the wide-spreading of dual-core architecture are remarkably overwhelming. Intel is claiming that the dual-core processors share among the desktop solutions will reach 70% by the end of 2006. So, you see clearly how big the company’s bet on the dual-core solutions actually is.

The first dual-core Intel processors to come into the market will be designed for the desktop segment and will be also known under the codename Smithfield. Since there are no other desktop processor cores besides Prescott and its modifications, this was exactly the core they used to design Smithfield. So, the new dual-core Intel processors turn out not so new in the long run, as they inherit most their features from the Pentium 4 processors already available in the market.

In fact, Smithfield processor core used as a basis for Intel’s first desktop dual-core CPUs is a concatenation of two Prescott revision E0 cores designed on a single semi-conductor die. The same die also carries an arbiter responsible for sharing the processor bus between the cores. In other words, the two physical cores inside Smithfield communicate only on the system bus level.


Smithfield core

As a result of this design, the die size of the Smithfield core turned twice as big as the Prescott die. Intel’s dual-core processors feature 230 million transistors located on a 206sq.mm die.

Note that since Smithfield is practically designed as a combination of two Prescott dies, its L2 cache is 2MB big. However, this cache memory is split half and half between the two cores so that each of them uses its own 1MB L2 cache.

There is one more important consequence resulting from this block-type Smithfield construction. Smithfield inherited from Prescott the entire list of technologies including 64-bit EM64T extensions support, Execute Disable Bit technology, and the entire range of Demand Based Switching options for power consumption and heat dissipation management including C1E, TM2 and EIST technologies.

However, I have to draw your attention to the fact that unfortunately, the cores in the dual-core processor cannot work at the same frequency as they would if used in a single-core design. The primary reason for that is the limitations imposed by the heat and power requirements, since the two cores combined within the same die lead to a significant growth of these two parameters. Therefore, dual-core Smithfield processors work at much lower clock frequency than their “forefathers” – CPUs on Prescott core.

Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition Processors

Intel is going to offer two types of desktop processors based on Smithfield core: mainstream Pentium D and high-end Pentium Extreme Edition.

Dual-core Pentium D processors, which should hit the store shelves this quarter already will be designed in LGA775 form-factor and support 800MHz bus. However, far not all the mainboards will be compatible with these new processors. Pentium D will require mainboards based on new chipsets supporting dual-core architectures, such as NVIDIA nForce4 SLI Intel Edition or Intel 955X. Intel processors will not work in old mainboards at all.

Pentium D CPU family will consist of three models: 2.8GHz, 3.0GHz and 3.2GHz. These solutions will go under the numbers 820, 830 and 840 respectively. The curious thing is that Pentium D will support 64-bit EMT64 extensions, Execute Disable Bit security technology and the entire set of Demand Based Switching functions, but at the same time will have Hyper-Threading technology disabled. So, the operating system will see the new Pentium D as two processors, just like the regular Pentium 4 CPUs.

Note that the first three models of the Pentium D processor family are just a pilot run on the way towards mass transition to dual-core architectures. Even though Intel is intending to raise the share of dual-core desktop solutions to 70% by the end of next year, the major effort in achieving this goal will be applied next year. Pentium D processors on Smithfield core will be manufactured in limited quantities, which is in the first place connected with the production difficulties of a big die like that.

Pentium Extreme Edition processor is a logical continuation of the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor family targeted for wealthy hardware enthusiasts. The name has been changed because the new “extreme” processors, which are already shipping to the leading system builders, are based not on the traditional Pentium 4 architecture, but on dual-core Smithfield architecture.

The first and so far the only Pentium Extreme Edition model marked as 840 is quite similar to Pentium D 840. Pentium Extreme Edition 840 is also a dual-core Smithfield working at 3.2GHz core clock. The only difference between this CPU and the similar Pentium D is the enabled Hyper-Threading technology. In other words, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 is recognized by the operating system as four logical processors.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that unlike Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 supports 800MHz bus. The 1067MHz bus has evidently been saved for future dual-core CPU modifications. Note that since the two cores of the dual-core architecture communicate via the system bus it could have been a good idea to boost up its speed as well. However, in the meanwhile Intel didn’t resort to this measure.

So, the dual-core desktop processor family from Intel will include the following for models at first (and this period of time has every chance to last until early 2006):

 

Clock frequency

Bus frequency

L2 cache size

Hyper-Threading

Demand Based Switching

Price

Pentium Extreme Edition 840

3.2GHz

800MHz

2 MB
(1MB for each core)

Yes

Yes

$999

Pentium D 840

3.2GHz

800MHz

2 MB
(1MB for each core)

None

Yes

$530

Pentium D 830

3.0GHz

800MHz

2 MB
(1MB for each core)

None

Yes

$316

Pentium D 820

2.8GHz

800MHz

2 MB
(1MB for each core)

None

None

$241

We included the expected dual-core processor pricing on purpose here. As you can see, Intel is not going to price Pentium D processors too high, so that this product category would move into the high-end segment. On the contrary, Pentium D processors, especially the slower models, will be offered at pretty democratic prices, so that they would be affordable for high-end as well as mainstream systems. This is actually one of the major peculiarities of Intel’s price policy. For example, AMD set the prices of its dual-core Athlon 64 X2 solutions higher than the prices of its single-core ones. The dual-core processors from Intel will be targeted not only for the high-end market segment, but also for the mainstream users.

So, the users shopping for LGA775 platforms will face an uneasy choice between the single-core CPUs with high clock rates and dual-core CPUs working at considerably lower frequencies.

Intel Desktop Processors

In order to make the difference between Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition clear, we would like to offer you a comparative table where we compare these two new solutions against a few other ones from the Pentium 4 family:

 

Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition

Pentium Extreme Edition

Pentium D

Intel Pentium 4 6XX

Intel Pentium 4 5XX

Processor core

Prescott-2M

Smithfield

Smithfield

Prescott-2M

Prescott

Socket

LGA775

LGA775

LGA775

LGA775

LGA775

Number of cores

1

2

2

1

1

Core frequency

3.73 GHz

3.2 GHz

Up to 3.2 GHz

Up to 3.6 GHz

Up to 3.8 GHz

Bus frequency

1066 MHz

800 MHz

800 MHz

800 MHz

800 MHz

Production technology

0.09-micron, strained silicon

0.09-micron, strained silicon

0.09-micron, strained silicon

0.09-micron, strained silicon

0.09-micron, strained silicon

Transistors

169 mln.

230 mln.

230 mln.

169 mln.

125 mln.

Die size

135 sq.mm

206sq.mm

206sq.mm

135sq.mm

112sq.mm

L1 data cache

16 KB

2 x 16 KB

2 x 16 KB

16 KB

16 KB

L1 instructions cache

12000 uops

2 x 12000 uops

2 x 12000 uops

12000 uops

12000 uops

L2 cache

2048 KB

2 x 1024 KB

2 x 1024 KB

2048 KB

1024 KB

L3 cache

-

-

-

-

-

SIMD-instructions

SSE3/ SSE2/ SSE

SSE3/ SSE2/ SSE

SSE3/ SSE2/ SSE

SSE3/ SSE2/ SSE

SSE3/ SSE2/ SSE

EM64T

+

+

+

+

Optional

Hyper-Threading

+

+

-

+

+

Execute Disable Bit

+

+

+

+

+

Intel Enhanced SpeedStep

-

+

+

+

-

Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 840

Today we are going to introduce to you the first dual-core Intel processor belonging to the high-end category: Pentium Extreme Edition 840. Unlike the Pentium D processor family, the Extreme Edition solution has already been announced officially and such companied as Alienware, Dell and Velocity Micro already offer systems built on it. As for the mainstream dual-core Pentium D CPUs, they will be announced on May 26, and we will devote an individual article to them on that day.

Speaking about Pentium Extreme Edition 840, we would like to list its formal specifications first:

Pentium Extreme Edition 840

Frequency

3.20 GHz

Package

775-pin PLGA

Vcore

1.25V-1.388V

Bus frequency

800 MHz

Typical heat dissipation

130W

Core stepping

A0

Max. typical package temperature

69.8°C

L2 cache size

1MB + 1MB

Production technology

90 nm

Hyper-Threading Technology

Yes

Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T)

Yes

Execute Disable Bit Feature (NX)

Yes

Pentium Extreme Edition 840 looks just like its single-core counterparts:

CPU-Z diagnostic utility reports the following about Pentium Extreme Edition 840:

I would like to say a few words about the compatibility of Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 840 with the mainboards. As Intel promised, this CPU will work only in a few mainboards, which are still pretty rare nowadays based on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI (Intel Edition) and Intel 955X. However, our experience shows that Pentium Extreme Edition 840 not only refuses to work in the mainboards based on older chipsets, but also may not start in a few mainboards on the two above listed chipsets because of the BIOS issues or electrical layout incompatibility. For example, the MSI P4N Diamond mainboard on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI (Intel Edition) proved completely unable to work with the new dual-core Intel processor. However, ASUS P5ND2-SLI Deluxe didn’t reveal any issues when working with this CPU, so we decided to use this particular mainboard for our testing session this time.

When you assemble a system for the Pentium Extreme Edition 840, you should pay special attention to the power requirements. Of course, the mainboard should have a quality CPU voltage regulator, however, the system should also be equipped with a powerful PSU, because Smithfield based processors consumer significantly more power than the regular CPUs.

In fact, the data we obtained when measuring the processor power consumption under high workload with the help of a special S&M 1.6.0 utility are given on the diagram below:

As you can see, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 is the “winner” in terms of the amount of consumed power. The funny thing is that this CPU is even more power-hungry than the tope Athlon 64 X2: the difference is almost twofold (86%, to be more exact). Remember that at the same time the working frequency of the new Pentium Extreme Edition 840 processor is reduced to 3.2GHz, while Athlon 64 X2 4800+ works at 2.4GHz, just like all the top Athlon 64 processor models.

To ensure proper cooling of the new Pentium Extreme Edition 840 processor, Intel offers a new solution with larger cooling surface and a larger copper sole. The picture below shows the old boxed cooler for top LGA 775 CPUs (left) and the new cooler for dual-core processors (right):

Throughout our tests the temperature of the processor working with the above mentioned new cooling solution under maximum workload didn’t exceed 70oC.

Testbed and Methods

During this test session we compared the performance of the dual-core Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 840 processor with against that of the tope single-core processors as well as against the top dual-core CPU from AMD. So, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 will be competing today with Athlon 64, Athlon 64 FX, Athlon 64 X2, Pentium 4 and Pentium 4 Extreme Edition.

For our tests we assembled a few systems. Here is a list of the hardware we used:

Performance

Office Applications

Business Winstone test emulates the user’s work in the following popular apps: Microsoft Access 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft FrontPage 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Project 2002, Microsoft Word 2002, Norton AntiVirus Professional Edition 2003 and WinZip 8.1.

Note that the applications alternate, so that multi-threading is not involved here. That is why dual-core processor run as fast in this test as single-core ones working at the same clock frequency. And this inevitably means that our today’s hero, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 will be slower than any of the top CPUs participating in this test session.

However, it is a pretty frequent thing that we have a couple of office applications running simultaneously. The diagram below shows if Intel’s dual-core processor turns out efficient in this case:

Here we measure the performance in Microsoft Outlook and Internet Explorer while there is file copying occurring in the background.

Well, the results show that file copying is not a complicated task, so dual-core architecture doesn’t offer any noticeable benefits here. The performance of our Pentium Extreme Edition 840 is again at the very end of the list.

The next test a little bit more complicated. Here we have files being archived in the background with the Winzip utility, while the hypothetic user is working in Word and Excel.

As you can see, dual-core processors start showing their best here. At least, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 manages to outperform even a single core Pentium 4 XE 3.73GHz. Unfortunately, this is still not enough to compete successfully with AMD processors, which win here. This is true even for the single-core Athlon 64 solutions.

As the tasks running in the background become more complex, the advantages of dual-core architecture begin showing more. Here the test emulates the user’s work in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project, Microsoft Access, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft FrontPage and WinZip, while there is antivirus software working in the background.

Two physical and two virtual cores of the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 processor allow it to run faster than the single-core Pentium 4 (even though the latter supports Hyper-Threading technology). So, it looked like the dual-core Intel processor could actually have become a winner here, if it hadn’t been for the strongest competitor from AMD – the dual-core Athlon 64 X2. The rival managed to show much better results in this test.

Here the test is emulating the user’s work when he is receiving an e-mail in Outlook 2002 with a number of documents in a zip-file attached to it. While the files are being scanned for viruses with the VirusScan 7.0, the user is looking through the e-mails and makes noted in the Outlook calendar. After that the user checks a corporate web-site and some documents through Internet Explorer 6.0.

Although dual-core Athlon 64 X2 outperforms Athlon 64 FX-55 working at higher core clock rate in this test, the situation with Intel processors is just the opposite. Pentium Extreme Edition 840 falls behind the single-core Pentium 4 processors because of its much lower working frequency. Moreover, we shouldn’t forget that the regular Pentium 4 processors are already optimized for multi-threaded environments: they support Hyper-Threading technology.

In this test the hypothetical user is editing some test in Word 2002 and uses Dragon NaturallySpeaking 6 to convert an audio file into a text document. The document is then converted into pdf-format in Acrobat 5.0.5. After that the prepared document is used to create a PowerPoint 2002 presentation.

Just like in the previous case Pentium Extreme Edition 840 cannot compete with its single-core fellows as well as with the dual-core competitors.

In the next test we see the following situation: the user opens a database in Access 2002 and creates a number of requests. The documents are archived with WinZip 8.1. The request results are exported into Excel 2002 and a diagram is created.

Again we have to complain about the low clock frequency of the dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition 840. They are about 15-20% slower from this point of view as the Pentium 4 solutions that is why they fail to show worthy results in this test.

So, we can conclude with all certainty basing on the obtained results that it doesn’t make sense to use dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition 840 for typical office work. Almost in all cases single-core Intel solutions proved faster than the newcomer. The only case where Pentium Extreme Edition 840 revealed its potential was during a complex test with multiple applications running simultaneously.

Digital Content Creation

This test emulated the user’s work in the following applications: Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1, Adobe Premiere 6.50, Macromedia Director MX 9.0, Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 6.1, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9 Version 9.00.00.2980, NewTek LightWave 3D 7.5b, Steinberg WaveLab 4.0f.

Since most applications from the list above support multi-threading, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 again shows no impressive results. It evidently lacks clock frequency limited by the power and heat dissipation requirements.

In this test we have an image rendered by 3ds max 5.1 into a bmp-file, while the user is preparing web-pages in Dreamweaver MX. Then the user renders some 3D animation into vector graphics format.

In fact, we have a good example of several applications supporting multi-threading running in parallel. This use of Intel’s dual-core processor resources finally brings some worthy result. Pentium Extreme Edition 840 turns out faster than Pentium 4 and Pentium 4 Extreme Edition with only one physical core. However, the low core clock of the dual-core Intel CPU prevents it from catching up with the dual-core competitor from AMD.

Now the test is emulating the user’s work in Premiere 6.5, when he is creating a video movie in raw-format from a few other movies and separate sound tracks. While waiting for the operation to be completed, the user is also modifying and saving to the hard drive a picture in Photoshop 7.01. When the video is finished, the user does the necessary editing and adds special effects to it in After Effects 5.5.

Just like in the previous test, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 proves faster than any single-core testing participant, but again falls behind AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+.

Here, our hypothetical user extracts from the zip-archive the web-site content and at the same time opens an exported 3D vector video in Flash MX. Then the user modifies it by adding some new pictures and optimizes it for faster animation. The final video with applied special effects is then compressed with Windows Media Encoder 9 so that it could later be broadcast via internet. The created web-site is then composed in Dreamweaver MX, while the system is scanned for viruses with VirusScan 7.0.

It is for the third time in a row that we obtain the same result with a few multi-threaded tasks running in parallel. Pentium Extreme Edition 840 runs pretty fast here, although its relatively low clock frequency doesn’t allow this CPU to compete successfully with the dual-core competitor.

The tests we performed in this part of our session show that dual-core processors could be quite efficient for digital content creation and processing. The CPUs prove especially efficient when we have some other tasks also running in the background. However, to be fair we should say that Pentium Extreme Edition 840 is still performing slower than AMD Athlon 64 X2 in all the carried out tests. The new Intel processor evidently lacks higher clock rates.

PCMark04, 3DMark 2001 SE and 3DMark05

PCMark04 test is optimized for multi-threaded systems. Therefore, Pentium 4 processors with Hyper-Threading technology have always performed better in this test than the single-core solutions from AMD. However, once the dual-core architectures joined the race, the situation has changed. Athlon 64 X2 4800+ is now the fastest processor, according to the results of this benchmark: it is 35% faster than the result shown by Athlon 64 FX-55. Pentium Extreme Edition 840 unfortunately can boast lower performance comparable with the results of the top single-core solutions: Pentium 4 and Pentium 4 Extreme Edition.

The graphics tests from the 3DMark benchmarks do not support any type of multi-threading. That is why the results shown by Pentium Extreme Edition 840 at the two diagrams above appear in the very end of the list.

However, there are a few tests in the 3DMark05 package that can actually use multi-threading. These are the CPU tests. Here the system processor should emulate vertex shaders on the software level while the second thread is calculating the physics of the gaming environment.

Again we observe a pretty typical picture. Despite its low core frequency, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 can win in the tasks that can take advantage of multi-threading. It can outperform top Pentium 4 and Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz models. However, Athlon 64 X2 4800+ running at the same frequency as the top Athlon 64 processors with only one core proves indisputably faster than the new dual-core Intel processor.

Gaming Applications

There is nothing to comment on, actually. Contemporary games do not support multi-threading. That is why Pentium Extreme Edition 840 with its low clock rate turns out an outside in this type of tasks. In other words, if Athlon 64 X2 run as fast as the top Athlon 64 CPUs due to their relatively high clock frequency, the gaming performance of the Pentium Extreme Edition 840  is quite modest (compared with the performance of the other CPUs from the same price category, of course).

Data Compression Applications

Unfortunately, WinRAR doesn’t support multi-threading, however, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 manages to outperform Pentium 4 570 in some mysterious way.

However, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 can also perform quite slowly in archiving utilities supporting multi-threading. Take, for instance, 7zip. The problem is that this utility is optimized for Hyper-Threading and works in two threads. The Windows XP Task manager distributing these threads among the four computational cores of the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 doesn’t know, unfortunately, to distinguish between the physical and virtual cores. That is why there might occur a situation when we will have two threads working within one physical core with hyper-Threading technology instead of two physical cores. This results into insufficient performance. BY the way, the same situations can occur in Pentium Extreme Edition 840 based systems in other applications optimized for Hyper-Threading as well.

Audio and Video Encoding

Yes! Our patience has finally been rewarded! This is the application where Pentium Extreme Edition 840 appears the fastest processor. I am talking about a multi-threaded version of the mp3 Lame codec.

Mainconcept, DivX and XviD codecs support multi-threading. However, the system with Pentium Extreme Edition 840 CPu appears quite slow because of the low core clock frequency of this processor.

The situation in Windows Media Encoder is a little bit better. Here Pentium Extreme Edition 840 outperforms even Pentium 4 660. However, the indisputable leader here is still Athlon 64 X2 4800+, which leaves all its competitors far behind.

So, despite the fact that all major codecs are optimized for Hyper-Threading technology, dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition 840 fails to runs as fast in this type of application as we would expect it to.

Video and Image Editing

Well-known Adobe software for video processing and image editing are optimized for multi-processor systems and Hyper-Threading technology. Moreover, these apps know to work in four threads. Therefore, dual-core Intel processor works pretty fast in Photoshop, After Effects and Premiere leaving all its single-core counterparts behind. However, the dual-core competitor from AMD, Athlon 64 X2 4800+, is still a little bit faster than Pentium Extreme Edition 840.

Character Recognition

We have already complained about the ABBYY software developers, who use multi-threading on Intel processors but do not use multi-threading on AMD processors. Here we see a perfect illustration of this selectiveness. While Pentium Extreme Edition 840 works much faster than the single core Pentium 4, Athlon 64 X2 4800+ appears as fast as the Athlon 64 4000+.

Scientific Applications

Strange as it might seem, but the Windows XP versions of popular math1ematical packages, such as MATLAB and Mathematica, do not support multi-threading. That is why the performance demonstrated by Pentium Extreme Edition 840 appears quite disappointing.

We would like to draw your attention to the results shown in ScienceMark 2.0 test dealing with math1ematical modeling. We have already mentioned a few times in our previous articles that CPUs with NetBurst architecture are not that good at solving computational tasks. However, the interesting thing about the results we obtained this time is that Pentium Extreme Edition 840 doesn’t benefit from its dual-core architecture at all, even though the benchmark does support multi-threading.

3D Rendering

Final rendering is one of the tasks that could be split between multiple parallel threads easily. That is why no wonder that the new Pentium Extreme Edition 840 with two physical cores and Hyper-Threading technology provides a pretty significant performance boost. Although to be fair we should say that this performance increase is still not enough to outpace Athlon 64 X2 4800+.

The performance increase during final rendering in Lightwave depends a lot on the type of image. In some cases the sue of Pentium Extreme Edition 840 can speed up the rendering process a lot, however, there are a few scenes where this processor runs as fast as the single-core Pentium 4 solutions.

Conclusion

I should say that Pentium Extreme Edition 840 from Intel made a twofold impression today. On the one hand, this CPU is a true new step in the evolution of Intel processors on NetBurst architecture. In most contemporary tasks supporting multi-threading, this processor does improve the system performance. Among these multi-threaded applications are the same ones we have already mentioned in our AMD Athlon 64 X2 CPU Review last week. I would like to specifically mention that Pentium Extreme Edition 840 proves highly efficient compared with the single-core Pentium 4 when we have a few resource-hungry applications running simultaneously.

However, the same CPU looks very unconvincing in quite a number of tasks. The main problem with Pentium Extreme Edition 840 is its low clock frequency, which makes its price absolutely incomparable with the actual performance you get in single-thread environment or under multi-threaded workload, which doesn’t eat up a lot of processor resources.

But even if we disregard all these cases, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 still doesn’t make the desired impression after we have once seen what AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ is capable of. Intel’s dual-core solution cannot compete successfully with the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ although they belong to the same price group. In other words, if we compare these two rivals side by side, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 will almost always fall behind.

Moreover, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 has a few other issues. This CPU has dramatic power consumption which sets additional requirements to the voltage regulators designed for the mainboards supporting it as well as to the system PSUs. As a result, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 requires special cooling solutions. Besides, this processor will not work in old LGA775 mainboards and is compatible only with the limited number of solutions based on i955X and NVIDIA nForce4 SLI (Intel Edition).

So, Pentium Extreme Edition 840 has pretty vague chances to become a popular being an expensive solution for high-performance PCs. From all viewpoints it so far yields to the competitor from Athlon 64 X2 family.

However, from the long-term prospective, I wouldn’t be so pessimistic about the Smithfield based processor family. In fact, the Pentium D processor models may become quite demanded in the mainstream segment. The dual-core Pentium D 2.8GHz will cost just a little over $200. So far AMD doesn’t offer any dual-core CPUs for this price point, as they all start at $500. So, from the price-to-performance point of view, Pentium D CPU may turn into a pretty attractive offer.

Very soon we are going to offer you another review of the dual-core processors, where we will discuss in detail the performance of the Pentium D in the mainstream systems. So, stay tuned for more dual-core stuff!