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As predicted some time ago, Intel officially released today its processor for extreme gamers and power users, the Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition chip. Numerous leading personal computer manufacturers, such as Dell and Gateway, are shipping the systems powered by the new CPU, according to media reports.

The new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition CPU is based on the server core known under Gallatin code-name is the first desktop processor from Intel delivering 2MB L3 cache. The new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition is fully compatible with existing Socket 478 infrastructure based on i865PE/i865G and i875P core-logic and supporting the 800MHz Quad Pumped Bus. With 512KB of L2 cache and 2MB of L3 cache, Intel wants to offer an alternative to AMD’s high-end Athlon 64 FX-51 CPUs with 1MB of L2 cache that has been available for about a month time now.

The decision to deploy a virtually server chip into desktop lineup was made after the company had to delay its powerful Prescott CPUs into Q1 2004. According to plans issued by Intel earlier to some of its customers, the Santa Clara, California-based company had planned to release its Pentium 4 processor with SSE3 technology manufactured at 90nm process technology in mid-November. But after a number of issues with the chip and its infrastructure showed up, the company decided to roll-out its Extreme Edition Pentium 4 processor produced using 0.13 micron technology but featuring additional cache memory.

Intel had to pump in some additional performance into its premier chip to be on par with AMD’s Athlon 64 FX-51 processor released rather unexpectedly by Sunnyvale, California-based AMD in late September. Due to some reasons, the company decided not to clock the Pentium 4 processor at 3.40GHz, but to add another 2MB of L3, gaining up to 15% of additional performance (see our “AMD Athlon 64 FX-51 vs. Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.2GHz: Clash of Strong Wills” article).

Some analysts believed that Intel did not want to increase the clock-speed of the original Northwood CPUs because of heat-dissipation issues. However, the new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition has TDP of 92.1W, roughly 10W more than the original Pentium 4 chip with 512KB of L2 at the same 3.20GHz core-speed. Intel typically indicates Thermal Design Power of its CPUs that is equal to 85% of the maximum power consumption by the core. Therefore, the Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor may eat up to 108W.

TDP is what Intel tells OEMs to design their thermal solutions in order to handle performance intensive computing workloads. It is generally assumed that CPU heat dissipation does not exceed this figure, as processors cannot utilize all their transistors at the same time. Therefore, we should consider 108W as a very theoretical value.

Some well-known PC makers are now shipping Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition-based systems. Intel is shipping boxed Intel Pentium 4 processor Extreme Edition 3.20 GHz to Intel authorized distributors for system integrators worldwide. In 1000 unit quantities, the Pentium 4 processor Extreme Edition at 3.20GHz sells for $925.


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