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While Pentium 4 “Prescott” processors are not the fastest chips available immediately, they may receive a speed boost when specially tweaked software for such microprocessors will be obtainable later this year. The question is when such applications hit the market.

According to Intel Corporation’s spokespersons, there is a bunch of digital tools with SSE3 optimizations coming out very soon. The list of such tools includes digital codecs, such as MainConcept (MPEG 2/4), xMPEG from EMEA, Ligos (MPEG 2/4), Real (RV9) and On2 (VP5/VP6) from ASMO as well as Pegasys TMPGEnc 3.0. Additionally, there will be a number of digital media editors that utilize those codecs and take advantage of SSE3 instructions, such as Adobe Premier (to use MainConcept codec), Pinnacle (MPEG Encoder and use DivX Codec), Sony DVD Source Creator (bundling Pegasys TMPEG Encoder), Ulead (MediaStudio & Video Studio) as well as software like Intervideo, Pinnacle, Showshifter, Snapstream that utilize DivX codecs.

The performance boost for the first batch of software that can make use of Prescott’s new instructions is not expected to be very significant, but is likely to allow the new Pentium 4 to achieve or even surpass the speed of 0.13 micron Pentium 4 chips running at comparable clock-rates. It is estimated that speed will improve by a small margin of 2 – 5%, a not really significant advantage, especially if we keep in mind that virtually all digital tools are already heavily optimized for SSE2 and digital media is not the real Achilles’ hill of Intel Pentium 4E processors.

The main concern for the new Pentium 4 processors are games, rendering and professional applications that require floating point math1. This is where SSE3 can theoretically help, though, it is not clear when the apps with tweaks for SSE3 actually emerge.


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