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A number of web-sites reported that Intel is going to accelerate its Pentium 4 processors later this year by incorporating more cache into the chips and boosting the speed of the processor system bus.

Extreme Edition Becomes More Extreme

Intel is going to unleash a yet another version of Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor clocked at 3.46GHz with 1066MHz Quad Pumped Bus in the Q3 2004. There is currently no precise information about the sizes of L2 and L3 caches for the part, but one of pretty logical assumptions are 512KB and 2MB of level-two and level-three respectively. The chip is likely to come in LGA775 packaging.

Right now the Santa Clara, California-based company supplies Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processors with 2MB L2 cache for gamers and performance enthusiasts. The Extreme Edition chips are substantially more powerful than typical Pentium 4 CPUs. The company said it would supply Extreme Edition processors for future systems that use Socket T. Current Pentium 4 Extreme Edition chips use Socket 478 and 800MHz Quad Pumped Bus. It is not clear how performance of Pentium 4 “Prescott” processors with 1066MHz PSB will compare to that of Pentium 4 Extreme Edition chips with 800MHz PSB.

Prescott Gets Bigger

Additionally, the world’s largest chipmaker may have plans to introduce Pentium 4 processors “Prescott” 3.73GHz produced using 90nm process technology with 2MB of L2 cache in the Q4 2004. The chips may also sport 1066MHz processor system bus. Current Pentium 4 “Prescott” processors have 1MB of L2 cache, but still perform slower compared to Pentium 4 “Northwood” chips on the same frequency because of the deeper pipeline. 2MB of L2 and higher-speed bus may compensate deeper pipeline of the microprocessor. The product is expected to sport LGA775 packaging.

Semiconductor manufacturers usually tend to make their chips smaller so that the costs to produce them were lower. Adding more cache inevitably affects yield – the number of seaworthy chips on the wafer – and adds cost to the processors that should eventually retail at price points between $163 and $637. In case the yield is low, the cost to manufacture a central processing unit soars and ability of the company to supply enough such chips dips.

New Platforms on the Way?

This is not fully clear which chipsets are likely to support the bolstered Quad Pumped Bus at 1066MHz. Some sources indicate that 1066MHz PSB is to be supported by Intel’s i925X (Alderwood) chipset, others say that this speed will only be available on a revamped revision of the Alderwood that is presumably called i925XE.

Intel i925X chipset formerly known as Alderwood is expected to sport 800MHz and possibly 1066MHz Quad Pumped Bus for LGA775 processors, dual-channel DDR2 memory at up to 533MHz or even 667MHz, PCI Express x16 port for graphics cards and a rich arsenal of I/O capabilities, including multitude of Serial ATA-150 ports with RAID support and software WLAN access point.

64-bit Bit Under Question

It is not known whether the new chips with 1066MHz PSB will have Extended Memory 64 Technology.

The move to accelerate Pentium 4 processors and platforms might be forced by increasing competition from Advanced Micro Devices, whose Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX chips proved to be extremely strong competition to Intel’s products. Furthermore, AMD’s CPUs also sport 64-bit capability.

The information is reported at the same time by AnandTech and The Inquirer web-sites. Intel spokesman denied to comment on the unannounced products, saying that future chips are a part of the company’s communication with OEMs and platform partners.

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