Introduction

Just last week, we saw the first tests of Intel's newest Xeon processor formerly codenamed Irwindale. The major improvement Irwindale offers over Nocona is an extra 1MB of L2 cache. Our dual processor server configuration showed the 2MB cache of the Irwindale based Xeon offering a significant improvement under certain workloads. In a shared front side bus dual processor configuration, the improved cache hit rate of the 2MB Xeon helps to keep the NetBurst architecture from getting tangled up in the length of its pipeline when working with lots of data. As an added bonus, the impact of sharing a front side bus is softened when processors find more of the data they are looking for locally. On the consumer side, Intel's 600 series doesn't have to deal with shared busses or server sized workloads. Will the 2MB L2 cache still come through and offer a significant performance improvement?

The short answer is that consumer applications running on a single processor system don't see the same kind of benefit from a 2MB L2 as do server workloads running on a DP Xeon. There are areas where performance is affected, but this time around Intel is again refining and broadening its platform rather than simply scaling up speed and power. Let's take a look at the new offerings introduced this week.

First off we've got the new Pentium 4 600 series, launched in four models:

  Model  Clock Speed  Socket L2 Cache  FSB
Intel Pentium 4 660 3.6GHz LGA-775 2MB 800MHz
Intel Pentium 4 650 3.4GHz LGA-775 2MB 800MHz
Intel Pentium 4 640 3.2GHz LGA-775 2MB 800MHz
Intel Pentium 4 630 3.0GHz LGA-775 2MB 800MHz

What advantage does the Pentium 4 600 offer over the 500 series?  The main features are a 2MB L2 cache, Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST) and EM64T support (Intel's version of AMD's x86-64). The Pentium 4 600 is still built on the same 90nm process as the Pentium 4 500, it's just got twice the cache (which we'll talk about later). Features like EIST and EM64T support were always there on previous 90nm Pentium 4s, they were simply not enabled.

Currently the 500 and 600 series chips are priced to coexist with one another, first let's have a look at what Intel's official prices are:

   Pentium 4 500 Series  Pentium 4 600 Series
3.8GHz (Model _70) $637 Q2 Release
3.6GHz (Model _60) $417 $605
3.4GHz (Model _50) $278 $401
3.2GHz (Model _40) $218 $273
3.0GHz (Model _30) $178 $224

Then let's take a look at street prices for the chips using our RealTime Pricing Engine:

   Pentium 4 500 Series (street price)  Pentium 4 600 Series (street price)
3.8GHz (Model _70) $690 Q2 Release
3.6GHz (Model _60) $425 $635
3.4GHz (Model _50) $279 $429
3.2GHz (Model _40) $231 $295
3.0GHz (Model _30) $184 $257

The other thing to note is that the 500 series still holds the clock speed crown, with the 570J running at 3.8GHz, while the fastest 600 series is a 3.6GHz Pentium 4 660.  What we're seeing here is another example of Intel's move away from clock speeds as the only "improvements" from chip to chip.  We will however see a 3.8GHz Pentium 4 670 in Q2 of this year. 

Intel's next announcement is the move to a new 90nm core for the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition.  Until now, all EE chips have been based off of the old 130nm Northwood core, but with the move up to 3.73GHz the Extreme Edition actually uses the same 90nm core as the new Pentium 4 600 series.

Giving up its 2MB L3 cache in favor of a lower latency 2MB L2 cache, the new Extreme Edition only offers two benefits over the regular Pentium 4 600 series CPUs: clock speed and 1066MHz FSB support.  Priced at $999, the new Extreme Edition is priced in accordance with its name, as all of its predecessors have.

The new core, shared by both the Pentium 4 600 and the new Extreme Edition chips, is still built on the same 90nm process as the original Prescott, but thanks to the larger cache weighs in at 169 million transistors, an increase of 44 million (or 35%) over the original Prescott 1M core. 

There's a decent amount to discuss with this new core, so let's start at the biggest change - the cache.

Twice the Cache - 17% Higher Latency
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  • L3p3rM355i4h - Monday, February 21, 2005 - link

    #30 90mm SOI= lower wattage. Reply
  • Brian23 - Monday, February 21, 2005 - link

    Look at the power consumption graph for the A64. Why is the 3500 winchester doing so much better than the 3000 and 3200 winchesters? Reply
  • L3p3rM355i4h - Monday, February 21, 2005 - link

    #28 saw almost the same thing at PCPER too. Reply
  • Aenslead - Monday, February 21, 2005 - link

    I could ALMOST swear I saw the VERY same bencmarks last night @ xbit labs... fancy that. Reply
  • bldckstark - Monday, February 21, 2005 - link

    227 WATTS!!... My daughter has a crayon maker. It uses a 60W light bulb in a plastic box to melt 3 crayons and pours them into a mold. It melts the wax in about 5 minutes. If I buy a P4 I can melt 11.35 crayons at once. It uses 3.78 times as much energy as is necessary to light my computer room. This is not efficient use of resources. Reply
  • L3p3rM355i4h - Monday, February 21, 2005 - link

    sorry to go off topic, but are the forums down or does this terminal suck? Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Monday, February 21, 2005 - link

    From a price/performance standpoint, I can't see many good reasons to buy a P4 six series, and in many cases, a five series either (exceptions being high-end 3D rendering apps and heavy video encoding). Not just because of what price of processor (which doesn't seem to net a huge speed increase) but the increased power draw means a heavier power supply, plus more expensive cooling. Compared to the lower power draw of the Athlon 64 CPU's, as well as a lower price at least at the entry-to-mid level CPU's, I think Intel really needs to go back to basics and create a new CPU architecture. Reply
  • mlittl3 - Monday, February 21, 2005 - link

    Okay, I have an addition to my last comment made about the Extreme Edition being a scam. I did some calculations that were left out my anandtech to see if the 3.73EE is truely better than the 3.46EE.

    Everyone knows the differences between the two processors. The 3.73EE has an 8% increase in CPU speed, less total cache overall but 4x the lower latency L2 cache when compared to L3 cache (the XD-bit and EM64T are also added but that will not effect performance at all with 32-bit OS).

    With these added features, the 3.73EE should be better than the 3.46EE especially since the Prescott core is supposed to scale well with clock speed versus the Gallatin/Northwood and the 1066 MHz FSB is supposed to give better performance at higher clock speeds. Well, let's look at the numbers.

    Using Anandtech's results, I calculated the % difference between the two processors. They varied between -10 (worse) and 30 % (better). I then added up all the scores (I took the inverse of the less is better scores) and divided them by the introduction price ($999) and the MHz of each processor. Here are the results.

    Performance per $:
    3.46EE - 20.69
    3.73EE - 20.61

    Performance per MHz:
    3.46EE - 5.96
    3.73EE - 5.52

    You can do the calculations yourself by using all the benchmark numbers from the two extreme edition CPUs in the review. As you can see, the 3.73EE is worse on a per dollar and per MHz basis compared to the 3.46EE (even though the margin is small, it is still worse for the higher clocked CPU). The Prescott core is a failure IMHO. The 3.73EE is a total scam and the extreme edition processors in general are poor performers. Remember these were released just to offset the marketing of AMD FX processors when Intel got wind of them 1.5 years ago. I don't think Intel was ever going to release them and they keep getting worse and worse.

    A scam alert should be issued. Buyer beware!
    Reply
  • L3p3rM355i4h - Monday, February 21, 2005 - link

    Ho Hum, intel is still stagnating. 227 watts load? Jeezus, thats incredible. Reply
  • mlittl3 - Monday, February 21, 2005 - link

    Just a quick, possible correction.

    I don't know if you meant to or not, but the comparison of the Prescott vs. Prescott 2M table is missing Windows Media Creator HD and Visual Studio results.
    Reply

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