Before reading this article, be sure to read our first Desktop Pentium M investigation, as we will not be revisiting any of the discoveries/conclusions in that article.

At this year's Spring IDF, Derek Wilson, Johan De Gelas and I all sat across the table from Intel's Justin Rattner and asked him a question that had been on our minds ever since Prescott's introduction.  The question went something like this:

Recently, Intel has shifted their focus away from ramping clock speed to increasing performance through other means such as exploiting TLP (Thread Level Parallelism).  Given that Intel's direction today seems to be in sharp contrast to the direction of the NetBurst architecture and especially the direction of Prescott, were the past five years of microarchitecture improvements and innovations essentially a waste? 

Rattner's exact answer encompassed a few items, but the main points were as follows:

1) At the time of Prescott's inception, clock speed is what sold, so clock speed was obviously the top priority; and they did quite well at that.

2) The past few years weren't a waste; after all, research continued in the direction of the Pentium M while all of the work on Prescott and Tejas were being done.

The second statement was particularly interesting because it was the first time that we received something tangible from Intel in regards to this question.  Clearly, significant elements of future Intel desktop processors will be derived from the Pentium M architecture, but as we saw in our first desktop Pentium M investigation, the time for the Pentium M on the desktop isn't now. 

As a mobile architecture, the Pentium M can't be beat.  That statement alone is something many assumed that we were contradicting in our desktop Pentium M article, but the purpose of that article was to look at desktop Pentium M performance, where we determined that it fell behind.  In the mobile world, without significant engineering investment, it is doubtful that the Pentium M will meet its match anytime soon. 

On the desktop, we discovered that there were a handful of limitations to the Pentium M's success:

1) 855GME chipset with only a single-channel DDR333 memory controller
2) Expensive motherboards and high total cost of ownership
3) Low floating point/SSE performance
4) Severely motherboard-limited overclocking

The combination of the four items above meant a few things.  While the Pentium M was an excellent contender in general use applications, its total cost of ownership was significantly higher than an Athlon 64 that performed similarly.  In other applications, the Pentium M simply fell behind the competition for architectural reasons. In those cases, its high price didn't help it out at all either.  The saving grace in many cases required overclocking, but the desktop Pentium M motherboards were far from overclocking monsters for those who were interested. 

In the end, our stance on the Pentium M as a desktop solution was that it's more of a wait-and-see proposition.  If motherboard manufacturers could produce cheaper, better equipped motherboards and if those elements improved performance, then the Pentium M would be worth another look as a desktop alternative. 

We hadn't expected such a solution to come around this soon however, but it has, and not in the form that we originally thought it would.  Both AOpen and DFI have indicated that they were working on updated motherboards based on the mobile 915 chipset, but that they were still months away.  So when we received word that ASUS had a solution to the Pentium M desktop problem, we were caught off-guard.  And rightfully so, as their solution is far from just a new chipset...

ASUS CT-479: Socket-478 to Socket-479 Adapter
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  • merkmal - Thursday, March 24, 2005 - link

    I don't understand why there wasn't a direct comparison here between the i855 and the i865. It seems very un-anandtech like to go on and on about how this is such an improvment over the i855 setups and then not even show 2 of the same clocked processors in both setups to show if that really is the case. Testing a "faster" setup with a processor that is already known to be faster simply by the fact that it is clocked at stock speeds faster isn't a very good comparison or argument for better performance either.

    I understand the fact that lots of readers are interested in using a Pentium-M on the desktop and would like to know how it compares to other desktop processors, but I thought that was clear from the previous article on exactly that. This article should have been only Pentium-Ms in a variety of setups. It's easy to check back at the old article and see relatively how the new setup compares to the other desktop only processors.

    I'm just very dissapointed in this article. I appauled you on the reviewing of the adapter, but think the comparisons drawn were just shoddy and un-thought out.
    Reply
  • VIAN - Thursday, March 24, 2005 - link

    Can't wait for Intel to do away with the P4 and step in with a suped-up PM.

    Or at least do away with the EE, market the PM as a multimedia chip and the P4 as a workstation chip.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Thursday, March 24, 2005 - link

    NewEgg doesn't sell the 770 cpu, and it would be incredibly expensive if they did. Can you test the cheapest P-M, and see how it overclocks? Reply
  • PandaBear - Thursday, March 24, 2005 - link

    Yeah PM is the way to go in the future. P4 architecture is getting way too inefficient and burn way too much power that it is not going to grow from where we are now. I am sure Intel is fully aware of this but keep it under the cover to avoid tanking the P4 sales. What would the customer think the PC they spend big bucks for is slower and hotter than a laptop CPU hacked from last generation technology, that would be a slap on the face.

    Anyhow, I still think A64 has better architecture for long term growth. Now if they come up with integrated North Bridge that has 20 PCIe lane in replacement of the HT port....
    Reply
  • RockHydra11 - Thursday, March 24, 2005 - link

    I don't understand the "desktop killer" thing...It never was intended for the desktop.It was centered to compete with anything else that was on the notebook platform, so Intel was not generating it to perform well against desktop processors, let alonre FLAGSHIP desktop processors. It is what it is, and that's that. Yonah is going to be the one centered toward real desktop performance. Reply
  • Mingon - Thursday, March 24, 2005 - link

    Would have been nice to have run in both single and dual channel configs so as to see if the chip is bandwidth starved.

    Reply
  • 68GTX - Thursday, March 24, 2005 - link

    Looks like Legit reviews is currently testing with a new beta bios with voltage options.

    "Part 2 is being updated... ASUS-USA sent me over a new BETA BIOS that is awesome. Fixes the performance issues and the voltage issues that were noted in the article... Take a look at the new voltages..."

    http://forums.legitreviews.com/viewtopic.php?t=157...
    Reply
  • Mangler - Thursday, March 24, 2005 - link

    Legit Reviews also has this adapter reviewed today at: http://www.legitreviews.com/article.php?aid=181

    They compared an Intel 770 CPU on both the DFI 855GME-MGF motherboard and the ASUS P4P800SE for an apples to apples look. (i855GM versus i865PE)

    They focus more on overclocking and use of the kit. A must read for any enthusiast.
    Reply
  • Goi - Thursday, March 24, 2005 - link

    #12, you can't say that tha Pentium M is based on old technology. There are many power saving techniques on the Pentium M that aren't implemented in the P4, both in the microarchitectural level, circuit level and logic level. The Pentium M is a hybrid between the P3 and the P4, but to say that it's closer to the P3, I'm not sure I agree with that. It does use executation units that are simialr to the P3's, but there are many areas where they are different, including the issue/control logic, which is a BIG part of microprocessors nowadays(and really, in the past decade or so). Reply
  • mrmorris - Thursday, March 24, 2005 - link

    I'd like to point out that while the Pentium-M offer sub-desktop performance at worst, it does so with out heating up the room or requireing earplugs to dampen the fan noise! Therefore, as an office/coorporate workstation it fits perfect. Reply

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