Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/866



In Intel's eyes the Pentium 4 was created to replace the Pentium III; and at that, it did a very good job. The Pentium III was clearly reaching the end of its time around the 1GHz marker, and while the 0.13-micron die-shrink gave new life to the P6 core it won't take it far enough. From all estimates we've seen, Intel's 0.13-micron process would only be able to take the Pentium III to 1.7GHz and definitely not much beyond. The Pentium 4 is faster than all currently available Pentium IIIs and its new NetBurst architecture has much more room to grow.

What Intel didn't bank on however was their formerly dormant competitor, AMD, having such a solid processor. You can spend hours thinking about how the Athlon came to be from the lessons AMD learned with the K5 to the acquisition of NextGen but the bottom line is that it didn't take long for Intel and the rest of the market to realize that the Athlon was to be AMD's most successful part ever.

Throughout the past year AMD has done nothing other than take market share away from Intel; the launch of their Athlon XP line was icing on the cake as it further widened the performance gap that put the Pentium 4 to shame.

Today however the tables could very well turn; Intel is officially announcing the very first Pentium 4 processors based on a new 0.13-micron core that has been known under the codename "Northwood." You should already be aware of the Pentium 4's abilities to reach high clock speeds, but the move to a 0.13-micron core provides even more frequency headroom thus allowing the Pentium 4 to mature much more quickly. There are other benefits that come with this core but we'll address them later.

In order to counteract today's launch, AMD is showing more of their hand as they release another addition to the 0.18-micron Palomino based Athlon XP line - the Athlon XP 2000+. AMD obviously didn't feel the introduction of the Northwood was alarming enough to push for the release of 2100+ and 2200+ parts but we'll see if AMD is able to retain the performance crown they've held throughout the past several months.

We're effectively killing two birds with one stone in this review so we'll first talk about the Athlon XP 2000+ and then onto the new Northwood core from Intel. As usual, let's get to it.



AMD's Athlon XP 2000+ Making 66MHz seem like a whole lot more

For some reason the name Athlon XP 2000+ just seems that much more intimidating than last month's 1900+. Over the past few weeks we've heard similar opinions from AnandTech staff members as well as readers in general; although the Athlon XP performance ratings caused us to cringe slightly at the launch of the processor, the marketing strategy does seem to be working. Even among the most die-hard tech heads, the new XPs are rarely referred to by their clock speeds.

The naming system has obviously not been misleading from the performance perspective as AMD has generally been overly modest with their performance ratings as we've shown countless times in previous reviews. It seems as if AMD has definitely learned a lot from the Intel-way of marketing processors and although we do have our issues with the naming system we must give credit to the Athlon XP series as somehow feeling like the strongest show of AMD branding and marketing to-date.

But enough about marketing, now onto the processor itself. The Athlon XP 2000+ is based on the same Palomino core that debuted back in June 2000. Just like all of the other XP processors the 2000+ features a new organic based packaging which will definitely come in handy for AMD's eventual move down to a 0.13-micron process although it is of little use now. An interesting nonperformance related fact is that by the end of the first half of 2002 all of AMD's organic packages will be dyed green instead of brown.

The 2000+ carries a clock speed of 1.67GHz with a 12.5x clock multiplier. Most motherboards don't properly implement this clock multiplier so you'll have to make sure you update your BIOS in order to accommodate the new processor. From what we've seen, the majority of the Taiwanese motherboard manufacturers released BIOSes with support for the new 2000+ in the past month or two.

The CPU itself still runs at a 1.750V core voltage and draws an average of close to 36 amps of current, dissipating 62.5 - 70W in heat. The processor is definitely very hot which is one reason why AMD's transition to their 0.13-micron process needs to occur soon. According to AMD, their Thoroughbred (0.13-micron) Athlon core will begin shipping by the end of this quarter. We can extrapolate that to mean that retail availability is still on track for the first half of this year.

The rest of the specs of the processor remain unchanged from all of the other members of the Athlon XP line, for more information on those processors and the Palomino core you can have a look at some of the previous articles we've done on those topics:

AMD's Athlon XP 1600+: Still #1

AMD's Athlon XP: Great performance, poor marketing

Athlon MP Technology

AMD Athlon 4 - The Palomino is Here



Northwood - The Pentium 4 loses weight

Intel's release makes today a bit more interesting than your average speed bump story. The move to a 0.13-micron process means a lot for the Pentium 4 because when it was originally released as a 0.18-micron processor, it featured a core that was almost 70% larger than the competition. A larger core means that there is a greater chance of finding defects on a single processor thus lowering the yield of the part. A larger core also means that fewer CPUs can be produced per wafer also making the CPU a very expensive family member.


A close-up of a 0.13-micron Northwood core on a Si wafer

The 0.13-micron Northwood core addresses this issue first and foremost. While the original 0.18-micron Willamette die weighed in with a surface area of 217 mm^2, the Northwood is a meager 146 mm^2. On the current 200 mm wafers (see below), Intel can now produce approximately twice as many Pentium 4 processors per wafer than they could on the 0.18-micron process. And although that still makes it larger than the current Athlon XP core, the fact of the matter is that the core could have actually been smaller had it not been for one important performance improving characteristic of the new core.


Click to Enlarge

The Pentium 4 has always been geared for what Intel has been calling the "future" of computing. While people will argue about exactly what that future will be, one thing is for sure, programs are constantly growing in size and the discrepancy between memory speed and CPU speed plays an even more important role as software becomes larger. Intel's decision was a simple but effective one; the Northwood core now features a 512KB L2 cache instead of the original 256KB cache. The addition of the extra cache raises the transistor count on the Pentium 4 to 55 million, up from the 42 million of the Willamette core.

The size of the execution trace cache has not been changed nor have any of the other units of the Pentium 4 core, but the increase in L2 cache will provide a tangible performance increase for most applications especially newer ones.

At the beginning of this article we mentioned that the 0.13-micron die shrink will also provide the Pentium 4 with more frequency headroom. The smaller transistors can switch faster and produce less heat than their older counterparts, paving the way for a 3GHz Pentium 4 before the end of the year. The current Northwood based Pentium 4s run at 1.50V and can already overclock beyond 2.5GHz with conventional air cooling, as the yields improve it shouldn't be too far fetched to see some near-3GHz speeds without much effort. Another aid in this effort to increase clock speeds is the fact that all 0.13-micron CPUs use Copper interconnects which as you may already know, AMD has been employing for some time now.

The Northwood core will eventually make it down to the mobile market as well, although at much lower clock speeds. There are still a few more pieces of the puzzle that must fall into place before this will be made a reality, such as the introduction of the i845G chipset (845 with integrated graphics).

Today Intel is releasing the first 0.13-micron Pentium 4 CPUs at two clock speeds: 2.0GHz and 2.2GHz. In order to differentiate the 2GHz CPUs from their older 0.18-micron 2GHz counterparts the new Northwood processors will be called the Pentium 4 2A; the 2.2GHz CPUs will simply be known as Pentium 4 2.2s. The Northwood will only be available in a Socket-478 variety (see above).

Since the processor has not changed much architecturally, we'll point you back at some previous articles for any further information you desire about NetBurst and the Pentium 4:

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz: The clock strikes two

Intel Pentium 4 One Page Architecture Summary

NetBurst Overview



Testing the Rivals

AMD's Athlon XP gains a decent sized performance boost from being used with an up-to-date platform and thus we outfitted our AMD test bed with a KT266A based ASUS A7V266-E.

Likewise, the Pentium 4 is still best paired with RDRAM on the i850. With the recent rise in memory prices, the difference between DDR SDRAM and RDRAM is marginal making the 845 not as desirable as the 850 as a Pentium 4 chipset. Performance can be improved slightly with DDR333 SDRAM on a SiS 645 motherboard but availability is still not to the point where we'd like it to be.

As has become new tradition for our CPU reviews, we ran all benchmarks under Windows XP Professional. We disabled System Restore and followed Microsoft's directions for benchmarking under Windows XP to obtain repeatable results. We enabled all visual options including anti-aliased fonts.

SYSMark 2001 was run with the Athlon XP's SSE instructions enabled. For more information on why they are disabled by default read our explanation entitled: SYSMark 2001: The Benchmarking Controversy.

Windows XP Test System

Hardware

CPU(s)

AMD Athlon XP 1.67GHz (2000+)
AMD Athlon XP 1.60GHz (1900+)
AMD Athlon XP 1.53GHz (1800+)
AMD Athlon XP 1.47GHz (1700+)
AMD Athlon XP 1.40GHz (1600+)
AMD Athlon XP 1.33GHz (1500+)
AMD Athlon-C 1.40GHz
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz
Intel Pentium 4 2.0AGHz
Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz
Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz
Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz
Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz
Intel Pentium 4 1.6GHz
Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz
Motherboard(s) ASUS A7V266-E ABIT TH7-II RAID (Intel 850)
Memory

256MB PC800 Mushkin RDRAM
256MB DDR266 Crucial (CAS2) DDR SDRAM

Hard Drive

Maxtor D740X Ultra ATA/133 80GB HDD

CDROM

Phillips 48X

Video Card(s)

NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500 64MB DDR

Ethernet

Linksys LNE100TX 100Mbit PCI Ethernet Adapter

Software

Operating System

Windows XP

Video Drivers

NVIDIA Detonator 4 v23.11



Content Creation Performance

We'll open up the barrage of benchmarks with a new entry from Ziff Davis Media/eTesting Labs: Content Creation Winstone 2002. This benchmark mixes a lot of the classic Winstone tests with somewhat of a SYSMark flavor, let us explain. The benchmark runs through a variety of content creation tasks:

Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1
Adobe Premiere 6.0
Macromedia Director 8.5
Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev 4
Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 7.01.00.3055
Netscape Navigator 6/6.01
Sonic Foundry Sound Forge 5.0c (build 184)

...and performs a number of simultaneous tasks designed to simulate the power content creation user. The addition of Windows Media Encoder to the benchmark foray increases the stress on the processor and memory subsystems however we are not 100% sure as to whether or not this build of WME takes advantage of the Athlon XP's SSE instructions or not.

Content Creation Performance
Content Creation Winstone 2002
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

33.7

33.7

32.9

31.5

31.5

30.3

30.2

29.1

28.2

27.3

|
0
|
7
|
13
|
20
|
27
|
34
|
40

It's clear that the Northwood couldn't have come at a better time as the XP 2000+ is about 11% faster than the old Pentium 4 running at 2GHz. The added cache results in a 4% boost for the Pentium 4 and the increase in clock speed keeps the processor competitive with the Athlon XP. It's interesting to note that only a 4% performance boost is realized from the addition of 256KB of L2 cache in this test which could be caused by the disk dependent nature of the CCWS2002 test. This is one thing we do like about all of the Winstone benchmarks as they are usually very characteristic of the way most of us use our systems in that we are often bottlenecked by disk performance.

Content Creation Performance
Internet Content Creation SYSMark 2001
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

239

228

224

222

219

212

212

202

198

187

|
0
|
48
|
96
|
143
|
191
|
239
|
287

Last year, with the AMD SSE patch the Athlon XP took the lead in the Internet Content Creation tests of SYSMark 2001 but now with the introduction of Northwood the lead has been restored. The 2.2GHz Pentium 4 holds less than a 5% advantage over the new Athlon XP 2000+ making the two quite competitive with each other.

Here we see that the additional cache resulted in a 7.5% increase for the Pentium 4 when we compare the 2GHz to the new 2A CPU. The ICC SYSMark 2001 suite is far less bottlenecked by the I/O subsystem than Content Creation Winstone 2001 which explains the difference.



Overall Performance

Although we aren't thought of in this way, some of the most power users depend on performance in office productivity applications more than anything else. As I write this article I've got the following open: Macromedia Dreamweaver, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook (along with 15 email windows), Microsoft Internet Explorer (along with 10 windows), Microsoft Excel along with my one compulsory content creation application - Adobe Photoshop. At the same time there are a number of background tasks running, including a real time virus scanner. If this is much like how you use your computer, then Office Productivity SYSMark 2001 is an index that you need to pay attention to.

General Performance
Office Productivity SYSMark 2001
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

199

194

193

187

186

184

173

164

161

152

|
0
|
40
|
80
|
119
|
159
|
199
|
239

The Athlon has historically done quite well in this benchmark simply because the nature of most office productivity code that is out there currently does not lend itself to perform better on the Pentium 4. Most of the time you're dealing with integer operations which are generally not as predictable as most floating point tasks not to mention that the bulk of this code was written for the P6 core which is quite similar to the Athlon in most respects.

In spite of this the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 is able to slightly edge out the Athlon XP by a 2.5% lead which no user would be able to notice. In fact, most users would not be able to tell the difference between the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 and the AMD Athlon XP 1700+ as the performance spread is less than 10%.

In any case, the Pentium 4 is helped out noticeably by the addition of the larger L2 cache which again gives it a 7.5% improvement over the older Willamette core. The processor is definitely much more competitive.

Overall Performance
SYSMark 2001
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

218

210

207

204

203

198

192

182

179

169

|
0
|
44
|
87
|
131
|
174
|
218
|
262

The overall performance picture is none too surprising as it is pretty much an average of the previous two SYSMark 2001 suites. By a slight margin, the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 emerges ahead of the Athlon XP 2000+. Overall we see that the additional L2 cache resulted in a 6.25% improvement in performance for the Pentium 4 and the boost in clock speed helped it gain a competitive edge.

The Athlon XP continues to offer the better value as the 2000+ model offers performance that is very similar to the 2.2GHz Northwood at a lower cost.



CAD Performance

Moving into more professional territory we make use of the Cadalyst Labs' C2001 benchmark for AutoCAD 2002. This is indeed a very stressful test to place any test system under as even the fastest of systems will remain pegged at 100% CPU utilization throughout the vast majority of this benchmark.

Although our test bed used an admittedly average video card for AutoCAD (GeForce3 Ti 500), the differences between the CPUs are most important here.

CAD Performance
AutoCAD 2002 - C2001 Total Index
AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

38.25

37.5

36.63

36.29

35.31

34.1

32.21

30.9

29.71

28.47

|
0
|
8
|
15
|
23
|
31
|
38
|
46

The overall score continues to make it clear why the Athlon XP is a favorite among CAD users; the CPU definitely provides a lot of bang for your buck. The C2001 total index only shows about a 5% performance improvement courtesy of the Northwood core, but let's dive a little deeper to see if we can discover why the performance unfolds the way it does.

CAD Performance
AutoCAD 2002 - C2001 3D Wireframe Index
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

13.68

13.01

11.92

11.6

11.33

11.26

11.15

11.15

10.88

10.81

|
0
|
3
|
5
|
8
|
11
|
14
|
16

Here we get a completely different picture; the 3D wireframe tests seem to favor the Pentium 4 by a significant amount. Not only that but the Northwood core accounts for over a 9% performance improvement in this area alone. The Pentium 4 at 2.2GHz is approximately 20% faster than the Athlon XP 2000+. This would seemingly be an indication of platform limitations holding the Athlon XP back, possibly the KT266A AGP controller. But let's dig deeper...



CAD Performance
AutoCAD 2002 - C2001 3D Gouraud Index
AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

15.74

15.49

15.35

15.12

14.67

14.42

13.97

13.35

12.78

12.18

|
0
|
3
|
6
|
9
|
13
|
16
|
19

The XP 2000+ and the Pentium 4 2.2GHz offer relatively similar performance, as do the rest of the XP line. The additional cache doesn't seem to increase performance all that much in this test indicating that the Gouraud shading tests are clearly graphics card limited for the most part (which makes sense).

CAD Performance
AutoCAD 2002 - C2001 Non-graphic Index
AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

61.62

59.32

57.2

55.24

55.18

50.76

48.8

46.72

44.43

42.49

|
0
|
12
|
25
|
37
|
49
|
62
|
74

The non-graphic index should tell the most about CPU performance influences on AutoCAD 2002 performance and from these scores alone you can see why the Athlon XP does very well in this benchmark. The additional cache helps the Northwood a bit (approximately 4%) but the x87 FPU optimized code of AutoCAD 2002 runs much better on the Athlon XP than on the Pentium 4. This is one area where Intel needs to spend more time gaining acceptance of their SSE2 instructions in order to make the Pentium 4 a bit more competitive.

CAD Performance
AutoCAD 2002 - C2001 2D Graphics Index
AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

64.3

64.18

62.13

61.7

60.58

58.24

54.16

51.95

50.38

48.34

|
0
|
13
|
26
|
39
|
51
|
64
|
77

Concluding the AutoCAD 2002 tests is the 2D graphics index which shows a 7% increase in performance for the Northwood core as well as a very competitive 2.2GHz part.



3D Rendering Performance

The next set of applications we have that truly require more powerful CPUs are the 3D rendering apps you hear so much about. For this review we've chosen Maya 4.0.1 using the Maya-Testcenter's rendertest and 3D Studio MAX using the discreet supplied waterfall.max scene.

3D Rendering Performance
Maya 4.0.1 Rendertest
(Rendered Images per Hour - Higher is better)
AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

39.6

39.6

38.3

36.7

36.7

35.6

33.6

32.4

30.8

29.5

|
0
|
8
|
16
|
24
|
32
|
40
|
48

Once again we have the Athlon XP 2000+ and Pentium 4 2.2GHz CPUs in a tie for first place. While the performance improvement offered by the additional L2 cache will vary depending on the scene being rendered, the 9% boost that Northwood gives the Pentium 4 definitely comes in handy. Again we see the Pentium 4 as much more of a competitive processor courtesy of the Northwood core.

3D Rendering Performance
3D Studio MAX 4.2.6 Waterfall.max
(Time in Seconds to Render Frame 1 @ 1024 x 768 - Lower is better)
AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

68

70

71

75

77

78

82

87

93

95

|
0
|
19
|
38
|
57
|
76
|
95
|
114

Rendering the first frame of the waterfall scene under 3D Studio MAX 4.2.6 (with Pentium 4 optimizations) produces the exact same standings as the Maya benchmark. The less than 3% difference in performance between the 2000+ and the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 is negligible.



3D Animation Performance

To further explore 3D rendering performance we used the same two animations that the talented folks over at Ace's Hardware used in their last workstation roundup for this test. Unlike the first test, these frames were rendered at 320 x 240.

3D Animation Performance
3D Studio MAX 4.2.6 Waterfall.max
(Time in Seconds to Render Frames 20 to 29 - Lower is better)
AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

141

148

148

153

160

164

172

181

189

199

|
0
|
40
|
80
|
119
|
159
|
199
|
239

The performance standings remain relatively unchanged throughout this animation, with the 512KB L2 cache providing for a 5% boost in performance to the Pentium 4. The 2.2GHz part is on the heels of the XP 2000+ in this test...

3D Animation Performance
3D Studio MAX 4.2.6 Ape.max
(Time in Seconds to Render Frames 20 to 25 - Lower is better)
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

256

257

266

276

277

290

317

327

347

363

|
0
|
73
|
145
|
218
|
290
|
363
|
436

...and on its toes in this one. Without the Northwood core there would not be a single Pentium 4 that would be faster than an Athlon XP 1700+ in this test.



Media Encoding Performance

Intel has always touted the Pentium 4's strengths as a processor for media encoding, and compared to the Pentium III it is indeed a much improved processor. It is the Athlon that gives it a run for its money.

For starters we used Xmpeg 4.2a (based off of the Flask MPEG 0.60 preview) video encoder along with the latest Divx 4.12 codec to encode Chapter 40 from the Star Wars Episode I DVD in its entirety to a 720 x 480 Divx file complete with MP3 audio at 29.97 fps (NTSC). We chose Chapter 40 because it contains one of the more complex MPEG-2 streams on the DVD, with most of the video being > 6Mbps streams.

MPEG-4 Encoding Performance
Xmpeg 4.2a - Divx 4.12 Codec - YUV2 720 x 480 - DD5.1 Sound - 29.97 fps
Frames Encoded per Second
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

29.3

27.6

27.4

27.1

26.9

26.1

25.9

25.8

25.1

24

|
0
|
6
|
12
|
18
|
23
|
29
|
35

The additional cache of the Northwood core does not improve performance much (a 533MHz FSB would have done much more) but the 2.2GHz processor is still able to top the charts. The latest version of the divx codec is quite accommodating to both the Athlon XP and Pentium 4, but the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 pulls away with the 6% lead here. The performance advantage isn't huge but it's there.

MP3 Encoding Performance
Lame MP3 Encoder -V 0
Time to Encode 170MB .wav File
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

2.52

2.55

2.67

2.75

2.75

2.78

2.9

2.92

3.15

3.23

|
0
|
1
|
1
|
2
|
3
|
3
|
4

Just like video encoding, MP3 audio encoding also fails to benefit from any additional L2 cache of the Northwood core. The two chart toppers are again very close in performance to one another.



3D Gaming Performance

To round things off we'll conclude with a bit of gaming performance using Quake III Arena, Return to Castle Wolfeinstein and Serious Sam. All of the games were run at 640 x 480 to prevent being limited by the graphics cards although with a GeForce3 Ti 500 (and especially its successor) these games will be almost as CPU dependent at 1024 x 768 as they are at 640 x 480.

3D Gaming Performance
Quake III Arena 1.30 demo four - 640 x 480 - High Quality
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

271.5

258.4

251.8

245.6

239.5

239.2

235

232.4

227.1

218.6

|
0
|
54
|
109
|
163
|
217
|
272
|
326

When the Pentium 4 launched its one strength was in Quake III Arena but with faster DDR platforms for the Athlon and the release of the Athlon XP, the processor finally lost its edge. The Northwood core restored some of that original prestige courtesy of an 8% performance boost on a clock for clock basis, giving the XP 2000+ a worthy pair of competitors.

3D Gaming Performance
Return to Castle Wolfenstein - atdemo1 @ 640 x 480 - High Quality
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

166.6

163.2

159.3

157.1

155.5

151.3

148.3

143.4

138.4

133.6

|
0
|
33
|
67
|
100
|
133
|
167
|
200

In spite of solid performance under Quake III Arena, RtCW would almost always tilt its hat in favor of the Athlon XP. Again with the extra 256KB of L2 cache the Northwood has made the Pentium 4 much more competitive,with the 2.2GHz part taking the slight lead.

3D Gaming Performance
Serious Sam 1.02 - 640 x 480 - Maximum Settings
AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1900+ (1.60GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.53GHz)

AMD Athlon XP 1700+ (1.47GHz)

Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz (Northwood)

Intel Pentium 4 2AGHz (Northwood)

Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz

Intel Pentium 4 1.7GHz

134.2

132.9

129.9

126.5

114.6

106.4

96.1

93.3

88.3

84.9

|
0
|
27
|
54
|
81
|
107
|
134
|
161

The one game that has never seemed to perform well on the Pentium 4 continues to show us that there are some situations in which the Pentium 4, even the mighty Northwood, will not be able to succeed in.



Final Words

There are two things you can take away from this review; the first is that the Northwood core has been long overdue and now that it is here, the Pentium 4 is a much more competitive processor. We were able to reach speeds of 2.64GHz, air cooled, with our 2.2GHz processor using a 120MHz FSB and bumping up the voltage to 1.625V. The 512KB L2 cache improves performance by 5 - 9% across the board which isn't bad. Combined with additional frequency headroom and the promise of future applications having much larger footprints than the ones we've benchmarked today, the Northwood core is exactly what the Pentium 4 needed. While the processor may still not be the most affordable, it is finally competitive enough where a user wouldn't be able to tell the difference in speed between one and the fastest Athlon XP. Next up for the desktop Pentium 4 will be its 533MHz FSB which we've already shown to offer a more than decent performance improvement.

The second point we attempted to make is that the Athlon XP is indeed a very impressive offering from AMD. We've all known this for a while but seeing how well it is able to stand up to the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 is like one day rediscovering the beauty of a wife or girlfriend of many years. In virtually all of the tests we conducted the Athlon XP 2000+ was within a negligible amount of percentage points of the 2.2GHz Pentium 4. AMD has done a very good job with the Athlon XP and the upcoming 0.13-micron Thoroughbred should be even more exciting, although AMD has not had any sort of public trials on their 0.13-micron process while Intel has been shipping 0.13-micron CPUs for months.

In the end, the choice is no longer simple. Both the Athlon XP 2000+ and the Pentium 4 2.2GHz processors are very close performers in most respects, the final decision truly comes down to what your preferences are. The Pentium 4 2.2 will cost a bit more although it runs significantly cooler and has much more overclocking headroom, if combined with an 845 DDR platform you'll have one of the most stable setups we've ever tested. On the other hand, the Athlon XP 2000+ and a solid KT266A board will leave you with enough cash left over to consider upgrading other parts of your system.

How far things have come to have to decide between two high performing processors, unlike the "old" days when the choice would be between something that performed well and the best low-end thing you could afford.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now