Intel's Pentium 4 670: Just Another Speed Bumpby Derek Wilson on May 26, 2005 9:00 AM EST
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IntroductionToday, Intel is launching a couple new processors. Anand has already taken an in-depth look at the Pentium D 820, so we won't be going into detail on that piece of hardware in this article.
The newest and fastest of the single core parts from Intel is their Pentium 4 670, which runs at 3.8GHz. As this is just a bump in speed from the already available 6xx line of processors, there really isn't anything new to cover architecturally.
Understandably, we aren't incredibly excited about the launch of a simple 5.6% higher clocked chip that will carry a nice price premium without offering many tangible benefits. But don't worry - we will still put the 670 through its paces in our lab. Even if the part is unreasonably priced and not compellingly advanced in its performance characteristics, we will always be interested in understanding and illuminating the hardware landscape.
As this highly clocked part comes to market, we can start to see even more clearly the advantages that dual and multi core will bring. Where a 200MHz clock speed increase used to be huge back in the day of the 1 and 2 GHz processor (a 20% and 10% improvement, respectively), at 4GHz it is not only harder to squeeze the extra speed out of a part, but the return on investment is extremely limited. In order to continue getting the same performance boost from part to part, we would need to see processors launching in 400MHz increments or more to really be worth it.
Dual core has already shown us that it has the ability to deliver performance gains at lower clock speeds that sometimes exceed what we can get from much higher clocked single core parts. We can't ever see a linear increase in performance per core added to a system, but the potential is much higher than a small clock speed increase. That is, until we start adding fewer cores on single silicon than we could MHz. At that point, to see performance gains, technology will need to open another option to us.
The Pentium 4 670 is almost a legacy part at its introduction. It's too expensive, doesn't offer a major performance improvement over other processors, and is single core. So the question we will lead off with is: why should we care?
Let's take a look at the benchmarks and see if they give us a reason to care.