Whether you like Intel or not, you can't argue that the Pentium 4 of today is infinitely more competitive than what was launched a year and a half ago. But did we honestly expect any different? Intel received the same treatment at the launch of their P5 processors at 60/66MHz; competing solutions from AMD such as the 486 DX4-120 were much better buys and although they were running on an older 486 platform, they had more of an upgrade path than the soon to be forgotten 5V P5 processors. Remember the launch of the Pentium Pro? It has been said that until the Pentium 4, Intel has never released a processor that actually performed worse than its previous generation offering. With the majority of the applications back in 1995 written for 16-bit versions of Windows, the Pentium Pro's horrendous 16-bit application performance left everyone but a small percentage of users with a bad aftertaste.

While we wouldn't be caught dead recommending the Pentium 4 after its launch in November 2000, times have changed. The biggest win for Intel came with the release of their 0.13-micron Northwood core; the smaller core meant cooler running processors, even higher clock speeds and an extra 256KB of L2 cache. A favorite in the overclocking community, the 1.6GHz Northwood Pentium 4 brought 2GHz+ clock speeds to users at relatively affordable prices.

Competition from AMD has been fierce and with Thoroughbred a month away, the competition will indeed continue. The only thing that has changed is that now Intel is competing quite well on a performance level, although AMD continues to hold a title they've had for a long time: a tremendous value. In fact, it's the tremendous value and amazingly competitive performance that has convinced 56% of the AnandTech Members, who offered their system configuration information, to use AMD processors.

Today Intel is working a bit ahead of schedule. Originally Intel was going to release one CPU, the Pentium 4 2.4B processor; the 'B' suffix denotes the use of a 133MHz quad-pumped FSB (effectively 533MHz). But courtesy of high yields and good performance in Intel's strict validation process, today you'll not only get one but two new 533MHz FSB processors - clocked at 2.4 and 2.53GHz.

A new FSB requires a new chipset?

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