We were originally only scheduled to have one major CPU review this month, a review of Intel's Pentium 4 clocked at 2.80GHz. At the last minute, just around a week before Intel was going to introduce the new stepping of their Pentium 4 processor along with four new clock speeds, AMD decided to launch their Athlon XP 2600+.

As you'll remember from our review of the Athlon XP 2600+, AMD introduced a new revision of their 0.13-micron Thoroughbred core aptly named Revision B. This new revision not only allowed for much higher clock speeds, but also restored competition to AMD's Athlon XP line when it needed it most. The only real fault with AMD's Athlon XP 2600+ was that in the competitive spirit, AMD pulled the trigger a bit too early, effectively paper-launching the XP 2600+ at least a month before retail availability. We expected more from the company that delivered countless times when Intel was pulling the same sort of "launch now, deliver later" tactics.

With today's launch of the Pentium 4 at 2.80GHz, Intel is not only turning up the clock speed dial once again but they are also introducing a number of intermediate solutions all built on a brand new stepping of the Pentium 4's Northwood core.

Before we get into analyzing exactly what's new about this core, let's take a look at what's being announced today. In order to meet the demands of OEMs that still have a large supply of 400MHz FSB systems, Intel is announcing new CPUs that still run off of the "old" 400MHz FSB as well as the new 533MHz FSB:

Pentium 4 2.80GHz (2800/533MHz FSB)
Pentium 4 2.66GHz (2666/533MHz FSB)
Pentium 4 2.60GHz (2600/400MHz FSB)
Pentium 4 2.50GHz (2500/400MHz FSB)

In the usual Intel style, if you want to get the fastest CPUs you'll have to upgrade to the newer 533MHz FSB platforms.

A New Core Stepping

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